The toast I made to Writing.Com at our 2003 Convention's Formal Night.
|Please note: This is the toast I made Formal Night at Writing.Com's 2003 Convention (8/17/03). I've transferred the speech as I used it which includes some odd spacing and incorrect grammar; that was just so I could remember how I wanted to present it outloud. I've made the item unrateable since I do not require any grammatical help or feedback on the piece... it's being posted upon request and for content only.
First, welcome everyone and thank you --- each of you -- for attending Writing.Com’s 2003 Convention. Most of you came from so far away and I really do appreciate every minute you spent traveling to come here. All power issues aside, I’m pleased to say that almost all of us made it as planned. I hope you have all had a creative and memorable time this year. I can safely speak for SMs and myself when I say we both have. It has been an absolute pleasure to see some of you again and meet the rest of you for the first time. We have each enjoyed talking and laughing with you this weekend.
We all need to thank SMs and Jane for their extremely hard work and dedication to ensuring that this convention -- your convention – is/was all that it can be. They have spent literally hundreds of hours over the past 10 months preparing every last detail of this weekend. Everything at this convention, from the decorations and table seating creations to the well planned schedule were touched and perfected by their hands. It should be known that when it comes to the convention, my only jobs are talking like I am now and making sure we have the financial ability to pay for the event. They get sole credit for everything else this weekend. Please stand up and give them a good long round of applause for everything they did to make this weekend what it has been.
I need to thank my parents and sister Debbie for attending and I’d also like to say congratulations to my sister Mindi and her fiancée, Craig. I’m glad you could both be here this weekend. Thank you to Richards for flying in to lend a hand and thanks to Dev for Inetu’s continued commitment to quality, reliable service for Writing.Com.
Before we leave here -- yes, we have to leave – tomorrow – sometime -- I had to stop and ask myself HOW we got here and what it is that brings a group of people together from the far reaches of England, Canada, California, Michigan… and New York?
Three short years ago, a small dot com startup named Stories.Com showed itself online for the first time. It was an independent, untested platform looking for its own place in a dot com world that was crumbling even faster than it had been built. In fact, building a house on an eroding beach may have been a more sound investment than building a website in the summer of 2000.
Stories.Com was born as an abstract idea. It took form slowly, but surely. When we opened our pages and introduced our online portfolio system, it was unique, original and unmatched anywhere else online. In no time at all, our members began to root themselves in their “ports”, making them each their own. We listened to our members and answered their needs, expanding our tool and feature sets dozens of times each year. Today, our portfolio system still provides the most unique, powerful and flexible system for any writer online.
In September 2002 -- less than a year ago -- we realized that Stories.Com had outgrown its name. The site that once housed only interactive stories was now home to over 15,000 writers and over 150,000 pieces of literature. It was definitely not just for stories anymore.
One of the most important business lessons one can learn is that if your organization doesn’t evolve, it dies. So, it was time to shed our shell and find a new one -- something more representative of what we had become, not what we had been. In December of last year, after a long, trying 3 months of searching and negotiating, we acquired the Writing.Com name. We haven’t looked back since our highly anticipated and widely trafficked unveiling at Midnight on January 1st, 2003.
By now, Writing.Com has been around long enough to see many other Writing sites come and go. Themestream.Com tried to target writers’ content to readers but failed; they closed shop without warning and left their writers up the stream without a paddle. TheVines.Com outgrew itself, strangling its network capacity, forcing the revenue-strapped site close its doors with little notice to existing members. Still other sites that were started simply “for the love of writing” didn’t fair well at all, most lasting less than 12 months.
Yet, here we are 3 years later, at our 2nd annual, highly successful Writing.Com convention. I can proudly say, with great confidence, that Writing.Com IS the online community for Writers of all ages, interests and skill levels.
How have we done it? Well -- That’s a much longer story -- not for this toast -- but I think one of our key attributes is that Writing.Com never pretends to be something that it is not. Other sites have promised fame, glory, big bucks and bright lights – things that are impossible for any web site to deliver to any sizeable portion of its members. Instead, Writing.Com provides a home-base for writers to meet, mingle and improve their skills. We are very up front that the rest is up to you!
Our Senior Moderators do a tremendous job of maintaining order and sanity within Writing.Com. Tidbit has been instrumental in eliminating pesky individuals with multiple accounts, notifying those with inaccurate personal information and those cheating our item limits. Without her diligence, maintaining the integrity of our community would be a daunting task. Cherub, Moo, RG, Tidbit, Zooduck and the other Sr.’s are long standing and very vital links to keeping SMs and myself sane through their humor and by providing us with a much needed sounding-board. They are always quick to lend an eye and give us a chuckle.
Our Moderators are an exceptional group of volunteers. They answer questions, correct content ratings so the site IS suitable for all ages, deal with flack from members (that they shouldn’t have to) and do much more than I could possibly mention right now. I sincerely thank you each for your time and dedication. I hope you all know how appreciated you are by SMs, myself and every member of Writing.Com – whether they realize it or not.
But without the site’s Preferred and Registered Authors, there’d be nothing for any of us Moderators or staff members to do! While I am almost done, before I go, I want to share what the two things I enjoy most about Writing.Com because they relate to all of you, our members as a whole.
First, I love to see what our creative members will do with a new tool that we’ve developed for the site. From images to forums to survey and the rest, I often find myself extremely impressed at the ingenuity members will show in their use of our features and formats. While it is great for me as a programmer to create a tool that is flexible enough to allow for the unplanned for, it requires a lot of creativity and imagination for someone to successfully out-think our documentation and come up with something unthought-of before. I sincerely thank all of our members who have stretched Writing.Com, its tool and it’s features to the limits and beyond.
Second, and most applicable to tonight, I love this convention. I love the smiling faces it brings together. I love the creativity it inspires. And I love the relationships it builds and those it strengthens. We are all so far apart 361 days of the year and it is outright spectacular that we are able to come together for this time. Not only that we can come together, but that we can talk and laugh as though we’re together all of the time. Meeting for the first time, but not. I won’t be so bold as to say this doesn’t exist elsewhere, but I definitely think most people would be hard pressed to find an experience similar to this.
From the occasional poet, to the aspiring novelist, Writing.Com is the best online site where writers meet other writers, share ideas and help each other improve. It is a site created to breed creativity… but I don’t need to tell you all that!
I’m honored to ask you all to lift your glasses and toast to the only site on the ‘net still worth visiting (wink)… To Writing.Com!