Early Frustrations

As the release date for my serial approaches, having gone through excessive concept changes, rewrites, and even thematic changes, what were the most frustrating things for you to figure out in the very beginning?

This is a very good question. There's a lot that I could go through and write a small novel on this, lol.

I'll just focus on my current web serial. I'll give a little long-winded story if you're into that. Then at the end I'll give a short list of pointers if that's more your cup of tea.

I started by working for two years in private. One year of world-building so that I would know every inch of the fantasy setting that I was creating. The second year was working on plot-lines and what kind of stories could be told within that setting. All of this was in private and done with the same focus I would have on a very consuming hobby. Entire folders and drawers filled to the brim with world maps, world map revisions, location maps, city maps, military movements for early events, even historical maps over a period of tens of thousands of years. Binders filled with notes on languages, cultures, personalities, histories, and convoluted webs of events, personal relationships, and the like. I have three binders and a whole section of my hard-drive, even now, devoted to the magical and technological disciplines, spells, workings, systems, and groups of the setting. All of this before I even wrote my first word of the fiction.

I then started the fiction. I was already growing bored with the ideas I was working on and wanted to move onto something else. I thought the world-building I'd done would be satisfactory for five short mini-fictions. A serial set of 2,000 words each. Sell it to a magazine that published short fiction in the genre and move on to a horror-fantasy setting I was really itching to do.

The magazine and publisher ended up folding a month after I wrote up all five short stories and submitted them. No dice. The genre I was writing in was pretty fringe. No one else was really interested in picking up a five-part serial. I threw all the notes into a big U-haul box, and the digital stuff got archived on an old portable hard-drive. Move on to other projects.

A few months later I hear of a contest that accepts middle-to-long-ish short stories. The dead-line is looming fast for that quarter of the contest. I wonder what I could submit. I pour through some of my old boxes of other settings and other projects that are either on permanent hiatus or that I've discarded over the years. I grab the box for the recent of the rejected projects. I realize I could use this old Swords & Sorcery setting that was pretty detailed already. I didn't want to use the old five-part serial I wrote. The whole thing felt like a rejection and the scar hadn't healed, yet. So, I thought, why not re-write that serial's events through a different perspective. Instead of the five characters dealing with their five stories in this world, I would make one character peering into the lives of those five characters. I got to work and hammered out a short story in three days. Submitted it just a few hours before the dead-line.

Something stirred in me while I wrote that frenzied short story. A world called out to me, begging me at first, then screaming at me to tell its story. This world was fleshed out. There were people living in that place. It seemed a shame to let the whole world just die out like that. Tossed into a box as a failure, along side an entire universe of other worlds that may never see the light of day. There was something about this one, someone in that world that grabbed me by the throat and said "Tell my tale." So I emptied that box out and got right back to working on it.

I needed something to do while I was waiting to get rejected out of that writing contest, after all.

I extrapolated the five mini-fictions into larger arcs. Self-contained stories that set the larger epic that would be the last days of a dying world. I would give these people, this world, one last hurrah before I let flames consume it all.

I used the contest short story as a template, a spine for the larger work. Weaving the stories around that one. Re-weaving the old mini-fictions into larger and larger tales with a larger, and larger cast.

I realized that no publisher would touch this story. It was in a genre that was going out of style (or never really was in style). I wanted to do the whole project in a serial format, and a lot of publishers won't ever touch a serial. Let alone one that started to get into lengths and territories that make even A Song of Ice & Fire, or Lord of the Rings seem like novellas in comparison. This was meant to be a labor of love. Something really weird and off-the-wall. Something that shouldn't succeed at all. Something that maybe only one person out there might actually enjoy, and if they do, then I did my job. I got to creatively touch one person out there.

I thought of this whole thing as a trial by fire. An impossible grail-quest that I needed to throw myself into. Something to shake off the rust from getting out of writing for six years to focus on a mundane job. Something that is so big, so unwieldy, and so fraught with failure, that any other project I could ever work on later on, would be a relief in comparison.

So I wrote plot-skeletons for the Vorrgistadt Saga. Then I decided to release it as a web serial. I spent about four months looking into other people's works. Seeing the sites and venues that people use for their own projects. Trying to gauge what works and doesn't work. Tried to get a hold of a few people to learn the ropes but really didn't get any response at all.

