When I started write meg! in June 2008, I was a quiet(er) 22-year-old working for three newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. As an assistant editor, my duties were relegated to putting together a variety of sections for my employer, including but not limited to pieces on real estate, automotive trends and local businesses.
Now, I still do those things — but I do about a hundred other things, too. Creative things. I now write a biweekly column that reaches tens of thousands of people in my community and has been, to date, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Beyond that, I can now walk into a room full of people I don’t know and barely break a sweat. I’ve shaken the hands of countless folks whom I “know,” and who know me, and have had some truly awesome conversations — online and off. I speak and walk confidently; I write more, and better. I feel like I’m making a difference, even if it’s small.
And yes, I’m going to attribute it all to blogging.
Because we have not the time nor interest to discuss the changing nature of the newspaper business, a subject that has been covered by far more intelligent and braver people than me, I’ll give you a short synopsis of what the changing nature of my newspaper business has meant: with the expansion of the Internet and online resources (which are great), we still need a way to bring readers back to the print editions of our publications and keep them viable.
And a columnist position opened up in our company.
I’ve made no secret of my blogging activity, though I didn’t used to go out of my way to advertise write meg! with friends, family and associates. Once upon a time, I thought my blog would be like an online diary — a place I stored my thoughts anonymously, and definitely not something I would want my “real life” cohorts to know about.
Well, I was wrong — on many levels. Blogging has never been a private pursuit for me, just in the way that writing has never been a private pursuit for me. Quite frankly, I love an audience. I’m a drama queen. I enjoy having a place to write about whatever I wish and then get feedback — mostly positive, some negative — on what I’m saying.
I write because I love it, yes, and because I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I don’t write in a vacuum. And though I like the sound of my own voice, more than that? I like the sound of my own voice in conversation. I love talking. I love feedback. I thrive on discourse.
And I swear I’m not as cocky as I sound right now.
When the columnist position opened up at work, I was doing some enjoyable but decidedly non-creative things at the papers. Because one of my coworkers knew I was a blogger who wrote regularly, this got reported back to one of our managers. And one of those managers, presumably, checked out my site — this site. And thought I’d be a good fit for the job.
A job I now have — and love. In addition to my editing duties at work, I get paid twice a week to write about things I love — anything and everything, but mostly myself, growing up and learning. I get “recognized” in the community, have stories hanging on the wall of my old elementary school as a “notable alum,” and field phone calls and emails from folks who call themselves “my fans.” Some of those are real letters, handwritten and addressed. To me. And what do they say? They look forward to my column. It brightens their day. It makes them think differently.
That makes me feel incredible.
I’m not going to tell you a sob story about how I was stuck in a rut before blogging, before my column, before Spencer, before this life. But I will say that I was struggling mightily to find a place to channel my creativity and do something more. I talk about that often: doing something more. And if I’d never started blogging for myself, I wouldn’t now be writing publicly for anyone else. At work, I might still be in that quiet vacuum. I might still be the old me.
Book Blogger Convention was a really big step for me — I mean, I went to New York City for the weekend! To meet people face-to-face with whom I’d only ever emailed! And everyone was really nice and exactly the way I expected, which was awesome. (And I met Jessica from Cover To Cover when we were both randomly in San Diego. And countless other lovely folks at last year’s National Book Festival. And the list goes on.)
And my social anxiety didn’t cripple me, threatening to keep me locked up in a tiny space for all eternity. I branched out and talked. I made introductions. I tried not to look awkward. And I hope — hope — it worked. (Y’all are still talking to me, so I guess I didn’t freak you out too badly.)
The confidence I’ve gained through meeting people online and forming friendships is what allowed me to join OkCupid, the dating site through which I met Spencer. With the encouragement of friends and my parents, I realized that no, not everyone on the Internet is a raging psychopath poised to shank us. I mean, look at all of us! We’re awesome! We talk all the time, friends, and all on the Internet! It’s crazy. It’s amazing. And it was the knowledge that people are often the same “in real life” as they are through the web that allowed me to push my anxiety off and meet Spence. (And I’m darn happy, let me tell you.)
This is a long post and I apologize — but this is all to say that basically, blogging has made my life awesome. Thank you for the countless emails, Twitter replies, comments and shows of support, large or small. It’s through the people I’ve met, the experiences we’ve shared, the things we’ve accomplished and the confidence I’ve gained that has enriched my life in countless, countless ways.
And thanks for these, because I don’t know if I said it boldly enough early; I get teary-eyed looking at them. Congratulations to Jen at Devourer Of Books and Steph Su of Steph Su Reads, the winners in our categories — y’all rock, as do the many, many talented folks who contribute to our wonderful book blogosphere as a whole! Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week to everyone. Here’s to the happy, bookish and delightful years to come.