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My Time on HubPages and Where the Site Is Headed
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 peak straight ahead, two grizzlies and a pack of wolves were spotted by a ranch hand I met at the trailhead. But no worries...right?
Madison River Near Bozeman, Montana
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
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
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.
Creative writers, must break free of the mindset that our only audience is the HP community.
Our creative writing must be stellar or no one outside the community will want to read it.
The site itself must be accessible. We are seeing huge strides made in this regard.
- 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
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?