Believe it or not, I was really nervous to start the Poly Land Discord. It had actually been suggested to me a long time ago, but I’d dismissed the idea out of hand.
The reasons I said no were myriad. And ever-changing.
No one would want to join, I said. And then later, I realized that a bigger risk might be that too many people would want to join the Discord… probably a lot of people who wanted to troll or be jerks or out people or any number of things. When you have a big following, you have a lot of wonderful people who are genuinely interested in what you’re doing — but the funny thing is that it grows proportionately. You have a ton of trolls and haters mixed in, too.
I wouldn’t have believed this before I ran a large page/site, but people will follow you regularly claiming they don’t like you and posting hateful comments. It’s wild.
Anyway, I have thick skin and am used to that. But I didn’t want to have a community where people were doing a lot of that to each other.
And that meant putting tons of time, energy, and problem-solving creativity into building and managing an online community intentionally. If done right, it’d take as much time as my prolific writing load — and likely more.
(Now that I’m doing it, the truth is that it takes more.)
Anyway, the idea was brought up over and over. And then finally I entertained it and worked with a team of people I really respect, and we came up with an idea. We’d start a Discord and link it to Patreon. It would be priced at a token cost, very low, significantly lower than I’ve seen every other Patreon-linked Discord cost. Less than picking up one of my books every year. But it would be enough to keep away bots, bad faith actors, and people who aren’t familiar with what Poly Land is and our general vibe. The most meaningful hurdle is the hassle of downloading apps and linking things, etc., which effectively makes it way more private than it would be without a hassle.
I expected some people to not like that it cost. And that was fine. Upwards of 95% of my content remains free (and my books are available via some libraries — and easy for people to request to be carried by their libraries if they’re not).
But what I didn’t expect was for so many people to join.
And I also didn’t expect them to be so cool. Or for us to have so much fun. The best part is that as we’ve been having more people join, we are finding ourselves in a position to spin up the infrastructure for more features. I’m so excited.
“When People Get to Know the Real You, They Won’t Like You”
And a big reason that I’m so surprised this went well leads me to another reason I didn’t want to start the Poly Land Discord. Why I said no the first dozen times it was suggested to me.
And that’s because of something someone I loved said to me, at a time when our relationship was falling apart, and I was desperate to find reasons for it and to repair it. I tend to be well liked and have lots of friends. I’m not the cool girl by any means, but I genuinely like people and have some truly great connections (always have).
Anyway, now-ex said to me that people only like me because they don’t know the real me and if they ever got close to me that they’d dislike me.
It felt absurd at the moment they said it. Because I’m that person people open up easily to. I have amazing friends. And I feel like I’m very open and honest with them. But I was so desperate to find a reason why we weren’t working (turned out really just to be incompatibility, in hindsight) that I really tried on this idea and peered into it long enough that part of me not only entertained it, but believed it.
It stuck with me a long damn time.
And it came up in my early talks surrounding the Discord. “What if I get on there, and people talk to me, and they decide I suck and hate me?” I said to my current partner.
Their answer to this was, “That would never happen. If anything, Page, you’re better up close.”
I don’t know if I’d go quite that far. But it’s been wonderful to test my fears and anxieties… and to pass.
Because not only have I not somehow driven every single reader away, we’re definitely becoming friends. And they’re so cool!
Which… lemme tell you… being face to face (virtually at least) with so many people who enjoy my work and finding that I enjoy talking to them… well, that’s a thing to shut up the brain weasels. At least for a little while anyway (brain weasels rarely ever give up permanently, such is life).
I Get a Little Frustrated That I Can’t Explain the Magic
One of the most frustrating things for a writer is when you can’t find a way to explain something. So that’s been the bitter downside of the Poly Land Discord. I find myself having a hard time explaining why it’s so wonderful.
I can take stabs at it. Talking about how we have a Robot Intern named JJ who is doing their best and engaging with accountability talks with the management. How JJ seems to be a bit jealous of Bender from Futurama and is obsessed with cats, bees, and flan.
How flan is the official server dessert – and that people are currently making arrangements to ship it to one another.
How my favorite forum meme is that people on the server will say “pivot” when something is getting too intense or NSFW and employ the recycle icon, because when you find something in an inappropriate gutter, you either need to bring it to a better gutter and either discard it or upcycle it into something better – and the process never stops. It spins around like the recycling symbol.
How I’ve insisted that there’s a secret “(LGBTQ)” label next to every single channel name in the forum in my heart. (Allies are fine.)
Or how we seem to be overrun with demisexuals/demiromantics and adults who grew up as gifted children.
These are all true. But none of them come anywhere near the reality. They barely scratch the surface. And that’s irritating to me.
I’m also a little irritated writing this, because the server just told me to write this post, and I told them I’d do my best. But I feel like I should have done better.
The best I figure is that there’s time for that. I’ll do better later, I promise (and I try every day on the Discord).