Authonomy, the Harper Collins online writers site and digital slushpile, closed its doors today at around 12.30pm BST. By all accounts, ie someone said on facebook. The official date was supposed to be the 30th of September and I clocked back in for the first time in months, to say goodbye, only for them, true to form, to leave us all hanging, glasses raised and hankie hand growing limp…
I joined Authonomy – I think – in September 2012, I’m actually a little fuzzy on this. I was looking for feedback, informed, insightful, industry level feedback. A site run by one of the biggest publishers in the world, which touted itself as an online community dedicated to nurturing and unearthing the finest new talent, seemed a better bet than the local writers group crammed in the draughty bit of the church hall that doesn’t have a leak in the roof.
What I found?
When I first arrived I was privy to an online spat several months old, which apparently began with one members displeasure about another’s wanton posting of bunny’s…
Here’s what else I learnt..
#1 That most writers still can’t identify an adverb.
#2 That the passive aggressive sigh. A lot.
#3 That loyalty is indistinguishable from institutionalisation.
#4 That words can still wound me.
#5 That no matter what anyone tries to tell you, tone is never absent.
#6 That most writers spend more time counting than they do writing.
#7 That misuse of the passive is a valid reason to threaten someone’s life.
#8 No its not. And sadly, that some actually need to be told this..
#9 Socks have secret lives, when you think they are sleeping peacefully in the drawer… nuh huh. I’m investing in padlocks but apparently they are very sneaky
#10 Socks are amongst us even now
#11 I might be a sock.
#12 I have no idea how to tell if I am a sock. I’m not itchy, but that may not be conclusive.
#13 That the internet is a lot like a pub at closing time
#14 That I wrote five books. Then I joined a writers site and haven’t finished one since. Three years on…
#15 That if we want to learn about writing, we need a better system.
#16 That if we want friends and support from those who understand what we are going through, it’s a pretty great system.
#17 That the future legislators of the world are incredibly literal.
#18 That watching a man self-implode is not as much fun as you might think. There is a lot of repetition, time to make tea, catch up on facebook, mow the lawn… set up the nanny-cam to catch the socks…
#19 That I really like repetition..
#20 That what I first went there looking for, I am still looking for. ..
Authonomy was always the misfit in the drawer, the nerds table, the back of the school hall where the rejects hung out but they saw it as if it were as glorious and cool as the back of the bike shed. The paranoia levels were sky high, even the admin, when they deigned to show up, threw pissyfits, and being called a c**** was considered a reasonable response to ‘respectfully I disagree’. Yet I also had some of the most intelligent and in depth conversations on writing I’ve ever had the privilege (and delight) to be involved in. If we wanted to talk about adverbs we didn’t just throw out some tired cliché about ‘strong verbs’. Of course if you were stupid enough to try that you’d probably need a lifetime of therapy to cope with the em.. enthusiastic disagreements.
And I made friends. Friends I’ve seen published. Friends who understand the peculiar state of being a writer in a world where everybody wants to be a writer. Friends I can share word counts, and nano cabins and tally rejection slips with.
So for that and everything above (really) I ask you to charge your glass to Authonomy. Long may her memory live 🙂