2017 in Retrospect

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I joined Steemit a year ago. It was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Steemit has changed my life for the better in so many ways. It incentivizes regular content creation, content that adds significant value to readers. Where most of the Internet rewards clickbait and fluff, here’s a barrier-free site where a person can write deep, analytical pieces and be rewarded for it. Here I found a space where I can express my own brand of writing and further sharpen my skills.

Here is the place where I found my soul as a writer.

Breaking Out

12 years ago I began blogging in earnest. I ranted and raved about anything and everything that came to mind, usually involving politics and current affairs, and somehow I caught the eye of other bloggers in Singapore’s growing socio-political space. For a couple of years I found a community there, but after National Service, after the rise of government regulations and the departure and retirement of many prominent bloggers, I found myself once against without a community.

Right around that time I needed to make a living. But nobody wanted to hire me for my writing skills. Freelance writing jobs were few and far between. I only had the time to blog once or twice a month, and every time I was simply shouting into the dark. With the explosive growth of social media and other distractions, there was simply little reason for people to read some obscure youth on a little-known blog.

Nevertheless, I kept blogging. In mid-2016, I stepped up the blogging frequency in an attempt to reach wider audiences. Then, in December, I learned of this exciting new platform where content creators and curators could be rewarded in cryptocurrency. I studied the site, analyzed the technology, looked up reviews, and joined Steemit.

I wrote about everything that came to mind. Technology, philosophy, martial arts, life hacks, meditation, anime, books, manga, on and on and on. And the more money I made, the more I was motivated to keep writing. Today I shoot for at least three posts a week, depending on my schedule.

For the first time, I was making real money off the Internet. Magic Internet Money, to be sure, but [cryptocurrency’s] great promise is its ability to make rapid gains in value and be quickly converted to usable fiat. While earnings from each individual post usually didn’t come close to my freelance work, my freelance commissions were far more irregular, and demanded far more time. These days, I make more money off Steemit than freelance commissions.

For the first time, I had the luxury of turning down work.

For the first time, I no longer had to worry about my finances.

From Wannabe to Almost Somebody

I began writing fiction in 2013. In 2014, I made my first professional fiction sale. My second in 2015, and a third in 2016.

In 2017, I published one novel, one novella, and five short stories.

To be sure, No Gods, Only Daimons was written in 2015, and took almost two full years to get to market. But the remaining stories were written this year.

2017 saw the rise of the Superversive and the PulpRev movements. Their ideals resonated with my own, and I wrote stories for them. Beyond that, I also wrote fiction for Steemit — Two Lives and Night Demons — and published two more trunk stories here — Invincible and Redemption Road. And my Steemit stories have, without exception, outearned the other short fiction sales I’ve made to date.

Through writing these stories and seeking out others like them, I found a community of writers with shared goals and methods. By some strange twist of fate, I am the first PulpRev writer on Steemit, and in the past week at least a half-dozen writers joined in. As the Herald of PulpRev on Steemit, I declare that the PulpRev community shall take the Steemit fiction world by storm.

The Verge of The Dream

Dream

Calculating my income for the year, I made a startling discovery. Half of my income this year came from writing and cryptocurrency.

Half.

Perhaps a sixth of those monies came from royalties in fiat. The rest came from cryptocurrency investments, all of which were funded from Steemit’s native tokens. The recent explosion in cryptocurrency prices certainly had a part to play in that, but going forward I’m confident that there’ll be increased demand for crypto in the years to come — and with that, the potential for even more earnings.

When I was younger, I was told that you’d never make a living from writing, that you shouldn’t expect to make money from writing. Yet here it was, proof that a man can make a decent amount of money from writing.

When I was 12 I set my heart on being a full-time fiction writer. I refused to listen to anyone who said otherwise. Now I stand on the verge of the dream. Not quite there yet, but it is within sight.

Sowing the Seeds of Success

2017 was for preparation and experimentation. I spent the year writing and writing and writing, looking to see what worked and what didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on Steemit, social media, and elsewhere. I established my reputation as a writer, fiction and non-fiction, learned the ins and outs of Steemit, connected with wider communities, and somewhere along the way I became the Herald of PulpRev on Steemit.

Looking back on everything I’ve done, it’s clear now that I’ve been laying the foundations of success for the past 16 years. If I hadn’t spent those 16 years writing, learning, growing and connecting, I couldn’t have reached where I am now. I don’t doubt that the coming years will require more hard work, more planning, more dedication, more of everything I’m doing now.

But for the first time, I can see the goalposts.

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