Hey, Guess what? I've Officially Moved into the Neighborhood
Said goodbye to Medium just this morning
I’m moving in. Right here. Right now. I’ve been hanging around the neighborhood for a while, putting in my two cents every now and then, but my home base for a couple of years was over there at Medium. Over time we’ve grown apart, Medium and me. They went in one direction while I kept trying to get them to go in another.
You won’t be surprised when I tell you who won.
Maybe I had stars in my eyes and didn’t notice before, but it seems within the last year or so Medium grew more and more into a content factory, and then into a club, with games and competitions and unfathomable surprises, just when we thought we had it figured out.
They have a clapping system that’s annoying as hell but did they do away with it when they decided to pay better for length of reading time? No, they didn’t. People can still clap for stories, from one to 50 times.
It’s like the kindergarten from hell.
None of it had to do with writing, which, I told myself, was the only reason I was there. I got caught up in it all, though I tried not to. I tried to compete but I was never in the same ballpark. While some writers were making hundreds and thousands of dollars per month, I could count the number of times I made over a hundred.
I wondered for a long time what was wrong with me. I was embarrassed and ashamed and jealous—all feelings that had nothing to do with writing. Then, for two months in a row, Medium gave out bonuses to certain writers. For good writing, they said, but mainly for ‘engaging’. I like a lot of the writers who got the bonuses so I couldn’t say much, but it hurt that I wasn’t included. If I wanted to ‘engage’ I would join Toastmasters International.
I write because I fail at ‘engaging’. I’m terrible at selling myself or being phony during social interactions. I’m bad at small talk so writing is perfect for me. I can take my time to think it through and if I don’t get it right the first time there’s always the rewrite.
I love being involved in writing communities but when I have to compete for money by writing to those community standards, I balk. It took a while but I finally saw that we just weren’t compatible. Everything Medium did annoyed me and I found myself writing more about that than about the things that really interested me.
So today I quit cold turkey.
I wrote a goodbye letter and posted it before I could change my mind. I made sure I wouldn’t change my mind by spending more quality time here on Substack, reading the works of other writers I admire. There’s no pressure, no gamesmanship, no fighting for the pennies Ev Williams throws out, seemingly at random. No embarrassment to be included in the company of some really terrible ‘writers’. It’s peaceful here. Writers aren’t pitted against each other, or feeling forced to fawn over each other. The ones I follow are here because they’re writers and they have something to say. I can relax and read and feel perfectly comfortable sharing this space with them.
That’s not to say some if not most of all that fuss wasn’t my fault. I could have just written over there at Medium, too, and stayed away from all the angst, but I didn’t. I got into it, telling myself I was only there to help those writers who were dazzled by it all, baffled that they couldn’t get anywhere, and blaming themselves instead of the system. I wrote essays assuring them that good, careful, wonderful writing was what they should be striving for. I told them all the rest was noise.
If I only had believed it myself.
When I look at my body of work at Medium and see how much of it was about them, I want to strip off my official ‘writer’ badge and throw on the one that says ‘club member’ instead. As punishment. Who was I trying to attract? Other club members? Why?
But I’ve left that place and I’m here now. Moving in. Moving on. And it feels good.