I started throwing up some early work. Some loose-knit ideas that were more haphazard than anything else. A few people got in touch with me and they enjoyed what I was doing. A few others said I was the scourge of the earth and to get lost. I kept going.

I eventually got results from the contest back. Apparently a few of the judges really liked the work. One of the judges started following my releases. I didn't win anything. I got an honorable mention. I was assured it wasn't anything to scoff at, but a non-success is a non-success, even if it comes with a pretty (and it is pretty) certificate. I was told the story itself was publishable and I should shop it around. I didn't want to get bogged down in a dealing with what some publisher or editor wanted me to change this world into. I wanted it to be what it is meant to be. Even if it ends up being a total mess. I threw the short story up for free as an installment of the larger story. Continued on.

No where in all of this did I get a big ego or anything. I honestly thought, and still do think, the entire story is going to be a dismal failure. I think to myself, to keep going, that this is a push-back to any rejection of a short story submission I've ever had. This is project I might as well work on rather than pump out a dozen or more short stories that might never see the light of day because of the current publishing climate right now. This is me getting a string of rejection letters out of the way now, so I can walk into more rejection letters with at least -something- under my belt.

Some bad stuff happened. Some harsh words were given to my work by someone I mistook a bit of hope and trust in. That they might be able to help me get better at the whole thing. Instead, it was just a lot of hate. I kept pushing on, but all of the hobby-like enjoyment of writing anything web serial-related was drained right out of me. The whole thing felt empty. I just wanted to burn everything and move on to a new project. I started to get resentful.

The lack of confidence was eating away at me. I started missing installment releases. I stopped updating my wordpress site. I became deaf to any encouragement I was getting from my readers. I caught myself several times hovering my finger over the delete button. Or taking out creative angst on my work by slashing up manuscripts/maps. Deleting notes. Pulling my fiction from wordpress or other outlets like Wattpad or RRL. I was mad at myself. I was mad at other people. I was mad at this world that I had created for not being better.

I had a few false-starts. I tried to get back into it a few times, but eventually got knocked out, again. Just working on it, or releasing installments of it made me feel dirty, somehow. Everything I did to try and better the story made me feel shallow and empty. Every time I tried to reach out to new readers or new members of the community (WFG, RRL, Wattpad, wherever) I felt like I was opening up to that same person who stabbed me right in the face. I was paranoid. I didn't trust anyone. I just wanted to be left alone. To give up on the whole Web Serial crap and go back to writing short stories or shopping manuscripts.

I, then, got slapped across the face. Hard. Several of my supportive readers got to me. My significant other basically sat me down and said in her own unique way that I better get off my ass and keep working on this project. The way she framed it was the same way I felt when I first dug up the project out of a box. Whether I like this project or not, this is a story that needs to be told. Only I can tell it. Maybe, somewhere out there in the infinite multiverse of other bubbling realities, this world exists. These people exist. And I'm the only one that can tell their story. I better do it, well, too.

I took a month to beat myself up. Feel sorry for myself. Play a bunch of video games. Get caught up on sleep. Completely forget I had a web serial going at all. The sad thing is, even just two days into that month, my mind was already swimming with new ideas for the project. My fingers were itchy and demanded to be put back to a keyboard to get the ideas out. I found myself revising maps while at work and scribbling notes on napkins and old scraps of paper.

I decided to restart the project, turn what I had into a larger work. More friendly to being released as a serial on Amazon at some far-flung, future date. To completely revise what I had and make it better than it was. Add in a couple more characters. Explore things I only hinted at in the already released chapters. Round the whole thing out and make it a bit... I hope... Better.

Now, I'm working on that. It's hurt my fiction overall. I lost a lot of momentum. I think I lost a lot of readers, although a very devoted few are seeming to stick with me. This time, I'm pouring not just my creativity into the work, but also trying to refine all of my previous negativity into it as well. Turn that negativity into something positive and constructive. Reach some kind of catharsis and balance.

My peak traffic for my wordpress was about 200+ readers per day. My average was about 60-80 readers a day. Now during my quiet hiatus while I rework and retool my story for a re-release in the last week of January or maybe first week of February, my daily readers is dropping off to about 8-12 visitors a day.

