Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Live Journal

Kelle wrote a book. She wrote a book! It's going to hit the shelves April 3, 2012, and judging from the enormous (think TV appearances and millions of hits) popularity of her blog Enjoying the Small Things, I predict this book will make the national best seller list fairly quickly.

Kelle is a professional photographer raising two girls in Naples, Florida. Her Blog has all the rich, soothing qualities of a perfectly made cappuccino. The writing is energizing, it's fun, and it's capped by these deep, velvety images of a very colorful, very pretty everyday life. Just like coffee, it's best to enjoy it first thing in the morning, then for a few hours afterward you walk around with this feeling like, Okay, another day, this could be alright, let's give it a go. 

Which is way better than those days when you wake up around 11am and go What? It's no longer night time? No. No I don't want to.

Anyway, I cannot wait to stand in the aisle of Barnes and Noble, hold the book over my head and announce to all the other mid-day shoppers, "This is my Friend. This is my friend Kelle and I know her. No big deal but she wrote this book." It will be the literary equivalent of me watching kayak films while bouncing up and down on a friend's couch saying "I know that guy! I know that guy! I know that guy too!" Which is something I never do.

Something spectacular about Kelle: she responds to emails. That sounds like a little thing but it's not. I write her these pestering messages that are like How do you do this? How do you do that? Even as I write them I can picture the words reaching out of the screen and tugging at her pant leg. But she always writes back. For someone raising two kids, writing a blog full time and also writing a book, this is an extremely generous gesture. The image thumbnails on the left bar of this blog are thanks to Kelle, who walked me through them step by step. When I found out she'd written a book I sent her a particularly pesky email with a lot of questions. She responded with a very thorough run-down of the whole process, from writing the thing to finding an agent (in her case, choosing an agent) to the publishers auction.

And here's the most important thing she wrote:

"YOUR BLOG IS SO IMPORTANT.  You never know who's reading it, and tomorrow you could have a book deal.  Yes, it's your space and you treat it like that, and you do what you love and have to not think about what people think or who's reading it.  But, at the same time, you have this dream and you know what you want, so your blog is your place to display what you do."

Your Blog is So Important. I want to make a poster of that and hang it right over my desk. Because sometimes I get really down on the whole thing.

Blogging is weird. I hate the word blog. I really do. Louis CK does a whole stand up bit about terrible words and I really think blog should have been included. It is the low man on the already low-standing totem pole of freelance writing. Blogging has evolved since its humble livejournal routes, it's so evolved, but that doesn't seem to matter. It's still associated with nineteen year old college students writing enormous essays with no paragraph breaks discussing their opinions on breakfast, Moammar Gadhafi, and surfing. 

I've tried to reclaim the word the way Eve Ensler tried to reclaim the word Cunt but, like Eve, I just haven't been successful. When someone asks me what I write, I still rock back and forth on my feet, look down at the ground and say, "Well I write a um...a blog?"

Yeah, I do that. I say it like a question. A blog? Will you please validate me? And bear in mind, I'm the same girl who makes this face during sports:
I used to teach high school English at a boarding school, and whenever my girls spoke with that upwards inflection I'd smack them across the face and say "WOMAN UP! WHY YOU SPEAK IN QUESTIONS!"

Probably why I'm no longer a high school teacher.

Granted, these issues are mostly self generated. I'm lucky to live within a very supportive, well insulated little world. I have two parents who are proud of me. I have friends who text me just to say that they laughed out loud while reading a post.  Just yesterday I ran into two guys at a cafe, and they both congratulated me very sincerely on the recent success of The Wilder Coast.

What exactly they were referring to, I don't know. I haven't won any awards or had any major breaks recently. But they both said it, totally independently of one another. Both of those dudes work about 80 hours a week and still read my blog. (How exactly do they do that? I work considerably less than 80 hours a week and I still can't get my laundry from the washer into the dryer in less than 48 hours.)

However, even inside this supportive world there will always be the people who, to put it bluntly, suck at being nice. The ones who look me right in the eye and say, "Well that sounds like a total waste of time." And I'm so stupidly agreeable I find myself nodding along with them. "Yeah...you know....it....really is....." Coming from me! The girl capable of making this face while doing a fun activity:
Then there is the other group of people, probably well meaning individuals, who go right for the kisser.  "A blog? Cool. Do you make money on it?" Blamo! First question!  Cue the feet rocking. Eyes to the ground. "Yeah..?" I say/ask, "...A little?" "Enough to pay the bills?" "Well...No?" "Well what do you do for money then?"

So let me get this straight. You'd rather hear about the janitorial duties and billing policies at a local bouldering gym than three years worth of stories and effort on my weblog? I totally get not giving a shit about what I do or what I write. You're in the vast majority, and that's fine. But you're standing here asking me questions, you are giving me your time, and you're more interested in what I have to do to afford Internet at my house than what I love to do, and plan to do with my entire life?

