Beware, all ye who enter here: writing advice, life lessons, and a universally applicable moral directive will not be found roundabout these parts. This post is about me and what I wrote over the last 365 days.
See, if I call it self-indulgent, you can’t jump in the comments and make me feel bad by calling it that, because I already did. #Strategy
One year ago today, I wrote my very first Medium post.
You Need a Mental Break From COVID-19.
Why it’s okay to turn off your news feed and read a novel instead.
In my naivete as a brand-new writer, of course, I had no idea that there were probably a hundred iterations of this general theme published that week alone. Sanity during a global health crisis was not a new topic, nor was my brilliantly original idea of taking some time to relax and regroup. But I wrote from the heart, proofread carefully, and sent my first article out into the universe with the ignorant bliss of the new writer convinced she is about to go viral.
Needless to say, the piece was not curated.
My first curated piece came a couple of weeks later, after it was unceremoniously rejected from McSweeney’s (in hindsight, I can’t believe I actually, gleefully, submitted it there!) and I indignantly self-published it. Medium’s distribution algorithm picked it up for the Humor and Food topics, and I was On Top Of The World.
Ma Ingalls Would Have Wiped the Floor With My Homemade Bread
Quarantine baking will not automatically turn you into the perfect prairie housewife.
To date, this story has earned a whopping total of one dollar and eighty cents, which is less money than Della had at the beginning of The Gift of the Magi. Please hold your applause until the end.
I won’t bore you with a recap of every story I wrote this year. I will merely highlight a few favorites, for the purpose of a) keeping a record for my future, elderly self (you know, in those far-off days when I’m old and wise and look exactly as dignified and classically, gracefully aged as Helen Mirren), and b) for the purpose of getting you to click some of these links and boosting my views a little bit.
I told you this was gonna be self-indulgent.
Oh, a fun story to insert here — my husband, stalwart supporter and #1 cheerleader that he is, does not dabble much in the world of Internet freelancing. He reads every single article that I share on Facebook via my friends link, however, and mentioned in passing a few weeks ago that he had been careful to read my most recent story all the way to the end even though the topic was unfamiliar to him.
“Awww, you don’t have to do that,” I said. “It’s okay. I know you support me.”
“Well, I want to support you but I also want you to earn as much as possible from my reading time,” he replied, affectionately.
“…You know I don’t earn anything from your reading time since you’re not a paying Medium member, right?” I asked, just as affectionately.
Reader, he did not. But I very much appreciate his efforts nonetheless.
Okay, back to business.
I am hard pressed to find a favorite story from the last year. I try not to churn out mindless drivel just for the sake of “writing something,” and have a certain biased fondness for almost everything I’ve published. It will take another year, at least, for my talents, tastes, and hindsight to grow and develop enough for me to look back on my 2020–2021 writings with Cringe and Embarrassment. For now, I’m still happy.
I feel a particular affinity, however, for one of my more creative literary humor pieces:
Literary Names Under Consideration For My Firstborn Son
Baby name books are out. Classic novels and fairy tales are in.
….as well as for my very first contribution to P.S. I Love You, a deeply personal piece about my grandfather, following the first anniversary of his passing.
What My Grandfather Taught Me About Talking to Children
It isn’t always what you say to kids that they remember; it’s how you made them feel.
(I don’t think I am ever going to have one specific singular “niche” on Medium… I enjoy writing heartfelt essays and ridiculous humor and satire way too much.)
I also had a lot of fun writing this satirical piece for MuddyUm, but sadly the Medium curators didn’t think it was half as hilarious as I did, which clearly just goes to show that this whole enterprise is going to the dogs. (Someone writes a huffy article on that topic at least every hour.)
Updates to Our Store Policy That Are Apparently Necessary Now In This Degenerate Age
We know none of you are going to read this sign, but we have to put it up anyway because the manager is watching.
One very important landmark of my first year on Medium was the necessary interruption caused by the birth of my son. I took six weeks off to recover and recalibrate, which I don’t regret in the least, and then worked through some of my new-parenthood lack of confidence in writing.
Writing Through Brain Fog
Finding inspiration during the rough days of new parenthood… and then losing my grip.
Becoming a mom, isolated during a pandemic though I may be, has given me some excellent material for humor. Discovering that online support isn’t all it’s cracked up to be was the inspiration for this piece, my first in Frazzled:
Help! I’ve Fallen Into a Mommy Facebook Group and I Can’t Get Out!!
I just had one simple question…
In early March, I was delighted and honored when America’s government teacher, Sharon McMahon, consented to an interview with me for my feature story on her #factrevolution. That remains my most-viewed story to date, since she was kind enough to share it through her extremely popular Instagram page.
Sharon McMahon’s Fact Revolution Is Working to Unify America
A former teacher is going viral on Instagram, teaching a fast-growing community about U.S. government and sharing a…
And, as of April, I am now working on a thirty-day writing challenge, the results of which I will recap in May. This anniversary commemoration post will be my 98th story on Medium. I wish I’d been just a tiny bit more prolific a few months ago — a nice, even 100 would have been a tidy way to mark the year. But alas, I am not so forward-thinking, and definitely not so math-savvy.
Ninety-eight stories, one publication, and 628 followers later, I’m fairly happy with my first year on Medium. Would I have loved to sharpen my skills enough to become a full-time freelancer, letting my words grace thousands upon thousands of screens and satisfying an untold number of readers? Sure. We all crave fame and fortune even if we say we don’t. But my far-more-realistic goals — of writing more tightly, keeping my message clear, and encouraging people who may be going through some of the same things as I — have been much more fully realized.
My Medium work, for better or for worse, has been defined by a pandemic. I started writing here after reading a toilet paper story, and because I needed the mental stimulation and virtual connection while working from home during lockdown. Publishing articles on every topic I could think of did, in the end, give me the mental break from COVID-19 that my very first article described. And during the transition from full-time work into being a full-time stay-at-home parent, writing on Medium was still there for me, providing an outlet for all my tangled emotions and thoughts.
I’m really happy to be here, and I hope I’ll be able to stick around for quite a few years to come.
Thank you for being here, and many thanks most especially to Rob, my person, who reads all of my articles all the way to the end.