🌝 writer & librarian // 🌚 seiðkona | heathen | polytheist

2022 creativity post-mortem

tw/cw: mental health struggles including medication, anxiety, depression, grief, and thoughts of suicide. frank discussion of ao3/blog engagement statistics. also i swear some and make a dick joke.

what? i’m still mal.

It's been a rough couple years, to put it lightly.

Without question I'm not the only one and while the emotional lows were mixed with highs the overall effect was rather... whiplash?

I reentered the world of words, making great friends. My cat, who had intestinal cancer, died after a long struggle and I experienced a sharp emotional down turn. I sought medical advice and began medication, however that didn't stop me from withdrawing into myself, becoming even more socially inept than usual. I had a breakdown and lost my new friends over my (admittedly) less than stellar handling of the situation.

My medication was changed. I cried pretty much without cease and every day was a struggle. I quit writing, quit interacting, and quit caring. There were some... dark thoughts then. I got a referral for psychiatry, to tweak my medication, and another referral for therapy—which I wasn't ready for.

Our other cat, who was also fighting a cancer battle, passed away. My father in law passed as well. I felt like my husband—deep in his own grief—was the only person in the world who cared what happened to me, which of course isn't true, but that's how depression works. My new medication helped though and so did the new cats we adopted last January.

Finally, I began therapy and found medication that seemed to actually work for me. I began to write again, but slowly. The act of putting words together was—and still is sadly—as exhausting as running a 10k in waist-high treacle. Some posts were made. Engagement was had. I tried to be healthier about twitter. I hesitantly re-connected with friends while making new ones.

The struggle is real. I'm by no means better, but really what does that mean for a neurodivergent anxious depressive who's rapidly nearing 40?


So why are you here while I moan about my life?

Well one thing therapy has taught me is that honest introspection is good for you.

I'm going to use my ao3 and blog statistics to try to get a reasonably accurate (read: not super negative cause boo-hoo depression) analysis on my creative efforts this past year. Additionally I need a plan so I can continue to stretch creatively without destroying myself.

mal was creative in 2022?

Sure was and I have some numbers to prove it.

Further, not only did I maintain creativity on the writing front—I branched out rather impressively.

ok. now what?

That's quite a list. To be honest it didn't feel like I accomplished all that much until I wrote it all down here.

Definitely I could have done more, I got more done last year as an example, but this is still pretty impressive overall considering the nightmare scenario I've been dealing with for a while now.

Anyway, let's take a look at some numbers.


I'm focusing on numbers for my written works here because they're:

This does not preclude any of the following conclusions from being:

With that said, let's get to making every math or statistics teacher I ever had cry.

Word count this year was low. I knew that without the numbers and I'd already planned to make this a priority for 2023. On the other hand I think the kudos and hits are respectable when you factor in my diminished output. Bookmarks meh... I've never been terribly assed about bookmarks but my comments number...

Gods why does that comments number bother me so much? For what I released my hits are great but I can't seem to get regular comments for shit. 2021 was a good year for comments but if you asked me what was so liked it scored that much engagement I couldn't tell you.

In a way, my inability to remember bothers me as well. Obviously, I shouldn't be so hung up on comments.

The numbers for rosemary and amaranth aren't quite right: the only part of that published this year was embellish so keep that in mind. Don't discount it entirely but just to keep things in context.

Kintsugi was far and away the heavyweight this year. Highest of absolutely everything, as ffxivwrite entries usually are. For me the surprise is the red unto death and the common tongue. When you remember that one is a dead dove and the other is a brand new fandom for me those numbers are pretty wild.

Red is violent, insanely nonsensical, and I'll tell you right now it will not have a happy ending. Sure, wolexarch is my wheelhouse but the exarch is a dragon in this. A dragon. Once more for the people in the back A DRAGON. And it got read and kudoed anyway.

Common tongue is the indulgence of indulgences. My oc and an oc of my husbands in a fandom rife with oc's on epic adventures by writers probably much better than me. Just a silly little smut fic for no reason whatsoever from a no name perv who usually writes for a different fandom. Yet it got read? And kudoed? And even received a comment in this, the year in which my readers forgot it wasn't illegal to comment.


Failsafe deserves a mention simply for being read, seeing as it's sad hyth/hades without any porn. The bar was low yea but it leapt on over it anyway.

The thing about the blog is I've really only been posting to it this year. It was my primary vehicle for ffxivwrite delivery and yet only four of those eighteen entries broke the top ten posts. Two of the top five were experimental drabbles with no real pairing or universe to boost engagement and only one was even slightly adjacent to nsfw material.

Putting things on the blog seems to negate everything I learned from ao3 in regards to what fandom expects in its works. One pairing, make it angsty, and for the love of all that is holy someone needs to get off just doesn't seem to hold water here, or at the very least, it didn't for 2022.


