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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.
Fullscreen capture 7162015 24823 PM.bmpI’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.

80 replies
  1. Christy Anna Beguins
    Christy Anna Beguins says:

    Definitely soak it all in and enjoy it. It’s obviously well-earned. I live in fear of a personal piece going viral, I would be a nervous mess! WordPress has been wonderfully supportive of my work, but I know I’ve been spoiled and sheltered by kind souls. I’m so sorry you’ve received negative comments and messages. I adored your vox piece, and am so glad it led me to your blog.
    Things will quiet down again soon. Life will return much to normal. Only you’ll have a few more open doors and a book deal too. 🙂
    All my best, Christy

    • step.
      step. says:

      Thank you for that, Christy! It’s been a wild few days, that’s for sure. Just think I got the first few short chapters hashed out. On to editing.

  2. M Kathy Brown
    M Kathy Brown says:

    You deserve every good thing coming your way – it’s a LOT of work!! AND … you are a very very good writer! Please don’t ever stop — especially once your girls are all grown up. (Can happen 🙂

  3. MindandLifeMatters
    MindandLifeMatters says:

    Wow…this is so inspiring, I’m so glad I read this. Thank you WordPress Reader for leading me here. I’m at a stage of my life same as you described….at the very beginning of it all. I’m nervous as hell to have embarked on this journey, but better late than never, isn’t it? Following you for sure 🙂

    • homedealsearch
      homedealsearch says:

      I completely agree with you. My eyes are opening a little bit more. I never heard of “vox” before. An entirely new journey is stretching out before me because I read what you wrote. Thank you.

  4. calcuttamiss
    calcuttamiss says:

    I guess it begins that way. After all it is controversy that makes you famous. Don’t worry about the negative comments, they’ll go away soon. About the writing part, I am anxious whether someone will read it. Its like a part of me. I want people to read it but not make any judgement about me. But I love your blog. Keep up the good work.

  5. likestowrite
    likestowrite says:

    As a struggling and very hesitant writer, I found your writing such an inspiration, thank you. My piece I’m writing has been ‘work in progress’ for around 4 years! It’s reading experiences such as yours which gives me the push to keep going. Well done, from your newest fan! ??

  6. Netta
    Netta says:

    I like the honesty of the piece you wrote. I had a cleaning business and I became tired of dealing with other people’s mess and I felt uncomfortable knowing so much about their personal habits. It freaked me out and I felt violated more than I suppose they would have felt. Men were always cleaner than women in every instance and if I had to go back to house-cleaning I’d take male clients only.
    I know that cleaners snoop and take things that they think you wont miss, not because I did but because I’ve seen it happening with the people that worked for me. Now I’d rather live in my dirty house and clean it when I can than let anyone com into my house invade my privacy. I liked your writing

  7. seotrot
    seotrot says:

    Wow, fantastic. So happy for you that it’s all taking off and sorry to hear that some people were negative…there’s just no need for that! Congratulations, wishing you every success! x

  8. katherinejlegry
    katherinejlegry says:

    Sorry if I am negative, but are you inspiring or boasting?
    You’re teaching your kids about popularity and how to get face book likes? You might get published or will be after going viral?
    Well, I’m glad you’re a self sufficient woman who works hard but the whole popular thing you want is shallow and passing that off as a “how to for others” is what turns me off. It’s all subjective so feel free to not post this comment of mine. I don’t want to discourage you. We should be able to share our successes and be supported. But somehow popularity and sales no matter the merits of publishing and or being recognized is not my version of success. Could be a matter of linguistics. But words matter for a writer and a mom, I would put forward to you…
    I’m new to your work/blog, so please take this with a grain of salt, and no matter what best to you and your family and work. I hope you do publish and your work is validated.

    • step.
      step. says:

      Hi Katherine,
      Thank you for reading. I didn’t think this came across as a how-to, but my initial reaction to being googled by thousands of people, and my gratefulness that I’d decided to make my personal Facebook page private to protect my children. I’ve worked extremely hard getting myself through college and in getting published. I think it’s necessary to sit back and celebrate a moment of success before getting back to work. Whether it’s traffic online or book sales, your work is still being read, which is important when it’s how you’ve chosen to support yourself and your family. I am not interested in popularity contests or how many Facebook likes I receive, but those are a form of support and approval, which are important to me.

