Writing: The Loser’s Journey

139: In Evening, is my very first original publication. After over eight years of crafting the art of writing, it was the first work that I felt was worthy of going all the way. And it is one that I am immensely proud of. And right now, it is sitting comfortably on JukePop’s ranking at number 36. Of course, I would love for it to the top 3o ranking and get that sweet JP30 tag, but with just 2 days left in the month to vote on it and 10 votes away from being in the spot, I’m going to be slightly pessimistic and say that’s where it’s staying. Still, I am incredibly proud of what we’ve done with the story.

Actually kind of itchy.
Pictured: Comfortable

But do you know what is even more amazing than the story of In Evening? It’s what happened throughout its serialization in real life. It has everything needed to make a plot to the most boring movie ever. Sure, it’s boring, but it’s a movie, which is a pretty good way to describe good things I guess. And I want to share this story with every single passionate writer or artist that has ever thought of giving up for whatever reason, and hope it will inspire at least a single writer better than myself to join the fray.

I have been overwhelmingly pessimistic about success in our line. ‘Our line’ being that of arts. Be it writing, artist, musicians, or otherwise, it has always been an uphill struggle, the path littered with abandoned packs and jagged rocks. Mine was no different. When I submitted In Evening to JukePop in June last year, I was denied a spot on the regular list. My submission was thrown into the draft pit, where it had to earn the endorsement of other authors before being on the main page. And it ran frantically for the first few chapters, gaining a steady stream of small, but hopeful +votes and readers.

Then, the fateful day came. We are encouraged to review others and their works. I’ve always had a policy of giving honest review. So when I sent out a 2 stars review, I was, within the course of a few hours, shot back with a similar 2 stars. And with that, my overall rating dropped from 4 1/2 to 3 stars. My readerships dwindled. And suddenly, I found myself in the pits of the pit. I had no readers from then on. Thousands of views for the first page, but not one willing to go past that 3 stars that hung on my door. Somehow though, I got all 4 endorsements needed to move out of the drafts and became a JP regular. However, I was faced with a new leg of a challenge. My 26 +votes for 6 chapters were reset to 0. My review rating was stuck at 3. It was not the debut I had even remotely expected. The odds were as stacked against me as if a car had just fallen on top of my body and pinned both my arms.

For the next 6 months, I worked hard at regaining readership. I joined the WriteNow Wiki, redid my entire publication schedule, made a new book cover, and released 139 Years to the End of the World earlier to help boost readership. I also started this blog, and made a Twitter account which I did not have before, and marketed the 139 series as heavily as I could. It was only by, oh, I think March, that I finally managed a 4 star rating. I was no longer bound by my past mistakes. There were about fifteen chapters in In Evening by then, but still not enough +votes to justify reading it for most people. Sure enough, 139 Years overtook it in about two months, in both readership and +votes per chapters. I was losing hope of In Evening ever making a dent of an impact by then.

I kept writing though. And it took 5 months and over a dozen more chapters before I finally had a new stream of readers and +votes. It was 5 painful months of not having a single new reader. Not a noticeable amount of new views. Not a single new +votes. From around there in August, with one hurdle over, it became another struggle to retain readers. Since at that time, I had a short lived job in real life that ate up my ability to write for a full month. I lost quite a bit of the hard earned momentum there. It didn’t help that the votes to chapter ratio was ridiculously off kilter.

Of course, once I returned to the writing pad, I found myself nearing the end of In Evening, with no readers, and no other ideas of getting readership up. I only had one last arc to work with. I think, around that time, I felt close to giving up. But I kept writing. And early this month, I wrote a blog post and decided to tag JukePop in the Twitter feed about it. They linked to it in one of their post. Needless to say, my readership, not just in my blog, but also my stories, jumped! I guess, it was a lot of luck at this point. JukePop labelled me as the author of 139 Years to the End of the World in their post, but accidentally linked the story connection to 139: In Evening instead. Imagine my surprise when both of the serialization gained readers. And In Evening’s gain was so much so that it instantly jettisoned it into the months’ top 50. 

Still totes respect though.
I will forever cherish this moment.

By now you must be wondering, “Wow. All these seems like it involved a whole lot of luck!” and you know what? You’re right. It did involved a lot of luck. Even if we were to assume that my stories are of an ‘okay’ quality, I was lucky enough to make it out of JP drafts with a low rating. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the WriteNow Wiki that gave me my first boost, simply because I clicked on the wrong link. I was lucky enough to have JP link back to my blog post. And even luckier that they mis-linked my stories.

For YOU, aspiring writers and imaginary audience, what does this mean? Does this mean getting your stories (assuming they are ‘okay’) noticed is purely a game of dice? No. Because I would never have gotten all these lucky chances if I let my first unlucky rating stop me. If I had stopped, I would never get the chance to meet awesome people like Kevin A.M Lewis and WaZelda and J.A Romano. I would never have had the chance to get reblogged. I would never have gotten new readers. I would never have written the more successful 139 Years to the End of the World.

Yes, getting picked out as a author is a game of chance. But if that chance is one in a thousand, all you have to do is write one thousand chapters for that one chance. And let me tell you, if you get your chance at your thousandth chapter, you are going to feel a whole lot more ecstasy than if you got it on your first try. If you can find the passion to reach that far, and somehow you still haven’t gotten noticed or published, I will um…I don’t want to say anything drastic here…eat a lemon! A whole lemon! Yeah! I will eat a whole lemon.

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