I write fiction under the pseudonym Harrison Kitteridge. I think I do it pretty well, but over the past few months, I’ve come to discover that I’m a much stronger essayist. I started this Medium account in early May and found a bit of success more quickly than I’d imagined. I decided to go all in, and I’ve been posting regularly, so that hasn’t left me with enough time to write fiction. I spent most of last weekend not sleeping much as I tried to learn some of the nuances of Madden NFL, so I could post on Monday about Colin Kaepernick-related content being suppressed in the game. Going forward, I think I’m going to end up posting more of these kinds of essays/reportage that require research and deeper thought. I really won’t have time to write fiction.
If I’m honest, it’s not about the time. I’d been flagging with my fiction work for a while, and wasn’t particularly pleased with the content I was putting out, even though my readers were enjoying it. I was already on hiatus when I started posting to this Medium account. That hiatus seems destined to become indefinite.
I’d been posting a story, The Muralist & the Inspector, to Wattpad, and I’d picked up a few loyal readers, who were very supportive and excited for updates. I don’t want to let them down, but I just can’t justify sinking more time into Wattpad, even though I really like the platform for serialized work. Nearly everywhere else where it’s possible for writers to build a meaningful following uses a blog format — reverse chronological order — making it a pain to post, and more importantly, read novels. If Medium would roll out its Collections feature to everyone, I think longform fiction could really gain a foothold on the platform in a way that could challenge Wattpad.
Wattpad is a great service, and the interactions I’ve had with the staff in the Toronto headquarters have been amazing, but it’s too much work for too little reward. Wattpad has had some incredible success stories — writers getting book and film deals — but after a few months of earning actual money on Medium, I don’t know if I could in good conscience tell an adult who wants to earn a living writing and who isn’t writing YA-adjacent work to spend too much time on the platform. It might be better to fight it out here on Medium. Wattpad is selling lottery tickets. Medium at least gives you a shot to pay the internet bill or buy yourself a cup of coffee when it’s all said and done. Most importantly, because of its paywall, Medium has gathered older writers with disposable income who are willing to spend to read. Most of Wattpad’s users are teenagers who the platform has trained to read for free.
In spite of all these practical considerations, I feel really, really guilty about abandoning my Wattpad work. It’s tough to find appreciative readers, and it was incredibly gratifying to be followed and read every week. Nevertheless, I seem to have found my wheelhouse here on Medium, and I think I should swing for the fences. That means shelving my fiction for the foreseeable future. I have an awkward update that isn’t really an update to draft for my Wattpad readers…
I’ve experimented with posting my fiction on Medium and may take another crack at it. If you’re interested, you can read an extended sample of my novel, Before Holmes Met Watson.