      • katherinejlegry
        katherinejlegry says:

        You were smart to protect your children, I think in this day and age and from what I’ve heard about it.
        I don’t have facebook, which is on purpose. But I do see why it’s necessary for business networking, and how some of my friends have used it successfully too.
        I guess I found the mention of popularity in your article and the plug for facebook the only turnoff/drawback… and as you’ve said you see it as both important and as something you’re not interested in, which makes the business versus the art complicated because you need to do both.
        Anyhow, thank you for your kind and attentive reply. And once again my best to your family and many published works! 🙂

  9. Me
    Me says:

    This is very encouraging & inspiring! I am new to the world of blogging so I’m at the very beginning of my journey and feeling very nervous & excited all at the same time. I’m glad I came across your article…Thankyou.

  10. ch4rl13sm1th
    ch4rl13sm1th says:

    I feel like I’m in the quiet before the storm, myself. I wish I could say that I did something worth being famous for, but it’s just because my family is ‘weird’. I think you do a great job communicating that exposed feeling (I might call it violated, but should probably stick with vulnerable) fighting the childish desire to be famous, especially in referring to Mia.

  11. A Journey With You
    A Journey With You says:

    This is a great article. Most writers I follow on social media say that they never read the comments – too much negativity there. I think when you put yourself out there, really out there, there will always be haters. Don’t let them get your down! You won already! Keep going and good luck with your book!

  12. Tracy@CrazyAsNormal
    Tracy@CrazyAsNormal says:

    Read the Vox piece a few weeks ago – loved it – but didn’t make note of the author. Furiously opened a gazillion web tabs this morning to make sure I read people’s posts from whatever blogging group and just now got around to reading this one. Crazy how things work like that. Here’s to an insanely bountiful, well-deserved harvest from your insanely long sowing season! 🙂

  13. lifeofskip
    lifeofskip says:

    This is fascinating… We writers often dream of being published and our work getting attention one day, but I also totally can relate to the nervousness you feel about lots of people (strangers or close friends) seeing your writing. I hope this all sums up to a positive experience for you!!

  14. bensbitterblog
    bensbitterblog says:

    Going viral is probably a double edged sword. On the one hand, you finally get the recognition that you were hoping for, but on the other hand you are getting recognition you weren’t looking for. As a writer, you hope forever your work gets noticed, on the other hand you hope things about yourself aren’t exposed. Good luck with your book!

  15. yoshasingh
    yoshasingh says:

    We have the same aspirations irrespective of the fact that we come from different parts of the world.all we need iss little bit of love and appriciation.loved your blog.hope to read more

  16. pakegowin
    pakegowin says:

    So inspiring!! I’m at the beginning of my literary journey too! It does feel odd to share my work after keeping it to myself for so long. Wishing you the best in your writing life!!

  17. byefeliciafuego
    byefeliciafuego says:

    One thing I know is people will follow others without knowing it!!! I once went to a museum with my kids. (Single mom free ride thanks to my public library ) but I found an exibit. ….I’m a psych major mind you……so I walked up to it it was a hall way but the floor was black and white checker board print. The sign said ” hop on the tile only the black ones until the end. So to make a long story short I did it! At the end it was about Hitler …….it read this is how easy it was for him to rule a country! He simple found one idiot to follow and the rest was just people following for no reason at all. Cute story love I had to make myself get to the end. I didn’t stop cause I knew someone would jump out a closet sooner or later! !! Lmao you just defeated what so many try! You controlled your reader with format! You are a writer congratulations! !!!!!

  18. DoubleEspresso
    DoubleEspresso says:

    I just found this on freshly pressed and I have no idea (yet) what post you are referring to. But I had to say that last paragraph has me in tears. I have been a mom for 15 years. I have 3 beautiful daughters and the cutest step daughter. We struggle. We struggle hard. For 15 years my children have come first. And all I want for them is to be able to believe in themselves. And that is why we do it.
    They see me work hard for my family. And they know I do it for them. Now I’m off to be great today.
    Looking forward to ‘getting to know’ you via your blog.

  19. johnberk
    johnberk says:

    Interesting piece, both yours and your mother’s. I can imagine why they both produced such a stir and went viral. My guess would be confirmation bias – the ones who can’t afford such houses were pleased to find out that their owners were not having any pleasure from being so rich, or were even so stressed out that they had to use prescription pills to remain in a functioning condition. The rich – the owners of exceptional estates, on the other hand, could complain about the nature of their cleaning lady, who should not talk about the privacy of her clients.
    Both of these two views bear some truth. They express the nature of our society, still afflicted with class war (despite pretending not to).

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