Why I’m getting rid of a pseudonym
I recently pulled a project from Kindle Vella. Because of the considerable delays in getting any content removed from the ‘Zon, I can’t reveal much more about it than that until I have it back in my hands and safely withdrawn from the platform. The reasons I pulled it were not to send it to the scraps pile but to give it the chance to thrive.
Earlier this year, I laid out some goals. Despite some major setbacks, I am still on track with most of them. I built flexibility into them because I know myself well enough to know that something will shift. And my pattern with completing projects is more cyclical than linear—but I will get to them sooner or later.
When that Vella project is unpublished, I will then completely nuke the associated pen name with it, scrub everything I can, and shift the project to my real name (to be clear—that’s this one).
Doing it was not on my goal list for the year—it wasn’t on my list at all! But that was precisely why I gave myself wiggle room on my projects and one of them included some housekeeping: reorganizing and archiving work. That meant I had to pull up drafts and works-in-progress to see if they were worth reviving.
I hadn’t touched the Vella project in about a year. When I re-read it I realized it deserved to be finished correctly. What I didn’t have time or energy for was building the platform and audience for it—something I already have here.
There are a number of other reasons I’ve decided to bring it to the forefront along with other projects and organizational things. Because past-me was smart enough to leave room for present-me, I’m understanding that a few other things need to shift around and refocus—and with these upcoming changes, I should still have plenty of room to complete all my goals for the year.
Here are a few changes to expect:
Medium is a sinking ship
Oh, Medium. The thing I can’t quit. The most codependent literary relationship I have. The enabler of all my impulsive instant gratification needs. Whenever my blog feed is all over the place and disjointed, you can bet that Medium is the source of that dopamine hit writers crave.
The place, in short, is a mess. If you are not a regular contributor or are still fairly new, bless you. If you have not yet joined, be prepared. I’ve been a member since 2019 and it’s endured no fewer than three major overhauls with several smaller changes and projects in between. This open letter goes into more detail, but in short: it’s just too much.
Medium has been a good platform to connect with others. To find other writers like me who find their voices in essay and creative nonfiction. To find an audience and recognition. Some of the changes it has undergone have positively affected my royalties. And the best thing of all is that based on the metrics, I am now able to focus on specific niches.
However: it’s a crutch. And it’s been holding me back from the real success I deserve. I have no plans to leave the platform—even with slim margins it’s still a net positive—but the truth is that my writing needs a larger audience. I was spoiled before the pandemic hit as editors often approached me to license my work (a clue I did not grasp at the time that maybe I’m good at what I do!) so I’m a bit rusty with pitching and proposals, but by golly that’s what I’m throwing myself into.
I’m interested in multimedia, not just literature
Writing will always be the center of what I do. But writing is not just words and paper (or screen). That is something I occasionally lose focus of.
Over the past year I have become a Twitch Affiliate. The reasons I began streaming had to do with my personality strengths and a desire to connect with specific gaming communities. It’s taken awhile but I have finally found my niche there—and also part of my voice. I’m a natural talker (and listener) and communication is one of my innate skills.
As I continue writing, there’s a pull to bring my prose to life and make it more dynamic and enhance it with multimedia—or at least me, its creator. Dipping my toes in with Twitch was a move in that direction and to see if I could pull it off and it turns out: I can! In the near future, audio and/or video components will supplement the content here.
I’m full of other ideas I didn’t expect
The reason I created the Vella project was simply to see if I had the chops to do what I wanted to do. Could I write upmarket fiction? I could. It didn’t go nearly as far as I would have liked because I didn’t think it was my strength or voice. But now I realize it’s because I just wasn’t able to give it the energy it deserved. Kindle Vella seemed like such a promising platform for awhile but I think it has found its audience, which isn’t mine. At least, not today.
As I’ve started working on this project again, other ideas I didn’t expect have bubbled to the surface. Memoir I’ve always wanted to write but couldn’t organize. Short story outlines that have sat collecting dust in my Scrivener folders for months. Essays on life and craft that I haven’t been brave enough to publish, let alone submit—but I should (and I will).
It’s a bit strange, I think, to announce “Okay, I’m working on a book but I can’t say much about it for at least another several weeks!” when that doesn’t often occur until much later in the manuscript’s journey, but I am excited for it and everything else I’m lining up in the near future. It feels like the keystone I needed to snap everything else into place.
Past-me knows present-me freakishly well, I think.