It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....I'm not talking about Dickens, duh I'm talking about my blog. This past December I had one of the worst experiences I've had in my four and a half years of blogging, but just like that, on the same day I had an opportunity that I have worked toward for all these blogging years.
Right before Christmas I had my first really shitty Internet writing experience. The kind of experience where your words are taken and twisted. The kind of experience that makes you angry and sad and oh so vulnerable.
I was asked to write a personal essay for a friend who works for a pretty big-ish web site. She said write about "anything that you are passionate about." I wrote my typical hokey-Pollyanna-silver-lining piece because quite frankly I am a true believer in hokey-Pollyanna-silver-linings. It wasn't the best thing (or even the 39th best thing) I've ever written but it was a sort of sweet essay about how after Peyton broke his leg in a football game I felt sisterhood and solidarity with the mother I shared a room with in the hospital. Then just like in a movie starring someone like Jennifer Garner (I'm thinking about the movie 13 Going on 30), someone working for the web site read my hokey piece and possibly said something like "how can we make this sexy?" Their idea was to put my words in a "hot topic" type debate that online folks would describe as clickbait. It was a debate about letting kids play tackle football.
When I saw the web site I was heartbroken, truly heartbroken. I never, ever wanted to be involved in THAT debate. NEVER. You want clickbait and a debate? Give me a writing assignment about why we should support refugees or why I think Donald Trump is a horrible person or why I don't unfriend people who don't agree with me on Facebook or why I'm a feminist or why I don't hate the Kardashians. I can write about stuff that will make people click and make people fired up. But debating tackle football isn't in my head space or my heart right now because I am fucking terrified and I have a football loving family full of men and boys who all want to play and because it's complicated and because I don't feel certain and I can't debate it because it's too personal and too much and it's about my sons and I just WOULD NEVER DO THAT.(The essay I wrote never mentioned any of my unease or anxiety about football. It simply stated that my son was injured in a football game.)
Honestly, even though I can write about debatable stuff I choose not to do that right now. I choose to write about hokey-Pollyanna-silver-lining shit because I want people to feel happier and see that even when life sucks or we are scared or running low on hope, there is light and love and maybe a laugh. That's what I write, that's how I live.
|I am full of worry and anxiety and imperfection but at the end of the day, my positivity and joy and love of life wins. I feel it all but I strive for more joy always.|
When I read my words under the headline about whether or not your child should play tackle football I started to cry and my heart was pounding. I was terrified of reading the comments of passionate people on either side. I messaged my friend but didn't hear back right away. I found out who the CEO of the web site was and sent her an email and a Facebook message and a direct message on Twitter. I begged her to take down my essay. They did within five minutes of my message.
Later that same afternoon, I went to a job interview. My eyes were still puffy from crying but I was relieved the essay had been taken offline and I was focusing on making a good impression at the interview. It was for a freelance writing job. A job that I had been recommended for by someone I met through the Listen To Your Mother show I produce which I got involved with because of my happy, hokey blog.
"I thought of you because of your positive, conversational writing and the happiness you exude," my friend told me. (Um, THANK YOU!)
I got the job. The pay is good. The people seemed to dig me. Not to get all Frank Sinatra on you but I got the job doing it my way. I didn't have to sell a story that was way beyond my comfort zone. I didn't have to change the way I wrote to get clicks. I showed up, gave them samples of writing from my blog and basically said "um, well folks, I write hokey-Pollyanna-silver-lining shit because I honestly think we need more of that in the world." And they basically said "cool, let's do this."
|This is artwork that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE from Dallas Clayton. I've been a fan of his for a long time. Go to his web site. Check him out. Buy his stuff. When I get my first writing paycheck I'm going to buy this print or this on a sweatshirt.|
It was a roller coaster day for sure full of the worst and the best. That night I let go of the negative crap and celebrated what I like to call the victory of being unapologetically hokey and writing and living a Pollyanna-silver-lining kind of life. I toasted to Dickens and Sinatra and Jennifer Garner and Hayley Mills (um the legendary actress that played Pollyanna in the Disney classic!) and writing from the heart and getting paid and putting yourself out there and learning hard lessons and forgiving and being real and to hope and light and love and laughter.
Here's a great song about silver linings from the incomparable Bonnie Raitt:
(Click here to listen.)
Oh hell yeah, here's another good song about silver linings. I LOVE First Aid Kit and this song.
(Click here to listen.)