Dear Writer

Reading Time:
2 Minutes

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 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.



  1. Thank you for letting me sit down at your table and be creative alongside such a wide array of talented and inspiring people. It’s been such a joy in my life, and it gave me back something precious.

  2. As a reader, I thoroughly appreciate your encouragement to writers and giving them a place to flourish. Thank you so much! I visit often to find wonderful stories to read.

  3. As a reader not a writer thank you for sharing your table with so many wonderful people and giving us a chance to find new talented writers. Thank you for allowing those of us who don’t write the opportunity to at least look over shoulders watching the creative process unfold.

  4. Thank you for providing the table. I stumbled upon it by accident and, while I don’t always manage to participate, just knowing I have the place to do so with supportive readers rather than the ones who ran me out of fandom twice now, helps a lot. I still haven’t managed to return to writing regularly but I hope to soon.

    Should I bring virtual baked goods to the next meeting? *smile*

    Thank you, Keira, thank you.

  5. Transformer mom

    Thank you for a wonderful site to read incredible fresh stories

  6. I think of this site not as a single table, but rather as a group of tables: Stargate Atlantis writers at one, Sherlock writers at another, Harry Potter writers at a third, and so forth… The wonderful thing, though, is the shouted comments and ideas going from one table to another that leads to an author getting up from one and moving to another to try their hand at something new.

    And all around this group of tables are those of us who read, and marvel, and know that, when we’re ready to finally give this a try ourselves, there is plenty of room for more chairs at the table of our choice.

    Thank you for being such a wonderful hostess and letting us all into your ‘coffee shop’ to enjoy whatever might be found here. May the drinks of your choice and the tasty goodies we all enjoy never run out.

  7. thank you for letting us(fandom visit with you. This site and your radio show help start to explore my creative writing side. I believe that each person has at least one story in them. Whether they publish it on the internet, eBook or print. It deserves to be published and heard.

  8. It’s an incredible sweet love letters to your writers and friends.

  9. Thank you Keira.

    The various communities that have sprung up around you has helped so many writers. New, experienced, or returning. The creative energy of these groups is huge and seems to have developed their own gravitational pull, drawing like minded people in.

    While I have never participated in Rough Trade I can say that wandering into Minion Chat on your site is what broke my near 3 year writers block. Talking to creative people, who don’t just get the writing process, but fandom as well was huge for me. Within weeks I was run over by a herd of rabid plot bunnies and began writing again.

    Slowly, meandering through crack fic territory, and occasionally falling off the cliffs of insanity, but writing none-the-less. It’s been more fun that is legal in many parts of the world.

  10. thank you for inviting us all to your table, Keira. It truly does mean the world to me, and to so many others. It’s fantastic to have a safe haven to go to with anything writing related. And most importantly, where entitlement is checked at the door, and if it isn’t, that it is shown the way to go. So thank you, so much :-)

  11. Rough Trade is a safe heaven for writers and it’s all thanks to you!

    Thank you, Keira!

  12. Thank you so much for this. This was my first RT challenge and I learned so much about my writing process, ideas that did and didn’t work, how to change mid-stream and not get frustrated by it, trying to control word economy and so many other things. This was an amazing and positive experience that I know I will be back hoping to add to each experience as I grow as a writer.

    Thank you for cultivating such a rewarding positive place for writers to grow and only be encouraged. I’ve taken part in other challenges that weren’t so positive and if you didn’t meet all the requirements, well it wasn’t pleasant. I never went back and it stalled me writing for a long-time. I put myself out there again last year and have found so many new writers to talk to especially through this challenge that my confidence has grown.

    I will definitely be back.

  13. As a reader, I deeply appreciate your setting the table.

  14. Thank you. This is a remarkable space and a wonderful community and even though I’m still fighting the demons that have stolen my writer-fu, my voice, just visiting here pushes me towards where I’ll be able to write again. RT and your glorious influence make me want to kick those demons in the crotch and write a big helping of something perfectly filthy as a huge fuck you to them. :D

  15. Your table has really comfy chairs, the company you keep is warm and welcoming, and the games/competitions are great fun. It’s been – and will continue to be – a true pleasure being part of this family-like community. Thanks isn’t enough for granting the sanctuary to write in nonjudgmental comfort and bringing together a group of misfits, weirdos, and even those odd normal people to balance us out *bearhugs*

  16. Thank you so much for having this site. I have enjoyed so many fics here and been introduced to several new fandoms. I hope that I’ll eventually get back to writing more than just one-shot and will be able to take part in one of your challenges!