I never anticipated to be the next Wildbow or anything. All I wanted was to join a writing group and get to know how other people are doing their stories. Learn some new stuff. Get challenged. Have a very small set of regular readers that could through semi-regular comments, help me keep going on this thing or steer me in the correct course for their reading enjoyment. I've lost a lot.

My fiction has only been up and on-line sine April or May of 2016. I've only been live on WFG since June or so. Let's say that's about seven months on-line. It feels a -lot- longer than that. Fiction-wise of the installments I've released in one form or another, I've written about 163,000 words in that time.

With the new revision, I'm hoping to get at least 1,000,000 words done in the year of 2017. Just on this project.

I'm on shaky ground right now, I'll admit. After past stuff, I'm not exactly a trusting person anymore. I know that although I wish I could get in contact with other writers who need help and want to help, there are some really twisted persons out there. Some people that will openly do their best to make other people fail, and then take delight in being as miserable and two-faced as they possibly can be.

I see this as my last strike with this project. I'm going for broke. Throwing everything I can into it. So even if it does blow up in my face, I can honestly say that I gave it my all. You know, before moving onto something else.

So... Long story short... Most frustrating things for me to figure out at the beginning of my web serial experiment...

- Be careful of who you reach out to. Some authors are tremendously wonderful people. Others just get sick jollies by watching others burn. I guess that's the same in every industry or creative outlet, though.

- Don't bite off more than you can chew. Especially with web serials, you can burn yourself out very fast.

- Never, ever, ever, give up. No matter what resistance is put before you. Push through.

- Just because one or two people give you bad reviews and are outright miserable to you, don't give up on everyone else. There are some people that absolutely love your work and the story you want to write. Don't drown those voices out with negativity, just because the negativity is louder.

- Be mindful of the outlets you chose for your work. Some areas are very constructive and friendly. Others aren't. More yet will drown your work out completely (Wattpad, I'm looking at you).

- Always keep open communication with your readers/audience. Let them know what is going on. Keep them in the loop. Always ask for input.

- Until you sign a contract, officially publish your work (even indie or self-publish), or you receive a single cent from your audience, understand you're doing your story as a labor of love. It's your story. Work at your own pace. Revise how often or whenever you want. It's your's until someone pays for it. Then it belongs your readers and you better cater to what they want.

- You need to legitimately love, enjoy, and find your own reward in your writing. There is no guarantee you'll get a windfall audience. There is no guarantee you'll see a single dollar for your work. You have to be able to keep going for yourself, first and foremost. If you get readers and supporters, love the hell out of them. Always show how grateful you are to have them.

- Don't get pissed or discouraged when you lose readers. Some people are die-hard supporters of your work. Others are just bored look-ee-loos who drop by because they're bored at home and a wank just won't entertain them. Don't harp on this. Your traffic could soar one day and then tank the next. You can't always predict or learn from the experience.

- Always respond to those that leave comments for you. Even if it's criticism. They at least took the time to read your work and think about it. As an artist, you got a reaction from someone. That means the world.

- Not all criticism is good. Learn to spot the trolls and asshats. Ignore them. By that same measure, if a lot of people are telling you that you did something bad, you might want to fix it. Just because some input is negative, doesn't mean it's trolling. You might be overlooking a severe problem in your work.

- If you release via Wordpress or another blog site, expect there to be a very long time before you get any comments or input. It doesn't mean people aren't reading your work. It just means you're new and lot of people don't want to scratch up a new comment section. If you can find someone close to you to be the first commenter for some of your early work, go for it. Or even goad people by stealing the 'first!' comment. They might be tempted to jump in afterward. A few readers don't know your personality either. If you'll moderate comments. If you have a thin-skin for criticism. Or if there were comments there before but you nuked the whole thing from orbit by the time they stopped by. Just to make sure.

- If you release via community (Wattpad, RRL, etc.) expect there to be a few sour grapes users there. You'll get some shit comments at the beginning. You'll get hazed. The worst is that you'll get ignored. Stick with it, though. Keep throwing your words out into the void. Eventually, like a galaxy or stellar cluster, the work you put in will gather up weight and momentum, bringing good people in. It just... Takes a very long time (a few months to a year).

- Be ready to sell your soul to Amazon if you actually want to make a buck out of this whole thing. It's unpleasant, but it's true. Even if you have a Patreon going after the first year, there's a good chance the money you get out of that won't even pay for the electricity you use to upload your installments. Again, labor of love here. Not a get-rich-quick-scheme.

