Recently, I was asked about Writing Desk history and I promised to post something for the benefit of our newer members who've never heard about the "early days" of our group. I decided to repost what was posted last year on September 30, as today would have been Linda's 61st birthday and she figures prominently in our history. I've edited it a bit to update references to last year and make them more appropriate to this year. And I'm posting a link to last year's thread if you're interested in reading the comments posted then. If you have a memory of Linda that you'd like to share, please feel free to post them here on this thread.
I'm going to make a confession, of sorts, to let you know how important Linda was to this board. As happens with many of us, real life really took hold of my time when I started a new job in what might still be thought of as the early days of this group. The board was in my name and I seriously considered walking away from it because it just seemed to take too much time. But I couldn't do it ... and the only reason was Linda, who had become one of those people you think of as a best friend (even though we never met). Very simply, I knew how important it was to Linda. That's why we still celebrate her more than three-and-a-half years after she passed away. She was that important to so many of us. She read EVERYTHING that was posted and I like to think of her still sitting in Vic's Parlour enjoying the stories our writers continue to share.
Here's the link to last years thread: Remembering Lindabrit on her birthday -- September 30, 2012
And here's the updated first post of that thread:
If you scroll to the bottom of the list of forums on the Writing Desk you’ll find our site statistics. Clicking on the Community Profile link you’ll see that the person listed with the most posts is "nlindabrit" … Linda or Lindabrit … one of the founders of the Writing Desk and a dear friend to so many of us. Linda passed away on February 21, 2010. This Monday, September 30 would have been her 61st birthday. The members of the admin group want to share our memories of Linda with those who knew her and with our newer Valley Dwellers who never had that pleasure.
I told the other admins that I’d be sure to include some of the history of the WD because Linda is an important part of that history. As Linda said in her ezboard/Yuku profile, "My work as an administrator of the Big Valley Writing Desk and Discussion Board is my main interest and I treasure the friends I have made on that happy site." She was a part of the Valley in the very early days when membership was in the single digits. I wasn’t a member back in 1997 (I stumbled into the Valley about five years later) when that small group met simply to chat, most often on Friday nights and often searching the web for the others as they used different chat rooms, depending upon which was working on any given night.
In 1998 they found a permanent home on what they called the "Korean board". They were able to post messages for each other and create user names, choosing to precede their names with the initial of their favorite Barkley brother. Of course, being a proud Brit, Linda included that in her name and "nlindabrit" was born. In mid-1998, with a board of their own (a "glitchy board that crashed on a regular basis"), Linda asked the others ("timidly" as she told me) if anyone thought it was a good idea if they tried their hand at fan fiction. The first BV stories were posted on the Korean Board the NEXT DAY and Linda recalled that it snowballed rapidly after that. Valerie, who owned the board, created the Barkley Library to archive the stories and the first ones went into the Library around August of 1998. If you visit the Library, you’ll see the dates of those early stories, still some of the best BV fanfic you’ll find online.
When I look at what we have now in our active forums, our archive forums and our two libraries, I marvel at how it all started from Linda’s "timid" question to just a handful of ladies. That early group included: Deirdre, who has continued to contribute stories over the years; Phoenix, who recently found us again and has shared some new stories; and, Patricia, who very recently wandered back into our Valley and is one of the contributors to the "group" story, "The Lily Letters" that can be found in The Barkley Library.
The Writing Desk moved to ezboard in July, 2001, still with just a small group of ladies as members. Linda was one of the first to welcome me when I found my way into the Valley in 2002. As Valerie’s life increasingly kept her away from the WD, in 2003 she appointed some admins, including Linda and me. In 2004, after discussing it with Linda and with her encouragement, I contacted Valerie and offered to take over ownership of the Valley to relieve her of the financial burden for a site she no longer had the time to enjoy. From the day Valerie responded in the affirmative, my name has been on the site but I always considered that it belonged to Linda (and Linda would always tell me it was my board and she was there to support me!). But, really, I simply had more "techy" abilities, in her estimation, hence my name was the one put on "the lease".
We had double-digit membership by that time, 3-4 comments on a story were considered really good, and total views were around 500,000. We thought it was really incredible that we’d achieved that in only three years on ezboard! But by comparison, nine years later, we have 1,015 members and over 37 MILLION views (and having just noted that figure, I’m quite literally stunned!). I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that many who sat down on our porch to read, stuck around because of Linda. Her stories, now collected in Linda’s Lodge as a tribute to her, were a big draw; as you can see if you visit the Lodge, there are 27 pages of stories! And, she’s one of only two writers who have three pages of story titles in The Holding Pen.
More importantly, though, Linda was always an amazing supporter of the Writing Desk AND the Valley Dwellers as a group and individually. So many of us shared our problems with her and received her thoughtful response or simply the support we needed to do something we might be dreading. She visited the U.S. in 1977 for seven weeks and I sometimes felt like she traveled with me on one or another of my road trips in later years because she shared suggestions for places I might want to see. Although she was never able to join us at one of our Gatherings, her presence was always felt as she sent not only BV quizzes but BV-related prizes, as well. I think everyone wanted to win a prize created by Linda and her husband, Tom.
Ironically, just three days before she passed away, Linda posted an entry in her blog entitled "I am so Happy!" Linda had won a Western Short Story contest with her story, "Ridin’ on Ahead." She delighted in having beaten a number of American writers and noted that she was going to frame the "cheque" for fifty dollars that she’d be receiving. The story was one she originally wrote as a Big Valley story when we were on ezboard. After Linda passed away, it was reformatted and is "stickied" in Linda’s Lodge. If you knew Linda, even now it’s hard to read without tears in your eyes. Even if you didn’t know her, you’ll probably find it a difficult task.
Linda touched so many lives here in the Valley. We hope some of you will want to share your memories as we honor her on the anniversary of her birth.