I’m scrolling through the list of publications I can submit to on Medium. There are 26 publications I can submit, all of whom I respect and have written for.
I edit for Invisible Illness, the biggest mental health publication on Medium with almost 37,000 followers.
So I don’t want to start my own publication.
At one level, there’s already enough on my plate with my full-time job, church, life, and Medium that I don’t have time to start my own publication. At another level, I don’t think putting another publication onto the market is going to help anything. The market on an open freelancing site like Medium is already so oversaturated with publications with lofty goals and noble intentions that, as a writer, I find myself a better editor, writer, contributor, and champion than the owner of my own publication.
We need great leaders. But we also need great followers. One friend I respected said this in a high school English class: we prize leadership, but what about being a follower? Why does our capitalistic society value leadership over followership if followers are the people doing the work, executing the vision of their bosses, and are loyal enough to stand by their organizations or institutions when things go south?
Even though Steve Jobs created the iPhone, who is it really that is making iPhones? Even though Jeff Bezos created Amazon, who is it working in Amazon’s warehouses?
Why aren’t these millions of people’s hard work being celebrated?
The truth is that society needs great followers as much as it does leaders. And being a great follower is, in some ways, being a great leader.
I have always been the “get things done” type of person. I can very easily complete administrative tasks like filling out spreadsheets and documentation, but I am also someone who will do the work no one else wants to do.
I remember when I volunteered to work on my college newspaper’s editorial board. I didn’t impress with the interview. Without the help of connections and whatever nepotism may exist in a college bubble, as my friends worked on the newspaper, I would probably not have been selected.
Over the course of the next year, however, a close friend and I who were on it became the de facto get shit done people for the board. Although many of our peers wouldn’t show up to meetings or would just argue and not actually write anything. Our editors would edit. And I would write more than my own share of allotted work out of a love for my community and because God was telling me that someone needed to step up and do it. We all had our roles, and that role was mine.
I am a practical soldier and a Christian, and unless something absolutely egregious happens to make me rebel against abuses of power, I respect orders, chain of command, and authority. I will always be second to God. Always, and that makes me a follower more than a leader.
I will reserve my discretion for day-to-day circumstances and nuances that I deal with on a daily basis, but my personality and workhorse mindset make me best as a second or third-in-command follower, working in conjunction with someone who has to make the hard decisions. I pray to God for all the hard decisions I have to make, to express my gratitude but also consult for what I need to do.
And so I don’t want to start a publication, and probably never will for myself and for the good of the whole. I know that the Medium community has a lot of self-starters. But self-starters were also meant to serve the best they could rather than be owners of publications.
That means to write for your favorite publications, to contribute to publications that have already done a lot for the writing community. That means to be an editor for the publications that have made you who you are in the first place. That means to read articles from those publications, engage with them, and
We have enough publications. We have enough good publications. And that’s not to discourage anyone from starting their own, but, again, the market is already oversaturated with people trying to make a name for themselves and build their followings.
I will commit and dedicate my time, passion, soul, and efforts, by the grace of God, to writing and editing for publications on the platform. But I will not start my own publication because I, and all of us, function as well as followers as leaders. In many ways, being followers is how we lead. Endeavoring to keep writing for all my publications is how I will follow.