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On Winning and Losing

Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

By Dana CrandellPublished 27 days ago Updated 24 days ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024
On Winning and Losing
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Recently, the pleasant surprise of placement on the Vocal Bonus Leaderboard sent me down a rabbit hole. Now, rabbit holes are a pretty common place for me to spend time, but I don't always feel the call to write about them. To be honest, the thought of sharing some of them mortifies me.

Maybe it's a sign of my current stage of life, but this particular one occupied an unfair share of my time. After examining its scratched-out walls and inhaling the damp, moldy scent, not to mention eating a bit of dirt, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about myself and how I perceive those two concepts in the title. (← That's a really long sentence. My editor should have caught it. I should fire him.)

Please feel free to stop reading now, and know that I'll forgive any eye rolls and thoughts like, “Here he goes again!” In return, I'll ask that you forgive my self-indulgence in writing this piece.

Since this exercise started with Vocal, I'll start there.

I am not the Vocal staff's biggest fan, and I'm well aware that the feeling is mutual. I have my reasons, and so do they. Both are valid, to a point. However, I'm not here to complain. The fact is, I'm still supporting the platform with a V+ subscription and, more importantly, touting its value and encouraging others to join.

I am a fan of, and firm believer in, the Vocal community. While it's important that the platform exists, it's the creators and the readers that make it work. In fact, lack of support from this community can easily work against a writer, emotionally and monetarily. (Now that I've used the “m” word, let me say that I'll be the first to admit that if you're writing on Vocal for profit, you're on the wrong platform.)

To get to the point, (You're welcome.) winning on Vocal, to me, is only partially about awards and their rewards. (See what I did there?) For instance, Leaderboard placement is the best of both worlds. It comes with a little monetary bonus, but it's due to community engagement and that's priceless. Fellow creators not only read your work but took the time to leave their thoughts on it.

There's another facet to Vocal, though, and that's the time that I invest in writing (and reading) here. Given that I write for a living, the time I spend here could be considered a poor investment, better spent on paid projects or publishing elsewhere. In reality, that thought couldn't be more misguided.

To begin with, participating on Vocal helps me keep my mind and my creative edge sharp. Not only do I get tons of feedback, I get to enjoy reading the work of amazing creatives and leave feedback for them.

This platform holds more of my poetry than any other so far, and I've been writing poetry since I was a kid. (A looooong time ago.) I had completely ignored fiction writing for decades until I decided to take another stab at it here. If you look at my early stories, you'll find that they're mostly autobiographical. I can't begin to describe how much fun it's been sticking my toes in the fiction pool, then jumping in headfirst. I'm not drowning yet, so that's a win, in my book.

On the practical side, I retain my copyright to everything I publish here. I can use all or part of it anywhere else I choose, and republish any of it elsewhere, in whole or in part. It's mine. That fact is one of the most important factors in writing here, in my opinion and I unabashedly thank the Vocal Powers that Be for maintaining that policy.

I will be taking advantage of that very soon, as I finally have a solid game plan for “real world” publishing of some of my stories that have done well here. Yes, that's another win.

Now, for those of you thinking I'm just going to laud Vocal, there have been a couple of losses. The worst is that I, along with other creators have had work plagiarized. I'll follow that up by saying it's something you can expect if you publish any of your creative work on any platform, including hard copy publishing. What was unexpected was the fact that the plagiarized work was posted on this platform. A small win was that the Vocal Team implemented algorithms that, hopefully are helping them eliminate those issues.

Unfortunately, there's another side to the plagiarism issue. The Vocal platform allows people to sign up as readers, and there's always a contingent of “creators” who leave a comment to “tag” your stories to be plagiarized. Yes, I know it happens because I see their recruiting posts on freelancing platforms. To be fair, this, too, is somewhat difficult to control and I don't doubt that the Vocal Team is doing their best to combat it.

In one more instance, a line from one of my poems was almost immediately used as a title and repeated line for someone else's poem and that poem won the challenge both poems were entered in. Coincidence? Maybe. Plagiarism? Perhaps. Water under the bridge a long time ago, but it was a loss.

So, you see, the losses are somewhat debatable and the wins outweigh them. In my opinion, the Vocal platform is a valuable asset, because of the community. It's also worth investing a small monthly fee to maintain V+ status, not only for the perks, but to give a little something in support. There's another recent loss associated with that, but I digress.

Interestingly, my life's win-to-loss ratio is very much the same, but that's another rabbit hole entirely. I can sum it up with a quote:

“I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.” ~ Joe Walsh, Life's Been Good


A/N: Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, please do me a couple of favors: click the little heart and leave me a comment. Tips are always nice, too. Please consider clicking on my profile link to read more!


About the Creator

Dana Crandell

Dad, Stedpad, Grandpa, Husband, lover of Nature and dogs.

Poet, Writer, Editor, Photographer, Artist and Tech/Internet nerd. Content writer by trade. Vocal Creator by choice.

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Comments (48)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶23 days ago

    Really interesting read… thanks for this. I’m mostly oblivious & on the fringe of everything… but useful to know.✅

  • I love the quote at the end... Of course I would Mr. Music they call me... Plus Joe Walsh is a favorite. This was a good read. Like you I have a live and live not so much relationship with Vocal. But, that's a story at another time. Good to read your thoughts. I'm trying to catch up. I am super behind on my reads and I probably won't be able to catch up but this week I'm making the effort to connect with some of my Vocal friends!!!

