Ivan the Gorilla Was Right After All: How Success Can Sneak Up On You

Topics: BlogBook reviewcreativityGoalsInspirationWriting

In looking back over the past year on my blog, I’ve noticed something that surprised me and made my writing heart happy.

I posted The One and Only Ivan and a Measure of Peace after reading a kid lit book based on his life. The One and Only Ivan is a fictional story about a gorilla based on a true story of an animal I saw as a child in the Tacoma B&I. Katherine Applegate’s story sunk deep into my heart, and I published my review feeling like it was one of my best. No one commented or seemed to notice.

I paused for a bit like I do when I get crickets and then kept writing.


It took me a while to notice, but over the last year and a half Ivan has gotten more hits than any other post. People have viewed it 151 times. Ivan has gotten more views than the nostalgic pictures of Auburn High before the wrecking balls came through this past summer in My Doomed High School (74).

It doesn’t always take this long for others to notice posts I’ve poured my heart into. The Triple Amputation School of Beauty got noticed around the world quite quickly but still does not have as many views as Ivan.

And, honestly, I have no idea why people have been drawn to my posts. The interest in Ivan may have nothing to do with how well I wrote it. Maybe clickers are drawn to the book by an interest Applegate or maybe they just love gorillas. But a little slice of joy lights up inside me whenever I notice that people are still looking at my words about a story that captured me.

In case you want the graphics, here’s the full review of 2014 including a map of the places in the world where people could be reading about a gorilla who once lived in Tacoma, a condemned high school, or a brave woman who lives life to the fullest.

Click here to see the complete report.

I wish you all found memories of your time in 2014 and the years that came before. This year I learned sometimes it takes a while for people to notice when you’ve done your best work.

Besides. Those stats reminded me that even if people never noticed and even if they were only looking for a book review, I would still be glad I wrote about the inestimable Ivan. May you all keep doing whatever it is that brings you slices of joy whether you get crickets or clicks.

About the author: Karrie Zylstra Myton is a blogger, essayist, and aspiring author who writes for the wild joy it brings on the best days and the hard lessons she learns about life on the worst. After crafting stories in the ridiculously early morning hours, she chases her two sons, cuddles with cats, and laughs with her husband about how crazy life can get in middle age.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ker December 30, 2014, 4:00 PM

    Thank you for the reminder to do the things I get joy from even if it seems silly to everyone else.

    • Karrie Zylstra December 30, 2014, 10:57 PM

      You are welcome! Have a wonderful New Year, Ker. 🙂

  • Stuart Davey December 31, 2014, 12:38 AM

    I remember vividly how impactful your blog about Ivan was. It hit deeply, since I, like you, remember seeing and smelling him while I was growing up. I remember thinking “yeah!” But not knowing how to *comment* on what you wrote kept me silent.
    The moral of the story: you impact more people than you think. Your blogs also show up on FB, and those hits don’t always reflect how many people took the time to read that cross-post.

    • Karrie Zylstra January 1, 2015, 3:38 PM

      Thank you, Stuart. I suppose I’m in your position now because I’m not at all sure how to comment to tell you how much your words mean to me.

      I wish you and your big beautiful family a delightful new year in 2015. May we both keep turning wood and piecing together words.

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