The Retirement of 52 Tales + Other Updates

Womp womp

Anna Mercury
8 min readJun 1, 2024
Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Dear readers,

It’s time for another “Hey, I’m still alive!” post. For those of you just tuning in, I don’t really use social media, so Medium posts are my primary way of communicating with the outside world. I occasionally post updates on my writing life here for your ~viewing pleasure.~

Without further ado, here are those updates.

1. Fare Thee Well, 52 Tales

I am sadly retiring my 52 Tales project. My goal was to write one short story every week for a year. I began in September of last year, and was able to stay pretty consistent (with a few exceptions) until my life got a bit hectic in February and I had to relocate across the country. I got a surge of energy and inspiration to start writing stories again earlier in the spring, but then I moved again, started working at a new place and didn’t have reliable internet access where I was living. By that point, I was already so far behind that the idea of trying to catch up to my weekly pace felt daunting and kept making me procrastinate further.

Now, I’m recognizing that I just don’t feel strongly about continuing this project. I was determined to finish for a long time, even when I had nothing to say, but it’s just been so long since I’ve really felt called to write short fiction that it feels inauthentic to force myself to continue.

I have a few further ideas for stories, so there may be sporadic updates on that publication in the future, and I’ll likely revamp it as just “Where I Publish My Short Fiction on Medium” going forwards. For now, I barely have anything to say in non-fiction land, and it feels like it’s time to just call it.

So, thank you so much to anyone who read and engaged with those stories! It was definitely a worthwhile project, helping me flesh out countless stories I’d had on the back burner for ages and giving me a lot of fresh drafts to work on more thoroughly in the future.

If you’re interested, here were my favorite stories from the project, along with some brief notes on what future editions of them might look like:

  • The Passion of Jim Ranger — I’ve had this story in mind for years, and it felt really exciting to finally get it down on paper in some form. I’m planning to redraft it and maybe send it out to some more traditional fiction publications in the future.
  • The Elephant in the Room — This is probably my favorite story of them all, oddly enough. It’s a premise I love, I’m not *crazy* in love with the story, but I love the concept of “A thief robs a haunted house” and I love the idea of the ghost being an elephant. So, this one will get redrafted and republished in the future.
  • Wisteria — Once again, I’m not happy with how this story turned out at all (much less happy than the elephant one), but I love the premise so much and I’m determined to turn it into a better story in the future. Fun fact: this was inspired by the true story of a friend who found a dead raccoon on the beach in Long Island and accidentally created the Montauk Monster.
  • The Teacher — For as character-driven as this story is, it’s probably the most personal one I wrote. It’s like the two sides of my personality colliding. I don’t feel like I did the concept justice in short story format, and my original idea for this story was to make it a feature screenplay, so hopefully that will happen when I have time!
  • Beneath a Saffron Sky — I’ve had this silly fake religion paddling around in my head for a long time, and I really enjoyed getting to write about it a bit. This story came from the concept of “a story within a story within a story within a story,” to see how long I could drag that out and still write something concise.
  • Tin Can — I just like this one. I think it’s cute. Seems like y’all did too. Thanks :)
  • Why I Looked Back and Turned to Salt — I wrote this in less than an hour, maybe even less than 30 minutes, just one shot “Sit at your laptop and pour out your feelings in metaphors.” Said feelings were about the genocide in Gaza.
  • Sorrel, the Alchemist — Again, not my favorite story as a story, but I love the concept and main character and I’m planning to turn this into a (much better) novel someday.

Overall, even though I didn’t reach the finish line (27/52, so over halfway!) I feel like this project was still an extremely valuable exercise. It took the pressure off of writing good fiction and just got me writing again, letting stories unfold, seeing what happened when I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be). I forgot how much I love that process about fiction — about writing in general, too — when you have a thought and start pouring it out and the momentum of the process itself carries it all the way to the end.

As my mom once told me, “Your job isn’t to write something good. Your job is to write. It’s the reader’s job to decide if it’s good.”

It’s easy to forget when you’re focused on shouting important truths or trying to earn a living from writing, but when you give yourself the freedom to just play, you remember: writing really is magic.

