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A few words in the way of a campaign platform... by Poetigress

Or at least a few boards nailed together, anyway. >^_^<

I expect this will be my only campaign-related post here, as starting May 1 and continuing through May 14 there'll be a debate thread here in the election subforum, where members can ask whatever questions they'd like of the candidates. (At the moment there are two of us, the incumbent shadowlord8 and myself, but others can still toss their hats in the ring all the way through the end of this month.)

I do want to give some idea of why I'm running, and what I believe the choices are that lie before the guild members.

First, let me say this: I don't believe the guild is fundamentally broken in terms of its membership structure. I don't believe there's any need to introduce new, more complicated, and potentially more confusing and time-consuming levels of membership to the guild.

Right now we have exactly two: The guild membership that requires 1 paying publication or 2 nonpaying ones, and an associate membership that was created to allow the inclusion of editors, publishers, and/or critics in the fandom who aren't also writers themselves. (As of this time we have a grand total of 3 associate members, and since most editors and publishers in the fandom are writers, and would be eligible for membership as writers, I don't see the associate category ever growing by leaps and bounds.)

From the beginning, this was a controversial decision. We've been criticized for having any requirements at all, and we've been criticized for the requirements setting the bar too low. I've always felt the requirements were fair, allowing for some objective standard of membership, while also recognizing the realities of publishing within the fandom. I also feel that they're essential to the purpose of the guild. The FWG was never meant to be all things to all furry writers. No organization can be everything to every writer. The guild was founded to be a professional organization, intended to help promote quality work and support writers who were actively looking to have their work published and actively seeking to improve their craft toward that end.

The term "professional" is open to misinterpretation, so I'll take a side road for a moment here to explain it, as least as it applies to the guild. Basically, "professional organization" in this case means an organization that's run in a way that's fair to and serves its members. It doesn't mean that we're all looking to make our living from writing or be published by one of the Big Five publishers (or even the Big Three of the furry fandom). It means we take what we write seriously, we take the guild and its responsibilities seriously, and we act in ways that foster respect for the guild and its members and furry writing in general (inside and outside the fandom).

It doesn't mean we don't have fun. It doesn't mean we have to have twenty pages of by-laws and committees. It just means that we act like an organization with a reasonable structure and fair rules, and not just as a social club or a free-for-all.

So, to be perfectly clear: I have no intention of changing the membership levels or requirements. In addition, I don't think they should be open to change based on my or any other president's whim. Those changes should come from the guild membership, and I would stipulate that any proposed changes to the membership levels or requirements (whether the proposals come from the president or the members) must be approved by a majority vote from the members (preferably with a quorum requirement as well).

I know there are people who find the membership requirements, and therefore the guild itself, elitist. And you know, I really don't see that as a bad thing. As I've said, we're never going to please everyone, and the guild wasn't created to serve everyone. I'm sure there are people in the fandom who think I'm elitist myself. I don't change my goals or who I am simply to appease them, and I don't see the worth of asking the guild to do the same. Elitism may have many connotations, but quality is also one of them.

We're also hardly slamming the door in anyone's face. The forums have always been and always will be open to everyone, regardless of skill level or writing goals. (Unless you're a bot. Sorry. I'm very elitist when it comes to bots.) Novice writers looking to share a writing community and hone their craft -- to whatever end, whether that's posting on FA or seeking an agent -- have always been and always will be welcome to join and participate in the forums, where they can ask advice, post work for critique, and offer opinions and perspectives that are no less valid than anyone else's voice. (There are a few subforums that are members only, and there have been a couple of those missing from the new forums that I'd like to bring back, but honestly, at the moment they see a lot less activity than the forums that are open to everybody who registers.)

I'd like to see the guild more active -- no matter how active it may be at any given time, of course I want to see it continue to grow. But I'm not interested in growth for growth's sake, and I know from experience that having more members doesn't automatically mean you'll have more active members. In the end, if it has to be choice, I'm more interested in the guild being respected than just being popular.

As for my goals for the one-year term, they're not necessarily shiny new projects. Those of you who know me know that I don't like to commit myself to things I can't follow through, and with an organization like this I don't want to bite off more than I can chew and have the good things that are already present crumble by the wayside while I'm off chasing new-project butterflies. That said, here's a look at my proposed to-do list, in no particular order:

--overhauling the FWG website to a format that will be simpler for future presidents to maintain

--setting up an email-based mailing list for members, to facilitate communication on vital issues like elections

--distributing a survey to members, both for suggestions and comments from them about the guild, and to match up projects with members who best have the skills to make them happen

--continuing the newsletter, as a blog section of the overhauled website and/or sent out via email

--reinstating the Coyotl Awards (including completing the 2013 awards) and having an open period to hear and consider possible changes to the award structure for the 2015 award (which, to my mind, would also be best handled with a vote, same as any changes to the membership levels)

--continuing/overhauling the mentorship program (I'm not currently involved with it, so I don't know how things are going, but I'd like to keep something similar in place if it is working, and try to figure out how to improve it if it isn't)

--increasing the FWG's furry convention presence, including distribution of flyers and other marketing materials and sponsored readings/panels, with the help of members attending the various conventions (I'm only planning one con for 2015, folks, so I'll need help with this one)

--real-time chats on writing topics, held either weekly or twice a month (likely in the shoutbox that's right there on the forums, with no other equipment or downloads needed, and with a transcript posted to the forum afterward)

--other online workshops -- I've been inspired by the Muse Online Writer's Conference, and I'd like to try to bring the furcon writing panel experience online -- or even attempt an online writer's conference of our own

--actively seeking ways to promote awareness and appreciation of furry fiction outside the fandom itself, whether through flyers and materials distributed at other conventions (sf/f, writing conferences, etc) or through things like guest posts on writing or sf/f blogs

This is all, of course, in addition to maintaining the FWG's FA and Twitter accounts and maintaining the market lists on the website (which remain, to my mind, one of the greatest benefits and resources the guild provides).

Overall, my goal for the year would be to build a solid foundation so that the guild can continue for years to come, easily transferring power and resources from one leader to the next, and growing and changing at the direction of its membership, not simply at the direction of its president.

Now, to do all that, I'll need help. I have a full-time job, plus my second career of writing, plus responsibilities to my husband and family. So I'll close with a promise and a warning: Don't vote for me if you're not willing to help. I may be asking you personally. I may be calling in favors. You don't have time? Well, neither do I, but here I am. >^_^< Because I think it's important, and I think it matters -- and if you agree, I hope I'll have your support.

Voting begins May 16.

A few words in the way of a campaign platform...

Poetigress

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