- Learn from other writers here and on other sites. Ask for help. You'll find out in a few short months who the good people are, and who are the douchecanoes, or the grumpy ogres.

- When you find yourself in the position to, -always- help out other authors. Give advice. Give pointers. Work on collaborations if you can. Get into contests. Help out. We need every good person we can get. Putting in good karma into your writing career will pay you back ten-times over. I'm dead serious. Sadly, the opposite doesn't seem to be true. There are a lot of arsegoblins in the writing communities and industry that always seem to sleaze their way to the top. Your choice on if you want to go Light Side or Dark Side. Just remember what the Jedi say, and the fact that all the Sith Lords end up looking like demonic prunes.

I guess we spend a few years arguing about the definition of "early" before getting to the answer. :) However, what I'll say instead is that in my experience, I usually don't experience frustrations at the early stages of a serial. Which isn't the same thing as saying "I never make mistakes" or "there are no problems in the early stages," but a new serial is NEW -- it has the new car smell, everything is fresh and dewy, and I have enormous reserves of enthusiasm that allow me to attack any problems with far more energy than I usually have.

It's once that initial rush wears off that the problems mount. It's not that I don't love writing, but even when you love something, being forced to dig in and do work without the immediate dopamine reward is hard, and that's when you might find yourself staring to compare your success or lack thereof with other serials, and that's when things get really, really dangerous. That's when you need to dig in and commit to doing the work regardless.

Eventually the wave will pass -- but that can be dangerous too, because you might think "glad that's over and I never have to deal with it again" because IT COMES BACK.

Well, not for everyone I guess. But there are a lot of writers like me -- petty, grasping creatures with enormous egos who demand immediate adulation from every corner of the globe. We usually don't get what we want, and so we are forced to rely on rational thought to keep our monstrous egos in check. But we don't like rational thought, because objectivity doesn't stroke the ego of our ego (yes, egos have egos. It's basically ego all the way down).

All of this is to say that the tough spots usually come later, but that you can get through them even when it feels self-inflicted, which it sometimes is, and then you get back to the fun again.

For me personally, the hardest thing was writing in first person. I hadn't done it before, and as it turned out first person perspective is hard. I knew, going in, that it would be harder than third person limited. I just didn't know how much harder. For me, the result was that I occasionally put things in present tense that ought to be in past tense.

Beyond that, I didn't have major frustrations beyond discovering 1) that it's impossible for me to keep a buffer going and 2) it was sometimes a challenge to update on time.

I've since learned how to update on time, and utterly given up on keeping a buffer.

Beyond that, I've learned one additional thing: to stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about what? It. "It" is whatever stops you from actually writing and starts you revising the story instead. There's a time to revise. It's when you've got a full first draft of the story in front of you. It's not while you're trying to create that first draft.

My frustrations are mainly in the form of setting up the website itself (which will be forever ugh for me) and advertising the story. Shameless plugging is just not something I feel comfortable with. In fact, I doubt I'll ever be any sort of proficient with either of these two aspects of the business...

The writing part and the readership part? Both of those have been great from the beginning, really, and are only getting better as time goes on. I love what I do, this is my passion and purpose in life, and I think that love and respect for the art really resonates in my readers- which keeps them coming back, and bringing others. I've had a steadily growing stream of readership and revenue (though the number of comments I get seems to have died off a bit lately) for the better part of two years, now, and that's what keeps me going as a webserialist rather than pursuing other options.

I had the opposite experience to Jim in regards to the revisions... I think about "it" all the time when I'm not writing. I have a manuscript in my head, the final chapter finished, before I start the first chapter of a given novel... and then I start writing. I broke that rule, came up with a cool idea and ran with it, exactly once... and I've been spending the last two months fixing that error and rewriting the book that my readers all seemed to be okay with, but I hated.

On the plus side, that rewrite's all but done, and it's been a big hit that everyone seems to think is one of my best works thus far... so that's heartening. I'm still going to avoid screwups like that in the future.

After all, if I keep repeating the same mistakes, how will I ever make NEW ones?

I doubt I'll ever be good at promotion or webpage design, however.

When I initially saw this post, all I could think to contribute as frustrations was (1) Figuring out Comments (I started on a Google site, so had to learn how to adapt an Excel sheet for people to leave messages) and (2) Marketing (I didn't even know a "serial" was a thing in 2011, I thought I was doing a text-based webcomic, how do you sell that to people).

