In the beginning of my second semester of college, I gathered up the courage to join a group that would force me to share a piece of writing every single week. I’d always said I loved writing, but in reality I had never done much more than essays for classes and a handful of really cringy short stories when I was in middle school. As a college freshman convinced I was incapable of doing anything well, I was terrified to start sharing my writing.
Now, two and a half years later, I’ve written somewhere around 130 articles for The Odyssey Online. Every week, with only a handful of exceptions, I wrote something and shared it online for anyone to read.
I’ve proven to myself that I’m not only capable of writing, I’m capable of writing regularly. And moreover, I’m capable of writing stuff that I’m actually happy with.
I’ve learned about my writing process, my beliefs, how I form opinions, how I share them, my outlook on truth, my philosophy behind writing and much, much more. I’ve been an editor for the GFU writing community for a year and a half – an experience which also helped me gain confidence in my skills.
Odyssey as a whole has been a wonderful experience for me – life-changing even. I now know that I do deeply love writing. It’s important for me to explore my understanding and experience of the world through words and share it with others.
But, abruptly, it’s all coming to an end right now.
For as many reasons Odyssey was great for me and for our community, it was also absolutely terrible.
The site, originally designed to give millennials a voice for meaningful thoughts and opinions, eventually devolved into grabs for the most shares, views and ad-revenue for the site (not, notice, for the writers).
I’ve impressed people in past interviews by saying, “I write and edit for The Odyssey Online” and showing them a link with pieces attached to my name. All the while, though, I'd sweat, worrying that they’d google “Odyssey” and see inflammatory or poorly-written or unprofessional articles like this or this (two of Odyssey's highest-trending articles from the past few weeks). Writing for a platform becomes suddenly less impressive when the platform pushes such low-quality material.
On a more personal note, as much as I bragged a few paragraphs ago about the quantity of writing I’ve produced, I have to amend that by mentioning there’s probably a grand total of one or two dozen articles that I’m really truly proud of. A greater number are ones that I really cared about but my delivery fell short. And the remainder were me winging 500-words of something because my weekly deadline was quickly approaching.
Being held accountable to writing regularly was a necessary part of me becoming a writer. However, it certainly didn’t produce quality content 100% of the time.
Early in May, I went on a three-week international trip where I didn’t have my laptop, so I missed three weeks of articles for the first time in literally years. The space caused me to become more dissatisfied than ever with all the negative aspects of Odyssey and the loss of what I’ve loved about it.
I’ve hesitated to stop Odyssey in the past. But I know myself to be bad about ending things. Did I just want to quit because I was lazy? Would I ever write again if I stopped Odyssey? Shouldn’t I wait until another, better writing opportunity pops up before I give up this one? What will become of everything I've written on the site? Will I lose two and a half years of work and growth?
However, I’ve gotten to the point where I can admit I simply need a break. I’d love to have the time and space to evaluate and be selective about the sort of content I want to share with the world and what name I want attached to that content.
So with that: here’s the last one. No more articles relentlessly popping up in your Facebook feed from me for a while.
Thank you to everyone who has interacted with what I’ve written. One of my favorite parts of Odyssey has been having conversations on topics I’ve written about and hearing from people in real life about how an article has impacted them. Thank you.