I Almost Left Odyssey

I Almost Left Odyssey And Stopped Writing, But I Didn't

And this is why I stayed.

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Earlier this month, I don't know if it was my stress levels or what, but I contemplated leaving Odyssey as a whole. After releasing my "9 Websites That Will Throw You Back To 2008" article, it barely got any page views. After realizing this, I found out that after every article I wrote, the page views got lower and lower and lower, until they were barely hitting 40.

At the time of writing this, that article got 36 views, and the only successful article I've written to date is "6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming To College In Philly" which got over 320 views. That also happened to be the first article I ever put out. After coming to that realization I thought, "Why am I even a part of Odyssey if no one seems to care about what I'm writing?"

That thought led to a spiraling breakdown. I've been told that I was a good writer ever since elementary school when I got awarded for a personal narrative I wrote. Ever since I got the acknowledgment, I started to think that I was good at writing, so I started to pursue it more. In middle school, I went above and beyond on narratives and essays in English class. I continued to do this in high school as well, but I started to take more classes focused on writing, such as journalism and creative writing.

Once I came to college, the thought of me being a good writer started to diminish, until I started creative writing again. I started writing up listicles and different articles and would show them to my roommate. In the second semester of my freshman year, I found out about Odyssey and decided to let my "talent" shine through.

After my first article was released, I was ecstatic. The page view count was skyrocketing up to over 300. People that I didn't even talk to from high school shared my article with their friends. I thought that all of the articles I would write would do the same, and everyone would enjoy them. After I released my second article, I realized I was wrong.

My second article didn't do very well with views; it got under 40. At that time, I figured that I would have other articles that might do well. I was wrong about that too. While I have had one article exceed 100 views since then, I did notice that the view count started to go below that, then below 90, below 70, and now, below 50 and 40.

I began to have consistent thoughts in my head like, "I'm not a good writer," "I don't even know why I'm writing for Odyssey if no one likes what I'm putting out," and even as far as "Do people not read what I put out because they don't like me or care about what I do?"

I began to spiral for a whole week over not being a good enough writer and bouncing back and forth between whether or not I should quit. I talked to the people in Odyssey about how I was feeling about it, along with some of my other friends. They all told me the same thing:

"You joined Odyssey because you love to write. You said you've always loved to write. Don't let the number of views bring your self-confidence down about your skills. Numbers don't define who you are. Do what you love to do most."

After hearing so many people telling me this, I started to think. I do love writing. I've always loved writing. I shouldn't care about the numbers that come up. Most articles that do go viral either have clickbait titles or are very controversial.

If I'm not a fan of writing about controversial issues, it's not a problem. I chose to write for Odyssey in the first place because I love to write and I want to be able to have a voice and write what's on my mind. Everything that I've written has been topics that I'm interested in. It doesn't matter if anyone else is interested in them. I have this platform to show my voice, and that's exactly what I'm going to continue doing.

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10 Things You'll Recognize If You Grew Up In A Small Town

Those stop signs were more like suggestions.
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Whether you're from the Northwest or Southeast, all small towns share basically the same characteristics.

From hanging out at car washes to eating endless meals at that Mexican restaurant, if you're from a small town, you'll probably relate to one (if not all) of these things:

1. Yes, that Mexican restaurant.

Whether you came here to eat after ball games or simply came because there was nothing better to do, you probably spent way to much money on burritos and cheese dip. (For real though, cheese dip was so worth that extra $3).

2. Churches. Churches everywhere.

There seemed to be more churches than people, and everywhere you went one of them was staring you in the face. At least you knew that the whole town was covered on seats when it came to Sunday services.

3. Yep, you hung out at the car wash.

For some odd reason, teenagers like to hang out at the car wash. We don't know why we did, we just did. No car every got cleaned. We just sat on our hoods or tailgates and talked or listened the music. What a wild night.

