There’s an old saying we’ve all heard, that goes “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” There’s another saying, however, that “The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Somewhere inbetween these two standards, I’d like to believe there hides an underlying truth… That while tenacity is an admirable thing to have, there comes a time when you have to admit to yourself that if something was ever going to be successful, it would have by now.
For me, that truth has recently come to define this blog.
I started The Fullmetal Narcissist in the fall of 2013, because I had just begun writing reviews, I didn’t know anybody who could host or promote my work, and I needed some sort of creative outlet in order to share my work with the world. I promised that I would post a new piece of work every Saturday morning, and while I might have missed a couple early on, having to push one or two of my releases to a Sunday, I’ve generally done a solid job keeping that promise.
The results, however, have been less than impressive. It took me a long time to gain any noticeable ground. It wasn’t until November of 2016 that I started getting more than 1K views per month, and I’m still at a point in 2018 where I might get more than 100 views a day once or twice a week if I’m lucky. On top of this, I have only recently, after just over four years of operation, broke the 100 follower mark… Which I might not have even pulled off if I hadn’t gotten drunk and bitched about my follower count in a comment on someone else’s blog.
In early 2017, my view count started to hit a plateau, getting perpetually stuck between 1.3K a month and 1.6K a month, so I got desperate, and started to pull some shenanigans to bring in more traffic. I printed out business cards(for 40 dollars) and took them to a local convention, where I proceeded to take pictures of people’s costumes, give them a card, and give them a date that their picture could be obtained. I then set up the gallery so that every picture viewed would be an individual view, and the traffic rolled right in… For exactly two days, before dipping back down to what it was before.
Having tasted this massive spike, I began to whore out that post, sharing it on different sites and tricking people into scrolling through by asking “Can you help me to identify these unlabelled characters?” I got views of 3.7K to 4.2K for three months before it slipped down to between 1.8 K and 2.2K, before I stopped pimping that post altogether, and now my views are right back down to the same plateau that they were before. Could I do the photo thing all over again this year, when the convention rolls around again? Yeah, but what’s the point, when I’m still just pulling some shady shit to make it look like my work is more popular than it actually is?
I like being proud of the work that I’ve done. For four years, I’ve written the work that I wanted to write, and I’ve written my reviews the way I wanted to write them, but the only time I’ve felt like any of it mattered was when I was blatantly cheating. I can pull an all nighter, wasting my nights off from work writing a six page essay on whatever title I’m currently fixated on, but once it gets posted, it’ll get maybe 7 likes and a couple of comments before being largely forgotten.
I could try to write new things, but that never works out either. I thought I might have a great idea on my hands with A Series of Tubes, but a year later it’s only been viewed about thirty times. I got really excited about Anime Analogues, especially with the topic of the first one, which was a topic I was genuinely interested in, but since it went up about three months ago, it’s been viewed six times. Yeah, you read that right, I’ve been doing this for four years and I’m still putting out work that only gets viewed six times. This is of course to say nothing of the reviews I’ve written that haven’t even cracked the 30 view mark after being up for several years, or the insanely time consuming Inconvenient questions posts that nobody seems to care about.
Do I think I’m entitled to success, or that I deserve peoples’ attention? No, of course not, I’d never want to be that kind of person. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances on WordPress who are having a much better go of it than I am, and I don’t feel bitter or resentful towards any of them. But I’m also not some pinnacle of congeniality and humbleness who’s going to ignore his own failings and just enjoy his hobby for the fun of it. Because this isn’t fun anymore.
I’m a 32 year old man who just recently started to pull himself out of financial crisis. I’m tired of pulling all nighters for no reason other than ‘the fun of it.’ I’m tired of keeping a strict viewing schedule, and not rewatching an anime once I’ve reviewed it. I’m tired of getting 3-7 likes per post while seeing everybody else that I follow getting dozens. I’m tired of feeling inadequate, like I’m putting time and money into work that’s just not good enough. I’m tired of all my reviews only getting one helpful rating on MAL.
I really hope I’m not sounding ungrateful, here… I do appreciate the people who’ve shown me support, because I would have stopped doing this a long time ago without all of you. There are a handful of people who read, like and sometimes even promote my work, and you’ve helped me through more than you could possibly know. In particular, I don’t think this blog would have made it to it’s third year without Jennifer Paetsch from the Little Monster Girl blog, and I’ve enjoyed getting comments from several others. All of you who’ve found this blog worthy of your time are awesome in my book.
If there is one thing I feel entitled to, it’s this: If I’ve fallen out of love with something that I’m not getting paid for, I have every right to walk away from it. I refuse to let my hobby become a job, because I actually do have a full-time job, and it’s my sole source of income. I’ve been intending to leave WordPress for a few months now, with the only thing keeping me around being my desire to complete 100 anime reviews, which I managed to do last week. Of course, that raises a question, and it’s one that honestly gave me trouble figuring out what to call this post… Am I retiring, or just going on hiatus?
I’ll be honest, I have no idea. It’s possible that all I need is a break, and I’ll be back at full strength after I’ve had some time off to refresh myself. It’s equally possible, however, that I’ve lost interest entirely, and the longer I spend away from this site, the less I’ll want to do with it. One way or another, I’ve been going non-stop, full steam for four years, unmonetized, and it’s time for me to step away. I might be back in a few months, I might be back in a year, I might never be back. There’s one thing I’ll promise up front, though… If I ever do come back, the first thing I’ll review will be the og nineties Berserk.
If you miss hearing me bitch about anime, you can find the link to my Facebook in my Contact page.
Until then, so long, and thanks for all the likes.