  17. I echo the others; you are an inspiration in providing the table.

    Rough Trade is a gift you’ve given other writers in providing a community to write safely, to push boundaries in themselves and their writing. I thoroughly enjoy participating even if I’ve only managed to do so a few times and I’m not sure if I’ve ever said it before, but I’ll say it now: thank you for the invitation to sit at the table.

  18. Thank you for giving me a place at your table even though I’m only a reader, at least here at the moment.
    The stories or even only the plots are an inspiration for my own writing (which I still have only offline).
    Thanks as well to all the writers who take up the challenges and provide this inspiration.

  19. A million thank yous would never be enough. The experiences I’ve had on your various websites, including Rough Trade, have helped me in so many ways. I’m writing again, if often sporadically. The friendships I’ve made and the things I’ve learned are irreplaceable.

  20. Thank you for giving me a space where I was able to write again for the first time in years, and actually finish a story. I’ve never done that before, and following this site and the work on it, gave me the courage and determination to do it.

    Thank you so so much, you have no idea how much this site has meant to me.

  21. I second all the readers. Thank you.

  22. I am a reader because challenges happen at times of the year it just doesn’t work out for me (and some challenges I read long after its all posted). But I am grateful for the chance to see the writing happen.

    I thought with the little black dress challenge I might be able to finally participate, but alas it wasn’t to be. I still hope to have the time to do a challenge. So thank you for the venue from someone who hopes there is a place at the table for me… eventually.

  23. I am in the same boat as amkave, but I too enjoy reading the various stories on this site. I tend to stick with fandoms that I have basic knowledge of, but the various spins that individual writers put on those fandoms is always interesting and entertaining.

  24. Epic-planar-power

    Thank You

  25. That was really nice to read. I’m glad rough trade has bought you so much joy to your writing. As a reader i have loved learning more about the writing process and just what it takes to bring a story to life.

  26. What a lovely post, and lovely comments saying everything I wanted to say.

  27. To Keira and all the wonderful writers sharing their talent with us..THANK YOU!!

  28. Keira, I would like to thank you for providing such a wonderful venue for creative writers to share their talent and creativity with all of us. As a non-writer I enjoy coming to the site over and over again and finding something new and interesting. Giving a huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared in this challenge and hoping to see everyone back again with your next Rough Trade. Thank you.

  29. Thank you for hosting the challenges. I’ve been a lurker since your first NakeNano and have always enjoyed watching the progress of the writers and finding new writers. I only recently decided to participate more in the online fandom community and stop lurking. I once played with the idea of story writing in my twenties almost twenty years ago and I just couldn’t get off the ground. Lack of confidence, not knowing how to structure a story, etc. I bought a number of books on the subject, but they didn’t help.

    I have been following your work since it was first posted on Area 52 and always have enjoyed your site, writing, and your opinions on various topics. When you started the radio show, I continued to lurk, listen and enjoy and along the way you and your guests talked about writing, plot, characterization, structure, your writing process and theirs. I learned more from listening to you talk about writing that I ever did reading various books on the topic.

    As I have been listening and continuing to read in the many randoms I enjoyed the thought that I might possibly be able to write a story awoke in my mind again. The only good thing I can say about getting older is that I’ve become more confident in my abilities and I am able to just swear and let things go if they don’t work out.

    When this challenge was announce I mulled it over for weeks and finally in early June decided to say Fuck It and give writing a try for the first time ever. It has been a transformative experience for me and brought me a lot of pleasure (as well as swearing) as I worked through plotting, writing, and solutions to get the stories done. I am very pleased with how all three of my stories have turned out and the encouragement of the RT community has been wonderful.

