“Medium” as a platform struggles to find a good formula for “excellent writing.” Their problem is cultural: they and most of the people signed up define the quality of writing according to high school writing principles. We used to call it “CAT” — content, appearance, technical skills. As an English teacher I was very wicked — I stopped grading papers, esp. the grammar and usage aspects. They don’t matter. With Medium, my sin is that I don’t read much of other people’s writing, because it doesn’t matter. Never anything new.
What matters is whether the writing has what I’ll call “heart” but what might also be called “passion” (if you can get that word away from the sex peddlers) or conviction. It might not sell. At all. And selling — according to the materialist values of our culture — is the criterion that counts for writing, just like everything else..
Look at the huge category of writing about writing on Medium that explains how to sell lots of articles really often for big amounts of money. Best sellers, NYT best selling survey, amounts of profit per movie presented, numbers of editions printed, and so on. The advice is mechanistic, repetitive, never leaves what is expected because upset people don’t buy books, don’t read articles. It’s not writing — it’s content. There’s no thinking or feeling behind it.
Anyway, most readers don’t know what’s going on. It’s the publishers who are convinced of their own perceptions and who control public access. They can never predict “break out” books that explode because they meet a cultural need never perceived by publishers at their lunches. If Medium were to figure out what’s called “discovery,” which is finding writing that’s personally meaningful, they’d be a sensation.
I don’t pay any attention to the metrics of Medium because they don’t address my own criteria. I’m not trying to get rich and famous. I’m not trying to join a cozy little group of mutually confirming friends. I just want to see my words in print that’s not on my computer. There’s an off-chance that someone might read it, respond intelligently, and provide an insight. I write for insight.
I also read for insight. Sometimes the insight is not in writing but in image. I welcome that, too, and Medium CAN do it.