4. Quick stops.

Gas stations were called quick stops and thank God for those quick stops. You could fill up your tank and get a snack without having to drive 30 minutes to the nearest city. Plus their boiled peanuts were always the bomb. #blessed

5. "Stop" signs.

Those stop signs were more like suggestions. No cop, no stop, right? Same thing with speed limits - merely suggestions.

6. The football field.

Fall Friday nights were made for football games, and there was no getting out of it. Do any of you small town girls really remember going on a Friday night date? Yeah, me neither. Football games were the closest you were going to get to a date on Fridays. You either waited for Saturday or the end of the season. Honestly though, those Friday nights hold some of you and your friends' favorite memories.

7. The good ole grocery store.

Sorry bud, Walmart, Costo, and Kroger were 30 minutes away, and driving to the city was not about to happen. You either went to Shop and Save or Piggly Wiggly for your groceries.

8. "The park."

You either played as a kid, coached a peewee team, refereed as a teenager, or simply watched your siblings play here. No matter the case, you've been to the park, and you're lying if you say you haven't.

9. Those white welcome signs.

Literal *cringe* just looking at it. Passing this sign after coming home from the city meant you were once again stuck in this little town with nothing to do, but you honestly kind of love having nothing to do sometimes.

10. This view.

Sure, there's not a whole lot going on in your small town, but with views like this you can't complain. #NatureIsCool #SoAreSmallTowns

Cover Image Credit: Myself

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Fanfiction IS A Legitimate Form Of Creative Writing

There's more to fanfiction than bad grammar and Mary-Sues.

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If you've heard of fanfiction, you're probably aware of the negative connotations that come with it. Fanfiction, or fiction written by fans of a TV show, book, or any other original creation, is often associated with unpolished writing and out-of-character shenanigans. It's not uncommon to hear people laugh about how all fanfic writers are prepubescent kids too wrapped up in fake ships (relationships in the fandom) and unrealistic fantasies. Some people even characterize fanfiction as a form of plagiarism, since the writers essentially use a fandom's pre-existing characters in a different plot.

While many stories are, indeed, in need of serious editing, a lot of fanfic is highly sophisticated. Some writers are able to capture the characters in their chosen fandom so completely that the story seems authentic to the universe it's written in. It's hard for me to dismiss these writers as uninspired copycats because their writing clearly shows that they have a firm grip on characterization and plot. My own attempts at writing fanfic have convinced me that proper characterization in fanfic is often harder than creating original characters. Fanfic writers don't have as much freedom to make characters perform certain actions, as they must constantly think about whether the characters are authentic to the original work.

On the flip side, some writers diverge so much from the original work that they essentially create a plot and characters of their own. Many famous authors got their start in fanfiction, including Cassandra Clare (best known for "The Mortal Instruments" series), Meg Cabot (best known for "The Princess Diaries" series), and S.E. Hinton (best known for "The Outsiders"). But when readers hear that these authors have written fanfiction, many of them assume that their stories are unoriginal or retrospectively look at their writing more critically. Suddenly, every questionable plot device or flawed characterization is reflective of the authors' origins in fanfiction, despite the fact that accomplished authors who haven't written fanfiction make those same mistakes.

The assumption that fanfiction writers can only create derivative work, even in their original stories, is especially true for the creation of characters. When I tell people that a certain author has written fanfiction, they'll often start looking for similarities between the author's original characters and characters in the author's fandom. While this author's characters may have begun in fanfiction, they've diverged so much that they're not the same characters anymore. If most people can accept that original characters change drastically from their inception, why are characters born from fanfiction seen as unoriginal when they've changed just as dramatically?

Just like in any creative form, there are good and bad sides to fanfiction. A lot of fanfiction is flawed, whether the story has bad grammar, Mary-Sues (unrealistic characters that lack flaws), or gaping plot holes. But at the end of the day, it's important to remember to push past the prevailing narrative that certain art forms are more legitimate than others, simply because they're more mainstream.

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