So this week, something happened that will mean nothing to anyone who isn’t me. But this is my space, and I’m going to celebrate it.
One of my short stories for the Weekly Knob, “Mr. Bent’s Strange Talent,” got 50 recommends. That’s a first for one of my fiction pieces. “How to Get Me to Read Your Novel,” a slightly different version of the post on this blog, is my all-time champ at 67 (and counting) recommends.
I’m extremely tickled about the short story recommendations. First of all, I genuinely like this story. It came to me almost fully formed; within a few minutes of pondering the “measuring tape” prompt, I knew that Mr. Judah Bent (whose name came to my mind so quickly that I ran to Google to make sure I hadn’t unconsciously swiped it from someone else) crept into people’s houses and measured them for the coffins they didn’t know they were about to need, and that he left measuring tapes as his calling card. All I had to do was write it all out and add the occasional clarification about how his power worked. When it occurred to me to wonder if he’d know about his own impending death, I had my ending. I’m delighted that so many other readers liked the story too.
Fiction remains a very, very hard sell on Medium, especially if you’re not part of a publication. Although there are thriving fiction and poetry publications, often with considerable writer overlap, we are still a tiny neighborhood in the sprawling metropolis that is Medium. And sometimes it’s frustrating. Creative writers have been known to gather in each other’s comment sections and complain that really brilliant short stories are lucky to clear twenty recommendations, whereas “THIRTY AMAZING LIFE HACKS FOR PICKING YOUR NOSE!!!”-type articles will blow the roof off the place.
But the life hack articles are why the vast majority of people come to Medium. People love listicles. People have a boundless appetite for being told how to live their best lives. They don’t even seem to question if the authors are really qualified to be doling out “best life” advice. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. That’s just how it is.
So I’m thankful that I’ve managed to get a toehold in there with a form of writing that ain’t exactly popular, and I’m grateful as hell for everyone who’s stopped by to say something kind about one of my stories.