Fandom, Twitter and Group Chats: My 2020 Saving Graces

I rang in New Years 2020 sitting on the floor of my bedroom, by myself, a drink in hand. I was ostensibly trying to clean out my closet, and I wasn’t super inclined to make plans that night because my parents were hosting a huge party 4 days later anyway. My social battery needed to charge.

I was also crying. Not a great moment for me all things considered.

My emotional battery also needed to charge that night because I’d just spent the last 12 days sobbing my eyes out over The Rise of Skywalker. And I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic way. I mean eyes-swollen, cried-self-to-sleep, people-couldn’t-talk-to-me kind of crying. I sobbed in the managers office of the store I used to work at, where I picked up some Christmas shifts, as well as in the stock aisles. I was so upset I was physically sick at work and had to be sent home (this was probably due to the flu but it’s funnier if we blame TROS). 

Was this reaction extreme? Perhaps. I think it would have calmed down a lot sooner if I’d had someone to commiserate with about what a disappointing (heartbreaking, insert expletive of choice here) experience the finale to the Skywalker Saga had been. I scrolled Twitter endlessly, looking for something or someone to validate how I was feeling . I was heartbroken, and felt stupid for ever caring about Star Wars in the first place. As I found validation online and saw I wasn’t alone in my feelings, I felt a little better, but I was still so overwhelmingly lonely in my grief.

And this was BEFORE everything locked down.

A chance sighting of an open call for Star Wars articles caught my attention. The topic was representation, and I’ll admit part of what interested me there was my topic of choice was so wholly removed from the Sequel Trilogy that I could tentatively dip back into Star Wars and remember why I loved it. Though that article isn’t on the website anymore (but you can find a copy here if you’re interested) the experience was still a net positive. I had taken my first step into this larger community, where I had existed on the outside (and mostly offline) for so long. I even gained my first “fandom friend”!

A month later, while scrolling on Twitter some more, I saw a podcast, Postcards From The Galaxy’s Edge looking for female content creators to share a Star Wars moment that spoke to them as women. I was hardly a content creator. A couple of cosplay blog posts and a single article on a website do not a content creator make, I thought. But what the hell. I sent her a message, and a couple of weeks later sent in a video gushing about my love for Amilyn Holdo. I didn’t know how this would all go (spoiler: it went fine), but I took the shot. 

As the video went into editing, I became friendly with the podcaster behind it all, and I feel confident in saying now that she is one of my favourite people and closest friends in this whole fandom. 

Also as the video went into editing, the world shut down. 

Those first two weeks were weird. No one had any idea how long it would last, how committed we should become to the idea of staying at home all the time, working from home and all that. While I did have a contract for some writing work, my regular, part-time job closed for a few weeks while they transitioned us online. Left with nothing else to occupy my time, I decided to call the content creation shots myself.

I was embarrassed, I’ll admit, to present myself as a content creator when submitting that video. In need of something to do, and wanting a body of fandom-related work to my name, I decided to revisit the books I already owned, aiming to post mini-reviews of two of them per week. In keeping with what was slowly becoming my “brand” online, I decided to start with my Star Wars books. They should, all told, take until June or so to get through, and then I can move on to a different set of books. 

The Biweekly Book Review was born!

The first review, Dooku: Jedi Lost, went up on April 8th. 50 books later, the last review, a short look at The Skywalker Saga went up December 22nd. Oops. Well done, I managed to way overestimate my own ability. But in the process my focus changed. It is not longer a book review, it’s specifically a Star Wars book review. As this year came to an end, I found myself planning out my review posts for 2021 (fun stuff planned, stay tuned).

In the late Spring, one female Star Wars podcaster decided to create a thread to connect other female content creators with one another. No doubt this was in response to some sort of dudebro drama on Twitter, though I honestly can’t remember now. Feeling a bit more confident, with a few book reviews under my belt, I threw my hat into the ring and was shortly after contacted by The Geeky Waffle, a podcast/blog looking for writers for their website. They asked if I would be want to do a write up for them similar to the one on my own site about Amilyn Holdo (one day I’m going to gush about how much Holdo changed my life in fandom, mark my words). One write-up and a guest appearance on their spin-off podcast “Straight Out Of Home Video” later, I became proper friends with the hosts. We appeared on panels together at ForceFest over the summer, and I popped up on their Mandalorian live streams in the Fall, where I met even more amazing people I am proud to call good friends. By early September I was an unofficial cohost of The Geeky Waffle in my own right, and by November it was official.

I joined a discord community I love, I started participating in challenges on Instagram, I have a crew to play Among us with, I started writing fan fiction again (no it’s not getting linked here, nice try). This past fall, I was invited to join another network, Beyond The Blast Doors, and offered a cohost spot on their Wednesday night flagship show, as well as a standing invitation to write for the website. 

For someone who felt so alone in her fandom at the beginning of the year, who had never engaged online in fandom before, 2020 changed a lot for me. It gave me a sense of place and belonging among the fans of this Galaxy I love so much. I now have people to share my highs and lows with, and as I prepare to celebrate New Year’s 2021 (safely, at home) I know it’s going to be different. 

I won’t be sitting on my bedroom floor alone and in tears over the idea of Ben Solo’s death. Firstly because The Geeky Waffle let me write this super cathartic piece. But mostly because even though I doubt I will ever come around on TROS, through the friendships I’ve made in fandom this year, I have rediscovered how much there is to love about Star Wars. It doesn’t have to begin and end with the single most upsetting part of the entire saga. It’s gushing over new books together, and getting hyped for new episodes of whatever show is on. It’s texting constantly over things that are tangentially related to fandom, but are no less exciting. It’s wallowing in our feels, good or bad, with all the hyperbolic language you could want. It’s discovering that you actually like Boba Fett now and not being able to shut up about it (#Bonnec forever). 

Happy New Year, everyone. Stay safe, and stay home. To the friends I mentioned above, I didn’t mention you by name because I just know I’ll leave someone out and feel anxious and sad about it for weeks, but just know that whenever I do get to meet you in person, there is a massive hug waiting for you. I hope you realize how much you saved this hellish year for me. 

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