Five years ago today, young bones groaned and Shakesville was born.
It was originally christened as Shakespeare's Sister, which was not an allusion to delusions of grandeur, but the name of one of my favorite Smiths' songs, which contains a line that stuck me—and strikes me still—as being beautifully apposite to my feelings about blogging: "I thought that if you had / An acoustic guitar / Then it meant that you were / A protest singer." Whatever clever old Mozza actually intended with that lyric, it suggests to me something about authenticity; having the accessories and tools of someone who does something meaningful doesn't make you someone who does something meaningful. Calling this blog Shakespeare's Sister was meant to remind me, always, that I started it to try to make some kind of difference in this world and that only what I put into it could make it so.
And then there was the Virginia Woolf essay, "A Room of One's Own," from whence Mozza nicked the name; I borrowed it, too, because I am the heir of all the Shakespeare's Sisters before me, who carved out rooms of their own, tiny pieces of space and time, in which they formed the habit of freedom and mustered the courage to write exactly what they thought. I took up their legacy with breathless gratitude and compelling need, and I created a room of my own, built of 1s and 0s, where I try to honor them, as best I can.
After other writers joined me in this space, and a community started to grow up around this blog, Shakespeare's Sister, which was also my handle when I started in anonymity, seemed too personal somehow, and so we became Shakesville.
When I first started the blog, I never imagined that it would grow into such an awesome (in the original meaning) and complex and vibrant community. What has emerged in this space absolutely floors me.
I've never believed that blogs will change the world, but I do believe most fervently that even a single blog has the capacity to change the world for individual people in big and small ways, can turn people on to and connect them with a global community, offer a much-needed laugh on a bad day, provide support and validation from like-minded people, open its readers' minds to new ideas and persuade them to let go of prejudices and give them a new way of understanding and loving themselves. I do believe in expecting more and being engaged and striving for safe spaces and teaspoons. I believe most passionately in teaspoons. I'm happy and grateful to have found people who believe in them, too.
I am a better person than I was five years ago. I know more about myself, both the good things and the things that need changing. I've made great friends and had great teachers. I've learned more in this space than I ever could have imagined, and this is, by far, the toughest job I've ever had, and the most rewarding. I am forever changed because of Shakesville, and the people who visit or come to stay.
The Shakers are a great lot. That's about the long and the short of it. Thank you, everyone.
I'm going to continue to try to make this a space you enjoy visiting. I'm going to fuck up and disappoint you and piss you off once in a while, but I'll endeavor to balance that with some good stuff, too. I am, still, as I was the day I started, just a grrl with a metaphorical guitar who knows it takes more to be a folk singer, fumbling to find her place and her voice. I don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time, so we're all pretty lucky when it seems like I do.
Thanks to the other contributors, for everything you put on the page and everything you do for me behind the scenes.
And thanks to my beloved Iain, who first suggested I start this blog, and who makes Shakesville possible in every conceivable way.