Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Addressing the Elephant in the Room
Addressing the Elephant in the Room

I find myself in a quandary, perplexed by the very people who can make or break a site like ‘The Creative Exiles’… the writers themselves. Perhaps there are more numbers visiting the site, views and a silent support for the work we do here, but in the end a writer wants feedback. Few people contribute here, and fewer actually comment on the work, which doesn’t say they appreciate the talent of those committed writers who do contribute freely on the site.

Many of us write for several sites, but we are either committed to this site or not and our interactive communications are paramount to developing a community of writers who actually care and support one another. Personally I have given my all in order to help try to grow the site and in that pursuit have devoted much time to that end. However, as comments dwindle to nothing and connection with most writers non-existent, it is becoming difficult to maintain momentum.

John Hansen made a valid point awhile ago, regarding the need for real critiques that would help us better our craft, rather than the standard back-patting gestures of recognition. I believe John’s right; we need to be more engaged in our craft by being honest and kind, by relaying positive critiques that help us all to improve the art. Instead we’ve all been just going through the motions with no real positivism, just pleasantries.

I own about 55% of the content of this site, I’m prolific and was encouraged from the beginning to just keep posting. These days I post less, because I want others to post more, but that is slow to come as few listed writers on this site are contributing. How can we entice writers to join and fully participate? Because if we cannot, the site will stagnate. Love to hear from everyone regarding this, as I love being here and I’d hate to have to abandon The Creative Exiles because of the problems that exist with commitment and participation.

Tony DeLorger © 2017

Tony DeLorger

Full time author, freelance writer, poet and blogger since 1999. Twenty one published works, past winner of 'Poet of the Year' on HubPages, 'Poem of the Year' on The Creative Exiles, writer for Allpoetry.com, Google+, tonydwtf.blogspot.com.au
videos on YouTube and book sales on website thoughtsforabeautifulmind.com, Amazon and digitalprintaustralia.com.au/bookstore

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Tony DeLorger

Full time author, freelance writer, poet and blogger since 1999. Twenty one published works, past winner of 'Poet of the Year' on HubPages, 'Poem of the Year' on The Creative Exiles, writer for Allpoetry.com, Google+, tonydwtf.blogspot.com.au videos on YouTube and book sales on website thoughtsforabeautifulmind.com, Amazon and digitalprintaustralia.com.au/bookstore

24 thoughts on “Addressing the Elephant in the Room

  • June 19, 2017 at 11:19 PM
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    Tony, I fully agree with you. It really saddens me to see so little participation and only a handful of writers contributing to the site. I, too, support John Hansen in his effort to be honest with comments and give good critiques to help each other.

    There are so many writers who have joined TCE and have not written one post. I have contacted them individually on occasion to encourage them, and either hear nothing back or a promise to write that never comes through. Yet, I keep trying, even through the newsletter and social sites to promote TCE. I get very little response.

    You put a lot of time and effort into our site, not just your works, but commenting and encouraging others with positive praise. If everyone could do that our site would grow. As you say, it will become stagnate if we, all members, don’t make a huge change very soon.

    As for traffic, I don’t know how to improve that – it is a group effort, I think. I check the statistics page twice every day to see how the site is doing traffic wise. I think we all should have access to that page. I will discuss it with John and Ralph.

    Thank you, Tony, for writing this essay. I really appreciate it.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2017 at 1:41 AM
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      My pleasure Phyllis, I felt it time to address these problems and to push forward.

      Reply
  • June 19, 2017 at 11:42 PM
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    Contests Please!
    I have recently rejoined TCE after being exiled in the past. I have been trying to make a contribution, though I do publish on many other sites. In some ways, I guess, my poetry is different in many ways. I suggest that TCE introduce simple contests as a way of inspiring more contributions. I suggest the ‘contests’ include a stipulated form and a topic. e.g. ‘sonnet’ on ‘hoarding’, or similar. Contest are good because various writers offer different perspectives. The authors could take turns in sponsoring and ‘judging’ the contests. No prizes are needed!

    Otherwise I find the judgements that some of my posts are not ‘poetry’ tiresome. Also, I have had one post deleted because ‘some readers may have found it derogatory’ which I felt was over the top. Anyway, another site accepted it with glee, no problems. I trust I am making a worthwhile contribution to TCE, despite my radical tendencies.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2017 at 12:03 AM
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      John, to clarify: you were not exiled, you resigned because you could not take constructive criticism and offers of help to understand poetry and how to write it. For instance; “a ‘sonnet’ on ‘hoarding’? A sonnet is romanticism, love, beauty – it is not for things like hoarding. As for your post on aging, it was derogatory and not up to TCE standards,you were asked to delete it. As for the judgements that some of your posts were not poetry, those judgements were correct. You have a tendency to mix science and poetry and it does not meld, it is like trying to mix science and religion – they don’t agree. If you are going to use this or any other post’s comments, please stick to the subject and don’t take things out of context or imply other than the truth.

