Welcome To No End In Sight On Medium
I’m collecting honest stories about life with chronic illness and I’d love to hear yours.
Before we get to the good stuff, I’ve got something I don’t want you to miss! Medium uses a freemium model, which means it puts some articles behind a paywall. So if you’ve read your maximum number of free reads on Medium this month but there are still some stories on No End In Sight that you want to read, head over to this thread on Twitter. These links will get you past the paywall.
I’ve been thinking (and tweeting) about making some kind of home for stories about chronic illness for a while because I know so many folks want to write about their experiences but don’t have the energy to maintain or promote a blog, or don’t feel reliable enough to commit to a pitching/publishing cycle. (I’m describing myself by the way, but I’ve heard from many people on twitter with the same obstacles.)
And I keep ranting about this, but I believe with my whole heart that our stories matter (you can read one of those rants in my open letter to problem patients). When I first started getting really sick, I had no idea what was going on and I could barely find any writing about what I was going through. I found tidy narratives about getting a diagnosis and I found lots and lots of advice about how to diet/exercise/meditate myself back to good health, but I barely found anything about what it felt like to become housebound and then mostly bedbound with no explanation. I barely found anything about what it felt like to constantly wonder if I was imagining this entire decline. I barely found anything about how impossible it was to explain any of these feelings to my friends and family.
Now I know that a lot of people are thinking, talking, and writing about all of these things. But back then, I didn’t know how to find the right blogs to read or the right people to follow on twitter or instagram. It took a long time. I’m hoping that this Medium publication will become a home for some of those conversations, and a place that reflects the diversity of experiences and emotions that come along with chronic illness.
What Am I Looking For?
I’m looking for honest true stories and essays about life with chronic illness. Sure, I’m looking for wrenching and dramatic stories about times when you feared for your life. But I’m also longing for mundane stories about your nap routine or your tiny daily frustrations and joys. The monotony of daily life with chronic illness is poorly represented in media, and that’s part of what makes it so isolating. I really hope to represent that honestly here. If you’re new to this kind of writing, here’s a quick guide that I recently wrote for the Mighty Well Blog.
I want to hear what you have to say when you’re speaking only for yourself, not as an ambassador for your condition. I want to know how you’d describe your experiences to other sick people, not how you’d translate them for a healthy audience.
What Am I Not Looking For?
I’m not looking for advice or listicles or tidy narratives with happy endings. If you find yourself trying to end your piece with a bright side, or with a lesson, or by underplaying the challenges that you still face — don’t do that. I’m not looking for high school essays with formal introductions and conclusions, I’m looking for all of the messy stuff in the middle that you just had to write down. It is absolutely fine with me if the end of your story is messy. Life with chronic illness can be messy, so let’s not gloss that over with a layer of toxic positivity.
How Will I Choose What To Publish?
If you submit your own true story about your life with chronic illness, then I will publish it. Just like on the podcast, I’m not interested in curating for a certain style or voice. Different stories will resonate with different people, that’s kind of the whole point. I will absolutely publish re-posts from your blog. I will also publish stories that you posted on Medium years ago but never added to a publication. All that being said, I will edit all submissions to align with my content guidelines.
What Are The Content Guidelines?
This list will probably evolve as we go, since it’s always difficult to anticipate what will come up in future submissions. And a few of these guidelines are context specific, because I do not at all intend to police your use of reclaimed language, for example. But here goes:
- No hate speech: Be mindful of the language you use to describe other people.
- No ad hominem attacks: I am all here for your righteous anger, but stick to what happened and how you felt about it when you’re describing conflict.
- Watch out for ableist language: Whatever language you use to describe yourself is totally up to you, but please scan your piece for ableist terms that you may still be using unconsciously. This blog post from Autistic Hoya is a great resource of the types of terms I’ll be editing out.
- Don’t name real people without consent: Whether you’re talking about a friend or a doctor or somebody else, please just change or abbreviate their name.
- Don’t give advice: I can’t wait to hear about the medications or supplements or explanations that have changed your experience of illness, so just please make sure that you aren’t promoting anything or advising other patients to pursue a line of investigation. That’s not what we’re here for.
- Cite your photos: Make sure you have permission for any graphics that you use. Stick with photos you’ve taken yourself or properly cited stock photos that are free to use (don’t use anything from google image search!). Medium makes it really easy to include stock photos properly by searching Unsplash while you’re writing your post.
- Check your spelling and grammar: I don’t have the resources to copy edit each piece thoroughly, so I’d love it if you could review your story before submission. Ask a few friends to read it over or run your piece through Grammarly for free editing tips. (If English isn’t your first language, please don’t be dissuaded! Grammarly can help catch common errors, and if you’re feeling uncertain about your writing then send it in anyway.)
Will Writers Be Paid?
That’s a good question. One of the reasons that I didn’t start this sooner is that I have zero budget and I don’t want to ask chronically ill folks to work for free. But Medium recently changed the terms of their partner program so that writers can make residual income based on how much time Medium members spend reading their articles. So while No End In Sight can’t pay you, Medium can and will pay you when people read your content. And No End In Sight won’t make money from your work either way (as far as I know, I’ll update this portion if that changes).
Since Medium just changed their compensation structure I can’t guarantee a certain level of income, but I can share my own experience so far. I’ve added three of my own stories to this publication at the time of launch, and here’s how much they’ve each made in the last ten or so days:
- That Word: Degenerative — $0.45
- All Of The Burden With None Of The Benefits — $0.28
- My Body Is Defying My Politics — $3.62
While I recognize that these aren’t exactly impressive sums, I do think it could accumulate relatively quickly to match the $50 or so dollars that many online publications will offer to new writers.
How Do I Submit?
- Sign up for a Medium account if you don’t already have one.
- Join their partner program if you’d like the option of generating income from your stories.
- Upload your story or essay to Medium and save it as a draft. You’ll need to share the draft link with me in the next step.
- Fill out this form with your name, email, medium handle & the link to your draft, then I’ll be in touch about next steps!
A Word About Timelines
We’re all sick, so I’m trying to make this process as low-energy as possible. Hopefully there will be very little back and forth, and zero deadlines. You submit a story when it’s ready, and I’ll publish it when I have the energy to do so. If you’ve submitted something and haven’t heard back from me yet, it probably means that I’m on a laptop sabbatical. If you haven’t heard anything in a week feel free to ping me, but I promise that delays on my end have nothing to do with your writing.
Okay, I think that’s all for now! I’m sure I’ll be updating this post with new information as I get more feedback and submissions.