I had two conversations with different Sherlockians this weekend that made me do a little pondering.
Saturday was The Parallel Case of St. Louis' final meeting of 2018 We had a new member join us this weekend, and she admitted later that she was a little nervous coming into an established group. We've all been there: walking into a group that already has an set routine that you don't know, references and in-jokes that only make half-sense to you, wondering if what you have to say will fit with the group. Ugh, just thinking about it makes my anxiety flare up.
I was able to spend a few minutes with our new member after the meeting, and it was a wonderfully delightful talk! We got to talk about a few common Sherlockian interests, and at one point Johnlock was mentioned. She graciously acknowledged that even though I'm not on the same page as her in our views on Johnlock, we still had plenty of common ground. We said our goodbyes and I hope to see her at our next meeting in January.
Later that day, I was talking with a friend who has been a Sherlockian for many years. He's active in a city where there's more than one scion, and was telling me about how old grudges between some of the members in different scions still influence relations between the groups decades later.
Now, taken one at a time, neither of these conversations are very earth-shattering. But it struck me just how different these two situations were handled. Sherlockiana is a hobby that we all come to with a shared interest in the stories of Sherlock Holmes. No matter your political leanings, religious beliefs, or whatever divisive category we can put ourselves in, we are all starting from the same place: Sherlock Holmes.
From there, we can see the differences multiply. Will Ferrell? "devotee" vs. "fan"? Johnlock? Are these points of contention any different than women in the BSI or Rex Stout's "Watson was a Woman"? They are just different interpretations of the same interest.
The new member I spoke with on Saturday, (and I know this is clunky without me using her name, but I didn't ask ahead of time and don't want to be presumptuous) could easily blow me off because Johnlock isn't my thing. The other conversation I had this weekend proves that it can happen, and it can last for years. People in the same city, with the same hobby, refusing to work together because of some decades old disagreement.
And this isn't just because the disagreeing groups are old school Sherlockians and the generous one is a new school fan. There are some disagreeable members of the new fandom and scores of wonderfully generous old school people.
So how do we become more of a welcoming community of fans, devotees, whatever we choose to call ourselves?
I don't have all of the answers. Hell, I barely have any.
But my one guiding light when navigating Sherlockiana is to remember that we are all starting from the same place: Sherlock Holmes. From there, it's just about human decency. We may stumble along the way (I know I have plenty of times), but if we can focus on the positives instead of the differences, I think we'd all be surprised to find out just how interesting Sherlockiana can be with other viewpoints.