To the Medium-Published, First-Time Novelist: Don’t

Just. Don’t.

Don’t Fall Off the Cliff — via Wikimedia Commons

There I was, happily publishing poems and stories and tidbits of humor for three glorious months, March to June. My writing was on fire. I was aglow with creative spirit. Publications accepted my work. I won an award. My readership numbers took a hockey-stick curve toward the sky. Oh, those stats, those glorious stats!

A woman commented, “Your writing intrigues me.” I tingled. Another said, “This is wonderful, powerful, and dead on the money.” I rolled on these words like a dog on a squirrel corpse, breathing the sickly scent of praise deep into my ego. New poems pulled me out of bed before dawn and forced me to record their songs and release them into the wilds of Medium for all to see.

Followers followed, then read, then hearted, then clapped.

Suddenly, the parade stopped. The band bleated to an offbeat, reed-squeaking, coda-less ending. The horses of the Sheriff’s mounted posse clopped to a wither-quivering halt and dropped mounds of hay-decorated dung. All the little red cars driven by overweight, fez-wearing Shriners ran out of gas.

I started a novel.

Dedicated, organized, driven, I rose each morning two hours earlier. I banged out my promised minimum of words or kept on, the marathon runner pushing though muscle burn, until I finished a scene. The chapters grew from root to treetop, in perfect rows, like an orchard ready to bear fruit. My writing was on fire. I was aglow with creative spirit. Three months later I woke one morning to a coherent, well written, half-finished draft…

… and to no Medium readers. No claps. No intrigued women.

Or nearly none, in any case. Ten percent of my peak. Any business that lost 90% of its revenue would resort to selling office supplies to pay the light bill.

So, look upon me, then shield your eyes, lest the image haunt your dreams. I am become Medium-less, destroyer of stats. I shuffle the alleyways between publications, hat in hand, begging spare clicks of tiny hands.

You there… would be novelist. You, whose work on Medium today reaps Views and Reads like wheat with a scythe, with ratios in the 80’s, do you harbor that lust, that secret glimmer in your eye? That story, that dear child you have grown within all these years, do you wish to induce labor and bring it forth into the world?

Let my torn and frayed coat, my gaunt, unshaven face, be a warning:

Don’t. Just… Don’t