This was originally planned for inclusion in WiFs #30, but ... well, things change ...
Looking Back, Looking Forward
By da Boss Admiral
Part One: Looking Back.
The year 2016 draws to a close and it’s my time to look back to see where we’ve come from, and look forward to see where we’re going and how close that might be to where we want to go.
I’ve been the fortunate Owner of WritingForums.com for just over four years. Four years. As far as I can tell, that is somewhere above average for owners of this forum and custodians of its community. So, it’s something of a milestone for me.
Given the ever-changing conditions and unprecedented challenges, it is difficult if not impossible to determine if my performance as owner and da Boss is above or below average. And the usual performance indicators are no help as some say above and others say below. So, for better or worse, and possibly both, I am still da Boss of the best forum for writers and creative artists on the net!
Of course, the real credit for our successes, especially through 2016, go to our sacrificial lambs, er, volunteer staff teams who put their time and energy and ideas into making this forum as welcoming and helpful and challenging and entertaining as it can be, and to our members who log in and participate wherever their interests take them.
The highlights of 2016 are your highlights, whether you were active on the main forums or behind the scenes. Individually, and collectively, you have my sincere thanks and wishes of all good things for the days and years ahead.
2016 might be known as the Year of WF Media. Our media team notched up some remarkable successes.
Special thanks have to go to Bazz Cargo and TKent for making the WF 10th Anniversary Anthology – PASSAGES – a happening thing. That project began shortly before I took over, but it was Bazz and TK who brought it to fruition, by which I mean publication and release.
PASSAGES includes links to Amazon and Goodreads. You might find something from your favourite WF author or poet in this collection; you will find great short stories and poems. All proceeds from sales go into the WF account for future publication projects, more opportunities for our members to get something published and out there.
2016 saw the first Wild Card entry in the Annual Grand Fiction Challenge, and the first Wild Card winner: Inkwellmachine. The People’s Choice award came to a nail-biting tie-breaker vote, finally won by Terry D. Congratulations to both of you, and our thanks to all who participated and made this annual prize challenge even better than the first one.
Special thanks to Aquilo for heading up the media team promotion of the event. The judges’ scores and comments reflected the quality of entries from our monthly LM and CoF winners.
2016 also gave us the first Grand Invitational Poetry Challenge and a tie for best poet between Chester’s Daughter and astroannie. Firemajic claimed the People’s Choice. Congratulations to all of you, and our thanks to all who participated and made this challenge such a success.
Poetry’s success in 2016 received a boost again in April with NaPoWriMo, and Chief Mentor HarperCole gave us an excellent roundup of the national poetry month’s events on WF.
A further significant boost to poetry on WF in 2016 came from the Met3 core group of highly skilled, professional and dedicated poets who chose to call WF home. Although Met3 remains largely independent within our forum community, there have been some really positive interactions and participation with our forum poets. A great beginning to what I hope will be a brilliant future for all of us.
Another long-idle project idea finally made real 2016, with my thanks to TK and especially to PiP, was the official launch of our Showcase website intended to … well, showcase the best of our forum’s activities, and more importantly, the best of our members’ works which might otherwise be lost to the back pages of our creative forums.
The Showcase site provided the perfect home for our new BookStore, seeing Amazon saw fit to kill their store app without consultation in 2015. Thanks here go to James [squiggle]* for completing the upload of our members’ published books.
*For the record, I am referring to James 剣 斧 血, but everyone seems to know who I mean.
But wait! There’s more! Showcase provides a link to the revamped Flashes of Brilliance as podcasts. Thanks must go to am hammy for getting these off the drawing board, and to PiP and Non Servium for taking on the project late in the year.
You can see now why we need, and will continue to need, a top shelf media team. The plum crew work to make our members and our best works visible to the greater internet community. They deserve our support and gratitude.
The long-running Catfish Soup member interviews underwent a facelift and a new name – LIMELIGHT – and a new host – Schrody – who we finally managed to lure over to the Dark Side of the forum. It was her destiny.
(Aside) Yes, I’m still working on my interview answers. Hey! She asks some tough questions, so watch out if you are called to the member spotlight.
WiFs took a turn for the better when sigmadog came on board to manage the design and layout of each monthly issue. The WF newsletter has come a long way from its humble homemade beginnings, thanks to too many people to recall or name, but one name which stands out for behind the scenes work is Reichelina. My thanks to both of you for keeping alive and further improving one of our most valuable, if under-utilised, resources.
Rounding out our media team as 2016 closes are KellInkston, buried in a book project, Phil Istine, destined for greatness, ned and Yumi Koizumi, with unfulfilled potential. My thanks for your efforts and my support for your future endeavours.
The success of our monthly challenges relies on the participation of interested members, and increasingly in 2016, these trended towards our newer members as others moved on or were caught up in Real Life situations.
Extra thanks are due to our members who put in time and energy as challenge judges, and again for our challenge hosts – Kilroy (LM), Chester’s Daughter (Poetry), Plasticweld (Side Trips), Firemajic and amsawtell (Purple Pip), and astroannie (CoF). Astro has also gone above and beyond behind the scenes as our Judge Coordinator and host support across all of the challenges and as host of the NaPoWriMo 30 days challenge, among other things.