2. Novels and Videos and Whatnot

The other reason I didn’t have much juice for short fiction in the past few months was that I was editing (read: completely redrafting) a novel I started TEN YEARS AGO and finally got it to a point where I’m happy with it. I’m sure there are more edits and improvements I can make, but for now, I’m letting the most recent draft settle and starting to look into publishing options.

I’ve just started (again) on another novel, that I also had the idea for and stated drafting a decade ago. I finally have the entire story mapped out and feel like I’ve found the narrator’s voice, and I therefore have no excuse not to write the damn thing. So, that’s going to be my primary writing project over the next several months, other than my usual essays when the mood strikes me (more on that below).

I rebuilt the back of my van this spring to have a space to record some video essays! Which I haven’t recorded any of yet (I’ve been busy, sorry Internet). I have several ideas brewing, but I’ve realized I don’t want to just regurgitate the same kind of content I post on Medium on YouTube. Instead, I’d like to put out much longer, more thoroughly researched-and-referenced video essays synthesizing a lot of concepts I tend to write about in more isolation on Medium.

I will get around to actually recording, editing and posting those… eventually.

3. But Will There Still Be Essays Tho?

Yes! I have some essay ideas brewing, and I’m going to try and bang out as many of them as I can in the next few days before I’m off on the PCT for a few weeks (which will hopefully give me lots of time to journal and think of new things to write about here!).

The reason I’ve been pretty radio silent for the past month is simple: I just… haven’t had much to say.

After spending years deepening my thinking and understanding around the relationships between ecology, trauma, healing, social structures and spirituality, I’m finally in a place where I can more readily commit my life to ecology and learning to be an upstanding member of my ecosystem.

I thought, when I set out on this new phase of my journey, that I would be brimming over with realizations and new understandings to write about, but honestly, it’s been kind of the opposite. What’s happened is more that I’ve just started embodying and living into the philosophies and theories I had before, testing out my hypotheses, breathing into the experiment and finding myself shifted in ways I can’t really name.

The thought-based shifts, the philosophical ramblings and epiphanies, I’ve kind of already had. I’ve already written about them. I’ve already shared my feelings. There are some more things I’d like to write synthesizing different topics and rehashing some ideas with more clarity and straightforwardness, but I think my primary focus now is to just… live it. Less talking the talk, more walking the walk (…literally).

I’ve been feeling the strain for a long time of putting out short-form content regularly enough to stay relevant to The Algorithm, and I’m recognizing I’d like to steer my writing career away from that. I want to write fewer things that are longer, better and involve more drafting. For the most part, everything I post on Medium is a first draft. I may go back and edit for typos or rearrange a few paragraphs, but I mainly just sit down and vent into my laptop and click “Publish.”

It is cathartic — and I am so humbled and honored the things I’ve written have been of value to others — but it’s also feeling a bit reactive. I feel pressure to react to the latest headlines or make sure I post at a particular frequency, rather than being able to devote more of my focus to really ensuring I’ve said all I want to say and done as much research as I can beforehand so I don’t reinvent the wheel. I think it’s fine to reinvent the wheel too — there are lots of thoughts that need sharing that aren’t necessarily original, and I don’t actually think “original” thoughts exist — but it’s feeling like my writing isn’t pulling me forward in my own understanding and evolution the way it used to. Something in the format needs to change.

So, I’ll still be popping in and out with essays and stories, I’ll definitely still be writing and on the Internet, but every time I try to get into the rhythm of consistent-Medium-blogging, I find I burn myself out. I’m daunted by the process of trying for more traditional publishing, especially the onus of marketing myself (ugh), but if I’d like to make a living from writing and not have to react-blog-word-vomit five times a week, I think such a shift might be necessary.


But, as Kurt V would say: So it goes.

Those are my updates. I’m still here. I still write things. I’ve got some new essays brewing, so be on the look out for those (if you want to be, idk). I deeply appreciate you all. Like, really, truly, you make me feel like I’m doing something worth doing with all this.