Sunday, January 25, 2009

Previews of Coming Attractions

I suppose it's time now to start loosening the drawstrings and showing you that there is indeed a cat within the bag. This, friends, is the final week of The Ranting Room. Come Saturday, January 31, this site will be going dark. The content will remain online for some unspecified time to come, but after four years of doing this blog, it's time for me to hang the 'Closed' sign in the window and move on to other things.

Specifically, we're moving on to the new site, You can pop over there right now to check it out, if you like. I'm afraid there's not much to see at the moment; I meant to spend most of this past weekend enhancing the template and building basic content but instead spent it alternately napping, sipping tea, and sneezing my brains out. Sorry. I'll get the site to where I meant it to be today in another day or three.

Closing down The Ranting Room and launching a new site is not a move I make lightly. After all, I have been doing this blog for four years and there is a considerable amount of inertia behind the idea of just keeping it going.

But in the four years I have been doing The Ranting Room, it has grown to devour an ever-larger portion of my life. When I first started it, for example, I set myself an iron-clad rule that weekends were reserved for my family, and so I would only blog Monday through Friday. I believe that rule lasted nearly three months.

The Ranting Room has also grown to devour my fiction writing time, as well as my business development time. I'm never going to get Rampant Loon airborne if I continue at this rate, and worse, I'll never get that next novel finished if I keep spending my writing time on cranking out one- to two-thousand words of bloggerel daily. I'll admit that blogging is very seductive; I get a real kick from having the ability to publish my every thought instantly and begin receiving reader feedback mere minutes later.

But in the final analysis: what do you call a novelist who hasn't finished a new novel in ten years?

Trick question. You don't call him anything, because you've forgotten who he is.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to making The Ranting Room the sort of underground cult-classic semi-success it is today; it's you, the community, who really make this thing work. I especially want to thank everyone who has contributed a guest column in the past year. I did give a lot of thought to the idea of changing the rules, opening up the posting permissions, and expanding The Ranting Room to be more like an online magazine. But in the end, I came to the conclusion that this blog is just too personal and idiosyncratic to be opened up in that way, and it would be better to bring it to an end and begin something new.


The first thing you'll notice about the new site, obviously, is the emphasis on the ongoing Friday Challenge series of writing exercises -slash- contests. This, to be honest, has grown to become the most enjoyable part of this blog for me, and I look forward to seeing it continue. However, we are going to be making some changes in the way it works, in order to make it more of an interactive and user-driven operation. The first of these changes you've probably guessed by now; we'll be using a lot more challenges posed by your fellow writers.

The second thing you'll notice about the new site is that I'm going to be using the editorial 'we' (as opposed to the Zamyatin We) a lot more. I've opened up posting permissions, invited in a bunch of people, and you'll be seeing a lot more content from other contributors. What sort of content? What would you like to see? More to the point, what would you like to write? Right now I'm looking for book reviews, short-story reviews, online fiction site reviews, articles on the craft of writing and business, and once in a while, really exceptional movie reviews. Specifically, as zanzibar said in the commentary on Firefly, I want to hear about the new up-and-coming writers you think we should be watching out for. The old-line print magazines are where fiction has gone to die and careers have gone to peter out; new writers are increasingly writing for webzines. I have my habits and fossilized patterns of thought. What are the online fiction sites you think we should be reading?

More than anything else, though, I want your success stories. Is anyone here getting published anywhere? Don't be shy; here's your chance to crow about it!

The third thing you'll notice about the new site is that we'll be experimenting with both the technology and the look and feel in the coming months. For now the site is based on blogspot, but the primary reason for making the site its own domain is to permit us to transcend that, as time and technology permit. One change I'm happy to announce right now is that we'll be using the JS-Kit comment engine, which appears to be a great improvement over HaloScan in terms of both features and reliability. However, that piece isn't plugged into the template just yet.

So, any more questions at this point? If not, then I want to close this up by saying it's been fun, and it's been really great getting to know so many of you over the course of these past four years. But now I'm looking forward to moving on to a new and different kind of fun!

Kindest regards,