      As for contests – we did have one early this year and it went well, but did not bring in any new members. You may have some good ideas there on contests. I hope John Hansen and Ralph read your thoughts on that.

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      • June 20, 2017 at 3:02 AM
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        Charmed I’m sure! Pass!

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    • June 20, 2017 at 1:44 AM
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      Thanks for your input John, I have no knowledge of your interactions with john and Phyllis, but Some of your work would be better classified as creative writing rather than poetry. Just my opinion. But we all need to pull together to grow the site, that is for sure. Cheers!

      Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 6:15 AM
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    Greetings my friends , maybe this will help someone , I have found that I personally have a strange sense of what MY writing is , It is a release , it all began that way years ago , and although I’m sure I’m anything but a poor attempt to be a writer , I find that for me it’s very [ too] personal , I have run the cycle , I don’t write to be ‘critiqued ‘ that’s just wrong to me , although knowing full well I could benefit from it , for some that critique becomes somewhat personal , even though delivered with great intentions . I don’t care about the ‘fame ” or the rewards of money for my writing , and I am ashamed that I don’t comment enough because that was a part of how I began writing . We all need to be recognized and although that for me , isn’t as important , for some it is , For my lack of involvement , I apologize , I do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings , Tony , Phyllis , John and all of the people here , YOU ARE ALL ARTISTS !
    there is no denying it , look at the incredible talent here , just remember we write in a world where poetry is a dying art ? That however , donsn’t mean anyone here isn’t extremely talented . Hope this helps !

    Poets are romantics somewhere inside and inside I love you guys ! Keep up the great stuff , all of you !

    Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 7:20 AM
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    Sorry I am a little late getting to read this, Tony, and I thank you for writing it. You are the most prolific contributor to this site and I commend your dedication to it. I want to thank all those writers who have contributed to The Creative Exiles so far, even one post. How e can encourage those who are members but haven’t yet written anything..that is the question?
    I personally try to contribute in the way of writing and commenting as much as I can, but saying that, not as much as I’d like. Late last year and early this year were difficult times for me to find the time. Things have improved recently but I still have to try and spread my commenting around between authors as there is no way I have time to read all posts.
    Thank you for the input and suggestions by others who replied to this. We need discussions like this moving forward so we can better the site. We need to be able to handle constructive criticism as well, especially if it is for the good of the site. It is why we have rules.
    We have opened the site up quite a bit since the early days to include creative writing, memoirs, essays and the like, so there is no need for anyone to write things under the banner of poetry when it is clearly something else.
    John, in regard to contests, as Phyllis advised we had a short story and poetry contest where members could vote on the best of each of those categories published in 2016, and the winners ere announced in the newsletter. We could possibly have a “sonnet” writing contest, or another poetry form, or write anything on a given topic, but I would not have such a narrow focus as a sonnet on hoarding. Be aware also that each formal type of poetry has its own strict formats and any contest would have to adhere to those.
    Ed, I appreciate your input and your desire not to receive critique on your writing, as you do it as a release and not to be compared to others. We all have different reasons for writing.
    Some of us want critique, others don’t. We have to be a little flexible, but everyone here calls themselves a “writer” so our writing does have to meet some basic guidelines. If it doesn’t quite meet those expect that an editor will suggest some changes to meet minimum standards here. It is then the author’s job to try to do that, and the editor/mentor will help if necessary.
    As long as a poem, story, or piece of creative writing is enjoyable to read and meets basic standards it is welcome.
    I want this site to get traffic, and to do that we need to also attract good quality writers.
    Every website doesn’t suit all types of writing and The Creative Exiles is no exception. Most of us write on more than one site as a number of you have said. If something you write isn’t suited to here, publish it elsewhere.. As simple as that. That is what I do. Thank you again, Tony, and everyone else for reading my opinion.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2017 at 1:00 PM
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      Hi John, For contests I suggest a much less formal approach. We could each take it in turn to volunteer to sponsor a contest on a topic and perhaps suggest a form ( or leave it open). The sponsor would be responsible for judging the contest with announcements in the forum. It could be done weekly. Entries could be identified by a certain entry in the comments section, via an email or in some other simple way. In my opinion contests are a great way to shatter writers block and encourage more posts. I love to see the variety of takes on the contest topic. I think it could encourage more participation on the site, both with posts and comments. Prizes would be good, but are not necessary. I personally would contribute $5 as a first prize for contests I sponsor. I am a regular contributor to contests on other sites and the feed-back in the form of the ranked positions is useful. Sure many people do not like contests, but may be worth considering. PS It may surprise you that I do quite well in many of the contests I enter , most of which have strict form rules with a gaggle of 2nds and 3rds, but no Ist places yet. I also sponsor contests on other sites!!! This is a great learning experience as well.

      Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM
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    Much appreciated John, these discussions are indeed helpful as we all want the site to grow and prosper. Cheers!

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  • June 20, 2017 at 9:53 AM
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    I know I don’t post anywhere near as much as Tony or Phyllis, but you are correct there are some here that do not post at all. I have a hard time balancing my job, children and creative writing. So I get here when I can. It is frustrating to see so many on a site and get 2 comments to something that we as writers put our hard earned time into. I am grateful for all those who do comment, as I have found a nice home here and do appreciate your words and kindness. As far as the critique I agree with Tony, in order for us to get better at this craft we need to be honest, not rude, but helpful. My one criticism I have is that if I post a darker emotional piece, I usually get less comments. But, Phyllis, you and I had this conversation and I feel the darker side of my writing is so very emotional and needs a place. I am not a comment beggar, but I do value all of your opinions as you all are very talented writers in your own respects, and I would love each one of your opinions. I know sometimes it is better to not say anything, but sometimes that kick in the butt, “Your piece doesn’t work” Is a motivator. Thanks for posting this Tony.
    ~Paul

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  • June 20, 2017 at 12:11 PM
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    Well – I guess it’s time that I weigh in on this topic – let me first say that the site traffic is slightly down, which is a common occurrence in the summer months, but not enough for anyone to panic. The site is nearly advertisement free and there are no hindrances to our readers – no pop-ups, no Google assaults on the comment stream, and no issues – there are regular updates made as needed and the core staff (myself, John, Tony, and Phyllis) all keep a sharp eye on things. I fund almost everything out of my own pocket, which I’m happy to keep doing, so if you have an idea which is inexpensive but will help grow the site, let me know.

    Our comment section is limited to only site users at this time, so there are less options to getting comments on every posted piece – I’ve looked into other options, but we’d be opening ourselves up to advertisements if we went with a commercially available plug-in such as Disqus

    What we really need is for everyone to go on a recruiting binge and bring in some new talent to the site – but, this doesn’t mean everyone off the street – quality is more important than quantity.

    Is everyone following the site on social media? Are you sharing posts across social media to drive traffic back to the site? I know I do and it is starting to pay off – my average piece is getting 50-70 reads when in the past some were only at 30. Are you linking TCE in other posts? Does anyone know how we can get the site reviewed by a third-party to help spread the word? I’ve already reached out to several Universities and writing sites to seek something like this out.

    I’ll look at some paid options, advertising our site on other sites to see if we can drum up some new areas to pull readers from, but I’d hope that everyone is trying to promote the site on their own as well.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 12:29 PM
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    I suggest that TCE consider sending out a formal survey to the members asking what they like and dislike about the site, how it could be improved, and how to encourage more posts from existing members. My apology if this has already been done. Clearly the elephant has few followers so far.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 3:33 PM
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    Ralph, thanks for updating us on that. I have tried to promote the site through my hubs on HubPages and I know Bill Holland has given us numerous mentions (though he has only posted one item here). I know a few of us have been posting links on Facebook and I have been on Google+ and Twitter as well. I have also been a quest speaker at a writers group and sold two of our books there.
    Jamie has given poetry readings from our book. We paid for a year’s hosting from the TCE funds PayPal account as well as money towards purchase of books by authors. There are still funds there to cover hosting and incidentals.
    If we could arrange a mutual advertising of links with another major website it would be great…we advertise them and they us.
    One of the best things is that we are advertising and pop up free, but it is a pity we can’t have outside comments. I often see a post with 100 views and only four or five comments. We do need to try and encourage more “active” members so need to keep,pushing that.
    John, I think a survey is a good idea. It would need to be posted in the newsletter as very few people even visit the forums. The same for contests. You are welcome to try and issue one if you like and see if there is any response. I do think they are a good idea but it seems to be hard to get others to partake. Phyllis has done a great job issuing challenges and writing prompts regularly in the newsletter and there has been some response. I’d like to hear if anyone has used the prompts for poems or stories here.
    This all should have been discussed in a forum, that is what they are for, but how to we get everyone to read them is the problem. Does anyone have a suggestion?
    Paul, I agree with you about the darker side of writing. It often contains more true emotion and for me, is usually my preferred read. At least 50% of my writing here could be considered “dark”.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2017 at 9:33 AM
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    I am taking a week off from writing and editing. During this time I will do some recruiting and visiting other sites similar to ours for ideas. I will also take John Anderson’s suggestion and write up a survey to send to all our members.

