So last week, the Washington Post published my first-person story about living with brain cancer.
They posted it online on Thursday and on Sunday, it was the front story of the Outlook page (the B section). My face was there, huge, sitting next to Hillary.
I had worked on the article for four months and there it was, sitting in a large stack at my small-town Walmart, next to the pumpkin bins. My inbox and twitter mentions grew. Me too, some messages read. You’re crazy and a liar, said others. I deleted the crazies.
Daniel and I sat in our basement and watched the mentions and the share count go higher and higher. I have to admit, it was fun. I was crazy excited and my grin was a little too big. People liked what I wrote and more importantly, they liked HOW I wrote it. That was deeply meaningful to me. It proved to anyone that I could write.
In the end, I didn’t become famous. It went a tiny bit viral, but not really. I have a couple of follow ups, but no book deals or tv interviews lined up. I was told that might happen, but honestly, I’m ok that it didn’t. I’m still legit. It’s the Post.
After the initial surge of “Look, Mom, I’m in the paper!” I backed off and ignored social media for a few days. I thanked friends and family for their kind words and went back to watching Netflix.
I was intensely proud of my words, my work, but I was also tired. The fall is always a crazy time for Daniel’s job and I end up parenting alone many days and weekends. After three and a half months, the final push for publication involved something like 12 edits and a four hour photography session.
I was beat.
I didn’t exactly lay around, eating ice cream. My new job was starting and I still had to balance out Daniel’s demanding schedule. But I stepped away from the retweeting and the shares for just a bit. I blah-ed for a few days, letting my story just sit there.
I don’t think there’s a moral here (e.g., good parents don’t look at their smartphone, offline makes you a better person) other than do what calls you. What that mean for me is writing for months on end and then not being a social media robot. I’m not a promoter, I’m a writer slash mom slash a million other things.
And if that gets me a nap and a few less shares, I’m ok with that.