A Year of HubPages Membership
This page was written at the end of the year 2011. The year had been a very difficult one for me but it was a year which has coincided with my first 12 months of HubPages membership. This page therefore will serve as a brief record of this first year, my experience of HubPages, and my hopes and aspirations for the future.
The page is not particularly uplifting I am afraid. But writing has served an important purpose for me. It is cathartic to get things out in the open, and to express the significance - for good or bad - of writing at HubPages this year.
It is a personal page, so maybe will not be of interest - nothing bores more than someone talking about themselves! But HubPages does offer the chance to put thoughts into print, and at this time I have a need to do just that.
Introduction for Hubpage Visitors
HubPages is a website community which exists as a place on the Internet where anybody who wants to write for a wider audience than their immediate friends and family can publish work in the form of a short, simple webpage or 'hubpage'. The hubpage one writes may be factual and informative, it may promote an idea or belief, it may be a work of fiction such as poetry or else a short story, and it may be commercial. Even if the page ('hub') is not intended to be commercial, the opportunity still exists to carry advertisements, and thus to earn some money from your published work.
2011 - the Year Gone
For sheer sustained badness, 2011 was, I think, the worst year I have ever lived through. That is no joke. It was a year in which my father’s failing health and a need for permanent supervision meant that he had to go into residential care, and it was a year in which I then became landed with the headache of handling all my father’s affairs - a major issue for someone who struggles even to manage my own affairs. It was also a year in which for not unrelated reasons estrangement from my brother and my sister-in-law became virtually total. As a result I find myself with paperwork to complete, and decisions to make for which I am ill-equipped psychologically, and without anyone close to turn to for help and support.
And it is not just blood family relationships which have seen a sad decline in 2011. 2011 was also a year in which my relationship with my girlfriend all but ended, and the possibility of a relationship in the future dimmed, as I lost all enthusiasm for even trying.
Motivation has largely gone from my life. Despair has set in. And indeed it has been a year which has become worse the longer it has continued. There is an absence of desire for anything. Even life. Though I would not wish for life to end, equally I have no great desire for it to continue.
Almost the last of the reasons for living has ended.
But not the very last.
If there is no loving relationship and no family to fall back on, then there is only personal ambition to live for - the desire to achieve something satisfying with one's life. Despite a lack of confidence, ambition has always burned bright in my soul. Like everyone, I always had ambitions, most of all when I was a child - some realistic, some utterly fanciful - but one by one all these had to be discarded as practicalities and advancing age set in. So I’m never going to be a great achiever, or a visionary or someone who made their mark on society. Almost all ambitions, one by one, had to be discarded. That's the way of things.
In fact, perhaps only one mildly realistic ambition was left - to be able to write for a living, or to at least to comfortably supplement my income with writing - perhaps not too extravagant a wish, and not too implausible at any age. I always liked to write, to lay down my views on paper, or to create something original with words. If only I had the ability, and the motivation, and most of all, the self-confidence. There in lay the biggest obstacle. Writers and rejections go hand in hand. Even the best it seems get more rejections than acceptances. I could not go through that. I could not have motivated myself in my increasingly depressed state to sit down and write and write and write and then post off my efforts only to get a curt reply by return.
In my state of mind, there seemed to be no way in which I could achieve this last remaining ambition.
But there have been changes since I was young. The rise of the Internet, the advent of social networking sites and Internet forums and free-to-publish web sites has now opened up the door to anybody who has the ambition to write. One can now write almost anything one wishes, and publish it without fear of rejection, with the hope that it might be read by somebody, somewhere, on this planet. It may not guarantee any great riches or rewards or accolades, but at least the Internet offers the chance to publish without undue fear.
And that leads me to the one bright spot in the whole of this year just gone. Twelve months ago I joined one such free-to-publish website on which the emphasis was to produce creative and original writing, and I began to write with enthusiasm for the first time in many years, for now I had a positive goal in mind. I began to write a web page. The website was ‘HubPages‘, and on this site the pages were called 'hubs', so what I was now writing would become my first ‘hub’.
On 20th January I published my very first Internet page for all or anyone to read.
Hubpages - First Experiences
At this stage I was not prepared to tell any friends or work colleagues what I was doing - much too embarrassing for me to deal with if my writing proved to be inept. Even so, it was something of an ordeal pushing that ‘publish’ button - I could remain anonymous, and I could hide behind a user-name, and anybody reading my work would probably be someone on the far side of the world whom I’m never likely to meet - even so, it would have destroyed my confidence if the response had been unfavourable.
I'd written a relatively simple piece of travel packing advice - uncontroversial, and requiring little research - and I waited with trepidation for the response. None came, though I knew some people had visited and maybe read it. So I persevered, and published two more articles in a similar vein. Still no reply. Then I published a page of creative writing - some 50-word short stories - and at last I received a first few responses and also my first 'fan-mail'. The messages were only a trickle, but they were good so my spirits rose, and I then plucked up the courage to ask a couple of friends at work to review the pages, which they did quite favourably.
I began to tell more of my friends and acquaintances, though I still didn't like to push it too hard - I still felt I might find it embarrassing if they read my work.
Meanwhile, I continued to write and publish more.
