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100 Stories on Vocal.Media

Looking back at my 6 year journey with Vocal!

By Amanda StarksPublished 3 months ago 11 min read
Put together with Canva Assets.

Wow, this article is harder to start than I thought! What does one do to celebrate 100 of anything? Making 100 of something can go in the blink of an eye as it seems so small and inconsequential to the millions of other things in the universe.

And yet, I WROTE 100 STORIES! I did! On ONE site!

It doesn't matter if no one else thinks it's a big deal, because to me and my shotty record of half-finished, semi-abandoned work and mental health episodes: its a miracle.

So, indulge me for a few minutes, my amazing Vocal peers and creatives. Let me pull back the curtain and show you my journey on and around my desk - starting in 2018.


"Every waking moment, it haunts my anxious mind. It stalks me like a wolf in the shadows, its friends eagerly snapping their jaws, waiting for a chance to tear me apart." - And the Wolf Follows, 2018

2018 was a strange year for me personally. I was in the midst of a quarter-life crisis trying to figure out if I really enjoyed the career path I was on as a Geoscientist ( yes, I was really studying Geology before this! ) or if what really got me up in the morning was the idea of bringing the stories in my head to life.

The fear of giving up almost four years of scientific study and discipline for the uncertain future of a writer seemed so foolish at the time. I knew I would make more money as a geologist, but deep in my heart I didn't care.

I didn't care about money - that much was obvious from the fact that I despised the oil industry and the career junkies who would come tout their wealth and success at student gatherings. They weren't scientists in my eyes, just opportunists who were riding the last dying gasps of an industry that I knew would be obsolete in my lifetime.

What I cared about was what made me happy. What would get me up out of bed on those rough days? What would inspire me to push beyond my own boundaries? What would make me the most satisfied at the end of my time here on Earth?

Storytelling. It would always be storytelling.

So, I did it. I went through the painful ( and pretty awkward ) process of leaving the Geoscience Department at my University and was welcomed with open arms into the English Department with an invitation into their honors society.

And then I got sick, and lost it all.


I felt such a stir

Within the cobwebs of my heart

That I latched onto the feeling

With poisonous grip

And forgot how to let go

- The Night You Kissed My Hand, 2018

The summer of 2018 into the winter saw massive upheaval. I was brought home, only to find myself moving to a whole new town, leaving my childhood memories behind. Amidst one of the worst depression episodes of my life, I couldn't find comfort in the familiar, nor in any accomplishments from years spent at university: years I saw as completely wasted.

It brought me to very low and dark places. That year would be the first time I attempted to take my own life. I was only 22.

Yet, even in that darkness, I could still turn to the one thing I felt I had left: my writing.

What is wrong with comfort? He inquired.

Comfort is brief, I replied.

It never lasts,

Like a warm spring,



A bitter winter.

- A Good Night, 2018

I posted six stories to Vocal.Media in 2018. I'd found it by chance after a friend posted about it on Facebook. The promise of making some sort of monetization off the one passion I had left over from the hurricane my life had turned into was too much not to pass up. Vocal was a nugget of hope at that time, even if I got 0 likes and 0 reads during my tenure.

Money, as much as I needed it at the time, never became more important than having a space to share what was in my heart; in my head.

Three years would pass until I posted again.


Journey beyond rationality;

beyond the fog veil and grey cliffs

to a cave at the peak of the world.

- The Mountain is Alive, 2021

On my 23rd birthday in 2019, I finished my first manuscript called EVERGREEN, the first book in my massive world-building project: FATE OF FIRE. By 2021, with three other manuscripts in the works among a library of short stories and poetry, I decided to return to Vocal to share my worlds with others, and to explore the depths of my writing skill by entering into several Vocal contests!

"Every step forwards on the carpeted floorboards felt like a step backwards into time; into a part of her life she had renounced from her mental history books." - To You, 25 Years From Now, 2021

One of my first contest pieces - featured above - was entered into the Black Book Challenge. It was the first time in years that I had written something completely independent of my manuscripts and world-building projects. Sharing it with friends and family on Facebook got attention, which resulted in a whopping 20 likes. ( It was a lot to me, and it still is! )

I went on to enter into four other contests with no placements. One after another I saw nothing for my work. I felt disheartened and a little bit like I was an imposter. Was I really cut out to be a writer?

Then, something changed.

Later in the year, I wrote my most-viewed article to date: Did You Know 1 in 10,000 Girls Worldwide are Born with Rett Syndrome? It currently sits at just 300 views thanks to the outpouring of interest from a Facebook group dedicated to families with Rett girls.

A month or so later, I wrote my first opinion piece about Young Adult novels and sexual content, which caught the attention of a little company called Literati.

E-mail from Literati employee Brooklyn who reached out to get my thoughts on dealing with mature themes in YA.

