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Jitters: An Origin Story

Hi there. My name is Joan.

Some of you might be wondering why my Instagram handle is darkroast_art; and my Twitter handle and my illustration portfolio site are both Some of you might never have wondered about this at all. You may just be assuming it’s because I like coffee. You’re not wrong. I like coffee a lot. I also like tea. I’m not one of those people who constantly has to tell you about how one is far superior to the other. I own two cats, and I also adore dogs. Why do we have to fight about these things?

During my years on social media, I’ve maintained my brand continuity. I’m Dark Roast pretty much everywhere. Some of you might never have noticed, and that’s okay.

Back in the early-2000s, when LiveJournal was a thing, I started an LJ with the user name dark_roast. My idea was to write a narrative fiction blog. The protagonist of the story receives a sudden inheritance of a house and some money from a relative she never knew existed. (I love Gothic novels, by the way.) The house is on a twisty street, up in the Hollywood Hills. At the bottom of the street, there’s a coffee shop called Jitters.

I wanted the coffee shop to stand in for the village tavern where the locals gather to stare at the protagonist when she steps inside. They don’t often get strangers around these parts. Where might she be going? Oh, the old house on the hill? That house is… unsavory. It’s a bad place. She ought to turn back, before it’s too late.

I wrote and posted a few chapters of the Dark Roast story, but my inspiration quickly trickled away. Part of the problem was that I hadn’t taken the time to outline, even vaguely. I had no idea where the story was going. After I’d posted an entry, I couldn’t go back and change things, if I changed my mind. The entry had already been read and commented on. It was written in stone at that point.

Despite the favorable comments from my friends, I deleted the entire project. The LJ sat empty for a while, but then, because it was sitting there, I started posting my fanfiction in it. (I had a separate zombiequeen LJ for my real life interactions with friends.) Dark_roast became my fic writing pen name. I eventually closed down the ZQ LiveJournal. I think at that point I had moved over to Facebook. After years of fandom interaction, “dark_roast” felt like me. I kept the user name, and used it for my other social media.

And here we are at my writing site — oh, don’t look at me like that. You know, I tried on and rejected an egregious number of dark-roast-esque names for this site because I am a perfectionist lunatic, and either they were unavailable — some coffee company had snapped them up; go figure! — or they were too difficult to parse, because WordPress doesn’t allow any non-alphanumeric characters in their blog names, or they weren’t quiiite right for one reason or another. The instant I found out that dot-wtf was a legitimate domain extension, I knew it was meant to be. It is so on brand, it teleported me into another dimension.

Anyway. This WordPress site used to be my darknessofcozy blog, years ago, where I blogged about horror films and books. I got some positive interaction on that blog; lots of likes and comments. Some of you might even remember that old blog.

I took that down, too, and I deleted everything.


Because it was stupid.

Everything I do is stupid. The stories I write: stupid. My artwork: stupid. The instant after I post something, I want to delete it. I can’t go through my Instagram without seeing every little flaw in every piece. It’s bad with the art, but oh my lord it is so much worse with the writing. I’ve put my stories up on fiction websites, and I’ve even put together ebooks and self-published them on Amazon. Every single time, I take down everything in frustration and embarrassment. It’s all stupid, and nobody cares, and it’s just more noise on the internet.

My fanfiction is still up on Archive of Our Own because people still leave me comments now and again, telling me they enjoyed this or that fic — but I haven’t re-read any of my fics. I can’t even look at them, for fear I’ll delete them, too

I have a bunch of short stories — and a few novels — sitting on my hard drive. Some stuff has been sitting there for years. I’ve often wondered if it would all sit there forever. If anyone would ever see my work. Some stories have made brief appearances here and there, before disappearing again. Some have never been seen by anyone.

I feel the yearning that every creative person feels: to communicate, to have my work seen and appreciated. To be understood. I know you know what I mean. I was complaining about this for, like, the billionth time to a friend who’s also a writer. She challenged me to put this site up.

And never take it down.

I’m supposed to add more stuff to this site, every so often, and not take any of that down, either.

Guys. I’m shook, as the kids say.

I’m editing this post for the fourth or fifth time, and it still sounds kinda dumb. But, uh… okay. Challenge accepted.

Let me be absolutely clear. I’m not asking for you all to pat me on the head and promise me I’m a genius, and tell me everything I do is ah-MAAAAAAAAAAAAA-zing!!!1!! That’s not why I’m undertaking this extremely uncomfortable project.

I want my work to be seen. I want to leave a legacy when I’m dead and gone. I want to stop feeling that sinking dread that it’s “too late;” that I’ve “missed my chance” because of my own laziness, procrastination and lack of confidence. That’s not a very nice way for me to talk to myself. I’d like to at least try to finish writing my unfinished projects. I want to build this site, and not delete it in two months because I’ve convinced myself it’s another stupid idea that nobody cares about. I care about it.

It might begin to gather dust at some point. I may not write blog posts very often. But, I promised myself it would stay up, so it’s going to stay up.

Dear Reader, you are more than welcome to read the stories here. Or not. You’re welcome to like and comment, or not.  All I ask is that you be courteous, and I hope you have a nice time at my party.

Thank you for stopping by!

4 thoughts on “Jitters: An Origin Story”

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