This is an article I wrote in 2017 that was published in the Writing Cooperative. Since it's out of circulation now, I thought I'd post it here.
I wrote it to encourage anyone who may be starting something new. It's always intimidating to venture into something when you're just beginning or still learning. That's how I felt about writing.
I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Over the years, people have encouraged me to give it a shot. They said I’d be good at it and who am I to doubt them? After all, if they said it, it must be true. So, after years of excuses and too many bad jobs, I decided to go for it. Like they say, there’s no time like the present.
After consulting Google on “how to be a writer” (which turned up over 700 million search results — if you don’t believe me, try it), I started a blog. I thought that would be the easiest way to launch my career and the best way to build an audience. At least, that’s what I gathered from the first three articles I read, and that was good enough for me because I just didn’t have time to go through all 700 million.
To get my blog off the ground, I created a website, wrote a few posts, and got my social media profiles in order. Once I was satisfied with everything, I stopped to relish the moment. I sat back in the chair and let a smile creep over my face. No more excuses, no more delays, and no more bad jobs — those days were over. My long-awaited writing career was at hand. Overwhelmed with pride and a pinch of confidence, I clicked the publish button and launched my new blog into cyberspace.
Let the fanfare begin.
She was my first
The first few days were quiet. Okay, maybe deathly silent would be more accurate. I didn’t worry. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Stephen King didn’t get a book contract on his first pitch, so I didn’t expect to set new records for blog readers after just one week.
About two weeks later, I finally received an email that my very first blog subscriber had signed up. After a brief celebratory jig in the middle of my kitchen, I opened the email to make sure the automated welcome went out as it should. Everything looked good. Out of curiosity, I glanced over at the subscriber’s email address and realized it was one I had seen before: BigMama330.
Also known as Mom.
I won’t lie to you, I was a little disappointed. It’s almost as if I was waiting for that “loser” sound effect you hear on game shows to sound off somewhere stage left. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and appreciated her support, but it wasn’t much in the way of encouragement. No offense BigMama330, but if I was going to call myself a writer, I needed complete strangers to sign up for my blog.
Can I get an amen?
Perhaps a change is in order
I checked my email every day, waiting for new readers to visit my little corner of the web. Until then, I kept writing. I kept hoping. I kept believing. In the meantime, I imagined how it might feel when my email list started to thrive and readers were leaving comments. Nothing too spectacular, just things like, “Chris, you’re the man,” or “This was a great post. It changed my life!”
That would make all the complimentary labor worthwhile and allow me to take my place among real writers everywhere. But until that day came, I would have to remain patient. Determined to persevere, I renewed my vow to keep posting.
They say persistence pays off (by the way, have you ever noticed just how much they say?) and a week later, my reward appeared. Sitting in my inbox was another email notifying me that a second subscriber had signed up for my tribe.
I opened it and instantly recognized the sender. This time it was my father-in-law. He not only signed up for my email list but was kind enough to leave a comment: “Nice job, Chris. See you this weekend.”
At least he left a comment, which was more than I could say for Mom.
Over the next several weeks, family members and close friends trickled in, signing up for what was becoming an exclusive club. At one point, I considered changing the name of my website from The Desert Walker to Friends and Family of Chris Fulmer.
I appreciated that the people close to me were taking an interest in my new venture. I really did. I can’t tell you why, but it didn’t bother me that they were reading about my deepest fears and aspirations. Nor did I care what they thought of me for writing about those things (okay, I’ll admit, that did matter a little). Honestly, what ended up bothering me the most was something I hadn’t prepared for at all.
It is what it is
I was an amateur. I knew it and now they did too. I wasn’t writing my best stuff — yet. Do you know what it’s like to do something in front of everyone around you, knowing that you probably aren’t doing it well?
Here are some words I came up with to describe it: Awkward. Silly. Foolish. Ridiculous.
I’m sure I could list a few more if I had my Thesaurus app handy, but my iPhone is in the next room and I’m too lazy to go get it.
Sure, the thought of being an amateur occurred to me before I launched my blog, but I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. The truth is, I was probably focused more on my target audience than on my initial audience.
But getting better at anything takes time and requires a lot of hard work and practice. You’re going to make plenty of mistakes, take chances that fall flat and miss some opportunities.
Here’s the moral of the story: when you do something you’ve never done before — like writing — you’re going to feel like an amateur for a while. And that’s because you are.
But keep working, practice, learn all you can, and don’t give up. Push through the awkwardness. Do what it takes to be the best you can be — what you’re going to be.
Then, let the fanfare begin.
One other thing. I don’t want to discourage you, but if BigMama330 signs up for your blog, don’t get too excited. She’s only doing it because she thinks it gives her a better shot at winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.