One Million Readers

On July 24, I nudged north of 1,000,000 readers in 2018. Yes, it’s remarkable. But it was also wholly unexpected. In all of 2017, I racked up 160,000. And that, to me, was patently insane. So, first and foremost, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. It’s been a wild ride aboard the pirate ship.

Speaking of the pirate ship: if you’re not new here, you’ve surely heard me refer to this space by that moniker. But why? I call it the pirate ship because it’s adrift on its own in the ocean. There’s simply no other place in the Medium universe quite like it: Sure, there’s lots of success blogs, lots of social justice outposts, lots of autobiographical storytellers, lots of arm-chair philosophers, lots of scribes waxing on about pop culture. But what I don’t think exists anywhere else is a place where you can get all of it — sometimes within the same post.

Additionally, the pirate ship is constantly taking aim: At the vapid self-help industry, at racial and economic oppression, at other prominent writers who waste your time and poison the discourse, at cultural institutions, at my own delusions of grandeur and perceived inadequacies as a human. I write with guns blazing. Everything is a shot across the bow. I believe the world needs it. Not my voice necessarily — the last thing the world needs is another straight white American dude feeling like his opinion is the de facto gospel — but I need to come collect my people, because my people are, in general, a pox upon humanity. I aim to be merely a case of the flu.

It’s also the pirate ship because you, my readers, are the pirates. It takes a certain kind to be in the million, particularly in the 21,617 (at press time) that decided to carve out some cabin space. My follower base — according to some back-of-the-envelope analytics I’ve conducted — is just 54% American. It’s 48% white. It’s 62% women. I am beyond thrilled that my writing seems to have a truly global, omni-cultural, omni-gender, omni-racial reach. That was never the intent — just a very happy and serendipitous side-effect. I consider it a super-high compliment, as I’ve often hated the white maleness of audiences for white male self-help gurus. I don’t write life lessons so you can growth-hack your way to your first million. Fuck your first million. I want you to enjoy your lives, and not feel stupider having just finished one of my essays.

I started writing this blog because I had some motherfucking feelings, and I suck at discussing them in real life. And so they were written. You idiots seem to like them. Thank you for that. You’re pirates because you, too, are rogues. You’re powerful people. Free thinkers. Craving authenticity and vulnerability and something a shade left of the norm. Or, perhaps you’re just lost, and you’re thinking, “Who the fuck is this guy?” That’s okay, too. Doesn’t matter how you got here. You’re here, and I’m happy to have you.

The blog (I guess this is a blog? I hate calling it that, but I don’t know how else to name it) took off like a comet. We started 2017 with 150 followers, and 2018 with 5,000 followers. We hit 10,000 by the end of February. And now here we are. And we did it all without ingratiating ourselves to the inner circle. We did it with almost zero promotion on social media. We did it without me having any kind of credibility or fame in any other discipline. And yet, we’re not anonymous anymore. A story:

I was at the Austin Television Festival, sitting at a bar waiting for a premiere to start, and the person sitting next to me saw my badge credential. She said, and I quote, “You write for Medium.” I shit you not. She’s a creative professional at ABC, and she lives in Los Angeles. That’s one of many similar stories — including a guy I ran into at a golf tournament, and two women who found me at SXSW. To think that anyone would remember the name “John Gorman,” a name so bland and common that there are nine of me with Wikipedia pages and I am not one of them. It’s humbling. It’s awesome. It’s disconcerting. =)

So where to from here? More of the same, honestly. More writing about my feelings. More writing about dystopia. More writing about ways you could enjoy life a little more, and make life suck a little less. But, most importantly, more continued renovations to the pirate ship. More rum. More spaces to create for all willing passengers to climb aboard. This has been a dream come true for me, and I quite honestly never even dreamed it. I’m just doubly gracious at the outpouring of support, kindness and enthusiasm from every single one of you, from all corners of the world. I’ll continue to try and respond to the comments, reply to all the texts, and recharge my batteries so I can keep pumping out quality shit for you. You’re the reason this bizarre corner of the internet means anything at all. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent an entire decade writing for no one. Now that I guess I’m not anymore, it is a great responsibility and honor. I will do my best to rise to the challenge of continuing to write with great humility, curiosity and empathy, the occasional pinch of laughter, and lots of curse words. Thank you, again, for making this more than the sum of its broken-down parts. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far — the looting for treasure starts soon. Ahoy!

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Essayist and storyteller on life, liberty and the battle for happiness. Several million served. Words at Human Parts, Forge and PS I Love You. IG: heygorman

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