I could go on about the tremendous importance of building a portfolio, visible platforms, and how online publishing is like the printing press in the way it's revolutionizing the craft. But somehow I feel like that would be lost on these people.

Enough about them. This week I'm honoring the start of my 4th year as a blogger by recognizing the supportive people in my life. People like Kelle Hampton. Kelle, thank you for being an example of what a tangible and important thing a blog can be. I appreciate your guidance, I'm grateful for your generosity, and I applaud your success.  I'll see you in the headlines, sister.

(And speaking of Visible Platforms, check out The Wilder Coast Facebook Page and give it a like. Sometimes I tell tiny, two sentence stories that are really magnificent and sadly true.)


Ariella said...

Melina, what a fantastic post. Can't wait for Bloom, and can't wait to see what book YOU have got hiding up your sleeve.

Kelle said...

That was the kindest, sweetest post, Melina and, after I teared up with your thoughtful words, I continued to read, smiling and shaking my head in agreement. It is a fascinating world, this blog thing, but you are navigating so well, and I'm so glad to have come to know you through our little spaces.

There are great things within you, and I can't wait to see what happens. YEAR NUMBER 4, BABY!!

Thank you, dear friend, for your support and enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

This post made me just subscribe. I love your honesty. And hell, I'm going to go checkout Kelle's book now. I wish I had a friend who told me that my blog was important. Lucky you.

Nika M. said...

I love reading Kelle's blog. That's actually how I found your blog, which I also love reading.

I hope you're feeling much better since that food incident, by the way.

LMR said...

You, quite simply, kick ass. I spent several hours at work last week (shhhh :-X) reading your blog (ack, there's that word!) and your life is truly inspiring. I just turned 26 this year and it made me feel like I need to get out there and MAKE some more stuff happen in my life while I have the chance. Thanks for being honest about your experiences and sharing them with the world. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

All I know is that I used to read newspapers in the morning, and now I read blogs. And yours is one of the best and most entertaining that I read. Someday I maybe want to email you and ask you questions about how you did it....

Adriane said...

Oh, Geez. I think now more than EVER people are "paying their dues" in whatever craft they choose before something comes of it. But persistence pays off for those with amazing talent-- and I would have to agree with those who congratulated you (seemingly randomly), there seems to have been a shift here lately in which your writing/blog has taken a life of its own.

Trust me. My sister used to mire through internships and ho-hum jobs for ...forever it seemed. But she is a fantastic writer, and she is crazy determined. Now she is writing a cookbook for one of the more famous restaurants in San Francisco. So there you have it.

Your time will come.

Steve said...

"You'd rather hear about the janitorial duties and billing policies at a local bouldering gym"

Let's be honest. I'm sure there are some interesting stories that will come out of the gym soon enough.

Cassandra said...

Melina! Loved this post. It makes me laugh (of course) but I also resonated with the part that said: "...you're more interested in what I have to do to afford Internet at my house than what I love to do..." SO TRUE. You put things into words that I can't seem to. Lovin' it. :)

Virginia said...

Very funny and so true ... it's nice to know that our work is important and it's often so hard to get that out of people. Except my mother. I'm lucky to have supportive parents too.

I hate the word blog too ... I wish we could go back to weblog.

Thanks for being here and weblogging!

Baby By The Sea said...

Yes, what you have to say has meaning and is so important. What great advice to remember.

Firegirl said...

Don't worry about others. Write because you enjoy it and perhaps because you need to.

Oh, and because you're good at it and it's a waste of talent not to.

'Nuff said.

Firegirl said...

Keep on keeping on girl!

Write because you enjoy it. Write because you need to. Write because Not Writing is a waste of your talent.

Lucy said...

I totally agree about people being more interested in what you have to do than what you love to do - why is that I wonder? I think it might be there own depression about letting what they have to do rule things, which is understandable. I mean, I am impressed that you work at a climbing gym, that sounds kind of scary to me as I usually think it over before climbing the stairs, but I'm much more interested in what you choose to write about here. I think keeping a blog not only is great for your readers and creates opportunities, but it also keeps your inspiration going - every time you post you let yourself know that your ideas are worth hearing and your ambitions deserve to be realised. Well, maybe you feel that's what it does - I'm just guessing!

Adriana Iris said...

this why you should copy and paste the how to do the labels for me ;)Because you understand a sister in need.

dig this chick said...

Just finding this and loving it.

Love your support of Kelle. Her books rocks.

"But you're standing here asking me questions, you are giving me your time, and you're more interested in what I have to do to afford Internet at my house than what I love to do, and plan to do with my entire life?"

The other day I was talking to a friend and she asked if it was "worth it" to have two kids so close in age. She has a 6 month old. I started to respond and she said, "oh, well, it is different for you. You don't work." Any kind of creative, non-traditional endeavor is seen as lesser-than by those who participate in a traditional endeavor. It was such a revealing conversation.


rmm said...

I never squeal "I know that dude!" when watching kayaking videos ever either. Awesome.