I used to think that I went on FanFiction to read and write, to increase my skills and learn something new, and I did do all of those things to an extent. But the reason I stayed on FanFiction wasn't because of the skills I could be learning, the stories I could be reading and the tales I could be telling, it was for the people I could meet. Like-minded individuals, aspiring writers, long distance friends, collaborators and givers of great advice. A goofy little network of people who write and publish stories on the internet; a goofy little network of people whose company I enjoyed so much, whose influence has probably changed me for the better.
But they've all moved on, some a long time ago, and the first, it was confusing but I didn't pay too much attention to it - I didn't realize that the rest would follow like dominoes over time until all that was left was me, alone. And I still believed that those people weren't the reason I went on FanFiction, I thought that I went on here to practice my craft, to read and to write - that those bonds and friendships were simply a perk. But that's when I realized, this website isn't simply an archive of stories, to an extent it's a social network too - and what happens when everyone in your network disappears? You're left alone.
But you still continue to pursue knowledge, find the next lesson to be taught and to improve your skills, however limited they be - but it all becomes so trivial without a purpose. If I wanted to read and write, I could do that at home, at college or at the library, if I wanted to practice and improve, a writers circle wasn't far away and I could always keep at it until I got better. I eventually realized that individual readers, hits, visitors and reviews, whilst nice, don't matter that much. For a large part, they're statistics, but they still give you that warm feeling that you're still being recognised, that you're still connected some how.
But it isn't enough, the friends I've made, they left before me, and now I'll follow in their wake. Those four individuals; HQ, AT, TP and DV, they were the four things from FanFiction that I couldn't replace in real life. I mean, I'd always have friends, but not those specific four people who made being a part of this site something I enjoyed so much, who always made me eager to return. But in their absence I feel like I'm dragging a dead horse around when I don't need to, and I guess by leaving I'll be burying it, moving on like they have. I don't know if their time on this site meant as much to them as my time here meant to me, but I guess I'll always be a little nostalgic.
My only advice to anyone reading this is to not be afraid or hesitant to leave a review on the story of someone else, or to message them or form other methods of contact outside the PM system. Just one good friend made through this site is worth more than a million and one hits to a story, or one hundred thousand reviews. They aren't just some digit or mark on a traffic graph, they're so much more, so cherish the time you have with them, because FanFiction is very rarely a permanent home for anyone.
If any of you who are out there read this, and still know of how to get a hold of me, then don't be afraid to do so, but otherwise, goodbye and good luck. I hope that the time when you feel as if you've overstayed your welcome doesn't come for a long while, and that during your time here, you can learn something good, something new. But as for me, I'm done here, and whilst I could be missing out on something great that comes along later, I'll always have my memories of what came before.
If any of you want to stay in contact with me through one way or another or want to ask me anything, you'll probably already know my email address and my IM details. If not, message me, I guess I'll probably check my PM inbox every now and then out of curiosity, but other than that I doubt it will be a very good way to get in touch with me. Just because I'm removing myself from FanFiction.net, it doesn't mean that I have to remove myself from you also.