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:
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:
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.)