Tre, I’ve read through your post and the comments and I highlighted the parts that resonated with me. The pros and the cons. And something dawned on me. While my post was a litany of Medium big brain “transgressions,” after I read yours I got a clearer picture of what the issue has been/is for me. It’s community.
I did a search for “community” in the comments and in your post. It showed up eleven times.
I, too, have had those moments of having been lost in the beginning and having to find my way. Falling into the wrong crowd, meandering away from that group, and discovering by accident a tribe I could call my own or at least hang out with on the outer fringe. And it really solidified with a small movement called “Light Up Medium, Light Up the World.” Not sure if you read any of it, but it was something to take note of. If you haven’t, you should definitely check it out. 😉
This is going to sound really strange, but prior to discovering that niche of very talented writers who can stir my soul, pierce my heart, or elicit a deep and hearty laugh (and you know who you guys are because I’ve told you directly or intimated the idea publicly), I thought writers like were a dead breed or only existed in far off reaches of the country.
What Medium has done is given me access to those writers. At one time it was easy to stumble upon brilliant writers and a joy to interact with them. It was great stumbling upon people with experiences very different from my own and reading about their experiences (that’s a thing for me, I like finding out how people got to be the people they are) and in doing so I gained more insight into my own experiences. And myself.
You write to establish community and you have done so masterfully.
What do I bring to the Medium table?
Honestly, in the beginning I followed the bread crumbs of John Metta’s “I, Racist” article and thought, “Oohh! Writing! I’ll go there and try to building a following!” (Selfish. Yes, I know.) And I reaped the rewards of such — nada, nix, goose egg, nothing. But then I changed my strategy. It took a while for me to figure it out why I write. (Sorry for the following redux.)
I write to offer folks a different perspective about matters that might be tripping them up or holding them back in some way, to encourage them to stay in the fight. (That’s what I do in “real life” and I strive to do it with care and respect.) And I’ve found that when I’m not viscerally motivated (translation: authentic, real, genuine), my writing is flat and stale.
I tried the “post everyday” approach, the “post every other day” approach, even the “post a week” thing, and it just doesn’t work for me. And I’m fine with that. But what I’ve found is that my best writing consistently comes about through responding to someone else’s situation. I like to think it’s responsive or reactionary. Idunno.
I guess I said all that to say that I’m bringing support to writers, readers, anyone going through tough times. I’m notorious for private notes. I do that because I’m of the mind that not everything I write needs to be out there for the whole world to see. (And if I had my druthers this bit of writing would be in a private note, but I understand they can be tricky for tablet and mobile users and I don’t feel like posting all of this in little 200 character pockets.)
All I really want out of Medium is to be able to access to the writers, authors, and poets that I’ve come to know and genuinely care about without having to slog through the stuff that really doesn’t appeal to me. Having to do so every day turns Medium into a Sisyphean task. Sure, there’s other stuff I’d like improved—the layout, the listicles, all that other stuff—I can live with that. I just want access to the people and content that I know exists within this walled garden. If I weren’t contributing by writing essays, I’d have no leg to stand on. But even though, my numbers are way lower that the Westerbergs, Hardys, etc., that’s cool. Because the people who connect with my writing “seem” to find value in it. And I’m not going for quantity of connections, I’m going for quality in connections.
So I guess until things change to the point where I can access favored writers with ease, I’m gonna have to put on my big boy pants and dig, dig, dig.
Like Tre …
Love one another.