Riding The Medium Rollercoaster For Three Years

What an exciting, maddening, joyous, disappointing, connecting, frustrating, heart-warming, obsessive, instructive, ridiculous, fun, crazy ride it has been.

Mark Starlin
Feb 17 · 8 min read
Mark Starlin

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes

I moved through several stages during my Medium writing adventure — many at the same time. Perhaps you can relate. Or not. Everyone’s life (and writing) experience is unique.


I discovered Medium via an Unsplash newsletter. I had been using Unsplash images on my personal website. At the time, I had no clue Medium existed (remember, I wasn’t a writer.) The Unsplash newsletter announced they were partnering with Medium to provide images. So I took a look at the Medium website. It looked interesting, but I wasn’t sure my silly little humor stories or fiction would fit a website design for “big stories and important ideas.”


Surprisingly, I earned $12 my first month. I expected pennies. I was a little shocked, but also thrilled. Soon I was making between $100 and $200 per month writing whatever I wanted to. It seemed too good to be true. I was hooked.


It wasn’t just money that hooked me. It was the interaction. Readers actually responded to my stories. And clapped for them. That is a powerful thing. As a musician, there is no greater feeling than people applauding your performance. That is the real reason most musicians play. A fortunate few become rich and famous, but applause (appreciation) is addicting. Paul McCartney still plays live in his 70s. Does he need the money? Nope. He desires the applause and the appreciation of his talent. And he loves making music.

The Grind

In my obsession stage, I took on too much. I started several publications because I enjoyed creating them and naively thought other writers would submit their best efforts to my publications. A few did, and I made some great Medium writer friends that way, but eventually, the publications became unpaid jobs. Over time, regular writers submitted fewer stories. Then I started getting increasingly lower quality submissions.


Did I mention that I am still neither rich nor famous? [Laughs.]

Combined With Small Victories

I finally self-published my first novel in June of 2020. That was a great feeling and brought a brief time of joy. I knew self-publishing a novel about a naive 18th century blacksmith (with a ridiculous name) suddenly turned Baron—and his many adventures—was not mainstream or commercial. So I was not genuinely surprised when it didn’t fly off the Amazon “bookshelf.”


Between Covid, the dangerously contentious political climate, and the Partner Program change, 2020 was a relatively awful year. Not WWII terrible, but certainly discouraging or even horrible for most of us. There has been a cloud of gloom hanging over the world for almost a year now. Who could focus on creative writing? I tried, but it was often forced. I had to block out the news and social media to accomplish anything. And to preserve my mental health.


I think I have finally entered a contentment stage of my writing journey. Recently, I “officially” declared writing a hobby (for myself.) This means I don’t have to justify the time I spend on it by earning money. Or feel obligated to do any of the other endless tasks writers are supposed to do. I can simply write for enjoyment and fulfillment. I think I can be content with that. That’s the plan, anyway.

Looking Back/Moving Forward

Overall, there have been more positives than negatives for me over the past three years writing on Medium. I found and interacted with many great writers. I read hundreds (thousands?) of great stories. I made many new Medium friends. I improved as a writer. I finished and published my first novel. And I gained a new hobby. That was a pretty good run. I think.

Mark Starlin Writes!

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