After two years writing on Medium I’ve discovered its strengths and shortcomings. At least some of them. Call me less than the sharpest tool in the shed, but I tend to be patient. Yet I’ve grown impatient with Medium.
Turns out it’s something I didn’t expect in the beginning. I’ve known to some extent, but struggled to accept it.
Pure and simple Medium is a social network.
And there’s not anything inherently wrong with that. Yet there’s this thing called the paywall the brain trust introduced a while back.
When I started here in January of 2017 I was blown away by the aesthetics of this platform for “writers!” I read powerful and evocative pieces written by people with genius and uncanny insight.
Inspiration flowed into me and I wrote a lot of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Some people read it and many more did not. Gaining “followers” was not my concern nearly as much as developing the discipline to write virtually every day. In that sense Medium felt like a life boat to a sailor lost at sea.
Writing a lot of shitty pieces on Medium pulled me out of the muck of thinking about writing into actually becoming a writer.
The first year or so there was the infrequent piece where everything clicked and yes people clapped, but most important some offered feedback and encouragement. That meant a lot and still does. My work improved quite a bit with a primary focus on short fiction and poetry. Still no Hemingway or Keats, but I’ve grown and am grateful for the experience.
But I’ve become tired of this platform. That brings me back to Medium as a social network and place to earn peanuts for most.
Being read often here feels like a popularity contest.
In middle and high school I was a person with friends in various cliques, but didn’t really fit into a specific group. I certainly was not part of the “cool clique.” I take following someone on Medium seriously and am choosy about who I follow. I’d hope folks are the same about following me.
My problem is I see people with 2000 followers who follow 3000 people. I see publications hold a writing contest and change the rules in the middle of the process. I see some work that’s flat or uninspiring click bait get 1800 claps. So be it. It’s a free country. I also see some incredible work that blows my mind get 80 claps.
What once was a game changing experience for me is becoming an anchor dragging me towards the bottom of an ocean. Yes I can choose not to participate and likely won’t entirely quit. Yet it’s time to spread my wings and submit my best work in places where a greater audience is possible.
I’m drowning in a sea of oblivion that awaits most of us on Medium.
Again, it’s definitely my choice to participate. And yes I’ve read a few articles about how to gain a larger audience and a long time ago tried several suggestions, but I refuse to write or read click bait. When someone reads my 2900 word short story Lightning in a Bottle (shameless plug)and claps one time I have to say thanks, but WTF? It’s obviously behind the paywall.
Don’t these people know I spent hours and hours writing that story?
It’s not going to win short story of the year, but it’s a pretty good piece based on feedback from others, and my own sense of creativity.
Time to wrap this rant up. I’m making a plan to push ahead and find other opportunities for my work to be read by others. Yes I expect rejection letters, but I also expect occasional success. Why not?
Thank you Medium for being a nurturer of my muse. But like my cousins who lived in another country years ago, In the future I won’t be seeing you very often.