Just dipping in to say, in case anyone hasn't spotted it, that the front page of the forums thread here:
always has the most recently posted-on threads at the top, and the same for the Groups threads further down the page. For what it's worth, that's the page I have bookmarked, so I click on the top thread, and if that's got nothing new since I last looked, then I know the next one down won't either, and pop off to the other bits of the site.
On the issue of privacy, one of the ways in which things change for writers when they get published is that it's not just hard-core business things that you don't feel able to talk about in absolute public, IYSWIM, it's all sorts of things. Having a well-trained writer's brain, "Do you write in the shed?" has instantly set my imagination going in all sorts of directions that one might happily elaborate on among friends, but would not
want plastered all over the net. I might be happy to post in a semi-private forum, that I can't get my bastard chapter three right, or that I've had a disastrous haircut that I'm miserable about, and go into a bit of detail and ask if anyone has suggestions? But I wouldn't be willing to say that somewhere googlable. Asking for help with titles would be another example. And as EmmaH says, threads wander off in different directions, and that's part of the delight of a forum where members are relaxed and familiar with each other, and feel safe. But it also means they do
need to feel safe from the off - which is why PM and the Lounge do tend to be lively, and the busier groups have very keen and devoted members too.
But if people start threads in the public face of the site, I will join in if there's anything I can usefully contribute, and say my two penn'orth.
|But if people start threads in the public face of the site, I will join in if there's anything I can usefully contribute, and say my two penn'orth.|
Yes, and very useful too.
I try to post technical questions out here specifically because I think it is useful enough to be shared. But that leads me to...
In the mirror thread in PM, somebody (Astrea. I think) mentioned the cyclical nature of queries... The same topics come up over and over as new writers find they need to know the same as those who were new once did. I haven't posted much out here in a while becaus I _have_ many of those answers now. So, maybe, the quiet public face is also a reflection of more experienced writer member profile?
Moving on to techie stuff about forum functionality; yes, I agree that WW lacks a number of features that are available on newer forum software (Phpbb for example). That's just a symptom of age - I'm sure it was cutting edge a few years ago.
It's non-trivial to migrate a site to a new software base and equally non-trivial to write those functions from scratch. While ui and edit functions are a tad dated, WW edit / upload / crit functionality gives me more control than I have seen anywhere (with possible exception of Scribophile). While I'd love to see an upgrade, I'd hate to lose the good functions.
|The same topics come up over and over as new writers find they need to know the same as those who were new once did. I haven't posted much out here in a while becaus I _have_ many of those answers now. So, maybe, the quiet public face is also a reflection of more experienced writer member profile?|
I think this is very true. And I know from stats on my own blog, that I often get hits from very old threads on WW, where I once put a link to a post of mine - so even indirectly I know that the very considerable body of discussion that's built up here over the years is being mined. Shrewd users of forums with a question do a site search before they start a thread - and may well find that their question has been answered, and they don't need to start that thread.
And it's true that if the PhD writers, say, are getting very abstruse in Private Members, that might seem a bit daunting to someone who's just feeling their way with writing and not too clear about the difference between Showing and Telling, and has poked their head round the door for the first time.
But I can honestly say that in - gulp! - eight years as a member I don't think I've ever seen anyone's question or comment about writing dismissed as too beginnery or trivial - everyone's questions and bafflements are treated with respect, and met with generous help.
To my mind that's one of the main pages which illustrates the very issue of stagnation.
If you have that saved to your favourites and click through, what do you actually see?
Three posts on the 22nd June, one on the 21st, two on the 20th... and so on.
It's pretty slim pickings - no? Even if you also take into account the group activity at the bottom of the page, one could easily reach the conclusion that on the 21st June there were only four posts on the entire website!
I don't know from the visible data how true this is but it doesn't exactly whet my appetite.
Also, if I post today and then click back to that page later, there's no immediate way of knowing if anybody else has updated the thread without clicking on further.
I'm not having a pop at you EmmaD, rather just suggesting that keeping this page as a favourite doesn't take the forum reader any further on.
The privacy issue somewhat perplexes me. Perhaps I'm too familiar with people only using aliases on the internet (leaving aside social media, facebook, twitter, blogs and so on) where privacy is not an issue because your identity is unknown.
I understand some writers will want to use their presence on Writewords for self-promotion purposes and so want their identity known to other members - whether this is for book sales or tuition offered etc.
