It's not a marriage, but in a way, I am in love with thee, O Writing.com!
Yes, I do!
Writing was a natural passion for me since childhood, but having grown up in a house where needs were constantly ahead of resources, I was unable to pursue my hobby to my satisfaction. Even so, I did manage to scribble about four or five small children's novels in the suspense/adventure genre during my later school years, and also wrote a full-length novel in Hindi, an Indian regional language. Yet, all these remained unread and unpublished, and my life changed direction: I was on my way to becoming a doctor!
Writing came back to me when the muse inside me became restless and began making appearances into my consulting rooms, into my bed-room and into my dreams; it is then that I turned to the computer, and typed in the single word "Writing" into a search bar. The first result was a useless "sponsored site", but the first unpaid site that came up was "www.stories.com". I clicked on it on 24th September 2002, and my life has never been the same since that fated evening!
Over the next several days, I perused the "Getting Started" section. A few poems that I had already written and which I had stored on the hard disc of the computer, I immediately displayed on My Portfolio. I had changed from a "grey case" to a "black case".
When I exhausted my quota of permissible free items, I signed up for an upgrade that allowed me to create many new types of items and also to expand my port from just 15 free items to a whopping 250! I ask the reader, is there any writing-site that offers so much for so little? An upgrade costs just $ 45 per annum!
I have been on writing.com since a year and eight months, and now have nearly 150 items in my portfolio: some are static items while the others are interactive; there are poems galore, stories, an unfinished novella, polls, message forums, contests, articles, essays, word-finders and what have you. No other writing-based web-site offers templates and tools to design so many different types of creative items.
There are the usual static items that any writing-based web-site offers, such as stories, poems and articles or letters; over and above this, however, writing.com has interactive items: these are items in which not just the creator of the item, but also other members may join and interact with the others: they may create or join in CONTESTS, fill in the blanks (MAD-LIB), add to a discussion (MESSAGE FORUMS), join a GROUP, contribute to a list (INS AND OUTS), add to an existing story (CREATIVE CAMPFIRE, INTERACTIVE STORIES), fill out SURVEYS, vote in POLLS, create COMMUNITY NOTES, WEB-PAGES and post IMAGES, put in CLASSIFIED ADVTS, CHAT in chat-rooms, send INSTANT MESSAGES through an IM CONSOLE, track their SUBMISSIONS, read others's items, improve their own writing through tips and thoughts in the various NEWSLETTERS, and do so many other things! Show me any other writing-based web-site that has so many different item-types for authors to indulge in. I know nobody can, because there isn't any such site in the whole of the cyber-world!
If this web-site has not been mentioned among a list of "101 sites for writing" that are listed by the Writer's Digest, I can say with certainty that something is amiss in the think-tank of this distinguished, much admired publication! Writer's Digest must realise that Writing.com is the only writing-based site to have over 50,000 active members and over 150,000 items!
Such a wide base of popularity is only because the web-masters, viz. The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress are personally involved in the craft of writing as well as constantly involved in improving the facilities available to writers on the site!
Our informality with other authors and the camaraderie with fellow-members should not be seen as a weakness of this site, but as a strength, as it fosters a congenial environment to writers to write, readers to read and guests and non-writing members to participate in the myriad interactive activities that are going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
I wish to point out that writing.com allows a wide canvas for both beginners and advanced writers. It permits, nay, encourages, beginners to start writing; at the same time, it allows accomplished authors to expand their ports and experiment with genres and item-types with which they might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable: hence, it makes better writers of us all!
However, the icing on the cake is the Writing.com Reward and Award system, so far not replicated by any writing-based website in the cyber world. First, there are the GIFT-POINTS: these are alternate currencies that can be gifted, bought or awarded. Each GP, as it is fondly called, is worth a one-hundredth of a cent, but there are so many GP's available for members! The web-site itself grants four GP's for every login; at the same time, moderators and other members are frequently handing out GP's for participating in polls, for reviewing others' items, for submitting entries for the hundreds of contests that are going on, and for so many other things. Even a newbie may be gifted GP's, and let me tell you that receiving GP's is really heart-warming!
The second is AWARDICONS: these are beautifully designed icons that serve to reward items with merit. Anyone may give or receive awardicons for any or all of their items!
The third is the reward to the members for their exemplary behaviour or participation; it takes the shape of a MERIT BADGE, much like a medallion awarded to people in the Armed Forces. These lovely merit badges urge participants to go ahead and continue to behave as involved, honest writers/readers and help fellow writers in their quest for perfection.
The last is the award of "PREFERRED AUTHORSHIP" which is granted by the staff of writing.com to those writers or authors with true-blue mettle: it is not dependant on whether a given writer is a free member or a paid one; any good, deserving writer is upgraded to Preferred Membership with no strings attached! Often, a free member who gets Preferred Authorship gets a three-month free upgraded membership as well. A true recognition of an author's worth!
What more can I say? I urge Writer's Digest to look at all the above facts and re-evaluate the non-inclusion of writing.com in their esteemed list of writing-sites on the net. If I were the person making that list, www.writing.com would be No. 1 writing-based web-site on the Net. And make no mistake about it!