Before we get into what happened yesterday (and we will get into what happened yesterday), I need to talk about this last month. I’ve mentioned before I dove into this first year of self-employment telling myself that my job was exactly the same as it had always been (writing posts, selling ads), but that this year I’d have more time to do it, and I’d also write a book. It turns out, that was sort of a lie.
But there is also this one other *tiny* thing that I’ve been lying to myself about. I’ve been lying to myself about the fact that real live people (lots of them) read my blog. And as with all lies we tell ourselves, sometimes they save our sanity for a little bit, but eventually they fall apart. Sometimes they fall apart in ways that feel hard to grapple with (like most of this month) and sometimes they fall apart in blindingly wonderful ways (like yesterday).
At every step of the blog’s growth, I’ve had some serious growing pains. It turns out that I’m a kind of private person (which is perpetually interesting as a blogger), so I’ve worked to be careful about what parts of myself I put out for public comment. I want to talk, endlessly, about ideas—but I don’t want to talk about or justify, say, how I decorate my home, the day to day of my family life, or deeply personal decisions. So I’ve walked a line with what I share here. Long time readers will remember that (mostly due to my corporate job) I didn’t show a picture of my face for the first year and a half (big reveal here, with a gun). We didn’t share a ton of wedding photos with the internet, and most of the ones I picked to share didn’t even have my face in them (that was not a conscious choice). And over much of my blogging career I’ve posted few enough pictures of me that I spent a year interacting with a long time reader twice a week without him figuring out who I was.
So this year, as the blog has grown, I’ve simply pretended that it’s just this little project I work on from my kitchen table, la-la-la. And this month, that sort of fell apart on me, in all sorts of ways.
It started a few minutes before Amber took this picture of me at Camp Mighty. When I went to Mighty Summit a year ago, I felt like I was in the perfect position. I’d made enough professional headway to get invited, but no one knew who I was (which meant zero expectations). This year, at Camp Mighty, I pretended that it was going to be exactly the same way. It wasn’t. When I walked into the first party, four or five people I didn’t know said hi to me. Still operating in my little self-delusion bubble, I thought, “Hum. I wonder how they know who I am?” (Oh, internet, apparently you go… everywhere?) Then two seconds before this picture was taken, some lovely ladies stopped me and said, “You’re Meg.” And you guys, I’m an idiot. I totally froze. I said, “Yes.” And then they said, “You’re Meg!” again. And I looked super baffled and said, “I totally am….” and then I ran off to take these pictures. That’s grace, kids. (Slams head into the desk.)
And the thing is, I know why I do what I do. It’s about the work, and about getting to write, and about sharing ideas with a whole bunch of smart people, and about getting to run a creative business. And I want it to be about the work, not about me. But this month I realized that’s not going to be the case, all of the time. So negotiating that has been tricky for me. Finding the real goodness in a bigger platform has been hard at some moments this month, but yesterday that goodness became breathtakingly clear.
Holy crap yesterday. Yesterday, when you guys single handedly pushed up The APW Book to #29 on Amazon US, and #77 on Amazon Canada. Yesterday, which was the most awe inspiring day of my professional life. Yesterday, when I got a feeling for what the APW community actually is, and for what it can be. Yesterday. I am so grateful. And overwhelmed. And kind of hung over. And grateful. And in awe.
Clearly, I have not wrapped words around all of this yet. So I thought I’d wrap words around what I learned, instead. Yesterday taught me a variation of the lesson I’ve learned over and over again all year, and the whole time I was trying to sell the book: You can’t succeed without being willing to fail with full force. You can’t figure out how far you can go, until you push yourself so far that you risk completely falling on your face. And seriously? This never stops sucking, don’t kid yourself. Continue reading Working For Yourself: Month Eleven (The Big)