Here's some facts based on all this mess:

Honestly 3% feels like a very small percentage. Very small. However I've not here to boohoo about it, I'm here to ask

why tho?

Why is it so low?

I can supply a very simple chain of events without too much introspection

One can't engage with nothing. It's really that simple. I believe most people have trouble with interactions in much the same way I do. I can have difficulty writing a comment that just consists of “DGSADGSJAGDJSADGDSSSS?????!!!” It can feel a bit cringe... I'm a writer, or I'm supposed to be, but I can't make a half-ass analysis of what sort of emotional response this engendered in me.

But let's flip this on it's head, shall we?

When I, mal, she of the cringe cryptidom, receive comments on my works do I mope about if they aren't twenty page masterworks on how “silvery moonlight bouncing off the head of G'raha Tia's thick cock is indicative of the light of hope that lives within us all” or some such nonsense?

Fuck no I don't. You enjoyed it. That's enough. I'm not going to sit here and gatekeep enjoyment.

So comments are kinda low sure, but if I can get all anxious and up my own ass about how my comments are perceived then everyone else gets the same courtesy. Case closed.

What's that? There might be another reason for low engagement?

I covered this one I think but let's hit the high points again. When I factor in the blog statistics this assertion just doesn't hold up. While some of this material was posted to the blog and only the blog a fair bit made it onto ao3 as well. Yes there is a difference in the final numbers but there's no way a personal blog is going to get as much traffic as ao3. Smaller numbers and a smaller crowd doesn't make it irrelevant, simply a different group with different tastes and a different preference for consumption.

Indeed, blog readers seem equally as interested in ffxiv rahawol fan content as they are in other ffxiv pairings, dnd, or original fiction—perhaps even moreso.

flaws in analysis

Engagement of the hits/clicks variety is not necessarily a positive impression, or even an impression at all.

Think of all the scenarios in which you've opened a fic and noped out again. You didn't care for the style. You misclicked. They didn't grab you in the first paragraph... so you bailed.


But it still registers a hit.

None of this accounts for readers who don't interact outside of hits.

There's no law that says you must kudo. You must comment. You must make a gushing bookmark and follow on twitter and user subscribe and bookmark my carrd and worship the ground I walk on.

You owe me nothing. None of that shit. You can think the fic is the greatest written work in the English language. You can name your firstborn after the heroine and sigh daily over the best quotes but you do not have to tell me a word about it.

I'd love it if you did, but you don't.

All this to say that analysis is basically fruitless outside of telling me what i already knew: all I can do is write whatever I want, release it in a way that makes me most comfortable, and then not obsess over the results.

Easier said than done of course.


Right. So I've got some facts. We learned some things.

What am I gonna do with this?

Do you still enjoy creative pursuits? Yes, definitely. Writing, posing, photo editing, dreaming, programming, and learning continues to give me life and lift my spirits. Sharing and making others laugh or cry or think gives me the same feeling. I need both.

But it can make you terribly anxious? It can. Some of that is placing expectations on myself when I owe nothing to anyone... but that's not entirely true. I choose to share my work and with that comes some assumptions, I think, about being on social media with other writers. Putting on a competent face and keeping myself open. Sadly this is so reminiscent of my day to day life as a neurodiverse person who feels she must mask that it makes me tired.

Is there any way that you can share your work without being overwhelmed by social media? I've thought of taking an extended hiatus before, but why? I don't think there's an in between for me. Normal human interaction is give and take—a two way street—and I just can't seem to handle it.

Inevitably I fall into comparisons, popularity contests, and tying my enjoyment of my own work to its social media reception.

This is both unhealthy and absurd.

I can't go on like this. Jealous and resentful and my belly filled with poison like a jungle tree frog. I am destroying my health and my happiness. It makes me a bad friend and maybe even a bad person.

I believe I need to place limits on my social media presence.

  1. The main twitter account will assume a more professional tone and will be used for retweets and major announcements only. Tumblr will be the same, but more image heavy. Hive will fall into this category, being the weird twitter tumblr blend it is.

  2. The private twitter will be the place with snarky asides and hot takes, however it will remain locked.

  3. On mastodon I will continue to do whatever I want, because it's super chill over there and nobody cares.

  4. Instagram, both blogs, ko-fi, m0ds, and gpose/photo edits will remain much the same.

  5. I am always available on discord and my tag is available on request through twitter dm.

  6. Keep myself open to the possibility of shuttering any of these accounts at any time if it's necessary for my health.


Social media frankly seems toxic for me.

I want to write. I want to share. I do not want the pressure and responsibility of maintaining a wide social media presence. I wish to use the time I currently spend on diving into social media for new ways I can make myself feel terrible on other things:

2023 is a new year. I intend to make the most of it.

#fuck2022 #retrospective #meta #mentalhealth