Is the MeFi Writer's Group still alive? November 5, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Is the MeFi Writer's Group still operational on Vox?

Hello all, I saw a couple of posts from 2006 talking about a MeFi Writer's Group. I just wanted to ask if this was still operational. It seems like such a good idea, given the large number of articulate people who post here.
posted by reenum to MetaFilter Gatherings at 11:36 AM (13 comments total)

Is Vox still operational?
posted by shmegegge at 11:46 AM on November 5, 2007

My spambox still gets updates from "my neighborhood", so I'm guessing yes.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2007

It's a shame that this effort seems to have died off. Ah well, back to the hinterlands for me.
posted by reenum at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2007

I reckon the only way a writer's group would work on Mefi is if it was part of Mefi. Somehow. A bit like Music.
posted by dhruva at 5:29 PM on November 5, 2007

I reckon the only way a writer's group would work on Mefi is if it was part of Mefi. Somehow. A bit like Music.

I think that's a very good idea. I don't know how it could work, though.
posted by WPW at 7:08 PM on November 5, 2007

How about this: A member makes a new story/piece/whatever (Maybe there should be a word limit of some sort, or even a link to a blog where said piece is presented). Then the rest of the subsite would operate more or less along the same lines as the rest of MeFi i.e., people comment/critique/favourite. It probably won't get much traffic, and given Matt's reluctance to implement this as part of MeFi...I don't know if it'll be feasible.
posted by dhruva at 7:39 PM on November 5, 2007

The Writers' Group lasted about as long as my 2005 NaNoWriMo effort. Made me wonder if the whole thing wasn't some sort of abortive collaborative interactive fiction I'd written with myselves.
posted by Eideteker at 9:40 PM on November 5, 2007

I was involved with the first one (pre-Vox) - it was a worthwhile experiment with some quite good work involved, if ultimately unsuccessful.

IMeversoHO it lost momentum through the actual details being being worked out by concensus over geological time, the limitations and pitfalls of the blog format (there were formatting issues amongst others), and people wanting to be commented on more than they wanted to comment (fair enough, as good critical comments are hard, often as hard as actual writing - but people need the feedback to feel it's worth their time to post).

I wasn't the instigator of it - but I did what I could to help out at the time. If I was to do something like that again - I'd model it along these lines:

No time limit or length limit in general (novels aren't likely to get read, so you take your chances)

Monthly themes (voluntary participation - they should be an impetus rather than a straitjacket - like MefiMusic) and monthly limits etc for a bit of variety/limitation practice/seeing what others do with similar restrictions. Pick and choose one, both or neither.

One free post of a piece, after which you must 'pay' two comments of reasonable length in order to post another piece (no "I liked it!:-)" comments) . The aim of the game is ultimately to get a response to learn from - hence Writer's Group.

A slightly more reader friendly format than a narrow blog.

...and members must refer to me as Generalissimo Sparx

Obviously I was a bit sad when the first one fell over. If anyone reckons it's worth another crack - well, there's that bright shiny MeFi Mail thingy to let me know with. Lord knows I need something else to procrastinate NaNoWriMo with.
posted by Sparx at 7:52 AM on November 6, 2007

The issue with online writer's groups that are publically accessible is that posting significant parts of or whole works online essentially makes them unsellable to professional markets. The best way round this is closed email lists a la Critters, but they already exist, and in some numbers, so a MeFi iteration would not probably have all that high a take-up.

There's also the main issues of quality, quantity and good old procrastination.

Quality first - The barriers to entry to start producing writing of any kind are absurdly low. You don't even need your own computer to post your work online - just find a cheap web cafe or a library and do it in Google Docs. Compare this to music or photography, where to do anything more than singalong karaoke or party snaps, you need to invest in serious kit. What this means for online review and criticism is an incredible amount of material posted very quickly, a lot of which is barely readable. While I fondly like to imagine that the contributors to an imaginary MeFi writing sub-forum would all be penning deeply awesome work, my experiences elsewhere tend to sway me towards pessimism.

Now, quantity - in-person groups work because they are very small numbers - maybe a dozen max in a workable group. I'm not sold entirely anyway on the real value of writing groups, beyond affirmation and validation, unless there's a really high ratio of published writers to wannabes, but that's for another post. On the web, even with only a couple of hundred contributors, it becomes very difficult to strain through things (again, due to the lower barrier to entry) to find stuff you can bear to read - in small groups, you read everything, because it's manageable. In big groups, everyone ignores all but their chosen genre/writer/best mate and it just doesn't really function properly.

Finally - good old procrastination. Have a surf through the 'writing' tags on MeFi and AskMeFi. Every single post on writing or procrastination or shutting off the internet to concentrate on writing generates a slew of posts and favourites, for a very clear reason - we're all posting here instead of actually going and writing something, because secretly, we're all looking for the magic bullet that'll help us to suddenly get our shit together and write something.
A MeFi writing subforum would just be another timesink in the same old cat-vacuuming continuum. And the professional authors among us (unSane, jscalzi and cstross are the ones I know about, not to mention Jessamyn) are unlikely to be contributing all that much - they're the folks that have figured out it's actually all about switching the internet off and putting fingers to keyboard.

Still, if someone does start a MeFi writer's group that gets off the ground, of course I'll be along to check it out, because I'm a blazing hypocrite when it comes to the business of putting words on paper and avoiding the Tubes.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2007

You make some excellent points, Happy Dave (and thanks for that critters link - it seems similar to - only free).

Certainly two previous attempts falling over doesn't speak well of the chances of ending up with a core 'group' regularly contributing - but OTOH, a mefi group would probably be more eclectic and varied in interests and knowledge than a pure F&SF(&H) group. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is a pipe dream

/smokes pipe.
posted by Sparx at 9:53 AM on November 6, 2007

The Writer's Group went on strike and were never heard from again.
posted by yeti at 11:21 AM on November 6, 2007

Well, the most successful iteration of the Writers group here had only a handful of members, so I don't think volume will be a problem. A lack of volume might be one. And if there are themes to write on, then the volume is likely to be even lower/constant. And I'm firmly of the opinion that it was the blog format that felled the previous two attempts.
posted by dhruva at 3:59 PM on November 6, 2007

Perhaps we could get a private Yahoo Group or Google Group with one or two people acting as admins. Perhaps that might work better than a blog.

I'd be willing to be an admin. To me, the main purpose of a writer's group is to get you writing. I'm doing NaNo this year, but until now, I just sat around and thought about writing. A group or deadline actually makes me get up and write.

I think Sparx has some good ideas for a framework for such a group. If there's enough interest from the folks here, I'd be more than happy to set something up on Google or Yahoo.
posted by reenum at 8:07 PM on November 6, 2007

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