SovereignOfAshes chronicle speaks to me though. Not so much the large overhead (I will spend a few weeks figuring out characters and motivations but then write on the fly) but the whole aspect of tossing your work out into the void, seeing events as non-successes, putting trust in the wrong places, and minimizing actual support that exists. I feel like the whole serial experience is a lot like that.

One slight clarification from me -- "It just... Takes a very long time (a few months to a year)." It can take longer. Five years later, I don't think personified math has EVER found it's audience. I can count the number of dedicated readers on one hand. Granted, the project has been migrated, reinvented, repopulated, shelved (and resumed) three times, and remains this little corner of embarrassment in the education community, but I'm still at it. "Time & Tied", which is coming up on two years of running, is faring better; it now manages 100+ viewers in (most) months and some parts now have over 20 page views.

@SovereignOfAshes: That was a very thorough post, all the best to you as you move forwards.

@JimZ: That's actually fascinating, as I wouldn't have pegged first person as being a new thing for you. Neat.

I thought it would be easier? You know?

Like, I'm a smart dude. I can do whatever. So why not just write story, people read? How hard is that? Look at this guy who wrote Worm. He didn't beg DC or Marvel or whoever, just wrote up his own universe. Everybody read it, so great. I can do that. I am a smart human and I have a keyboard.

Hey, nobody is reading...

I cant answer that. I in every case did basic plotting and then started writing and posting. Although, that is in large part why my serials have failed, I get stuck on HOW to do a plot point ive written myself into.

Thought I'd clarify something... I think about my serial constantly when I'm not writing. I was referring to questioning whether you're making the right decision about your writing while you're writing it, or alternately having some crisis of faith that results in abandoning your serial midway thorough the first draft and rewriting it. If you've got the ability to stick to rewriting it, it will result in a better book, but if you've never written a novel the whole way through, there's a good chance you'll have another crisis of faith and give up on it. Similarly, questioning my choices while writing is the kind of thing that stops me from writing at all.

I find that revising later gives me a better sense of how well I did and what I need to change.

How to make sure that every page possible reflected what the characters cared about. Engaging the reader means you have to help them believe in your characters, and that means making sure that all their actions, all their reactions, all their moments, ring true to what we know they want/need/care about.


That was a really amazing post. It is indeed worthy of being a novel itself. So much of what we go through; the self doubt, disappointment, need for approval etc, you've hit right on the head. Thanks so much for that. You're also right about the asshats.

There are people out there, especially other writers, who tend to criticize for the sake of criticizing and almost take a glee in tearing down others. I ran into one myself. Those encounters can truly derail your self esteem and hinder your growth. Luckily, when this happened to me, I had already developed a thick skin and was able to pick up some good feedback from them, despite the venom in which it was delivered. But it was an unpleasant experience nonetheless.

My venture into web serials has been really as a product test for me. My writing partner and I had completed about 200k works of our series (which we planned to publish in some form or another)when the writing group we were using as beta readers and inspiration fell apart. [It fell apart due to one of those asshats].

It really took the wind out of my sails and I didn't work on much for nearly a year. Like SoA described above, I resorted to easier pursuits to kill time, like video games etc. I'd reached a point where I didn't know if it was worth still pursuing or dumping it and starting something else. So I decided to test the waters and posted it up on community sites, like Wattpad and writing.com. The results were terrible and I felt worse than ever. No one seemed to be reading it, no one was commenting.

I nearly quit altogether at that point, but my writing partner wouldn't let me, even though he was quite discouraged as well. I decided that the ultimate test would be Amazon. If it failed there, then it was indicator that its time to move on to something new. That's when I also discovered web serials and said, might as well test it out on a dedicated site, to see who our target market truly is.

The start was slow and a bit scary. But it was also exciting as I was constantly, and still am, learning new skills. I've learned a lot from WFG. Truly this site made it all come together. I was able to test things and see results. I started 6 months ago and went from basically single digit views to over a hundred at its peak. I also started a mailing list, which now has 17 members. Not too many, but it was growth and that was encouraging.

