Opti: Personally, I've always thought there to be two sides to h2g2, The Edited Guide and the UnderGuide. Now there appears to be a lot of people writing for the Edited Guide, while many Researchers know very little about the UnderGuide, and so it is rarely touched. So it's with this in mind that I'd like to welcome one of the h2g2 UnderGuide volunteers to take the floor, dmitrigheorgheni.'
dmitrigheorgheni: *Takes floor, doesn't know what to do with it, sets floor down again, and decides to behave.*
Pleased to be here, Opti. I think. , how much trouble am I in?
Opti: I see that you are an UnderGuide volunteer, could you tell us what this entails?
dmitrigheorgheni: Mostly getting a badge ninja-attached to my PS for doing what I do anyway, which is kibbitzing on other people's writing.
Opti: When did you become an UnderGuide volunteer?
dmitrigheorgheni: *Looks at watch, can't remember what it's for, looks at calendar upside down, scratches head, shakes same:*
I'm not sure. As anybody will tell you, I'm no good at dates. A year, maybe a year and a half? Two? A while, anyway. Times flies when you're having fun.
Opti: What persuaded you to become an UnderGuide volunteer?
dmitrigheorgheni: Some gentle arm-wrenching by a nice person named Trin Tragula. Seems they just needed some more cooks to spoil the broth, or something...
Opti: How have things changed since then?
dmitrigheorgheni: Oh, . Since then, there have been lots and lots of great stories, poems, essays...we've teased the life out of each other, writing 'answers' to each other's work, criticising, carping, ranting, insulting each other in fun... Oh, and occasionally saying, 'Wow...that's just...amazing.'
*, then looks uncertain.*
Is that what you wanted to know?
Opti: In recent months the UnderGuide appears to have gone relatively quiet, why do you think this is?
dmitrigheorgheni: *Takes deep breath:*
Ah. Well, that gets to it, doesn't it? Here's where I get into hot water, as the cannibals say...
*Holds up fingers, remembers that he is innumerate, puts fingers down*
One, it's spring, and hootooers' fancy lightly turns to thoughts of outside activities which make sitting at a computer spell checker look like a poor substitute for living.
Two, there's this contest going on, called 'The Stretcher'. A lot of the AWW stalwarts are in it, and it's forcing them into a rhythm where they spam cyberspace once every two weeks. Since the challenge is in PR this week, the AWW is ominously quiet.
*Holds up fingers again, looks confused, sits on hands*
, many: Here's the tricky bit. I think one reason people don't send stuff to the AWW is included in the way you worded the question. You see, the AWW is NOT
the UG. The UG is a showcase for pieces - poems, essays, short stories - that the remarkably picky Miners have decided, through an arcane process that makes the Star Chamber look like transparency, should be enshrined in a sticky bit of cyberspace called the UnderGuide. To represent us, as it were.
Now, the AWW is an open, free forum for the process of writing. It's not like PR - the point isn't to polish your writing up for publication. The point is to enjoy the process, get some tips from one another, get talking about it all. Who cares if your work gets picked for that corner of the Front Page? You get readers, you get feedback.
You know what the best part is? When you write something you know is bang on the money, and three of your very best hootoo friends get so mad about it they accuse you of crimes against nature.
Now, *that's* writing satisfaction.
*Tries to look innocent.*
Opti: What do you think can be done to boost this side of h2g2?
dmitrigheorgheni: *Pricks up ears - or tries to.*
Well, you're helping right now. Spread the word. Get people writing again. Get people interested in the process.
*Leans forward eagerly:*
Rome wasn't built in a day. The thing about writing is that word 'process'. The rewrite is the important part. And the rewrite is where we get stuck. We think it all has
to be perfect right off the bat. Tell hootooers - you have stories to tell. You have opinions. You had an interesting dream last night...tell us about it.
And don't take the criticism too much to heart. I'll let you in on a secret...
...nobody knows what they're doing. It's all happening by accident.
Opti: And finally, what do you see the future bringing when you look into your crystal ball?
dmitrigheorgheni: *Pulls crystal ball out of pocket - the thing is about two inches across, and cobalt blue - and peers into it sceptically*
...I see...I see...More hootoo. Better hootoo. More talking, more reading, more listening...I see the best darn poem in the universe ending up on our Front Page. I see more articles...I see more and deeper friendships developing out of discussions of commonalities and differences..
I see a *lot* of bad puns.
Opti: Thank you dmitrigheorgheni, for being such a great sport. May h2g2 continue making you happy.
dmitrigheorgheni: *Pockets crystal ball and shakes hands in a fairly civilised manner*
Thank you. I feel so much better now.