    We have 52 members registered and only 34 have posted, so the survey might help us in making some changes where needed. In my experience, I know the survey will be more effective if it is sent to individuals, not as a group notice. Any responses received will be kept in a special folder to send to Ralph and John to decide how and where to post the results for all members to review.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2017 at 3:39 PM
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    Thank you for taking that initiative Phyllis. It will be interesting to see how many take the time to respond, and read their answers. I have a couple ideas but I will wait for the survey to put them forward.

    Reply
  • June 29, 2017 at 9:44 AM
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    Hello all, I have been sitting on the elephant for a week now, and suspected it would come again in the newsletter, and or in the form of a survey, which I think is a good idea. I don’t have a complaint, just some personal observations and view points, if I may…

    I believe we all have different motivations for being here, and perhaps that is part of the problem. I am much like Ed, and think of writing as a creative outlet. I write, read and post when I am inspired to do so, and do not want to feel pressured to produce. I can not claim the steadfast daily commitment that many of you have, at this point in my life, but I do admire it.

    I agree, we need to support each other, regardless of our individual motivations. That said, if you are not writing and posting, but reading, a comment goes a long way to keep the body of this space flowing. I am not interested in picking apart posts, pointing out typos, spelling, and grammatical errors. If a piece moves me as a reader, then it has done its job, and is worthy of a thoughtful response.

    We are a group, with a common goal of sharing our expressions, when a reader can relate and or be inspired by the effort, it’s a great feeling for the author to hear from them. Either way, we have created something to share with others, and that is something to feel really good about, and does not require a reward, the reward is in the process.

    I am aware that I am very small part of this group, with limited contributions, but they are a genuine effort, nonetheless. I have learned I am more of a brevity writer, I like to pack it all in to small works. Poems don’t have to be long to be effective. Unfortunately, for me personally, that limits my posting here, as I am not interested in writing up an essay to explain what my piece is about, in order to fit the requirements of a ‘green light’, I just want to write my piece, and let the reader take away from it what they will. Again, my own struggle and limitations here. Still, the site needs to generate traffic, so I appreciate and respect the need for works that can accomplish that.

    I also find a disconnect between authors when it comes to commenting. If there is a setting that I am missing, do tell…When I take the time to comment thoughtfully on a work, and the poet or writer responds back, or not, I won’t know unless I go back and find the works I commented on…for me, that disrupts the flow of a possible conversation that can create a more solid and mutual interaction. A notification would be helpful.

    As far as forums, when I entered that during the book publishing, I set up notifications to stay informed and found it disappointing that I was emailed over bickering. It took away from an otherwise positive experience, that I was sincerely grateful for. I am sure that that was an isolated incident, and we are all human, I just ventured out and haven’t been back much since. I will re-visit.

    Last, this is “Creative Exiles” and it is my understanding it was designed to have a freer place to express, which is wonderful. Including thoughts on religion, politics, love, sadness, darkness, light nature…whatever topic so long as it is tasteful and not hateful. Life is diverse, and as writers, so should we be open to hear that diversity whether it is our belief or not.

    Not my usual brevity…perhaps the most you will hear from me. I will close, saying I really do enjoy working here, and greatly appreciate all of your efforts. I would hate to see it fall by the wayside, due to an ‘elephant in the room’

    Best Always,
    Mel

    Reply
    • June 29, 2017 at 11:54 AM
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      Mel, you wrote: “I also find a disconnect between authors when it comes to commenting. If there is a setting that I am missing, do tell…When I take the time to comment thoughtfully on a work, and the poet or writer responds back, or not, I won’t know unless I go back and find the works I commented on…for me, that disrupts the flow of a possible conversation that can create a more solid and mutual interaction. A notification would be helpful.”

      Hi Mel. You should be able to see all comments made by everyone and respond by clicking on ‘Comments’ in the left hand menu on your profile page or dashboard.

      We are very glad you are part of TCE and a very important part. I will let Tony, Ralph or John reply to the other points you brought up in your comment.

      Warm Regards,
      Phyllis

      Reply
  • June 30, 2017 at 4:05 AM
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    Tony, Mel and Rasma asked about being able to easily find replies to their comments. Can you please check on your profile and dashboard if you can get into comments where ALL comments and replies are posted? If you can, then I will add that capability to all users. Thank you.

    Reply
  • July 1, 2017 at 10:59 PM
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    Responses to the survey have been coming in, but so far they are just from active members. I am hoping we get a lot more, and from all members.

    Reply

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