The last time I wrote a story here on Medium was February 1, and that was something I had written before, reworked, and published. I’m very proud of it.
My last brand new work here on Medium was January 28.
I have lost followers, views, and dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. I used to be a top writer in Photography. No longer.
I feel guilty. I chastise myself for my lack of focus. I complain that I have no motivation. I say that I’m waiting for The Muse, but she’s reluctant.
I have a familiar Greek chorus singing songs of “you suck” rolling loud, bumping the bass, in my brain.
So what really happened?
I got uninspired. It happens. I would not call what this is writer’s block. I can and do write. Honestly, I just got a little uninspired about writing on Medium. It isn’t fatal, I’m still here, but after letting my momentum lapse, I have some work to do. Or maybe, you know, not.
I needed to take a hard look at myself as it pertains to my own use of Medium. None of this is Medium’s fault, the platform and its algorithms roll on with our without me. No, this is just some good personal introspection. Needed. Necessary.
I’ve lived long enough on this planet to know a few things about myself. I will never live long enough to know everything and I can’t seem to stop repeating the same mistakes, but I do try. I amuse and surprise myself almost daily. May I always be a source of comedy to my own mind.
Here is the lesson that I learned about myself again. And again. And again: Numbers, stats, measurements…they make me crazy. I’m not talking some ha-ha-ha isn’t that funny, I look at my stats, count my steps, weigh myself, SO darn much kind-of-cute crazy.
No, I mean that obsession with measurements of all kinds can make me slip off my carefully balanced nut. I know this about myself and still fall down a hole far too often.
That stats page here on Medium? Oooh, yeah, that is a long cool cigarette to smoker trying to quit.
Partner Program earnings? Just one drag won’t hurt.
There are so many well-meaning and helpful writers here on Medium with tens of thousands of followers who will describe the large amounts of dollars they make each month and how you can too. How if you aren’t publishing every day what are you even doing here. How they are a top writer in 82 different topics, and are you even trying?
This seeps into the folds of my brain like black mold and grows if I leave it unchecked. Turns out I must carefully curate what I let in and what I leave behind.
I love writing. I have been seriously writing for the better part of 20 years and less seriously all of my life. I work hard at it. It matters. It is who I am.
Writing on Medium would seem a perfect fit, wouldn’t it? And it is. But I was starting to make myself crazy. I was going nuts looking at stats, chastising myself for not having more views, wondering how to get more reads, bemoaning every story that was not curated and hating myself for not being better, faster, more, more, more.
The inner voice told me I must suck as a writer if I can’t even make $50 a month (my best month is $18 and I am super proud of that).
In the same timeframe that I have been riddled with guilt and convinced I lacked both inspiration and motivation, I have had three short stories published in respectable literary journals. One. Two. Three (will be published tomorrow).
I competed in a short story contest and worked my ass off on a story I am incredibly proud of in a genre (sci-fi) that is a challenge for me. I turned that story out like a boss.
I created a beautiful photograph that took second place in my photo club’s monthly contest (the theme was reflection/symmetry) and had it published in a newsletter with a reach of about 5,000 people. That publication returned to me such amazing feedback and compliments, I rode on a cloud of good words for days.
When people say that to make it on Medium “you have to do the work,” I am in complete agreement. So when I chastise myself for not “doing the work” here I realize I have for damn sure been doing the work, just somewhere else.
I have to give myself a little credit, even when that credit is a little less measurable than pretty crooked numbers on a clean crisp stats page.
As artists, we judge each other, but we judge ourselves the hardest. I am humbled, once again, by just how mean and dark my own brain can be.
Today I’m here. I am a writer. I’m putting down words. I am saying what is on my heart. I might get two views (from my two family members also on this platform — hi!) or I might get 100. I might get curated. I might not.
I am going to try to ignore the reads and percentages and pennies and just write for the joy of letting words flow from my brain to my fingers to this electronic form.
I wrote something today, and I am proud of these 700+ words. They are all mine and they are beautiful.