Mea Culpa

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

For a few years, starting in 2017, I wrote answers on Quora. It was my debut as an online writer.

As writing experiences go, it was a mixed bag. I wrote on diverse topics that I thought I knew something about. In a rather plain, ‘educational’ style which I thought fitted the platform. I probably came across as rather pompous, truth be told. (It’s an occupational hazard for textbook writers.) Only occasionally would I write from the heart or touch on more personal topics.

The odd answer took off for no apparent reason, but most, including some of my best efforts, languished in dusty corners of Quora collecting cobwebs and precisely 0 upvotes.

I was a Quora ‘Top Writer’ for 2018, but then so were so many Quorans. That didn’t translate to reads or comments, I probably would have given up on Quora around the first quarter of 2019.

Then something happened. I became aware that one follower was upvoting all of my answers. She single-handedly kept me going through the second quarter of 2019. I wrote her a private message about it and we started to correspond.

Her own writing speciality was enigmatic and often rather dark and difficult free verse. I’m more of a plain prose sort of writer and reader, but I enjoyed puzzling over her writing.

To be honest, I enjoyed far more her autobiographical prose writing, in which she created vivid pen portraits of her homeland and its characters. Occasionally with photos.

Most of all, though: I just liked her. I came to have great regard for her intelligence, kindness and obvious integrity. Although a proud and shy person, she could also be flirty and silly. We corresponded intermittently for a few months. Tentatively, perhaps presumptuously, I considered her a friend.

Quora can be a feral corner of the internet: constant and petty harassment by spiteful people eventually drove her to delete most of her more personal content and move her writing here.

Thenceforth she wrote mostly in her more enigmatic and poetic style, allusive and elusive. It seemed wildly popular with other readers, and it is beautiful, but I miss her earlier, plainer style.

I only came to Medium looking for her after she left Quora. For over a year, I had an account here that I did nothing with.

She is, in truth, the sole reason I write here, or possibly even write online at all.

I pretty much dropped off the internet for most of 2020, immersed in my own petty problems, the aftermath of the terrible 2019–20 Australian bushfires, and then of course we had COVID to deal with (and still do). I wrote a little on Quora, but without much enthusiasm or response. I didn’t really follow anyone’s writing, including my ‘friend’s.

Some friend, I was.

Then in February 2021 I started writing fiction – here on Medium. The floodgates were well and truly open, as those who have followed me since then will know.

Immersed in learning my way around a platform which was, essentially, new to me, and the creative possibilities of writing fiction, I shamefully neglected the writing of the person who brought me here.

Thus it was only in August of this year that I learned, to my horror, of a great personal loss which had befallen her at the beginning of this year. I had an inkling of what this loss will have meant and truly: my heart broke for her.

Her account of this loss had been on Medium all along, published almost the day I started busily writing on this platform, and I had neglected to follow her feed back just a few stories to find it.

I felt sick.

I am so very sorry. You deserve better friends.



-- Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Aussie tales of banjos, beaches and the bush.

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Steve Fendt

Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Aussie tales of banjos, beaches and the bush.

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