When we last left our heroine, she was immersing herself in the world of scrapbooking. (And taking numerous selfies—which for you kids out there, use to be called ‘self portraits”.)
It was the hobby I never knew I needed. I probably would have laughed at you prior to 2002. Scrapbooking? CRAP booking is more like it.
But oh my God, it just fit. Photos. Stories. Typography. It was made for me.
I simply took my design sensibilities to paper. And it worked. Instead of using design to make corporate newsletters, I used it to tell stories from my own life with words and images.
I got involved with the online community at the soon-to-be-closing Two Peas in a Bucket. I shared pages. I made friends. It was really my first foray into the whole culture of online anything. I loved it from the get go.
Eventually I sent a page or two into the good editors at the now defunct Simple Scrapbooks magazine. One late spring afternoon I got a call from Stacy Julian and she said, “I don’t know who you are but I want to work with you.”
I remember freaking out after I got off the phone, running downstairs and telling everyone, including some friends who were visiting, “OH MY GOD! STACY JULIAN JUST CALLED ME!”
And yes, you guessed it. Crickets and slow blinking. But it would turn out to be a milestone connection for me.
My collaboration with Stacy began with creating one cover layout for the magazine. Then it turned into contributing scrapbook pages to articles. Then it turned into writing a column on design. Then it turned into becoming an art director and later the creative director.
I had to convince them that I actually knew how to design and produce magazines, not just scrapbook pages. I had to show them that I fit into a corporate structure like one of those round pegs.
Again, my background in journalism helped when it came to all manner of things in magazine production. Re-writing headlines to fit the design, adding cutlines, catching typos, brainstorming magazine content. It was the perfect storm of all of my skills melding into one sweet dream job that I got to do right in the comfort of my own home, some 1,200 miles from Simple Scrapbooks central in Bluffdale, Utah.
And while I was at it , I started a blog.
In 2005 I launched a blog on Typepad. I saw that my new scrapbooking friend Ali Edwards had one and I emailed her and said, “How did you do that?”
I started blogging about stupid stuff like my unabashed love of Johnny Depp. And aliens. No one was reading so I could write about whatever struck my fancy. Which is what I did for a number of months.
Over time, people did start to read. Whether it was solely due to the exposure from the magazine, my books or something else, people started to find my blog. And that was really cool at first until a few people started to get nasty. Anonymous and nasty.
After about a year and a half, I had this knee jerk reaction and decided, “Eff that shit! I have enough issues in my life than dealing with blog trolls judging me. I am SO done!” And just like that, I pulled the plug on my blog. Done and done. In the words of Scotty P, “No ragrets.” Naw what I’m sayin’?
That was early September 2006.
But over the next few months I started to really miss it.
In late October of that year my neighbor, Mary, passed away from cancer and I remember so clearly, sitting at her funeral and one of the readers was sharing a passage from Marianne Williamson and it hit me: you are alive and you have things to share so why don’t you grow the eff up and get back to doing what you love: writing about your life.
I came back in January 2007 with a vengeance. I had a chip on my shoulder. I wasn’t going to be intimidated by jack asses. I loved to write about my life and that was all that mattered. It was important for me to pursue authenticity. To be real with what I was saying. I wrote a post about my friend Mary, to remind me. To this day, it is one of my most important posts. It reminds me that we are all here for such a short time. It reminds me to pursue truth. It reminds me to play large every chance I get.
But a funny thing happened when I came back and decided to just be me online. People started reading again. And then more readers.
I made the decision to introduce advertising to my site, to begin a conscious choice to monetize my blog. I became keenly aware that I wanted everyone to like me. It was like being in middle school all over again and my mantra became: be funny, but don’t offend anyone.
Be bullet proof. Don’t give them anything to attack and you’re golden.
But I learned that bullet proof is about the worst approach to blogging that you can take. Bullet proof equals watering it down. Bullet proof equals fear. And basing part of your business in fear isn’t exactly a formula for authenticity.