Full Stop was created over five years ago during what many would consider an inauspicious time. The economy was in the toilet, newspapers were contracting, humanities departments were under attack, and online media had turned its focus to SEO optimization and unpaid internships. Between articles about terrible prospects for recent graduates, articles debating whether college was still worth it, and articles about the death of the novel, we found ourselves preparing to use our freshly printed English degrees as coat stuffing for the cold nights ahead.
Fortunately, we could not have chosen a more welcoming community to join. We had no idea how many authors would be willing to be interviewed by a young blog they’d never heard of, how many sites we respected would read our posts and share them with their own followers. As criticism of all but the most prominent authors was increasingly relegated to the customer reviews section of Amazon.com, this community became closer than ever.
It’s tempting to say that we launched Full Stop with lofty goals, but we really didn’t. Some of us were ambitious, some were uninterested in the majority of online book coverage, which tended to skew towards the, well, boring; some of us wanted a way to stay connected in those nomadic post-grad years. But all of us had too much time on our hands, and we spent a lot of that time drinking too much beer and some of it talking about what we were reading and making dumb jokes about stuff we saw online. Full Stop was born out of those conversations.
It cost us nothing, which was nice because none of us had any money and few of us had anything that could be considered a job. But we worked hard to build a site we were proud of, arguing often about what we should and shouldn’t do. In many ways, Full Stop has always been a site in search of an identity, and our early conversations in particular made that clear. That lack of stability was and is the site’s greatest weakness—we are not as well-defined as many of our peers—and our greatest strength: The site evolves constantly and, unlike many of our forebears, is not stuck in a particular era of the internet.
The site has changed considerably over the last five years—it’s unrecognizable from the bloggier and in some ways more mainstream site we launched in 2011. That trajectory is partly the result of the fact that we ourselves have changed considerably over the past five years—and many of us have been working on the site for all five years, or close to it. But we’ve also grown in number, locating a diverse hive of editors and writers who have pushed us in wonderful new directions and into choppy, uncharted waters. More importantly, they have brought new perspectives to that conversation that made us want to start the site in the first place, and though we’re still figuring out who we are, how to build an audience, how to become financially viable, and many other things, we’re still benefiting from that discussion.
The latest product of that conversation is Full Stop: The Book. Partly a reflection on the last five years and partly a fundraiser to help us see the next five, the book comprises some, though of course not all, of the pieces we’ve been proud to publish since 2011. From short blog posts to deep dives to jokes about ghosts, Full Stop: The Book is a celebration of five years of wandering in the dark, occasionally stubbing our toe on something, but always feeling for a light switch.
Full Stop continues to be a 501(c)(3) organization run by a collective of unpaid editors, and in buying a copy of Full Stop: The Book, you will not only help reassure our fragile egos that we made the right decision all those nights ago, but also help us continue to support young, strange writers as they find their voices and audiences.