Here’s the backstory.
A long time ago on a campus not that far away (U of Waterloo) some people in the English department asked me if they could do an ‘authorized site’ on my work. At that time (1999!) I was pretty down on author sites. They seemed deeply self-indulgent and mostly content-free. My sound bite quote when asked why I didn’t have one was Cato the Elder: ‘I would rather the Romans ask why there are no statues to Cato, than why there are.’ (Still love that.)
But the Waterloo team promised content – scholarship, art, showcasing other people’s ideas around my novels, and the concept that their students (many of them teach the books) would funnel material to the site year by year. It would be a real repository. I bought in. Drinks were involved, as I recall.
Meetings were taken, a committee was struck, students were recruited. A designer was found. Some of the students began chasing down scholarly articles (this was way before that was an easy web-search) and scanning book covers in prep for an Art Gallery on the site. Then, predictably, it rolled towards December and the students had exams and deadlines and the profs looked at each other and said ‘Where are the students?’ My good friend Neil Randall, who had spearheaded this, called me in mid-December to say, ‘We screwed up. It is always too hard to keep these things on track.’ More drinks were ruefully promised – and accepted, not unhappily.
I really wasn’t distressed. More amused, than anything. But then … I got a New Year’s email from Deborah Meghnagi, with whom I’d been corresponding for some time. Deb was then doing some web work for a company and in the immediae aftermath of the U of Waterloo collapse, I recklessly wrote the words, ‘One of these millenia I should get you to do a website for me…’ (Remember, this was New Years 2000! And yes, I know that isn’t really when the millennia started. Lost that argument back then with everyone!)
After not replying at all, and in something like three days (she’ll have the exact details) with a couple of all-nighters I think, Deb sent me, totally without warning, a url for the template of Bright Weavings.
She’d essentially done, on her own, what hadn’t happened in months through a committee or group. (Cue knowing nods of heads.)
I really didn’t think I could say no after that. It took her 6 more months of work, and brightweavings.com went live in, as best I recall, June of 2000. This Journal residesthere, as are the three previous ones, and a tremendous amount of content.
Over the decade plus Deb has scandalously proceeded with a life: husband, child, another on the way, a period as a senior editor for Toby Press, freelancing. I regard all of this frippery as irresponsibly going AWOL, of course. (I also regard teasing as a right.)
On the other hand – and this is a key to this post – the community that sprang up around her and the site led to four or five others stepping up and offering generous and creative support and expansion to her original idea. BW now has a Facebook page and a Pinterest board. It had a Twitter feed at @brightweavings until I was pounded into submission and it became @guygavrielkay (that tragic tale is part of the first post here, I think).
And when I speak of a ‘community’ I do mean it, and that’s what impels this entry. This weekend, about 20 of the denizens who have long gathered in the BW Forums will be actually gathering in Toronto from all over the place to hang with each other – for the fourth or fifth time.
I basically regard myself as no more than an excuse. Some years, when this meet-up happens, I’ve booked a bar for drinks, once we all had a Chinese banquet, this year it’ll be a breakfast gig. Then I get out of the way for most of the weekend, avert my eyes, ask not to be sent the more incriminating pictures…
But flippancy aside, I have to say that the emergence of this group of worldwide friends, spun from the website, has brought me enormous pleasure over the years. If anyone wants champagne and OJ with their breakfast and lattes this weekend, it’s on me.