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My Time on HubPages and Where the Site Is Headed

Updated on October 26, 2017
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 150 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Join Me for a Little Chat

Have a seat here by my campfire along the Madison River near Bozeman, Montana This photo was taken on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Try to forget that just two weeks ago, on the next peak beyond the one straight ahead, two grizzlies and a pack of wolves were spotted by a ranch hand I met at the trailhead. But no worries...right?

Let's talk.


Madison River Near Bozeman, Montana

Source

Being Part of the Community

It’s been more than five years since I began writing on HubPages. When I arrived, I had no idea what to do next. I had tools, a space to call my own, and that’s about it. I began writing, and you, my HubPages friends, began reading what I wrote. And many of you went the extra mile to leave comments. The encouragement of those comments kept me going for quite some time. Screen names changed to real names and quite often real faces as icons. I was making friends. I was also growing as a writer.

My first hubs were articles, but at some point, I decided to try writing fiction. A friend commented on one of my stories and said it was a fine piece of flash fiction. I had never heard the term before, so I did some research and wrote some more flash fiction. At that time, I also stumbled onto a site where a man from the UK offered to work on my flash fiction stories with me, for a small fee, of course. I took him up on the offer, and I believe my writing improved as a result.

I continued writing here on HubPages, and you continued to read and comment. All this time I was actively reading and commenting on many of your hubs as well. Challenges were issued and I joined in the fun of responding to those opportunities. As time went along, the number of people I followed and who followed me grew. I was part of the community.

NYC Midnight Challenges

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A Time of Instruction and Growth

Four years ago, I became aware of an organization called NYC Midnight. They hold writing challenges/competitions throughout the year. The NYC challenges are unique in that they have a forum which the participants in the challenges can join. We post the stories we submitted for the competition and proceeded to offer critiques on each other's stories. We do this for both short stories and flash fiction. Between the SS and FF challenges, I have been highly involved in the NYC Midnight Challenges for nearly eight months of the year for four years.

That participation has had two effects. First, I believe, it has improved my fiction writing. Second, it has pulled me away from HubPages. There is no way I could continue my former participation here, hold my full-time job as a traveling healthcare worker, and be a part of the NYC challenges. My involvement with HubPages suffered, but it was a conscious decision.

HubPages is not the place for critical feedback, at least it hasn’t been since I have been around. The feedback is awesome though. It is encouraging, which is what I needed for the first couple of years. The only reason I am writing fiction today is that HubPages gave me the place to get started. I will never forget what this community has done for me. But if I was to continue improving as a writer, I needed someone telling me what was critically wrong with my work.

For that reason, I have opted to spend many months of the year embroiled in the forums at NYC Midnight challenges. I believe it has paid off. But it has taken its toll on my relationships here on HubPages.

This Is NOT My Swan Song to HubPages

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I'm Not Going Anywhere

This is not my Swan Song for HubPages. I’m not going anywhere. I believe this is the best place for me to feature my fiction stories, at least the ones I don’t submit for publication. But I don’t have high expectations for page views and comments from the HP community. Those have steadily dropped off as I have been involved elsewhere. That is something I will have to live with. I think most hubbers would agree that our primary target audience isn’t the HubPages community but the larger world of readers accessible through the internet. That will continue to be my focus.

I Support the Changes Being Made on HubPages Regarding Creative Writing

I am excited about the changes being made by the HP staff regarding creative writing and writers. The site’s willingness to allow fiction writers to participate here put us on first base. LetterPile was a great move, but it really only got us to second base. The next move is equally exciting. Creative writers will have their own dedicated niche site. Third base.

All of this will promote our work and make it more accessible to the wider world. But, in my opinion, at least one more step will need to be taken before we see a large influx of readers to the creative writing site. All of our hubs will have to be categorized by genre and to some extent, form.

Without this move, readers from outside HP will continue to see a mountain of writing to sort through. They come with specific desires but are met with a mishmash of creative writing. Just think if those people entered the site and saw neatly organized collections of every possible genre of literature. They could go directly to what they came for. That is when we will see large numbers of return visitors and not before.

I'm Sticking Around

So I will stick around for the home run that will occur if the HubPages staff keep doing what they’ve been doing. I want to publicly commend them for promoting the work of creative writers on HubPages. There are some extremely talented people here who deserve to have their work read more widely.