Fair enough - if people want that, and you want to do it - great. It's somethng I'm sure many of the writers here also promote through personal websites and blogs and so on.
It does surprise me however that members are suggesting they have discussions which they perceive as having potential for some kind of 'damage' or general negativity and yet consider that they know enough about the identities of all the 'alias' members to believe that the £20 membership barrier protects them from exposure in some way.
And to justify the 'paid for' aspect by suggesting it is secure enough to protect such conversations - really?
It's not a risk I would take.
In terms of the 'quiet public face refecting a more experienced writer member profile' - I don't know - I don't really buy that.
It's a nice thought, if you can follow through on it, but really it sounds a bit like being asked in a job interview whether you have any weaknesses and responding that you're a perfectionist workaholic.
That there's a 'mirror thread' of this one in the Private members section says a lot -
I feel like I'm being watched over by the Volturi
I think really that what a 'quiet public face' illustrates is a site that doesn't particularly want new members but which may be more comfortable acting more as a 'club' for the existing clientele.
And there's nothing wrong with that - at all.
It's just best to clarify that from the off - so that there are no misunderstandings.
|But I can honestly say that in - gulp! - eight years as a member I don't think I've ever seen anyone's question or comment about writing dismissed as too beginnery or trivial - everyone's questions and bafflements are treated with respect, and met with generous help.|
This is absolutely true and worth reminding ourselves about. It also reflects the incredible benefit the internet can be. When I started out, there was practically nothing to tell me how to approach the business, just the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, and I seem to recall that was heavily biased to what publishers preferred, rather than authors, e.g. the stern advice to submit to no more than one publisher at a time. Not only can a new writer join this site and get instant advice, they'll get a variety of experiences to choose from.
Another vacuum in the old days was the absence of much author interaction. I started as a children's writer but it was ages before I even met another one, and that was just because we had the same publishers and met in the meeting room (Jan Mark, in fact). Now, I'm in regular contact with writers all over the place and if I don't know what I'm doing with regard to the business, I really have only got myself to blame.
[quote}Just dipping in to say, in case anyone hasn't spotted it, that the front page of the forums thread here:
always has the most recently posted-on threads at the top, and the same for the Groups threads further down the page. [/quote]
Thanks, EmmaD - although that's my landing page for Writewords, I had never scrolled down to Groups because it's miles down the page and there's no reason to think there's anything going on down there unless you know about it.
By 'mirror' I meant only that this thread sparked a lively discussion in PM along similar lines.
I joined a few years ago when the public site _was_more active and have since been a member of a number of alternative communities in addition to this one. WW is the only one I pay for, and the only one I would pay for. but that's my decision.
All your points about accessibility and usability are valid, but what I really appreciate has nothing to do with the slightly dated software and everything to do with the culture. As a case in point, I invite you to try starting a thread like this on a certain, well-known writer's community beginning with L!
We have no moderators and no _need_ for moderators. This is an intelligent forum of reasonable people who happen to incorporate a lot of writing knowledge and experience.
It is by no means the only one, but I like it.
OMG - I've been here for - what 2? 3? years and I NEVER knew that the groups thread list was further down the page.
I always wondered how some members knew to drop in on apposite group threads - I always just assumed it was divine providence!! Well - there you go.
Flora, I have been here for what, 7 years? and I didn't know either!
|I understand some writers will want to use their presence on Writewords for self-promotion purposes|
Actually, I can't think of anyone who does this - one of the things that keeps me subscribing to WriteWords is the complete absence of anyone behaving like this.
There are threads congratulating people on achieving publication, and a long-running one commiserating on not getting there, but self-promotion really isn't a part of this site.
|There are threads congratulating people on achieving publication, and a long-running one commiserating on not getting there, but self-promotion really isn't a part of this site.|
Yes, that's very true. And also a good example of the use of the sort of semi-privacy that PM and the Lounge offer to anyone, particularly those whose writing is to some extent public property.
We have a long-running thread, the Lifeboar, in PM, for everyone with work out on submission, for the kind of support and commiseration and fellow-feeling that writers' forums are all about. Whether it's your first-ever sub to a competition or an agency, or your sixth novel to your usual publisher or hundredth story to a competition, it's one of the most chronically wearing aspects of being a writer. We need and want support.
