On Medium, I’m a Reader

Stephanie Here and Now
4 min readJan 27, 2024
These people are readers too.

For a decade or so, I made my living as a writer. Signing up on Medium was a way to keep writing even after a few twists of fate took me out of the workforce. That’s what I thought when I started.

Turns out, I’m a reader. It’s not that I haven’t written and published some things here, it’s just how things shake out. If you’re learning that you’re primarily a reader too, let me give you a brief explanation for how that happened.

The reason I started thinking about this was the claps, so we’ll start there. Every time someone notices something I’ve written here, they clap. They clap once and move on. Good job, right? Hooray for the clap.

The thing is, you can give 50 claps for every story or comment you read. I do it. I give 50 claps every time. I do that because I want to be generous. There’s no reason to withhold something as insignificant as a clap. They’re free and they take no effort. Giving someone’s story one clap is as bad as leaving a penny for a tip. Just say you weren’t happy with the service. It’s kinder.

It occurs to me that people may not know you can give a writer more than one clap. I’m telling myself the people who read my work don’t know. That’s how I’m sparing my own feelings.

Then there’s marketing. People who do well here are cross posting on Substack, Facebook, Twitter and half a dozen other places. Like many women, growing up, I was punished every time I praised myself. My family of origin is still pretty big on dragging each other down. They’re not safe. So I’ve learned to be quiet. That’s destructive to a writer. It’s actually quite remarkable that I was able to have the career I had. Most of it was, essentially, in secret. I edited, I worked in the back rooms of public affairs offices, I wrote critical essays for esoteric publications. You wouldn’t recognize my name even if you’d read half my work.

If a person isn’t looking to “blow their own horn” that’s going to hurt their career. That happened. It’s happening now. If you’re a woman who grew up with similar social constraints to my own, take my advice; ditch your shitty family and learn to talk about yourself as though you’re a person you love.

Name recognition helps on Medium. I’m not sure how to get past that but understanding it is the first step. The staff here have their own lives and their own issues and they take up 90% of their attention, which is only right. Name recognition provides a valuable shortcut to highlighting stories without spending all day reading through content and risking your job because it looks like you’ve accomplished nothing all day. It’s not their fault. It’s the world we live in.

Everyone’s a expert. The pressure to tie up all the loose ends and sound like an authority is intense. It’s that way everywhere. Even reading the comments section of the newspapers you can see it in action. People will say you have nothig to contribut if you’re not an expert on whatever it is you’re writing about.

Kafka was a government clerk. Virginia Woolf was a wealthy housewife. Doris Lessing was a telephone operator until she met and married her husband and settled in England. Then she was a housewife. Then she ditched it all to go to London and write. Malcolm Gladwell has a bachelor’s degree. That’s it. The man who writes about expertise is an expert in absolutely nothing. This fetish for expertise? I don’t know where it came from, but I do know it’s smoke and mirrors. Still, people look for it. They think a physiotherapist is going to be a better writer about fitness than a writer who has had to struggle to attain fitness regardless of the fact that most of the time, the physiotherapist’s writing is unreadable.

Then there’s the structure of the platform itself. It started as a utopian vision. Writers would write and read and memberships would grow and readers would flock to read the great writing here.

It’s turned into a club where a few writers get some income from their work and the rest of us can spin out our hopes and dreams or scream into the void secure in the knowledge that there’s a record of all that somewhere.

There’s nothing wrong with being a reader. To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. I’m happy to read people’s work. I want to find a balance between writing and reading that’s meaningful. I’m just not sure that balance is here. Lately I’ve been looking at Medium as another magazine subscription we pay for monthly and frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth it. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about this. Just wanted to make a note of it here, in my medium diary, where no one reads my thoughts but me.

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Stephanie Here and Now

American from Canada. Writer Researcher. I'm new around here.