Rough Trade began as a challenge site for National Novel Writing Month aptly named “Naked NaNo”. It was about organic writing and the purposeful exposure of yourself and your craft. The site was public but I made it very clear it would be heavily moderated and that we were a “positive comment” only environment.
I was recently asked what Rough Trade meant to me and it was actually a difficult question for me to answer fully because it means a lot for a variety of reasons. I’m a very lucky woman, you see. I have a circle of writer friends offline who have inspired me and driven me new places craft wise for the past fifteen years. We meet in coffee houses and sandwich places and sometimes the patio of a Starbucks to discuss craft, publication, and brainstorm ideas. I’ve gotten some of my best and most enduring ideas sitting at a table full of writers.
There came a point in my online writing life where I wanted to explore that with writers in fandom. So I made a table and I invited you to sit down with me. So many of you did that first time and all the times to follow. We pushed each other, we grew, and we explored our craft in astonishing ways. I come out of each Rough Trade event—richer in my craft and stronger in my dedication to exploring my boundaries as a writer. I really hope that’s true for everyone who participates on the site as a writer.
An amazing sense of community began to build between one challenge and another. Our participation expanded, we outgrew the hosted environment of WordPress.com and I moved us to a self-hosted website which I named Rough Trade. At its heart, Rough Trade is about participation, growth, self-actualization, and craft development. The unique environment of the site allows both new and experienced writers to come together and explore concepts together in a very nurturing way.
New writers bring excitement and energy to challenges while mature writers bring experience, solid craft, and balance to the site. It is my privilege to have attracted both kinds of writers—no matter if they’re writing fan fiction or original works. In each challenge, we learn and grow as a group and as individual writers.
Somewhere along the way we stopped being strictly a writing challenge site and became more—we became a sanctuary. Writers who had abandoned writing due to disillusionment or reader mistreatment started to visit the site, became intrigued by our concept and started writing again. It’s happened more than once and that’s amazing.
If you’re new to Rough Trade or if you’ve been here the whole time—watching me stumble through designs and features along the way—I just want to say, I’m really glad you decided to sit down at the table.