Negative Experiences of Hubpages
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I'd hoped I'd find it rather easier to write than I did, and I'd hoped for a better response than I got. Because of my fear of rejection or ridicule, I was never prepared to publish in haste. I took my time. I wanted to make sure the pages were the best I could possibly produce, and that meant I could not publish as frequently as I would have liked. I could only publish about four pages per month. And each month those four pages would take up almost all of my free time.
And those pages did not attract the size of audience I would wish for. The trickle never became a flow. I became frustrated by a lack of response after devoting so many hours to writing a piece, when others seemed able to attract many visits and comments and accolades. Sometimes I would glance at others' pages and I'd see a whole long stream of comments, or I'd see that a member of three weeks standing seemingly had more 'followers' than I had after nearly one year, or that someone in the forums claimed to be getting hundreds of visitors per day to their pages, or earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
And I wondered why? Was it really that my writing was falling short of the required standard? Or was it just that my pages were of minority interest? Or was it my relative shortcomings in computer and Internet know-how which meant that I could not maximise either the audience or the earnings potential for the pages?
At times these thoughts and experiences have left me disillusioned, and I've felt like giving up writing these pages. Is it all worthwhile for a couple of visits per page per day from the whole wide world? Is it all worthwhile when you receive a handful comments after publishing a page, and then nothing? Is it all worthwhile, when even after one year the advertising revenue amounts to no more than a few dollars?
Without positives, HubPages could have been just one more of the frustrations and let downs of 2011.
Positive Experiences of Hubpages
But then there have been positives. The first 'follower', the first 'fan-mail', the first visitor from off the HubPages site, and the first time the 'Google AdSense' earnings figure switched from zero to one cent. And so slowly but surely, traffic did increase.
Then there was a special day in July when I won fifty dollars in one competition for a page entitled 'Shades of Red', and another page about The History of Jordan was named 'Hub of the day'. That sort of thing gives one a confidence boost. So I even found the confidence to write a really quite personal piece about 'Loneliness and Depression' and make it public - not a subject I would have dreamed of tackling a year ago.
There is a real sense of achievement in creating something out of your own mind, and in the acquirement of new knowledge when researching articles. And - for me - the continuing belief that writing these pages may yet bring me a sense of fulfilment in the years ahead. HubPages has given me a creative enthusiasm which has been sadly absent for some years. Each page I write is a challenge which diverts my mind away from problems and worries.
But there is no question as to the greatest pleasure I have received from writing for Hub Pages - it is the generous and warm comments received from people I have never met, from widely diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Some members of the site have given great confidence boosts with their repeated returns to my pages (I must single out Derdriu who has read every page I have published so far). Some comments have been particularly kind, and these have helped sustain me at times of self-doubt. The comments figure at the bottom of the page is always the first thing I look at when I open the site.
And more pleasure has been gained from this site than in any other activity of mine in 2011.
Hubpage Membership After One Year
12 months and 47 web pages later, and both the ups and the downs of HubPage membership remain. Sometimes I wonder what I've been doing with my life for the past year. I sometimes think I've spent too many hours on the site, and that I could have passed the time more usefully getting both house and life in order.
But getting a house in order is not a recipe for happiness and contentment. And getting my life in order is not a question of time - it is a question of philosophy and motivation.
HubPages has given me some things which I could not have acquired in any other way in 2011. HubPages has given me a source of pleasure, a learning experience, a way to occupy my mind, a way of expressing myself, something to challenge me, something to aim to achieve each week of the year, and a sense of optimism that I may yet achieve one of my ambitions.
So on balance, and notwithstanding the disappointments, joining the site was my best decision of 2011.
My 21st page at HubPages was a review of the reasons for joining the site. The following is a link to that page: Why Write for HubPages?
Link to Selected Pages
I HAVE TAKEN THE LIBERTY OF INCLUDING LINKS TO SELECTED VARIED PAGES TO SHOW THE KIND OF THEMES I WRITE ABOUT:
- Portraits of Plants and Flowers (image gallery)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (film review)
- Origin of the Names of the States of America (linguistics)
- Reflections of Love (creative writing)
- Wonders of the Solar System (science)
- A Westerner in a Thai Village (personal experiences)
- 100 Quotations about Age (humour)
- Carnival on Madeira (travel guide)
2012 - the Year to Come
And so to 2012. At present, away from HubPages, there is nothing. No social life. No joy in life. No life. And at the time of writing I have a fridge which isn't working, and the house needs a good clean and a tidy up, as well as some repairs. And when I go to visit my father and I stay in his old house, now vacant during the week, I find that the boiler is not working and the house is freezing cold. And I am alone. And loneliness is pernicious. If 2012 is to be like 2011 in all respects, then I will not want to see it through.
But it cannot be. It will not be. Positive thinking is all important at these times. My New Year Resolution is always the same; it is not specific. Rather the resolution is an all inclusive one - to keep busy, to make decisions without too much prevarication, to act every day to make my future better, never to spend too much time doing nothing - just sat in front of the TV.
And HubPages? Well I shall keep writing, keep hoping that the small and almost imperceptible rise in traffic to my pages becomes more perceptible, and hopefully accelerates. And I'll keep hoping that maybe one day a publisher will see my work and decide that there is some niche somewhere that I can fit into, so I can write more productively. I can realistically dream. And realistic dreams are the starting point for anyone who wants to pull themselves out of depression. Believing that those dreams will come true and pursuing them with vigour is the route to follow.
I now have six more pages in production.
2012 will be a better year. Happy New Year.