200 Posts on Medium and the Thought of Filling Up More Space

At the beginning of every hero’s journey, there is at least the idea that he or she will end up somewhere in the end. Maybe they die along the way, or maybe they make it to Bowser’s Castle and wind up saving the Princess. It’s different for everyone.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about surpassing one hundred posts — “I’ve Written 100 Posts on Medium, Here’s What I’ve Learned” — and it was very popular. Last week, I realized that I had doubled that number and moved beyond 200 posts; also, that I’d officially been writing on Medium for more than two years.

A lot can change in 24 months and as I went back and re-read some of the stories, I really could see a progression in not only my writing, but also in my thinking. Something like “The Prostitutes,” for example, which is essentially about a night out in an insanely expensive New York restaurant, or “Where Have You Gone Patrick Ewing,” about a childhood photograph — I’d have have never written that stuff down without the blank page and potential audience that Medium provides.

But over the past few months (really, the past year) a lot of this writing has felt pointless. I am aware that many people do enjoy it here on Medium and elsewhere, but by and large I am doing it to entertain myself, to practice — to sharpen my sword, so to speak — and that is, to some degree or another, not enough to really make it worth it anymore.

Just last night, I had an interesting experience. I knew it would make for a great post. Months ago, I might have ran upstairs to the apartment, ignored my responsibilities as a functioning human being, and jotted it down immediately. The two stories in the “36 Things” collection are like that. Same with “How to Not Argue With Cops”, “Uber, Art Basel and A Random Act of Kindness.” Really, a lot of my stuff is observational and/or based on real life.

And yet after this experience, I thought — why bother? Maybe a few people would read it. A few hundred. A few thousand. A few hundred thousand. But more likely, just a few. Maybe even less than a hundred. To the audience here, it would be such a fringe thing — not tech or social justice or the future of media or whatever ‘in’ thing it is smart people are pontificating about today.

Nobody would care about this shit except me and a small army of Paul Cantor supporters. Which is pretty depressing, I think? You’d like to assume that if you wrote 200 articles, most of them about varied topics with a certain degree of depth and critical thought, that maybe you’d get to a point where you at least know you’re going to reach X amount of people.

Two years later, that is just not the case. I have 9,000 followers here and get 200 new ones each day, but I’m not sure if those people are even people. And that sucks. Just last week, I burned a whole afternoon writing something here that less than 100 people looked at. Meanwhile, I spent 15 minutes writing about what — Twitter? — and it drew 10 times as many eyeballs. I get that maybe there’s more interest in Twitter here than some other things, but you do expect a little parity.

So, last night, when the decision between getting sleep and writing some crap that maybe someone will look at was presented to me, what do you think I did? I went to sleep. Which explains my lack of productivity here of late.

Every time I write here now, only one thought crosses my mind: I AM WASTING MY TALENT. This, of course, is assuming I have any talent in the first place, which is debatable.

There was a time when I could justify writing here as something supplementary — a thing I did to fill the void between my last job and the next — but two years on, I don’t really see a light at the end of that tunnel. Frankly, I see a lot of people moving on up. Meanwhile, I’m just moving.

Getting back to the hero’s journey, I’m not sure if this game is winnable. Every day I get up, there is a blank page staring at me. If I don’t fill it up, it seems, other people are just as happy to. Someone’s playing, even if it isn’t me.

So, I’m not really sure how to proceed moving forward. I do find value in the platform; writing consistently about a lot of different things without editorial oversight is nice. But then again, it does take time. And I don’t enjoy wasting it.

If you have a serious inquiry about something, get in touch:

Paulcantor@gmail.com

917.470.7221.

For now, enjoy whatever I have up. Other than a forthcoming post of highlighted stories, I’m not really sure if I’ll be adding to this archive in the future.

Thanks for reading over the past two years. Whether it’s been a hundred or a hundred thousand people, it’s been more rewarding than I can put into words.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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