Here are four singles that will drive in the winning run by making creative writing on HubPages accessible to the general public and searchable on Google and other search engines.

  1. Creative writers, must break free of the mindset that our only audience is the HP community.

  2. Our creative writing must be stellar or no one outside the community will want to read it.

  3. The site itself must be accessible. We are seeing huge strides made in this regard.

  4. The stories, poems, essays, and other types of creative writing must be organized by genre and form.

After five years on HubPages, I am glad to see light at the end of the tunnel for the work of creative writers. There are people who want what we have to offer. As writers, let’s continue to offer a high quality product to our customers. Write it, write it well, and they will come to read.

Nice Job, HubPages Staff

HP Staff, thank you for your changes to the site on behalf of creative writers.
HP Staff, thank you for your changes to the site on behalf of creative writers. | Source

My Observations on the Poll Below So Far

As I write this supplement to the hub, eight people have participated in the poll below. It's a small number of people, but I find it enlightening. My idea for breaking the creative writing site down according to genre is based on how we behave when we enter a bookstore. I usually go directly to the area designated to the kind of book I'm searching for. If that is fiction, I look much more specifically than simply fiction. I go to the Horror section, or Science Fiction, or Thriller. When people online come to the creative writing site here on HP, are they not, more or less, going into an online bookstore? No, they won't be purchasing the writings, but they will be choosing what to read. Most, I believe, have particular genres they enjoy. Why would we make it more difficult for them to find what they are looking for? If all they see is a room full of fiction, they may simply leave and find a site dedicated to their particular tastes. I consider this to be an enormous barrier to keeping visitors engaged on the LetterPile site. To not take this step would be like a department store that doesn't separate merchandise into sections such as men's clothing or gardening tools. Would you take the time to locate what you were looking for in such a store or would you go to a store that made it easy to find your desired item?

Poll About Making Creative Writing Accessible on the Web

Do you feel that breaking down the creative writing content on HubPages/LetterPile into genres would help people find our work?

See results

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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I don't think the Blurred-Photo Police care at all if OUR faces are blurry. Just so the photos in the Hubs that make the money are not blurry! LOL

      I was sort of hoping I wouldn't embarrass you, honest ( aHEM)

      Your face exudes a calm, gentle man, whose heart is pure. Don't tell me otherwise, you'll hurt my belief in being very expert at reading faces. (Of course it's a valid plus that we writers get to know our fellow writers from the inside-out.) Please don't take it down for at least a while. I'm one who wishes everyone would add a face to their work. I get weary trying to "imagine." I guess that means among being an intuit, em-path & seeker, I'm also visual?

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Who's turning purple? I'm eating it up. Come on back for seconds. The photo is a bit fuzzy. I keep expecting to get a notice from the HP blurry photo police. Thanks, Paula. That was very sweet of you.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Cam!! Just minding my own business, scrolling along when I passed by someone I thought was a "New" member. And what to my wondering eyes do I find? It's YOU! Bout time we get a nice clear close-up of you, you handsome devil.

      I know men are shy & silly when it comes to accepting compliments, but HA!...since when would that stop Ms Bold Paula?? LOL. Really handsome picture, Cam....just pretend you can hear my wolfette whistle. (serves you guys right!)

      You look very dignified & scholarly. What's more important, you're cute as a puppy!! LOL.

      OK, CAM, now that I have turned your face sufficiently purple, I'll leave you alone. Paula :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

      A nice look at your journey here. You've done extremely well, Chris and you do seem inclined to follow your star. Self-improvement or self-transcendence, is the way to go and you seem to have understood this. Congratulations!!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Pertinent analysis.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 weeks ago from SW England

      You've made great progress, Chris, since first being at HP, as have quite a few of us I think. I can identify with all your points.

      I agree that slotting fiction writing into genres will improve the accessibility and therefore a growth in readers.

      I sometimes feel that I should concentrate on taking my writing to a higher level but we'll see; I'm happy here at the moment.

      Great article and beautiful photos!

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Paula, You are definitely one of my favorite hubbers. Your personality shines wherever you go. I hope our paths continue to cross from time to time. Four and a half years ago, when I began traveling for my work, I spent six months in Missoula, MT. I was up near Kalispell many times, including three trips to Glacier NP. Those six months were a highlight of my life.