More encouraging was seeing readers actually read through all the material. This took a while to happen, but it seems, once you have enough posted, people will take a chance on you. And for me it was encouragement to solidify the next step of spending money for editing, covers etc to create ebooks and sell on Amazon. From there, the experience has gotten even more exciting as I'm now learning all the in's and out's of indie publishing, which has matured drastically since I last checked it out about 8 years ago.

I still don't know if the venture will be a financial success, but the web serial has given me the confidence that I'll probably at least make my money back.

First off, I want to thank all the writers who shared their personal experiences/struggles in this thread. Just by reading all your words I was encouraged and felt a bit more validated when I say that I've been writing my long serial primarily based on a single dependable motivation: I believe in my story.

Sure, I would love to have tons of readers, a publishing contract, a best seller, be able to quit my tedious day job and actually write for a living, but until that day arrives, all I can count on is my love for the craft and the satisfaction I receive from creating a world, its characters, and then letting them loose to play in it.

Early frustrations? The only frustration I experienced at the beginning was staring too long at the incredibly wide gap between inception and the daunting step-by-step task of getting one hell of a massive idea out of my head and on to the pages. I almost plotted, planned, pondered and procrastinated my story out of existence until I finally told the voices in my head to, "Shut the hell up!"... and then started writing.

From there, my enthusiasm carried me for a while. My story was new, fresh, and actually happening! It was exciting. But when the excitement finally faded and I realized how much hard work this gig really was... shit... that's when the real frustrations kicked in.

I have to say, expectations are a real sonofabitch. It's easy to write when we love what we're writing about. But it's not so easy during those times when you have to "go it alone". I knew what I was getting into, and thank God I'd considered the commitment required long before starting the very first page, but sometimes, when the comments section suddenly goes quiet and the hit counts falter, you start questioning yourself... and that's when belief is tested.

For me, having a handful of faithful readers who are as excited about reading the next chapter as much as I look forward to writing it, are like having Sherpas to help you bear the load or act as guides when you attempt to scale your own personal Mount Everest. I'm telling you now, never take them for granted. I've been at this long enough to know (and I prepare myself for it) that eventually, you'll have those times when you have to keep writing when you don't feel like it, when readers don't feel like reading it, or worse--the only traveling companions up the mountain are those who want to sabotage everything you've done to get this far (Gotta love those damn asshats... lol).

I celebrate every victory up the mountain, whether anyone else is there to celebrate with or it's just mine alone to appreciate. I also count my serial as a 'win', regardless of its success or failure. I can say this with confidence because I've written enough to know that I will complete it. I've never written anything this immense before and the lessons I've already learned from the process about myself, the craft, etc., will help me in the future to write an even better story with the experiences I can take away from this climb.

But ultimately, I'm still enjoying the journey. With each new completed chapter I'm reminded of why I keep pushing on... and its because I'm a storyteller with a story to tell that no one else can. Some will enjoy it, others will not. I've pushed most of my expectations off the mountain that are only getting in the way, and if I've learned anything vital from this journey it's that you have to get all that nonsense out of your head, keep believing in what you started (and you already know if it's a story worth telling because its already moved you... the first reader), and just keep writing, learning, and getting better with each new chapter.

Like scott, I'd just like to say that reading all of your comments made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside for sticking through with my passion :3

I wrote a couple of defunct stories on a wordpress site a few years ago but never got any views. I felt like my writing was worthless and I'd never make it no matter how hard I tried. Eventually found rrl, made a dedicated fanbase (its small but growing!) and have never looked back since.

I also got a couple of really annoying reviews that almost made me question my choices. Someone didn't like my prologue because it had 'spoilers' and someone else had a problem with my use of multiple POVs, but I got past that eventually.

Now almost a year in, I feel more confident in my writing abilities and well, probably in general. Either way, I know writing has changed me for the better and I'm sure you'll feel the same way once you're introducing your major climax sometime in the future (it's nerve wracking :( )

I barely have 6 chapters, so I'm still neck deep in the early frustration. My biggest problem is the feeling that if I don't put it out, I'll toil in the details of every little thing and -never- put it out.

So then I do, and I constantly think about what could possibly be wrong. So now I have two problems I need to write new chapters, on top of flawed past chapters. I've already went back many times and restarted from the beginning, so now I'm working on just putting it out and constantly editing for some sense of a good work.

What's inspiring is how helpful everyone around here is though, and how similar the struggles or lack or are.

Just keep chugging.