No candles, no interviews
I remember in the early days I was canvassing for contributors to the site. M’love of all people said she’d consider it if the site was still going in six months time. She had her doubts – quite reasonably methinks – but we’ve done it. Twice over. Of course, the actual birth of the site is a bit muddy. Should it be the 11th when I registered it all with Lycos? Or the 12th when the registration went through channels and the domain was licensed? Or even the 13th when the first proper material went live? I’ve chosen the 12th because that is what it says on the Lycos system. The first visitors were clocked on the 12th so the 12th is her birthday.
Rather than dwell too much on what historians will insist on calling "the past" I thought I’d talk about the ethos of the site. People say the same thing when they find out I have a website. They say "will you go away and stop boring me with your computer crap." I think they’re just shy and what they actually mean is "What’s your website about?" I don’t really have an answer because it’s not really about anything. Or to put it another way it is about everything. Everything that someone is interested enough in to write about it.
Thing Number One
Write about what you want to write about in a way that shows that you care about it. Enthusiasm is infectious and people would rather read a good piece about something they don’t know about than a bad piece about something they do.
The internet being what it is it tends to get rather nasty at times. If a site annoys someone they blame the figurehead. Anything Outpost Gallifrey does to irritate anyone immediately leads to attacks on Shaun Lyon. The same used to happen at BBCi (not to Shaun Lyon but to Emily B). This is the main reason why I’m not splashed all over the site. I don’t want to be e-burned at the stake. Some will choose to take the roughness of fame with the smoothness of ego. That’s their choice. Mine is to lurk in the background and pull strings… I mean do things in a more discrete way.
Thing Number Two
Don’t write about me. It’s not because I want to be mysterious, merely that I don’t want people to hate me. And they will. Any kind of fame – and we move in Dr Who circles so we have a good idea of how un-famous "celebrities" can be – leads to hatred and bitterness.
I once joked to P-Bal (who, by the way, we miss in all his glittery glory) that one of the rules was that you mustn’t talk about Big Brother. I don’t think that is necessarily true. If someone really cared about it – or could explain it – then that would be fine. It’s just that I saw first hand how having to do their show about Big Brother every day literally sucked the life out of my beloved Mel and Sue. They ended up walking out and never going back. I actually don’t think it is possible to cover BB in the way the site covers things. But hey – next summer – feel free to prove me wrong.
Thing Number Three
Write stuff that couldn’t really go anywhere else. Writers have the freedom to do and say anything they want to without having to fit into a narrow genre. It isn’t the subject that is important, it is the author. Every author is a person (except possibly Jeffrey Archer’s team) and people should be subjective rather than objective if they want to be. Let the real world give unbiased reviews of things which gives whys and whats and wheres. I’d rather make things up, read about how someone once saw that particular story in a caravan in Wales or that it reminded them of the time they met Jon Pertwee in a broth… shoe shop.
I decided a while ago to have an open door policy. There are some people I’ve approached directly – some have said yes, others no – and some have come to me. Others are, I suspect, reluctant to join in because they think their stuff isn’t good enough. We all feel like that. This site has numerous things I’ve tried which ultimately didn’t work out. But it has far more things that people tried and which did work out.
Thing Number Four
There is no payment and not very much fame to be had. The pleasure comes from the writing itself. So if you’re sitting there thinking "I’d like to write something" then you obviously have the writer’s gene within you (you can tell I’ve started a Richard Dawkins book, the writer’s gene could’ve come from either parent as you get 50%... etc). The only answer is a simple one – write something. If you enjoy doing it and like what you’ve written then send it. Andrew summed it up in an email he sent last night. "I haven't (or, hadn't) done any writing to speak of (the two stories being probably the only real exception) for years, and it has been great fun, and more to the point maybe a bit of an incentive, to try and knock something up on a roughly-regular basis."
Some people like getting other people to work for them. They "commission" them and then make unnecessary changes to their work because it makes them feel better. I can think of two off hand – one of whom made some bizarre minor alterations to something of m’loves, much to her chagrin – and neither of them is currently "working" on a regular site. I don’t interfere. I’ll correct any spellings that the spell checkers notice but that’s about it.
Thing Number Five
Don’t be afraid that I’ll change your stuff. Don’t be scared that I’ll blue pencil it (what a wonderful olde worlde expression) and make you look silly. My entire editing resume amounts to a handful of examples. The most recent being (and he won’t mind me mentioning it as he’s a proud Spicer) Mr Hunt saying "schizophonic" when he meant "schizophrenic". I emailed him about it rather than just changing it. Another example was a sentence in one of Nathan’s Jupiter Moon pieces which I recast but only after emailing him first. I’m not on a quest to make myself feel good at other people’s expense. So feel confident that what you say will be what you say.
So what IS this site about? Everything really. New sections are set up all the time to house new ideas and the scope for more is almost infinite. Even including this week’s AV download we’re only using 13% of the space available. 10% if you deduct the AV. So we could keep going at this rate for another decade before even considering spending the extra 50p a month to get another 50Mb. Or whatever.
The future is bright, the future is Vervoid coloured. Wear it with pride.
The classic logo, one more time