      When we take a step away from HP, and when our time spent here decreases, I believe many hubbers remove us from the list of people they follow. My followers list says I have 521 followers, but I'm sure it is far below that in reality. I'm not sure why they think that is necessary. But to each his own. I'll be watching for your article between now and the first of the year. Best wishes to you in all your endeavors.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      MizBejabbers , Thanks for taking time to comment, and thank you also for your compliment about my writing. That is very special. I've communicated with the HP staff from time to time and have found them to be quick to respond and extremely interested in what goes on here. I'll never forget how they responded when I told them about a "Troll" in the forum who was relentless in her hateful posts. The Troll was gone within minutes. But they also responded to positive suggestions such as when I recommended a specific topic for flash fiction. I do not share the contempt some hubbers seem to have for the staff which provides this incredible platform for our work. On the contrary, I admire their efforts to give us as much exposure as possible. Thanks for stopping by today.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Cam...A little over a month ago, I spent close to a week in "gorgeous," Kalispell, Montana~~approximately 300 miles from where you are! Breathtaking country. I was in awe.

      But to your article, you've written a very nice piece here, Cam. I am enlightened to see we have quite a bit in common happening in our lives.

      I too am preparing to write my, shall I say, slow & subtle "exit" letter to our beloved & talented fellow writers? Like you, I will be staying, in a manner of speaking, since I have no intention of taking down my site & I do intend to visit on occasion. I don't wish to leave altogether. Frankly, I would miss my friends terribly.

      However, I realize as you do, that with my presence and participation slowing down, I must accept the fact that the usual interaction I'm accustomed to, will also slow down.

      My reasons for this decision are a bit different than yours. I won't get into all that at this point. I'll offer my explanations within the article I publish before this year of 2017 ends. I have six & a half years under my HP belt and a huge boatload of people I admire, respect and know will live in my heart always. These past few years for me have been irreplaceable.

      You certainly are one hell of a stellar writer Cam and I'm thrilled to know you've found a special place to continue to share your amazing talent.

      I wish you much luck and success and may your dreams come true..........Peace, Paula

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 weeks ago

      Very nice article explaining some HP moves that I've wondered about but not had time to explore. I've enjoyed your flash fiction and I think that you are probably the best FF writer on HP. You are very lucky to have such a supportive writers group in your state. Here on HP we get mostly hurrahs whether or not we deserve it, or we get unwanted critiques from people who don't understand our genres. Sometimes HP computers are no help. I recently received a warning for "self promotion" when I published in a comment an anecdote that happened nearly 40 years ago when I was in another career. I deleted it rather than argue with them, and that's discouraging. So anyway, I'm glad you're not leaving.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Venkatachari M, It is always a pleasure to run into you here. Thanks for your comments. I'm sure we will continue to see each other here on HP. Have a great day.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      An interesting recap of your 5-year life at HubPages. I am glad to be with you since the last 2 to 3 years enjoying your stories and other posts. I also reduced my time on HubPages. Only active at Forum posts and Q&As. Now and then reading hubs and posting comments. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Eric, I have to dig out that story you are talking about. It is my Halloween hub every year. It entails a visitor to a mountain hot springs, a gnome and a wolf. That was one of my first stories, although I've rewritten it a couple of times. Thanks for being here today.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Nell, Thank you. I hope we are all still here when we are writing hubs in the nursing home. We have a lot to be thankful for here on HubPages.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Sally, congratulations on five years on HP in advance. This really is an amazing place. I'm hoping for a bright future for the site. Thanks for reading my hub today.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well shucks Chris this was a nice recap of what I have gone through with you this last five years. One of my old time favs was something about an horrendous gnome I think. I think around a campfire. Memory eludes me.

      I have written a few short stories here and it would seem that you were the impetus. Perhaps I should have let you know that you are an inspiration. Thank you.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 weeks ago from England

      Congrats on all these years on hubpages! And yes I know what you mean, I have been a bit neglectful too on here. But like you I don't think I would have had the confidence to write without all the amazing feedback, so here's to many more years!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 weeks ago from Norfolk

      cam8510 My five year anniversary is beckoning just as yours has just past. It has been amazing five years and I have 'met' so many supportive people here including you. It is so good to hear that you are here to stay for the duration. I agree, HubPages staff has done an amazing job over the years in spite of very many setbacks. Long may they continue.