Friday, February 26, 2016

A toast to Ross K. Foad . . . and others like him.

This morning brought Ross K. Foad's video comments on his post about leaving Holmes, but by this evening, the video had been pulled down. Understandable second thoughts, I would guess, whether second thoughts about taking a hiatus from his Sherlockian efforts or just the video itself is hard to say, but I sympathize with his sentiments, I really do. Been there, but not done that, especially in Ross's case -- his output and energies have placed him in a class few Sherlockians or Holmesians ever achieve.

While his comments about the thanklessness of his efforts in the field of Sherlock might inspire derision in some mediocre minds, anyone who's put their entire heart and soul into this hobby knows those moments well. If you look back upon the history of Sherlockian fandom, you'll see some Herculean efforts of monk-like devotion, literal decades worth of hours, even subtracting eating, sleeping, and day jobs, spent in lonely tasks of research, collection, and production. And none of those folks ever truly got the rewards they deserved . . . a nod here, a certificate there, when their efforts really rated bronze busts and luxurious feasting. (Along with a few groupies of the preferred gender and all that comes with that.)

But as much as some airy, snifter sorts would like to call us "afficionados," I've always preferred the term "fans." Why? Because "fan" is short for "fanatic," and the best of our past-time have always been that. Not, sitting back with a cigar and a brandy being all "afficionado-y" . . . no, the best of us are full-on crazed fanatics, giving their all to the love of a legend.

The thing is, few Sherlockians are truly crazy. We have those lucid moments when we look around and go, "What the Hell have I been doing all this time? I could have been a [Insert your version of a profession of accomplishment here.]" You can hit a real dark night of the soul, and as much as we love our Sherlockian camaraderie, it can be a lonely night as well.

When your entire crowd is busy looking at the stage where the star stands, they sometimes forget to look down the aisle to see if the people there are okay. Sherlock Holmes is our star, our focus, our celebrated one, and in this Cumberbatch-loving era, we've even got a rock star taking up the warm-up stage for the main event. (And often threatening to upstage him.) For a novelist, a podcaster, an event-coordinator or a video producer to shine a light for any length of time in today's blazing glare of Sherlock radiance . . . not so easy. The next thing is always here.

You can't do Sherlockian because it's a stepping stone to some outside-the-fandom success. You can't do Sherlockian because you hope to be recognized by the heirs to some old institution. In the wee dark hours of the lonely February Sherlockian night, you have to reach down deep and find the reason you do it just for you. And how you're going to make your own fun on your next foray into the land of Holmes. Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . that you actually are a bit mad, and that madness centers around Sherlock Holmes. 

As the great Sherlockian tidal wave of the last decade starts to ebb a bit, we're going to see a lot of Sherlockian talent facing their own dark night of the soul, taking their own hiatuses. Some will one day come back, some won't. But that didn't mean they weren't appreciated while they were here.

Like many another Sherlockian, I have been looking at this thing and that thing, gazing at my own Sherlock-shaped navel, and doing many other things besides taking time to fully appreciate and comment on some of the massive efforts being made out there in the name of Sherlock Holmes. That doesn't mean I won't be sad when I see a candle start to flicker, like No Place Like Holmes.

And hope those behind such marvelous efforts, like Ross, find their fun again, wherever they wind up. Even if it's back here, in the land of unrequited Sherlock lovers.


  1. Too bad! But not surprising. The number of Sherlock blogs I used to follow gets smaller every month.

    On tumblr most of the more intelligent/educated bloggers who actually had something interesting to say have left long ago (S3). What's left now is squeeing about the length of Martin Freeman's lashes and stupid headcanons about Johnlock. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but not really interesting reading material.

  2. Aw. I feel bad now, because nplh has been on my get to it list and I didn't get to it.

  3. There are more readers than people who blog or post comments. I'm very certain that whatever I contribute to the fandom has to be because the words need to be let out of my head. If someone offered me a very large, life-changing, sum of money to never write about Sherlock Holmes ever again, I couldn't take it because I know I wouldn't be able to stick to the deal. Shrug. But I can see why Ross or someone would like to know that they are writing for readers not just sending words into the ether. You can become burned out from it though and need to spend time on something else to enjoy other scenery, have a break to come back refreshed. I think you can take the fan out of Sherlock Holmes but not the Sherlock Holmes out of the fan.

  4. Very hard subject for me to comment on, given Ross K. is a close friend. I think he will really appreciate your saying.. "in Ross's case -- his output and energies have placed him in a class few Sherlockians or Holmesians ever achieve." We totally concur on this thought.