"Sex sells. Any publishing veteran will tell you the same, regardless of their personal views on the subject. But should sex sell in the young adult genre? That is the root issue that I want to discuss today." - My Thoughts on Sexual Content in Young Adult Fantasy Novels, 2021

I did do a video chat with two people who worked at the company. They asked questions about my experience as both a writer and reader of YA literature and of how I navigated that space during my time as a Teen Librarian. To my knowledge, they went on to use me and my statements in a presentation to their higher-ups. I hope it went well!

And if both of those instances weren't enough to end the voice of uncertainty in my mind, I was also contacted by an indie author ( whose e-mail I've lost over the years :c ) in 2022 who liked the style of my book reviews so much that she asked that I simply shout her out on social media! I did, and it made her happy, which at the time felt amazing to help another writer on their way toward reaching their dreams.


"I repeat, THE LOVE INTEREST THREW THE PROTAGONIST FROM LETHAL HEIGHT OFF OF A TOWER." - Book Series Review: Air Awakens by Elise Kova, 2022

Rolling from 2022 into 2023, I began to focus a bit more on review articles covering books in the YA Fantasy space, fantasy TV shows, games and anime. I earned my first ever top story in three years on the platform from my review of the Air Awakens Series! These articles even today still rank among the highest earners as they are 'evergreen' topics. People who searched for "Air Awakens" reviews would see my article and click on it to see if the book/series was worth their time!

Let it be known by "earners" I mean they earned more than a few cents. xD

But my posts were sparse - inconsistent. At the last half of 2022, my health would begin to decline once more, and the warning signs that I had built myself up to recognize went completely ignored.

"Breathe", it's so simple:

don't think about it

don't worry about it

put your head between your knees and pray about it;

hope that you have a spare pair of cutters nearby

to put that live wire out.

- Live Wire, 2023

In January 2023, I had a major break down, and spent the next few months in a deep depressive and heightened anxious/panicked state. It wasn't until numerous doctor's visits and pill prescriptions later that I felt steady enough to finally return to the world of storytelling and share my experience.





- Chemical Experiment: Deficits, 2023

Eleven months ago, I only had 39 stories to show for five years on Vocal. I was still unknown, but had the knowledge that likes and comments did not make the writer. It wasn't the frequency you posted, it was the quality. It wasn't the chase of the views, it was the feeling of accomplishment and being proud of the work you made.

So, in the midst of my journey to healing, I decided to start a little poetry project: RE: SURGENCE.

It was a selfish project to bring together both old and new poetry from across the years to create a themed collection focused on my mental health journey. I had a few comments and likes on the first poems - my first returning commenter being the LOVELY Babs Iverson - and I felt very proud of each piece I dropped.

At this time, I also joined Vocal's Official Creator's Discord channel where I finally got to properly meet and chat with other creators on the platform. Creator's like Matthew Fromm, Dharrsheena Raja Segarran, Ian Read, Celia in Underland, River Joy, Kenny Penn, Mackenzie Davis, Stephanie Hoogstad and SO many others not only shared their experiences with writing on the platform, but also actively supported other writers and uplifted them on the various channels.

It was incredibly encouraging to see a community so eager to write and support writing, and the inspiration and motivation it gave me to write better and support others just as fiercely skyrocketed.

Four out of the twenty-one poems in RE: SURGENCE went on to reach top story status, with one placing as a runner-up in a Vocal challenge this year.

I've made it to the other side

so don't let me believe for a moment

that darkness lives within me

- The Other Side, 2024

During the next 11 months of 2023, I wrote 61 stories on Vocal! It was a mix of poetry, short stories, and a few how-to style pieces talking about my writing process or sharing my experience with mental health and anxiety.

I joined in on creator-run challenges and collaborations such as Judey Kalchik's Birthday Mystery Challenge, and me and Ian Read's Precipice short story chapters. And as always, I continued to enter into Vocal-run challenges.

"Smoke invades my nostrils, but I focus, painting a set of stairs with the ashfall. Soot and gray matter splatter on the black canvas, bringing some order to an otherwise over-colored world. It's messy, but it's mine."

- Descent, 2023

One of the biggest surprises from the year came six months ago when my piece: CURSE: The 200,000 Words of an Angsty Teenager won second place in Vocal's Writers Challenge. My first win in a Vocal challenge after so many failed attempts!

And finally, after building up a large enough backlog of liked stories from other creators, I began a series highlighting underrated pieces and talented writers on Vocal, providing a $5 bonus to each who made the list. It's still one of my favorite projects I've started on the site!

"...I want to give back to the community and to the writers who have lived rent-free in my brain over the years by not only highlighting their work - but also paying it forward by giving my own "Fantastical Vocal Favorite Bonus" to those writers." - Fantastical Vocal Favorites Vol. 1, 2023


So, with all of this now behind me, what is ahead?

I've gone back and forth a lot about how I want to grow my career, and how exactly I want to go about it. As much as I like to say money doesn't matter, it sadly does when it comes to making a living and being able to do Vocal in the first place.