Our mentor team continued from strength to strength under the excellent leadership of HarperCole, the dedication, energy and enthusiasm of Firemajic, PrinzeCharming, jenthepen, danielstj, bdcharles, and the most welcome returns of Patrick and Non Serviam. With valuable support from Blade, Bishop, Riis Marhall, Tettsuo and voltigeur, the future of our mentor development never looked brighter.
Thanks too, to our forum moderators – LeeC, who helped make smooth the migration and evolution of Galen’s Beta Readers Collective to the main forum; Plasticweld, who (as already mentioned) hosted the Side Trips non-fiction challenge and made it more popular than ever; The Green Shield and TheWonderingNovice for their time and energy and efforts to help our members and keep their dedicated forums smooth and welcoming.
Of our amazing global moderators, the only one not already mentioned for roles and achievements above and beyond is Sleepwriter, but watch this space in 2017.
That brings me to our supervisors – InstituteMan, sadly lost to Real Life for most of the latter part of the year, and especially mrmustard615 who has held the tiller solo for much of the year whilst recovering from Real Life grenades and maintaining his position as most crowned clown of the forum. Stan, you have been outstanding in your efforts for and on behalf of our forum community. Thank you.
Thanks also to Bazz Cargo, who retired from super duties in 2016. You are missed in the back rooms. Also missing are the keys to my liquor cabinet. You don’t happen to know anything about that, do you?
Overseeing all of this, Dark Side and the main WF forum, my Admin team – Gumby, the steadying influence and negotiator; rcallaci, the Patron who came back when most needed; PiP, the unstoppable force whose drive and encouragement kept everything going; and Sam, my General and chief advisor and respected friend. I cannot thank you four enough for stepping up and giving your all to this forum, especially in those times when I could not be here.
Special thanks to our tech guru, Kevin_L, for dealing with the gremlins and finding ways to improve the structure and function of the forum website.
My thanks also to our financial supporters – the donors and our Friends of WF members – whose contributions help to keep the forum ad-free, as well as support our social media initiatives, prize challenges, and publishing projects.
Finally, for 2016, I want to thank our members for participating in our forum community. It is for you that WritingForums.com exists, and without you, that would be just a name instead of the best forum for writers and creative artists on the net!
Part Two: Looking Ahead
Have you ever walked into a room and felt a powerful urge to de-clutter and rearrange the furniture? Have you ever had to go through your wardrobe and get rid of the stuff that no longer fits, or just has to go to make room for new outfits? Do you get the spring clean bug in winter or summer?
Even if you don’t, someone around you feels it. Changes are coming. The use-it-or-lose-it pointy measuring stick is being applied, even to our comfortable Green Lady, and that’s whether you dress in the current or traditional fashion.
Throughout January, some forums will be moved, or raised or lowered in visibility or access. Groups will be removed from the Activity Stream but still available on each member’s home page index (just below the forums index), and still available via the navbar.
With the rise of interest in Publishing topics, the sub-forums will be raised to the next level. Advanced Writing Discussions will likely be moved or otherwise restricted to read only for guests and non-Tavern members. Galen’s Beta Readers’ Intro forums will also be made visible to guests, but the workshops will remain strictly members only to protect publishing rights.
Some member-inspired sub-forums, which started with energy and enthusiasm but have since fizzled, will be archived.
But one new one, James [squiggle]’s idea for Writer/Story of the Month, will be added to our Beyond the Forum space. The details of how exactly it will work, and whether workshop stories should be included, are still to be decided, but the idea is worth the effort to make it work.
The Motley Tavern’s Emporium will likely be moved to Beyond the Forum, and some related parts of da Rules amended accordingly.
Tavern members will not lose out entirely, however. Two new projects will be trialled in the Tavern once the details can be set down:
An Op-Ed Challenge for Tavern members only. Unlike the old Debates which too often descended into nit-picking and personal attacks, the Op-Ed challenge will call on interested Tavern members to put together a single opinion piece supporting one side or another of a predetermined debate question or statement. The best-presented articles will be published in WiFs, probably on Showcase, and the winning writers will have earned a non-fiction award; and
A Red-Light District, a strictly adults-only and strictly invite-only space for those Tavern members who are serious about writing adult rated literature or poetry. Conditions will apply to any who join.
The five main challenges – LM, CoF, Sidetrips, Poetry, and Purple Pip – will continue as long as members participate, and the annual Grand Challenges – the Grand Fiction Challenge in February, and the Grand Poetry Challenge in April – will be back! (thanks, Arnie)
We will be looking for members willing to commit to the Dark Side for the good of the forum, but don’t bother applying or putting your hand up – we don’t work that way – just be the sort of member we want representing our forum, and we’ll find you. We’re good like that.
2017 looks like being an exciting ride. Buckle in and enjoy!
On behalf of WritingForums.com, I wish each and every one of our members a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Good things to you,
Cran (da Boss)