As you've probably heard by now, I am retiring from Whyville. I will no longer work for the company that runs our wonderful town, and so I will no longer be a City Worker. That means I'll be giving up my CW beanie as soon as I finish this article.
Some folks may wonder how I could leave Whyville. Sometimes, I wonder it myself. I find myself on a new path, headed down a fork in the river towards a new branch in my career as a writer. How did I get there? Because of you.
Whyville is where I got my first real taste of this thing called "online journalism". You could call it a trial by fire -- the going was not always smooth, but we paddled hard to keep the Times (and Whyville) on as even a keel as we could muster.
It's been a wonderful, wild and wacky six years. Thank you all.
Six years is a pretty long time -- in that time, I've worked for Whyville; changed majors in college from engineering to literature; graduated from college and gone to graduate school; lived in six different apartments; gained and lost 20-30 pounds; taken on at least a dozen other part-time jobs in order to make ends meet; walked, biked and driven to work; and, most importantly, fallen in love and gotten married!
Whyville has had four different offices; three different server bases; been run by two or three different forms of "Numedeon" the company; gone from literally zero citizens to 1.26 million registered users; survived the Great Whyville Blackout; had literally billions of chat phrases go through the ever-expanding and improving filters; and experienced what I call dozens of "generations" of Whyvillians -- we've watched you join, grow up, and sometimes leave for the wild blue yonder. I miss those of you who have left; and I will miss all of you that I leave behind.
The Times has had at least three different front page styles, 257 issues, 5,238 articles (before this issue), and hundreds of thousands of submissions, all from creative, wonderful kids like you.
Yes, you, the one reading this right now. I'm talking to you. Keep writing. Keep testing your writing. Keep making it better.
Communication is one of the most important skills you can ever, ever learn in this lifetime. Get good at it, and don't let your own pride or anyone's inability to teach you get in the way of getting better. That includes your own pride and your own inabilities, too.
I remember all the days gone by, or at least I try to. I remember the first issue of the Times. I remember the first duct tape. I remember all the citizens that came before, or at least I try to. I remember you, 11, wherever you are. Britmaria and her clan, how Whyville Square was the Center of All Things Whyville. I remember the very first head that chatted to us, months and months before Whyville Square or any part of Whyville became popular in any way.
I remember the advanced wisdom and awareness of KaWoods. I remember the Times building. I remember the first articles from Vanilla, Etrnl *, Astro25/26, I remember the wealthiest Whyvillian was once Riven.
I remember writing my first article for the Times as Bigfoot, and how City Hall said to take it back and give it more personality. Give it something to draw in your readers more. That's how I began. That was the seed, the start, the birth of Bigfoot. In a sense.
I remember the fights and the conflict and the wishful thinking. I remember seeing a racial epithet thrown at a girl in Why Square, and how she responded with understandable rage that boiled up and up and up until she was screaming just as foul and wrong language at those who had attacked her verbally. I talked with her and with everyone, and by the end of it, I truly felt that she'd changed -- she knew that cursing and screaming would never change a person, and the others began to understand that however "hip" it may become, the N-word is still about slavery and cruelty and ignorance. People understood, and grew, and it was one of the best feelings of my life.
I remember SkUmBaG68. I know who he was, and the huge affect his writing had on Whyville.
I remember the rise of Giggler01 and TIKE as the two most significant Times Writers of their time; and I remember how they were much more than just writers. They were and are very special people. As are all of you.
I remember the Senate Race, and the Great Blackout. I remember the prom, Halloween, New Year's, Christmas and St. Patrick's Day. I remember projectile fights and new face parts and the first time people submitted to Akbar's. I remember when I tested every game out thoroughly myself, and chatted on the site for at leat 45 minutes every day.
It all blurs and mingles; I hope those aren't tears obscuring these words I write. I'm too old for that... or maybe you never are.
I can only think of the good times in a moment like this, in the instant of goodbye. I'm glad for that. There are so many of them to remember.
Yes, I want to come back to Whyville, someday. When I do, I'll be a regular citizen. Just like you.
I still believe in the Whyville Way. Why?
The question is its own answer.
Take care, everybody. Treat the Times well, please. Ditto for your friends and your enemies and everybody in between.
From the computer on my desk at my home late at night,