I want to make Vocal my main hub for writing. I LOVE the community here, and I believe the platform has a lot of potential to reach greater heights.

However, I do want to expand, as right now the money I make on Vocal is abysmal compared to my current employment. The goal is to create a living off my writing and general content creation, but how the heck do I do this?

I've researched a few options, and have landed on Patreon, a platform for creators to receive monthly payments from their fans in exchange for special perks. Vocal has a version of this in pledges, but there are no options to provide perks for pledgers beyond just being very generous.

With Patreon, I could shout out my patrons at the end of my articles and future published books ( as they would be enabling me to continue doing this! ), show sneak peeks into upcoming stories or projects, create a personal space on a Discord channel, or even offer special deals on merch. Really the options can go as far as ones own imagination.

If any of you would even be remotely interested in this: LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS. I'm SO on the fence about it because it feels weird to ask for money, but at the same time I want to do writing as a job?? Make up your mind, Amanda!

Besides that though, the future on Vocal is still green-lit. I'm working on part II of Voice of the Forest, a piece talking about how music inspired my poetry, a peek at the journey so far with my debut novel, and a few longer fantasy pieces coming from my book worlds in the pipeline.

And yes, there will be more poetry! c:

To everyone who has ever commented, liked, reached out, or generously given tips for my stories over the years: THANK YOU! You kept me going when I began to doubt.

To my fellow Vocal creators: you inspire me everyday that I log onto Vocal.Media and see your work covering the community channels. Your love, passion, and community driven attitudes are a breath of fresh air in this bloated industry.

To those creators who reached out to me on Discord and Facebook: y'all have become great companions and friends who I will ALWAYS cheer for! Your support, encouragement and feedback are more precious to me than gold!

Alright, that's enough from me now. I'm going to go work on the next story. Until then, keep your writing muscles sharp! (:

You can subscribe to my free e-mail newsletter on my Author Website at www.amandastarks.com, or follow me on my Facebook Page @AmandaStarksYA !


About the Creator

Amanda Starks

Lover of the dark, fantastical, and heart-wrenching. Fantasy writer, poet, and hopefully soon-to-be novelist who wants to create safe spaces to talk about mental health. Subscribe to my free newsletter at www.amandastarks.com for updates!

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Comments (14)

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    Congrats. Go ahead with a big shout.

  • Congratulations on reaching this milestone, Amanda, & best wishes for all that lies ahead. More importantly, thank you for being willing to share your journey with us so openly. Currently, I'm four days behind on my notifications, but I plan to leave this on my computer & read the stories you've linked here once I'm caught up. Blessings to you.

  • Wow! What an incredible story & journey you've been on! Keep it up. I trust your way is made clear to you.

  • Addison M3 months ago

    Congrats! That's quite the journey so far, and I'm glad to hear there looks to be much more ahead along the path of your writing! Keep it up.

  • I am so SO grateful that you're still here and it's an honour to have read your writings. I'm so lucky to be frienda with you. Keep writing!

  • L.C. Schäfer3 months ago

    You're a very good writer, Amanda 😁 Flexing that ole muscle every day!

  • Anna 3 months ago

    Amazing work you're doing! Congrats and keep it up!😊

  • Matthew Fromm3 months ago

    Ayyyy congrats Amanda!!

  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    Congrats Amanda! This was a very refreshing read. Very inspirational as well. I have no doubt your writing will take you where you want to go. You seem motivated to go for it all, and the talent is there to make it happen! So happy for you! 🤩

  • Daphsam3 months ago

    Congratulations! Well done!

  • Ian Read3 months ago

    Such a long and winding road. I am glad we ran into each other on here. :)

  • Judey Kalchik 3 months ago

    I went through this slowly, savoring the writing and the journey. How generous you are to share that journey, with all of the highs and bumps. I know that other writers are cheering you on as I am right now. It was a pleasure to have you participate in the collab mystery, too! I'm glad that made it into your 2023 walk!

  • Rachel Deeming3 months ago

    Firstly, congratulations. It sounds like you've been through the wringer a little but you're out the other side and ready to continue to puff yourself out again (to continue a very poor metaphor), which is great. So, here's to another 100, 500, 1000 on here. I wish you every success with your writing, Amanda. Also, this place is a great place to highlight your works and feel it's safe to do so. Especially to experiment too. Personally, I love your writing and will explore more of your 100 which I've not visited yet.

  • Paul Stewart3 months ago

    Oh, Amanda! Well done you! I loved learning more on your backstory and can't wait to see what comes next from you, while still diving into more of your past work. Well done on reaching milestones and for pursuing what you are passionate about, that brings you joy and helps you, and that makes you feel fulfilled. Very courageous and inspiring of you. Well done again. In case, I didn't sayit enough already!

Amanda StarksWritten by Amanda Starks

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