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Penn Stater Student Writes Hit Wattpad Novels As An Escape From Reality

In December 2006, Wattpad became a home for many online novels and short stories. Within the last 15 years, countless individuals have used the app to post their most vulnerable moments for readers.

For Penn State junior Naomi Black, Wattpad is where she thrives the most.

You may have heard Black’s name all over TikTok and Instagram while wildly trending on Wattpad. If you haven’t heard her name, there is a large chance you have seen her screen name, thinkingofthoughts. When Black isn’t writing stories, she is studying as a letters, arts, and sciences major at one of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses.

Black chose to attend Penn State because it is “one of the most empowering colleges you can go to.” A few main points that still stick out to Black are the endless majors you can choose from and the infinite alumni network. Penn State was somewhere she “saw herself achieving.”

Boy, was she right.

With 20,000 followers throughout social media platforms and over 4.2 million reads on her first-ever book, “Even The Playing Field,” Black took her experiences as a Penn Stater and ran with it. “Even The Playing Field” is based on herself and seven best friends surviving college struggles, love, and hardships at Penn State’s main campus. The story is listed as fiction but contains many non-fiction experiences, battles, and situations from Black’s life (and her time visiting University Park).

Below is a map generated by Wattpad that shows exactly where Black’s story has had the most traction:

Her second book in the series, “In Between The Lines,” started in June 2021 and is still in the making. Currently, the in-progress story has over 438,000 reads and is based in State College, spinning off of one of the main characters in the first book. Because it only took five months to write the first, she is pretty set with the rest of the series additions.

Black jokingly said she can fill Beaver Stadium 39 times with each of her first book’s measured readers.

In 2009, Black joined the app to simply divulge in One Direction fan-fiction and stories small authors wanted to publish. Little did she know joining the app would bring her never-ending joy and one of her largest breakthroughs yet.

“[Wattpad] was just amazing. An explosion of books. You could really lose yourself on this app,” Black said. “You could really connect with people.”

Black said that after going through a tough heartbreak and family troubles, she tried to find any way to cope with what she was feeling.

“I thought, ‘I am going to have my Taylor Swift moment and get closure through writing it out,'” Black said.

Black wrote the series in January 2021 to use as her “personal diaries and journals.” She never expected the series to blow up as it did, creating an entire fanbase on a Happy Valley-based novel. Black recalled a time where a TikTok she made explaining the series took a spotlight of 7 million views and 1 million likes.

@thinkingofthoughtswrites

my besties🤍 @wattpad #wattpadbooks #booktok #book #sportsromancebooks #youngadultbooks #wattpadseries

♬ that was like my first… love – 😩 🤞

“I thought maybe I was the only one making TikToks about my book,” Black said. “I’m not the only one, and I just can’t believe it. It is very surreal. I am so thankful, but it is moving so fast!”

To contribute to her fast-paced success, readers rate Black’s book on a popular site named “Goodreads” to encourage others to look into the series. On June 1, Black held a meet-and-greet via Instagram with some of her readers to connect a virtual face with a name. Nearly a thousand fans showed up.

Black has several fan pages dedicated to her fictional characters based on real-life people. As she said, many elements within her series are from her “own personal triumphs or trauma.” She is dedicated to making a series that people do not see very often.

“I have never read a book that combined all the ‘Bring It On’ movies, ‘John Tucker Must Die,’ and all of those sorts of things,” Black said. “I have never read a book that had all of that thrown into one. I wanted to bring that element to it.”

In Black’s description, she is Naomi Black in “Even The Playing Field,” who is “a girl that came from a broken home.” Each aspect within the story has inspiration from the inner workings of the life she lives.

“The biggest thing I want my readers to understand is that I wrote the story for closure, not for revenge,” Black said. “My readers have become my best friends.”

Her readers love the Penn State plot so much that some fans go as far as applying to Penn State, purchasing Penn State merch, snatching season tickets, and wanting to know every Nittany Lion tradition. They trust Black’s word on what Penn State culture is all about.

“I am so excited for the readers to experience their first [Penn State] football game since the story came out,” Black said. “Most of the readers didn’t know what football was, so I am glad I brought some fans in.”

Even though her series has taken off, Black is still extremely protective of the book, the characters within the series, and those who’ve supported her so far. Still, she’s working to share her stories with others — perhaps in a physical copy one day.

“I would love to work with Wattpad,” Black said. “I feel most comfortable with Wattpad since they were the ones that helped me start. To hold it physically in my hands would be awesome, so I am just waiting for an offer.”

The next two years contain big plans for Black. She has herself set up with finishing the series that started it all. Within this time period, her dream job is to “write and inspire.” Living the day-to-day life as a writer would be Black’s dream. The specialization she studies at Penn State focuses on college settings and advising students.

For now, you can access “Even The Playing Field” and “In Between The Lines” for free on Wattpad.

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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