Warning: This is not a poem.
Though, I suppose we can pretend it is.
A poem, in a way, is a celebration of feelings, no matter what they are. (Though, that is very arguable.)
But, I digress.
Here is my celebration–Well, our celebration.
Recently this blog has reached 1,000 followers. Imagine that– The big 1-0-0-0!
I started this blog last year, and never thought anything would ever come out of it. I’d post a poem, stare at the screen, and press a few buttons. Then I declared it would become nothing. The next day I did the same thing. Except, instead of posting one poem, I posted, like 10. In one day. Then I really stared at the screen and said, “Now what?”
I stopped posting for four months. What is the point, anyway? No one will read my poems. I’m really not that good. I have no idea how to even use Word Press and it is a miracle I could even get the “Note Pad” theme or whatever.
I didn’t even bother putting up an About Me. Because who cares, really? It’s funny how when I started blogging I felt the same as I did in high school. Unimportant, overwhelmed, and filled with unspoken words.
Okay, so how did the blog go from that to what it is now?
Well, summer has the tendency to change me. I try new things. Tie up loose ends. Explore what went wrong with projects and people.
I posted a poem on July 20th, 2013. It was a poem that I had written for a non-fiction “coming of age” poetry contest. I was just trying to give this blog one more chance. I thought it deserved that at least, like many people do.
On July 21st, just the next day, I received the infamous email that changed everything. You know how people say: “Then it happened” ? Well, this was my “it”. My poem, “That Night on the Phone”, was Freshly Pressed. Freshly what? I was SO confused. At first I thought I was in trouble. I thought this was a bad thing. Was my poem reported? Flagged? It only started to make since when the comments came flooding in.
PEOPLE! Actual people are reading my poem. And the things they were saying? Wow, just, wow. My phone never stopped buzzing from Word Press notifications all day. No, seriously. It. Never. Stopped.
300+ followers is not the only thing that I gained from this. I gained confidence, motivation, and an abundance of inspiration. I continued to add, build, write, and work with my blog. Once I learned that people listen, I cleared my throat. I needed to keep going. I had a lot more to say.
But then there was the silence. The silence I was basking in back when I started. The buzz simmered down. I slowly stopped getting comments, likes, and views. That visible decline in the stats was physically crippling. Is this it for me now? Was that all just a phase? A fluke?
Encouragement is a powerful force. My friends and family gave that to me, despite my reluctance to keep posting. I pictured my poems falling in to a black void. Why are voids usually black? Why can’t they be green, or like, orange? Something colorful.
I kept pressing buttons, hoping that something would happen. I discovered other blogs, interacted with other people, and made friends. I never considered how much blogging really connects people. And this was my key.
I was doing everything I could to build up my resume and credentials in the meantime. I sent poems out to magazines and journals, and was very lucky to be mentored by two of my Creative Writing college professors. Now I had a Publication page.
I kept switching things around, edited my dreaded About Me 25+ times (literally), and played around with many different “Widgets”. I made a consistent posting schedule, starting including pictures, made a professional Facebook Page, and never stopped.
Like most things in life, it was a slow build up. One year later, here I am: 1,000+ followers, I have a book, a list of publications, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and strong bonds with my friends and mentors who have helped me along the way. Now what’s next for me? Same as always. I am going to keep going. And you should too. With everything.
If it wasn’t for all of you, I would not have this. So thank you, thank you, thank you–from the bottom, top, and middle of my heart.