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An overdue apology

GSR

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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.

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I've been doing all the thinking about this lately, and honestly???

 

The last few years have probably been my most productive years, creatively. I have put a lot of things public. On BZP, offline and even at conventions and where have you.

 

And even then, I feel like the community is mostly fractured out significantly? Not even on BZP but on other sharing and community sites there is a small niche group but nothing like the heydays. And I think a lot of that has to do with how much an online community itself has changed.

 

There's a vaccum where a large community used to be, and I don't think there is a lot out there to fill it, at least not in the way it used to be. And maybe BZP could have been innovated more, and maybe it could have helped hone that interest with a safe place to do so. But maybe not?

 

I don't know. I'm also working through a lot of things. All I'm saying is communities change and they move on and sometimes that's ok. But there's no reason you or I or anyone need to put that on ourselves. You can only do what you can, right?

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Right - I rather blatantly didn't address the fact that fandoms as a whole tend to splinter more these days, or the general shift in internet behavior compared to even five years ago.  (I actually just wrote a different post on a different site that went into that in much more detail, funnily enough.)

 

Nonetheless, as someone who was really helped creatively by BZP and was later given the responsibility to help keep that going, it's hard not to look at the past few years and feel like I certainly could have done more.

 

(As for self-creativity stuff, well, that's a whole other can of worms.  :P)

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For what it's worth, over the past few months I've realized I basically went through the same thing. Fan Created Games, the Software Library, etc. were sort of my babies and a lot of my team's work (Biotech) were major pillars in that community for the latter half of the 00's.

 

Got promoted to staff (hat's off to B6 for seeing fit to promote someone that young and awkward), stayed super-involved for a few years, got busy (college), and faded out for 5 years. BZP has literally made my career--really wish I'd stayed more involved.

 

^ On that note, you made a reply in a topic...maybe 2 weeks ago re. BZP's relevance in a post-forum age (old 2002 homepage, etc.). That is now, of course, a timely discussion (as it was post-G1). I've got some thoughts that I keep meaning to get on paper--would love to help keep this community rolling. :)

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Nonetheless, as someone who was really helped creatively by BZP and was later given the responsibility to help keep that going, it's hard not to look at the past few years and feel like I certainly could have done more.

You and I both, buddy.

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I feel ya on most of these points, except the one where you feel even partly responsible for the decline of activity round here. There's no blame to dole out on that score. As I see it, BZP's broad and active creative community of old was primarily a natural phenomenon, not one that was (or could have been) manufactured by any kind of marketing or strategy on the part of the staff (unless I just never had the right clearance for that part of the Plan =p ).

 

The way things are now is also a natural progression due to various factors (age of fans, internet culture, the nature of new social media, etc.) that have been belabored elsewhere. It's not bad, just different. And looking at all the platforms where Bionicle fandom still has a foothold, I don't see any net decrease in creative activity. BZP as a place may decline, but, as with many many other (toy-)lines, Bionicle itself remains an incredibly fertile source of imagination and creativity, and I'm content with that.

 

JRRT

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To be honest here, I feel you dude. But I feel as of maybe you were too hard on yourself here. I myself wrote the beginnings of a grand story and basically abandoned it seeing that, well... I just suck at writing straight up. A friend of mine brought it up and told me not to doubt myself or to be discourage to write because of what he was saying, but the writing was on the wall regardless of what he was saying, I just suck.

 

 

I am a very creative person, but often find it difficult to express that talent due to technical bounderies and my shy contemptment to ask my parents for the resources to be better, which honestly I would love to have dearly but dare not ask because I am sick of asking people for things I want. Then again if I want to make something for someone it is perhaps hindered by my inability or limitedness to bring forth something of greater value, and so it is just a big neverending ring of madness, if you will.

 

 

But regardless of that, what I am trying to say is that don't beat yourself up over this, we are all human and we all make mistakes. I for one have cried and pained due to my regrets and mistakes, but as for you GSR you I don't think should pain, you had become inactive here, and I understand that fully, personally I have had a lot on my mind as of recent and haven't been able to do much here myself. But I have been thinking much about projects I am working on here on BZP, and some other things, one other project to but also personal things, my education and what have you.

 

 

But along with communities fracturing and mutating, what have you. BZP's history has not been entirely sunshine and rainbows to my understanding, there were many things that came up, horrible things. But that happened long before I even knew of BZP or was active in the BIONICLE community at all, so I wouldn't know. All that I'm getting at is that for some they cannot even care for BZP. Again, communities fracture, mutate, and change. The BIONICLE community isn't a hub anymore, rather isolated individuals who have sprouted up by the remnants of the past, and with the coming of G2 it was a lite tantalizing watering that we all needed, but with G2's passing what are we left with? Frankly it depends, where do we continue from as a community? Do we make our own stories? Or do we continue from where we left off?

 

 

As for me in the ARA Project (A Rude Awakening) I haven't written realy anything for it, eventhough I have propelled it far with just my ideas, concepts, and artistic liberties. Writing isn't my forte at all, but I for one have abilities in other places, and I believe I stand as an example of a new generation of fans. Not new as in brought in recently, I myself have been a fan since I was three back in 2001. By a new generation I mean new folks on BZP. In fact before I came here I was moderately active on Google+, and with another sub-community (but that sub community I broke off of over conflicts with some very egotistical megalomaniacal admins) but even then I wasn't very loud or well known. I am not at all an ambitious person, but I am a thinker and have thought much.

 

 

In the end all I am saying is do not blame yourself or think yourself at fault, because you're not GSR. Communities change over time, and especially so if they had been fracture and broken at one point in the way BIONICLE once was.

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