Happiness and Misadventures

Lack of Feedback Is Unnerving

Workin' On A Dream

One of the last days of 2019, after going to bed, while half-asleep, I had a vision: a kid discovering a translucent object, floating midair. For the first time in my life, I felt the impulse to wake up and write down that image. From that, after a few days, my very first short story would be born.1 By chance, I got the idea to create several connected fictions, and the whole Parallax series came out.

In the first months, I was thrilled: I had found out that I liked writing and telling stories, and my audience (my mom, my eldest brother, and my girlfriend, plus a handful of kind friends) were encouraging. So, I registered my first domain2, and built Crooked Ink with Hugo. It was fun, but also a bit stressful since a few concepts were totally new for me: markdown, static websites, git, … Eventually, my tiny collection of short stories was ready, and I was quite proud of it. I was so pompous that I also opened a page on BuyMeACoffee.com — zero donators to this day, except the same supportive brother from above. Then I asked myself: how do I find people interested to read my stories?

First Punches to the Face

I already wrote about my experience on Instagram. My girlfriend suggested me this social because it was the trend of the moment, but I regret almost every minute spent there. The only likes I got were for the photos of the vacations that I posted; whenever I published an image to announce a story, I couldn't notice any visit to the website. Long story short, I deleted that IG account.

I tried to join some Italian communities, or forums, for creative writing, and finally I received some feedback! I was so happy that some stranger finally had read one of my stories, and provided a constructive opinion, along with suggestions. I didn't want to be said "bravo", or maybe just "nice job" (and this is still valid), but I wished to know what the reader liked and what he or she did not.

Other than the quality of the comments (a "bad" comment is always better than no comment at all), I found extremely hard to get any feedback at all. From what I could observe after posting about my stories on social media, the large majority of people doesn't (like to?) read fiction on the web. Probably they didn't like my stories, and I'd be okay with that. From the analytics, though, people don't spend much time on a web page,3 they just don't read the whole story.

I also submitted a couple of stories for some webzines: most of them rejected me, and it's ok, but I got published by one! Did it generate traffic to my blog, anyway? Not at all.

A screenshof of GoatCounter showing one view of the webpage per week.
This is the average situation… But maybe everyone uses uBlock Origin or similar. 🫠

Evil Eye on Me

I tried Twitter (yet another deleted account, but for other reasons) and then Mastodon to promote Godsip Club, a new website born from my a new hobby. All my experiences with social network to advertise my writings have simply been total disasters. Now and then, I notice some sporadic page views, but they're mostly on the "About" and "Stories" page. I think that, on this planet, maybe twenty (thirty?) people have read a story on my website since it is online.

With time, I've become accustomed to this idea: people do like to read, but they probably don't have the time to read online stuff as short stories. I myself prefer reading a book, but not on websites. I really can't complain too much.

Overall, I learned that writing for oneself, not for the others, is the best thing one can do. Or better, I still would love to know other's opinions, but I keep writing because it makes me feel good. It helps to let ideas flow out, it is a relief valve for the stress, and it occupies my time in these months (years), while waiting for the renovation of our house to finish.

I dream of sitting in the countryside of the new house and keep writing at the sunset, maybe on a hammock, while the birds are chirping. We'll see how many more times I'll complain here, or how many words I'll write, before this picture will become true.

Photos of green hills taken from the house we're renovating.
The inspiring view from the –alas, unfinished– house. August 2023.

🎮 I just started Weird West, seems amazing!

🎧 Some more amazing ASMR playlists

📖 Still Dracula 🦇 (there's surely lots of bromance here!)

P.S. In case any of you are curious (👀), I just published my latest short story named Saw Things.

  1. This is the English version of Cirapé, which I translated about six months later. The original is in Italian.

  2. Actually, I had a cringe website in 2005, when I was just 16. 🙃 Only Internet Archive can handle that awkwardness level.

  3. Web analytics can also tell how much time a user spends on each page… and I don't like it, that's why I switched from Google Analytics to the super-recommended GoatCounter.

#crooked ink #renovation #writing