My understanding of the Wordmonger's Ball was that I was supposed to disguise myself. I had posted one poem on the site in 2005 and then nothing for three years, mostly because I was too busy hating an electronic medical record. I finally wrote my first decent note on the EMR and then showed back up on Everything2. I had been warned that poetry was likely to receive a lukewarm response.
By the time the Wordmonger's Ball started I had been in the catbox a lot and had posted about 30 writeups. I had been fired for the first time ever, from my job of 9 years, for being too vocal about my disagreements with administration. I was a bit grumpy.
I chose to start with a limerick for two reasons, perhaps three. One is that I like limericks. I've always liked nonsense prose and poetry, I can quote large amounts, and I had Edward Lear's complete works as a child and still do. The second reason is that I was trying to disguise myself. The third is that I suspected I might get a fairly strong negative reaction; I was testing because the way new writers are sometimes treated bothers me.
In my fantasy world, Everything 2 would welcome new writers, even if they were awful, because it would be a site to play with words. That is what I do all the time. Play with words. I am a family doctor, was told by three higher ups in the last month at work including the one who fired me that I'm an amazing diagnostician, but I am accompanied by songs, poetry, rhymes and bits of memorized nonsense all the time at work and at home. Maybe some people don't have that going on, but I had always assumed that everyone did. I didn't let it out much because then people start giving me the sideways is-she-crazy look, but it was with me. I was honestly hoping that Everything2 would be a place that would welcome this sort of play. Ha.
My first limerick was pure silliness and about my pet bunny. I wanted her immortalized because I'm fond of her. I got an email asking if there was a story or something. That email was polite. I posted another silly limerick and this time I was told that I'd better learn to write something good, that my poems sucked and they were off to node heaven.
I was not able to have a yelling match with my hospital district, so being told to shut up or post "a good poem" was rather a relief. I posted a couple of poems that were a bit critical of Everything2's critiques and then I really got a response. Maybe I was a troll, stop criticizing the gods and editors because they generously volunteered their time, and one poem went to node heaven within minutes of posting. All were down voted. One editor told me that a -5 automatically went to node heaven. A different editor said, no, the editors got to decide when. One poem had a ching but went to node heaven anyhow. My general plan had been to write increasingly complex poems through the month. One limerick was answered with a critical limerick that essentially said that I was not tough enough and would be scared away. I thought that was very interesting. Here writers on Everything2 mourn people who have left and yet someone is saying to me that they are going to scare me off. I answered with a limerick that admired the other author for "imitating my form". Ha. Got you writing in the hated poetry form too.
After posting a poem in 2005 I had not lurked on the site. I had read the writeups occasionally by a few writers, but had not sat and watched the catbox. Didn't have time and hated computers after 8-10 hours a day on the electronic medical record. But awful as I think the EMR program is, it had increased my typing skills and my computer navigation skills immensely. I am a user, not a coder. I want it to do what I want it to do and it really pisses me off when I don't understand what the manual says or the IT guy says or the geek doctor says and I can't figure it out intuitively. I never threw my work laptop across the room, but my first one died because I hated it so much. Wore out the touch screen on my second. On my third when fired. At any rate, I started reposting all of the poems as logs. I found a contest for using the word defenestrate, so wrote a limerick. I found a contest re Pink Ponies and wrote a limerick. I was trying to argue with the gods and editors but not get banned from the site quite. I was pleased to hear indirectly that there were arguments about whether I was a troll, a bot and even Simulacron3. I am honored by the last.
I posted a poem that got chings. I was writing from the perspective of a new writer on the site who arrives, is young, says something that is forbidden at home in the catbox and immediately gets attacked by everyone in the catbox. I have seen this happen and hear me, gods and editors, I DON'T LIKE IT AT ALL. Yes, I am critical of the site and yes, I disagree with it. If you want more new writers, you need to be gentle with new people in the catbox, even if they say something hostile, politically incorrect or just stupid. Also I don't understand much of the node that purports to explain HTML, but I don't really care about that, honestly. I'll figure it out eventually.
As a physician, I have to take care of people. Whether I like them or not. Whether they are politically correct, nice, evil, beat their wife. I know all of the really out of control drunks in town because I have taken care of them in the hospital. Think about the emergency room. The ER doctor and staff have to take care of the family in the car that was hit by the drunk AND THE DRUNK TOO. Even if someone was killed in the wreck.
How do you take care of someone who is drinking themselves to death, going blind from out of control diabetes, refusing to let the surgeon remove their cancer, or being a racist or sexist butthead in the catbox? I don't drive them away. I stay in contact and repeat at each visit: if you keep drinking like this you are going to wreck your car and die, kill someone with your car, die from your liver. I think you are going to be blind within six months if you don't take care of your diabetes and it leads to kidney failure and amputations too. It is hard for me to watch you die of cancer, can I send you to a counselor to talk about it? Are you afraid of surgery? How are you today? Often I start with a much gentler approach than these examples. And I have had alcoholics stop drinking, methamphetamine users stop using, diabetics who went from horrible control to wonderful. Not all, of course. But some do and I have to have faith that change can happen or how could I continue?
I am disappointed that Everything2 is not my fantasy of a play place for words and I am even more disappointed in the way some users are treated in the catbox. If Everything2 really wants more traffic, this is what I would address.
To be fair, I would add that I love playing in the catbox, there are some really nice people around, I don't care if I get yelled at about my spelling and it is all helping my writing. I am interested in what gets a + and what gets a - and I didn't expect many people to like limericks just because I do. I haven't left in my purple electric Huff yet. I might even learn some coding language, though not so far.
And I still like limericks.