But as a writer with, however small, a public face, it becomes a slightly different thing, and there are lots of those on WW. Anonymity isn't really possible because it's almost impossible to say anything worth saying about your writing and experience of being an author without becoming immediately identifiable. And, using myself as an example, I don't
specially want one of the things to turn up on google being me saying to writer friends that I've sent a story to a particular mag but don't have huge hopes of it as I don't think it's really the kind of thing they like, and as all my WW mates know, I don't really think much of myself as a short-story writer anyway. It's not a huge commercial secret, but the rest of the world doesn't know that rejection and long shots that miss and wobbles of confidence are all part of the game, and they wouldn't weight what I've said in the way that it deserves, but rather that here is a writer who doesn't think much of herself, and is anyway about to be told by a magazine that she's not good enough.
But that reality-check is actually central to what WW is about: realism about the far side, as well as the nearside, of getting published... and being published... and staying published, which is the toughest proposition of the lot. I've lost count of how many members have said how their eyes were opened to the realities of this peculiar business, by what gets discussed in PM and the Lounge.
Perhaps self-promotion is a slightly hazy description of what I'm trying to express.
Let's say that on some writing websites you might very rarely encounter an actual published writer, at least not many willing to forego their anonymity.
The vast majority of 'members' of any writing community will be 'aspiring' writers and while we all love to chat, ultimately there's a limit to what any of us can learn from a community made up entirely of our peers.
Because what we're all looking for is the key to getting published - 'What's the secret?' - we all ask.
Of course, eventually, many will come to realise that the secret is, that there is no secret! If you write a good book you stand a good chance of being published and if you write a bad book you have very little chance of being published.
Along the way, we all experiment with different fonts (size & style), varying qualities of paper and ink, colourful envelopes, jigging and rejigging covering letters and synopses and then rejigging them again, 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, 3rd person all-knowing, 1st person unknowing! and so on...and so on....
All in search of the elusive 'secret'.
And of course, who better to impart the secret than a geunine, bonafide published writer?
It has to be said, if I hadn't recognised Emma Darwin's name from an interview I read a while ago, I probably wouldn't have looked any further on Writewords.
There may well be other published writers on the website but perhaps they're saving their nuggets for those in the Private areas
Perhaps the description self-promotion may seem slightly 'new money' or have a bit too much of a hint of 'tasteless' commercialism for some but I don't have any problem with it - it wasn't a criticism.
Certainly, it's a quid pro quo, is it not?
Without, for example, Emma's presence there may well be a deal fewer new subscribers and her participation no doubt causes a few people to click on over to her books on Amazon every now and again.
Quid pro quo - not a criticism.
|There may well be other published writers on the website but perhaps they're saving their nuggets for those in the Private areas|
To be fair, there's at least half a dozen on this thread.
|There may well be other published writers on the website |
there's at least half a dozen on this thread.
And covering quite a wide spread of experience/genre/form, too, now I do a head-count - children's, adult's, long fic, short fic, sf/f, historical. Three Masters degrees, unless I've miscounted. A couple of us teach, quite a few of us do one or other of the kinds of editing...
This 128 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 > >
[There may well be other published writers on the website
there's at least half a dozen on this thread.
And covering quite a wide spread of experience/genre/form, too, now I do a head-count - children's, adult's, long fic, short fic, sf/f, historical. Three Masters degrees, unless I've miscounted. A couple of us teach, quite a few of us do one or other of the kinds of editing...]
Big Up to the Writewords massive!
No harm in a bit of Self-Promotion after all
I have no idea if the 'other' published writers on this thread are using their real names or not but their monikers are not familiar to me.
However, it's fair to say a published children's or SF writer on the forum wouldn't be familiar or of interest to me, although it presumably would be to aspiring children's writers.
I don't hold that long fic or short fic are different genres.
It just goes to show though, perhaps people don't need to be quite so worried about maintaining their privacy
I read an article in a magazine in the dentist's waiting room years ago, perhaps when The Mathematics of Love was published, so I remembered Emma Darwin's name.
Not heard of anyone else on the boards as I've looked through the site. Either people haven't reached the same giddy heights of fame or they're working in less media celebrated genres.
Sorry guys, I still can't make myself be bowled over by the wonder of what is /supposedly potentially still hidden in the mysteries of the Private Lounge.
Why not just tell me? Why not allow trial members have a look at the most 'valuable' part of the site - after all that's the money shot.
Even the milkman, doesn't just flick me a quick glimpse of the UHT when he wants me to buy the Gold Top.
Perhaps you've got Thomas Pynchon in there?