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Fair Enough


The Ambage

Posted by Cederak , Apr 22 2015 · 256 views

I think, deep down, we would all like to be remembered in a way. And on those days when I am feeling particularly retrospective, my time here brings the Ambage to mind. That, and my time with the Epic Critics Club and Short Stories Critics Club. The Ambage was a writing group, internally marked by creativity and playful chatter, and externally infamous for elitism and self-importance. I know that, because I was one of the few in charge. It's been a couple years since I left the Ambage behind and the group fell apart, slowly losing traction after a combination of factors came into play. I can't speak for any of the other members, but putting a couple years between yourself and an experience can give you a better sense of things. I'd like to answer a few questions, and hopefully provide some honest insight to what went wrong. On the one hand, two years is too late for apologies. On the other hand, if anyone ever entertains the idea of a writing group here on BZPower again, or even a critic club for that matter, this may be the best cautionary tale you're going to stumble upon.

Q.1 – How was the Ambage formed?

A.1 – Another member came up with a smaller writing group called the BAG. BZPower Authors' Guild. It was meant to be a place where BZP authors could post and workshop stories back and forth. The idea reached other members, who recommended skype chats for a more inclusive experience. This was a different entity entirely, and we decided it could use a new name. So I found one. I searched for a word that would retain the original "BAG" and also define something interesting for the group. My answer was this word, "ambage," that was also expanded into a larger more absurd acronym. I want to say the end result was "Amazingly Marvelous BZPower Authors' Guild Ensemble." I could be wrong, but that sounds about as over-the-top as you can get. I made that acronym, so there's a little self-deprecation in calling it dramatically awful. Maybe a bit more self-deprecation to add that if I ever heard someone use the word ambage in everyday conversation, I don't think we could be friends.

Q.2 – Did the Ambage view itself as elitist from the inside?

A.2 – Mostly, yes, we knew. I was 21 when the Ambage was formed, but the average age of the senior members was 18. For me, the Ambage was an introductory course to watching young adults abuse a worthless "position of authority." During my first year in the military, during technical training, (because our training leaders could not be present at all times and micromanagement is rampant across all branches), certain tech training students were given "leadership roles." I wanted to think everyone is responsible and mature enough not to misuse that leadership, but I was wrong. Their uniforms were given the addition of a colorful cord that designated their position, and there were some who would use the full extent of that position to ensure they would not be questioned or underestimated. I'm not sure if you've ever watched a 19 year old lose his temper at a 33 year old man and have that 33 year old force out an "understood, sir," but it's strangely sobering. Coming back around to my original point, a small group of young adults who saw themselves as better writers than some 14 or 15 year olds posting short stories here on BZP, it's not surprising. And those same individuals acting, not as adults, but as children with the ability to kick members from chat groups who they did not agree with, also makes sense.

Q.3 – How did the Ambage fall apart?

A.3 – On the BZPower side, from what I understand, there was too much discord. Administration took the steps to have the group shut down and the Ambage's presence was shrunken to some obscure webpage and a few skype chat groups. If the drama within the skype chats held any indication, putting an end to it on BZP was as wise a decision as any. As much responsibility as I'd like to take for everything the Ambage screwed up, I kept most of my business with the group away from BZPower. But if you want some solace, some satisfaction, it may help to know that I personally spoke with many Ambage members and told them that we failed. Not just me. Not just them. We set out to write and critique and really just consumed ourselves in a sea of drama and headaches. We did that, and it was our fault. If you were affected, here's the part where I swallow my pride and talk for the group. We are sorry. I am sorry. Taking some accountability after the fact is pretty worthless, but that's all I've got left on the matter. As for the Ambagers, I call most of the senior members up on the phone every couple months. They know where I stand on the subject, and we've all moved on to other things in our lives. Careers, college – life after this place. I doubt I'll inform them that I wrote this up.

Q.4 – What can be said about the anthologies the Ambage published?

A.4 – Again, I don't want to speak for anyone else in the Ambage, but I can tell you what I thought of being published with my fellow "Ambagers." It didn't mean much to me then, and it means less to me now. I don't tell people I'm a published author, the manner of my "first published works" is embarrassing and was born out of the simplest task. I grew up thinking you would have to take a manuscript to a publisher and work out what they thought might sell best. Imagine my surprise to learn you can contact a website for a small fee and they'll sell it online. The result left me feeling hollow, like I hadn't earned the right to call myself a published author. It was like running a marathon in a car for 26 miles and casually strolling the residual distance. You did it, technically, but the means to achieve it were…cheap. I think the Ambage published a few anthologies, though the bad taste in my mouth from the first was enough for me.

Q.5 – Anything regarding the critic clubs?

A.5 – Same idea, pretty much. Don't pick poison apples and give them as gifts. I recently spoke with a member of the BZPower staff team and said this in regards to some missteps made with the critic clubs. "As authors, BZP writers are not James Patterson, and as critics, we were not Roger Ebert." Remember your humility and it will serve you well. Feed your arrogance and it will take you far. Learn the difference, identify a balance, and decide what matches your personal views best.

I'll lock or remove this entry if the forum staff feel the subject is still too incendiary a topic of discussion. I will note that my inbox is always open, but the Ambage really has had enough public discussion on this forum. Really, the objective is to remind others. If you have a position of power, please, please, use it to serve the people around you. Always be kind, to yourself and to others. And lastly, if you should set out with the best of intentions, never forget why you did it.

It's not always so serious – it's only life. Take it as it comes, with all the optimism you can muster, and present the best of yourself to the world.


May 2015

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