The Not-So-Terrible Twos
Two years ago today, I published my first-ever blog post on Medium. I was in a major funk, unhappy with my longtime career as a grant writer, and looking to do something new. Though I’d written a few short stories, none of them had been published (or would be for a long while), so I was trying to find a way to get my work in front of readers and maybe make a bit of money in the process.
I’d read articles on Medium before but had no idea it was an open platform — a place where anyone, anywhere, could publish anything — and that it offered writers the opportunity to earn an income. (Or at least make enough to pay for a cup of coffee.)
During my lunch break one day, I wrote up a silly post on the difficulties of launching a blog. I posted it on Medium and tried not to throw up as I waited for the world to respond.
Turns out, most of the world doesn’t really care what I do. My piece didn’t generate a whole lot of reaction. BUT the few people who did read it said nice things and encouraged me to continue. So, I wrote and published more. And then some more. Soon, I had a small following of people who wanted to read my work.
And that’s when I decided to leave the nonprofit field to join the not-so-lucrative (but still fulfilling) world of freelance writing.
Soon after I left my day job, I began submitting my work to other outlets. Over the past two years I’ve:
- Published 93 pieces on Medium.
- Pitched ideas or submitted fully-written pieces 250 times.
- Received 223 rejections.
- Had essays, articles, and short stories published in The Boston Globe, Brevity (twice), FLOOD Magazine, Greatist, The Girlfriend from AARP, Submittable Blog, Disrupt Aging from AARP, Scary Mommy, Folks, Motherfigure (three times), Sammiches & Psych Meds, Across the Margin, 50-Word Stories, and Little Old Lady Comedy. (I have pieces forthcoming in The Washington Post, Drunk Monkeys, and The Girlfriend.)
To some, this is probably not particularly impressive. I know writers who have work published consistently and in far bigger places than mine has been.
But for me, it’s huge. I started out two years ago knowing nothing about this field. I didn’t know the first thing about how to pitch, where to submit my work, how to follow up, or when and how to negotiate rates. I read a few books on the subject, joined some online writing groups, and then just…did it.
When I look at those stats above, I feel so damn proud of how far I’ve come. Yes, there were a lot of rejections, but that’s the name of the game. I got a lot of rejections when I worked in grant writing, so I learned a long time ago not to take it personally.
What makes me proud is that I’ve kept at it, working and working and working on each pitch and submission until I get a yes. (And if I don’t get one, I usually end up publishing the piece on Medium. This one, about The Brady Bunch’s 50th anniversary, was rejected 20 times. Then, once it was on Medium, Eve Plumb — Jan Brady herself — “liked” it on Twitter.)
Anyway, it’s been a pretty amazing two years, and I owe it all to Medium.
If you’re reading this and you feel at all defeated and you aren’t sure whether this writing thing is worth it…don’t give up. If you love the work and you keep at it, it’ll pay off.
So, happy second Medium birthday to me. Can’t wait to see what year three holds!