    So Thank You.

  30. Thank you for allowing me to explore things I never would have alone.

  31. As a voracious reader of words, I’ll add my thanks to you, and all the writers here for preventing terminal boredom on my part.

  32. Thank you for providing a safe environment for writers. As a reader, I love to see the writers learn and evolve from past challenges. It frustrates me when I read, on other sites, that some writer is being bullied to write what the reader wants to read or that nasty comments are killing the creative process. I don’t understand where their entitlement comes from to be honest. I have started to wonder if professional writers have to put up with people with entitlement problems. Don’t like, don’t read is how I feel. Thank you again for providing a safe environment.

  33. As a reader, I really want to say THANK YOU to you Keira and all the writers for sharing with us your amazing talent!

  34. Thank you for this site. I have felt safe and even though I have yet to complete a work, I have come back to writing. You and the others here have made me want to reach again and learn my craft again.

  35. Thank you, for the site, and for the encouragement for all who love writing. I am attempting to write my own, partly due to your encouragement on this site and your radio show, so it a heart-deep thanks for this site as it motivates me to keep trying, to plugging away to finish stories that run around in my head.

  36. I spent three years studying my craft as an undergraduate at THE writing school in America, but honestly I have to say I’ve learned more about myself, and my craft, while participating in Rough Trade and interacting with my fellow authors through your various channels (whether that was minion chat, the various facebook groups, or just listening to your podcast and thinking about things) than I did at school. I feel like at school I was very much pressured to be a certain kind of writer, where here I am encouraged to be myself and that is celebrated in and of itself. Its wonderful. Rough Trade really is a sanctuary, and I adore it. I think the teachers who run writers workshops in college could learn a thing or two from you.

  37. I don’t say much in discussions, but I listen and read a lot of them. And just being around all these creative people (via FB, chat, the podcast, or just reading all the talent on RT) is truly a gift. Thank you for providing that gift.

  38. Thank you Keira, for letting me sit at your table. The writers here blow me away with their skill and courage.

  39. Another reader not writer here (although lately I have been having…..thoughts) who is deeply grateful for all you have done. Thank you!

  40. Thank you for opening up your table to both writers and readers.

  41. I love this table… it has for the first time in years made me feel welcome and a sense of home, where I am not afraid to voice my opinion. Where I can laugh and cry. I stopped writing when MOM got sick and her Alzheimer’s progressed and she became my focus..

    Now that I found the Minions and made friendships…. its like coming home.

    I take my coffee with two sugars and all the creamer I can get….

  42. *hugs Keira and all the other writers here* This is one big ass table and so very welcoming. Even when I fail to meet all the challenges, I win the skills and encouragement to try again. Thank you for the environment and the opportunity to meet others.

  43. As a reader I appreciate being allowed to be here.

  44. Even though I don’t write, I love that this place exists for those who do. And I really appreciate the opportunity to see the creative process in action. Bravo to you all!!!!

  45. Writing Hitsuzen

    I would also like to add my thanks for organizing this amazing table. I had fallen into such an enormous rut that I had lost almost all the joy in my own writing, and was contemplating stopping entirely. Your fierce determination to not only make yourself heard but to provide a safe place for writers of all types caught my attention, and thanks to your wonderful table, radio show, and the community you have created I’ve started to not only rediscover the joy I lost, but ways to make my writing better which is one of the most invaluable gifts I have ever received.

    Thank you.

  46. I’ve been far too shy to join in, but perhaps I will the next time. Thank you for your words. They make it easier to participate for those who may have been uncomfortable for whatever reason.

  47. greywolfthewanderer

    don’t know if I saw this one before or not, but thanks from me too!! also, thanks for your recent post regarding intrusive feedback — omg, so so so true, more in some fandoms than others, but thanks, for putting it in cogent coherent form!

  48. Thank you. Both of my professionally published works started life on this site as a challenge. So really. Thank you.

  49. I’ve been a reader/lurker for many years now. You and the wonderful writers here have given me the courage to actually try my hand at a challenge. Thanks so much for all y’all do to promote and encourage writing.

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