So, the big thing I want to do is apologize, I guess.
I haven't been around much these past two years. That's a function of a lot of things: life, stress, good old-fashioned shifts in interest. Maybe I could've "done better" in being more active on general, but when the fire's not there, the fire's not there.
So in some sense I owe apologies to people who relied on me for general BZP stuff, apologies to folks who I got to know years ago and then fell away from for no apparent reason, and if I can be egotistical for a moment, apologies to people who really enjoyed my writing and wanted more.
But that's not the main thing I'm here to say I'm sorry for.
I'm here to apologize to the fans - however many or however few - who wanted to tell stories for G2 or keep telling stories for G1, and found BZP wasn't as nurturing an environment as it should be. I'm not just talking about the Library, though that's of course the subforum nearest and dearest to my heart. I'm talking about the comics artists or writers who couldn't tell if people were reading their stories, the fanartists who got quiet responses more often than not, the RPer who couldn't find the interest in their idea they needed to see.
I know the staff aren't miracle workers. I'm not going to act like I could have magically solved any activity issues in the creative subforums with a wave of my hand, or that somehow I forgot to tick a switch labeled "bring in new influx of creative-focused members."
And I absolutely don't want to downplay the creative people active here today. On the contrary, they have all my respect and more. Even if I don't read them, I still feel heartened when I get a notification that a new story has popped up in the library.
But BZP was once a better place for Bionicle fans who wanted to make things of their own and share them with others. We hosted contests to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and put their best foot forward. We had groups dedicated to providing constructive feedback for other members. (Granted, that had its own issues, but let's keep on the rose-tinted glasses for just a little longer?) More than anything, we had a stronger community to help people find their voice here.
I should know. Thirteen years ago now, I wrote a truly terrible story and posted it to the Epics forum. (Then I abandoned it after two months, but that's not the point.) Even as a kid, I saw the other stories being written and felt excited enough to want to throw my own hat into the ring, even if that hat was just yet another "human teleported to Mata Nui" self-insert fic.
I left BZP for a long time shortly after that. And when I came back seven years later - 2011, somehow five years ago now - it was writing that drew me back in again. A few months after the forums relaunched, there was a writing contest to take the title of a Bionicle comic and write a story based around that. I still don't know why I sat down and slammed out a story over the course of an evening for the contest; I hadn't written fiction, well, pretty much ever.
Truth be told, I was convinced it was a disaster. I forced myself not to look at the topic, terrified that it was getting the thrashing I felt certain it richly deserved. When the results were announced, and I found out I'd actually come in first - I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say, other than "thank you." I saw other BZPers encouraging me and congratulating me, and it was - sorry for the cliché, I've been out of practice - like a door opened for me. I'd never seriously thought of being a "writer" before. Over the next two years, it became my passion.
But that was then, and this is now.
I was honored to take over the Library from Hahli Husky when she stepped down. I told myself I'd keep it as nurturing and encouraging a place as I had ever known it, lower activity levels or no. I'd contribute to it both by managing it and by keeping my own stories going. And when G2 was announced, I told myself I couldn't wait to see what new talent it brought in.
Instead, I hardly looked at it.
Again, this isn't meant to be entirely self-flagellating. I work a job that can get pretty tiring, and I work it full-time (or longer) every week. It's not really so surprising that I fell away from online activity, both at BZP and elsewhere. Nor could I have, entirely on my own, turned around a downtick in activity to some kind of creative haven.
But I barely even tried. That's the apology I really need to make here. As someone still, however tenuously, chasing that dream of storytelling, I owed it to BZP to do better fostering the next generation of storytellers here. I told myself there would be plenty of time, that we would figure something out - but there is no more time. G2 is G2, and while it's not like that shuts the door on creative enterprises on BZP forever, it sure as heck doesn't help them.
To be perfectly honest, I'm at a little bit of a loss of what to do going forward now (as I imagine we all are.) I was working - even if not as hard as I should have been - on an idea for a long-overdue library contest. That'll have to be tweaked a bit now, to say the least. I realize this entry is a bit of a downer, and I don't mean for it to be taken as a "BZP is doomed" thing. Just that, like a lot of us, this hit me harder than I was expecting. And it pushed me over the edge to saying a few things I needed to say.
I'm sure I'll bounce back soon enough, but I wanted to get this out there. I really am sorry BZP hasn't been better for creative work the past few years, and for whatever role I played in that fact. If nothing else, hopefully y'all can use the comments to commiserate and share your thoughts a bit.