Reaching 7,000 followers is not something I could have ever imagined when I created my WordPress blog back in November of 2015, but that’s exactly what happened today. I’m not writing this to preen, but to thank each and every one of you for your endless support, whether that has been over the last three years, or the last three hours.
The blogger that ticked me over to this golden number was H.R.R. Gorman who blogs over at Let Me Tell You the Story of… But who was my first follower? Well… I tried to figure that out, but WordPress wasn’t having a bar of it, so instead, I found the very first person to comment on my blog: Nate Philbrick of You.Write.Fiction, an indie author who wrote the best WordPress article of all time.
It’s funny to think that back when Philbrick commented on my first blog post, I only had about 10 followers (if that). I was also working on my first draft of Mesmerise, had never been rejected by an agent or publisher and had only recently become acquainted with the evolving world of self-publishing. And yep, I had no clue what P.O.D. or KDP even meant. Ignorance is bliss!
Not only was I bright-eyed and hopeful, but I was also very innocent and naive. I had no idea how cruel the writing world could be – or how wonderful. I honestly thought back then I’d be one of the ‘lucky ones’ and get a contract for one of my books straight off the bat from one of the Big 5 (okay, just anyone!) But that was not to be, not to be at all.
I thank my lucky stars that through all my tears and sunken dreams, there was one thing that I had. This blog. This little blog that could.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be without all of you. During those dark days when I was faced with an endless stream of scholarly rejections, it was only your kind messages that leant me any kind of hope. You are the ones who have been the light in the darkness. You are the ones who made me smile when I thought all happiness had deserted me.
Your messages always seem to come at just the right moment. Like that time my story, “Two Weeping Willows”, was dropped by a literary magazine who had gone out of their way to ask me to submit it to them – only to reject it due to an “influx of other (better?) stories”. Argh, talk about soul-crushing.
I don’t usually let myself cry (or admit to it), but on that day my body demanded I shed some tears. I think it’s healthy and normal to feel sad and it’s okay if the rejections sting. Not only that, I hope they always sting – for me and for you. To feel nothing would mean the end of hope, the end of dreaming, the end of cat gifs.
While I was experiencing the many trials and tribulations of the #WritersLife, I had you guys on the other end, telling me my stories were magical. Even though my writing may have been tragically bad… still you threw a glittering rope to a writer struggling to believe in herself. And sometimes that is all we need to dust ourselves off and keep going – one kind word.
I don’t know what I have done to deserve your kindness and endless cheers of support. If I could list you all by name, I would, but there are far too many of you (oh but I must mention my mum, who lovingly reads every post, hi mum!)
I sometimes wish I could turn back the clock and do things differently, but I can’t think like that. Because you know what? If I didn’t have all those mountains to climb and those God-awful rejection letters to overcome, my blog wouldn’t be where it is today. No one wants to read a blog about a perfect life. Because who can relate to that? Probably, mostly, no one.
People aren’t visiting your blog to read all about your ‘awesome’ life, but to read about the difficult journey you went through to get there, of the setbacks you bravely faced and triumphed over. Not only are they looking for help to understand their own lives, they are searching for an honest voice and a genuine connection.
Yes, it’s good to put your best face forward on occasion, but adding a dash of humanity and a pinch of truth to your story can be so much more rewarding. If I’d kept the ugly truth hidden, I never would have received the support I needed.
Every single thing I have gone through these last few years has played a pivotal role in moulding this stronger, wiser version of myself. And even though both my innocence and naivety have been taken away, some things have not and will never change.
I am still hopeful, still bright-eyed and still, unapologetically, me.