I’ve always enjoyed the idea of writing websites. I think the pitch is pretty simple– it’s an online, interest-based community. The inherent anonymity of the Internet and the use of text-based relationships instead of face to face interactions ensure that the user can present themselves however they want, which for many people sounds like a dream come true. I would love it if I could wear pyjamas all the time and embrace my bedhead and still be able to make good first impressions.
Anyone would be excited to jump into a community where everyone shares their own interests. The possibilities for discussion seem endless. The few times that I’ve met someone who loves Virginia Woolf as much as I do, we’ve exploded into excitement and conversation and totally lost track of whatever it was we were originally talking about. As a platform designed specifically for people that share an interest, a writers’ websites offers the allurement of infinite indulgence in nerdisms.
So, I’m on a new website, called Inkitt. Some people have the presence of mind and self-discipline necessary to maintain a steady presence in a web community, and I confess that I have never been one of those people. My venture into Inkitt is really an attempt to see if this time I might be able to generate an actual base for my writing. From what I can tell, it must be a relatively new site. It doesn’t have an About page, so I’m not sure when it was actually launched, but there are several features that I would have taken for granted which are still in the “developing” stage, and even the most popular stories don’t tend to have very many reviews. The forum pages are all relatively quiet, and the community is small enough that one general page is enough to include all personal introduction posts, another contains review requests, and neither of them seem overwhelmed. I would have thought that these two topics in particular would inspire a constant torrent of posts, but I dropped a line into the introductions three days ago, and I haven’t even drifted halfway down the page. This is undoubtedly the most restrained writing community I’ve ever encountered.
My initial foray into the world of writing websites was with Inkpop, which, alas, is no longer with us (a moment of silence). I found a thread there called the Procrastinators that was reposted daily, and I loved the community. It was a place to rant, to receive support, to offer virtual cupcakes and accept virtual tea. We had Word Wards and intent discussions about the educational system. We all mourned our inability to focus and work for long periods of time, and we learned to band together against our own self-destructive tendencies. At that point I was incredibly insecure about my identity as a writer, and I learned that really a writer is just a person who writes. Writers are goofy and spastic and some of them aren’t very good at keeping up with their personal responsibilities and some of them rock the world of self-publishing, but the only real qualification is that they must write. I was writing, even if I didn’t like what I was writing, and that was good enough.
As I indicated, Inkpop didn’t last. HarperCollins bought it, turned it into Figment, and made it a place primarily for 8-14 year olds. I know that 8-14 year olds who write deserve to have a place for them, too, but I don’t think I will ever forgive HarperCollins for eliminating my Proc thread. The community pretty much dissolved, because Figment’s forum system wasn’t set up the same way. Most people jumped ship to Wattpad, and some simply vanished into the Ether. There were people who had thousands of followers under Inkpop’s system, novels and short stories and poems that had gathered huge amounts of support. Figment preserved some of it, I think, but for the most part, it was gone.
I was one of those who jumped to Wattpad. For a while I tried to give Figment a chance, but most of my friends were gone, and the longer I spent with the new system, the more I disliked. Wattpad became the new place to be, even if we never managed to reestablish the Procrastinators thread. If any of the old Procs ever read this, I was The Hatter, and I miss the stupendous ridiculousness of our community.
On Wattpad, I actually made a longterm pen pal. Her name was Alicia, and after a few months of messaging back and forth we traded emails. Eventually we Skyped a couple times, and once we had reassured ourselves that we were, in fact, both teenaged girls, we traded phone numbers as well. It was huge fun, coming home every day to exchange stories about classes and friends and working on writing. I admit that we’ve fallen out of touch now, and it’s probably mostly my fault, but it was a wonderful friendship while it existed. I enjoyed the rest of the Wattpad community as well, and I poked around and left a lot of reviews and tentatively plugged some of my own writing. I kept up an irregular presence through graduation from high school, but over the last year and a half I’ve started avoided going on the website. Nothing so dramatic as the transition from Inkpop to Figment has occurred, but the primary voice on Wattpad, last time I checked, belonged to a 15-year-old girl who writes One Direction fan fiction. Why, for the love of all that is chocolatey in the world, is there fan fiction of One Direction? There are some questions in this world that we will never know the answer to, and that’s one of them.
As I am no longer a 15-year-old girl, and I have never been a “1D” fan, Wattpad isn’t the best place for me. I have yet to find another site to camp in, but I’m willing to give Inkitt a shot. If it really is a website in its early stages, it would be awesome to watch it explode and then become one of those old-timers with a join date “back in the 2010s” and a presence as one of the best reviewers (I do leave excellent reviews. I’m critical, but I always offer a potential method of improvement. For any writers out there, feel free to hit me up. I have way too much free time right now and I’d be happy for something to edit).
And now, Inkitt, the ball is in your court. I promise that I will continue to chat with your current members and leave reviews on trending stories, but in exchange I think you should turn into a new “place to be.” It’s a thin line between forum and fad, but I think you’ve got a shot. Good luck!
UPDATE: This is my profile on Inkitt, for those who might be interested