  • Judey Kalchik 24 days ago

    First, congrats on the leaderboard placement with this. Life is very life-y right now and I missed this when it was first posted. Second- what the what on tagging with a comment?! Now I wonder at those laconic blurbs from people with no content of their own. 3. No idea about the poem/repeat/win/ repeat issue. I feel very out of things. Thank you for your excellent content. It’s proof, IMO, that there is no need to toast to Vocal itself to be recognized for your work.

  • Thavien Yliaster24 days ago

    The monthly subscription is only worth it if You plan to publish a lot of content in a short period of time, especially to gross some reads.

  • JBaz24 days ago

    Congratulations on your leaderboard placement

  • Jenna24 days ago

    Is great to hear this

  • Lamar Wiggins24 days ago

    Yes! I believe the community atmosphere alone keeps me coming back. I still look at vocal as a place to practice and build a portfolio if you wish. I, like other creators and yourself plan to move some of this material beyond Vocal, the sooner the better. Hopefully the plagiarism gets under control. Most thieves don’t want to be anywhere near the scene of the crime. Plagiarists on here seem to be proud of the work they steal and pass off as there own. Makes no sense. Congrats, Dana. You are an inspiration!

  • L.C. Schäfer24 days ago

    Community is definitely the real wealth here. I earn enough that Vocal doesn't really cost me anything, that's good enough for me.

  • Michael Scott24 days ago

    I read you with fascination, thank you for sharing such fine speeches. I honestly want to cower in a corner every time I fail to score a goal, I play soccer, but now I have found a way out, I make predictions on the site https://kenya-bettingsites.com/download-1xbet-app-kenya-in-depth-instruction/. This is where I found myself.

  • Jay Kantor24 days ago

    Doc-D - Within the VocalBucket the comradery it's about virtual strong relationships. Such a bargain for $10 Bucks to showcase and archive to whomever we choose. Profit doesn't run a close 2nd compared to that. J-Bud

  • Bruce Curle `24 days ago

    Congrats & Bravo!

  • Belle25 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!

  • Rachel Deeming25 days ago

    I think this is very interesting, Dana. I don't know if the Vocal people like me or not and I'm not concerned either way. I am concerned about my work being plagiarised and how that can be stopped because that just feels unfair. I have come across articles on here that have been directly copied and reported them and thought that this was just an awful thing to do. I am always wary of people who subscribe to me and leave no comment and generally check them out to keep an eye on what they're doing. But I like Vocal a lot. I like its ease and its (usually) instant publishing. I like it as a vehicle for experimentation and I like the challenges. One new thing that I'm very much enjoying is the Raise Your Voice thread where you can pick things you've read and get more readers to them. That is just great and I love discovering new writers this way and with delving into their work. So mostly all good. I have heard of others being less than content though and leaving which is a shame.

  • Gina C.25 days ago

    Really well said! I too feel so many of these ups and downs with the Platform. At the end of the day - you are so right - it's all about the community 🤗 I love how the people here welcome me back even when I disappear for periods of time ❤️ I had no idea that someone stole one of your lines, then won 🥺 I am so sorry that happened - I would have been so livid!

  • Gerald Holmes25 days ago

    Well said Dana. I feel somewhat the same as you about the platform and its uses as a writer. But, and this is a big but, I find it so disheartening to see Top Stories that are so poorly written and so full of spelling and grammar mistakes that a grade three teacher would turn them back! Putting these unworthy stories up beside the many truly deserving Top Stories is an incredible insult to those writers.

  • Rebekah Crawley25 days ago

    Personally I've been lucky to never have had any issues but I'm quite flakey and dip in and out of the platform a lot so that might be why! haha, in any case it was useful to read your experience and get some insight into some things I should look out for as I start writing more. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on Top Story! 🌟

  • Andy Potts25 days ago

    I've seen a few creators on here suggest that the Vocal staff don't like them. I'm a bit curious about what you mean? I have plenty of frustrations with how the platform selects the stories that it wants to promote (and yes, I've read some top stories that have me wondering why they were chosen - including some of my own!). But I don't think I've seen any evidence of a personal bias for or against a writer. I'm not saying you're wrong, and you've clearly created far more than I have here. Just curious (and no, I'm not Vocal staff in disguise! Promise!)

  • D. D. Lee25 days ago

    The thought of someone, who I won’t refer to as a writer, plagiarizing mine or another writers work is maddening. It’s a very selfish act for anyone calling themselves a creative to do. Sorry it happened to you Dana. Congrats on TS!

  • I couldn’t agree more! 😀🪩

  • Bruce Curle `25 days ago

    Well written and well thought out

  • Ameer Bibi25 days ago

    Congratulations 🎉🎉 for top story or professional writer both

  • Caroline Craven25 days ago

    Really well written piece and I appreciate reading your views. I’m really grateful to vocal - I feel like this platform got me started writing again after an absence of a zillion years. However…. I do agree. The plagiarism sucks. Especially when your work is stolen. I find that unforgivable. Great work Dana.

  • Congratulations on your top story.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • JBaz25 days ago

    Back to say Congratulations....YAY

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