I set up the birth tub the night before Mia was born. It wasn’t out of expectation. The next day was her due date and I figured, out of any day, that’d be the least likely she’d arrive. But she did. First thing in the morning. It had nothing to do with a mother’s intuition. I wasn’t a mother yet.
I suppose there might be some similarities to an article I wrote going viral, but maybe not. Writing is something you nurture and care for and witness its growth over time. Maybe, just possibly, it could be your own, inner child. Or maybe I’m looking too much into it.
All I know is, the day before my article on Vox came out, I met with a friend who’s a web designer for Mamalode. We talked about switching my blog to a different platform, SEO, and, finally, starting a professional page on Facebook.
I’d anticipated the pieces coming out on Vox and Scary Mommy for a couple of days. I’d flipped my blog all around, changing pages and pictures, and changing the title. I shut down my Facebook page, making all posts only visible to friends, and made myself a “Stephanie Land, Writer” page. It felt pretentious and weird, but freelancing is my business and that means promoting my brand to get clients, even if that brand is me. Either way, I had to proclaim myself publically as a writer and own it, even though it felt cheesy.
My boss called me Thursday morning right after I’d gotten up. Coraline had been up late and slept in. I was still groggy, had barely gotten out to let the dog pee, and definitely hadn’t had any coffee.
“Have you checked online yet? Your piece came out on Vox, I bet you’re excited about that!” she said.
I hadn’t even woken up my computer yet. The old laptop takes several minutes to get moving in the morning. I let it do its thing, finished my conversation, and went about attempting to boil water for coffee. My bank account was overdrawn for the first time in years. My truck wasn’t running right and needed to get checked out. And I had to mail documents for a hearing next week.
I squinted at my email account, and had a bunch of messages about people following my blog. I frowned, not really knowing what that meant, and checked my blog stats. It’d had almost 4,000 hits in the last hour. Comments were coming in so fast I couldn’t keep up and finally shut them down. Most of them were positive, but quite a few were negative.
I’d known the Vox piece would cause a stir, and knew it’d piss a lot of people off, possibly defaming my character a bit, but the story and writing were excellent. I trusted most people would see through it, and see the real story that needed to be told: that the big house on the hill doesn’t mean a perfect, happy, life, and my disenchantment from discovering that as a maid.
The comments kept coming in, and people were searching me on Google to get to my blog. They were sending me awful messages, but most were extremely supportive and even inspiring. I kept thinking, “I’m so grateful I started that public page last night.” Most of my Facebook page had been public lately in an effort to promote myself. I couldn’t imagine having thousands of people flipping through years of posts and pictures. I hadn’t expected the popularity at all, but maybe it was a mother’s intuition to protect her kids, I don’t know.
By noon, blog traffic had reached 10,000 hits, which was close to how many hits it’d ever received since I started it in 2009. People from larger news outlets had contacted me for permission to run the story, or if I could send them more of it. Then I got a message from an agent interested in the book I’ve been working on.
I still hadn’t brushed my teeth. I’d boiled water for coffee three times. And why wasn’t the mechanic calling me back?
I finally got a hold of Mia to tell her the news. She’s still visiting her dad until Sunday.
“So I’m extra extra famous now?” she said.
“Yup, sweetie, the book I’m writing about you will probably get published now,” I said.
I could hear her smile through the phone. She told me about her new doll, and all the accessories that came with it. I was so happy to hear her little voice.
You start out on journeys to be a writer, hidden in rooms, scribbling in notebooks, hiding them from others. They’re your private thoughts. They’re things you wouldn’t tell a best friend. Then you get published, and it’s the deepest, most confusing exposure. Part of you is thrilled to get noticed while the other part is terrified that someone has discovered how you really feel. Then you remind yourself to sit back, and enjoy it.
Because this is what over 20 years of hard work paying off looks like. This is what your kids will learn. That if you keep at it, keep working at the dream, you’ll get there. They can choose to do anything, and they’ll know it’ll be possible because they watched you do the same.