I’m not a social media expert.

I am a social media addict who has over 70 thousand twitter updates on just one of my accounts, this blog, another website, a print and online column, two Facebook fan pages, and an instagram stream that serves as my lazy substitute for scrap-booking. So maybe I’m not an expert, but I feel pretty fucking confident about a thing or two.

Since my Latina column became A Thing, I’ve been working to build community, find my tribe, and follow the buzzword trail to that social media utopia where the world waits with baited breath for that rare moment when I have time to post an update and proceeds to like, retweet, and plus the hell out of the silly shit I share. My goal, for reference, is something between a Scary Mommy social media mafia and Jenny Lawson’s very existence. Which probably sounds weird, but only if you’ve never read the blog post that started the Metal Chicken Revolution. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait. Because at least then I’ll know you understand where I’m coming from.

I’ve been online five-and-a-half years. In that time, I’ve amassed a decent flow of blog hits per month, some 6-thousand plus followers on my two main twitter accounts, and a smattering of likes and followers on the rest of my regular social media channels. That might sound like a lot. Or it may not.

Because sometimes feel like I am sending out updates that seem to fade into the Great Nether without having any real impact, I started asking friends for tips. How do I foster engagement? Spark conversations? Hit the retweet lottery? Get me some of that Google + community action? Build community??

The responses I got had me adding more to my already insane To Do list. Tweeting and instagramming and pinning and sometimes remembering to post to my fan pages on facebook might take a few moments, but it doesn’t seem like work because they are as automatic to me as breathing. Adding more to that equation to build my platform basically made my brain explode.

I found myself on Google +, which is a great social media channel, but one I often treat as an afterthought. I spend an evening joining communities and creating a few of my own because — who knew? — a successful community there is the new black, and for about a week, I was all into it. After I hit my regulars, I was on G+ sharing my inspirational quotes and trying to build more buzz for my column with a community dedicated to All Things Spanglish and another for Girl Body Pride. The response was great, but one day, probably yesterday, I just stopped driving myself up the Wall of Craziness.

Sure, I could pay a monthly fee to Hootsuite to allow for the pro options of updating every social media outlet known to man at the same time, but Maybe Later and I need to focus on what I can realistically handle on my own right now. Because that’s where I am.

So I found myself falling back to my good old friend, Twitter, as my mainstay because it’s what I know. I write here when I have time, (or make time depending on the topic). And I stopped giving a shit (again) about where I’m not.

Here’s the thing, Internet; maybe Scary Mommy and Jenny Lawson have built successful blog communities that have led to bigger and greater reach. Maybe Google + communities are the place to be and I’m missing the boat. And maybe Will Ferrell can say Shaggy didn’t do it and sit back and watch the retweets fly. But they didn’t succeed because Twitter/Facebook/Google made it happen. They succeeded because, no matter where they were or which social media format they chose, they connected with their readers and fans.

See?

It’s not the medium. It’s the message.

That’s the epiphany that I tripped over as I ran from Twitter to Google to Facebook to Google to the nearest bottle of wine. It’s not the medium. It’s the message.

If you like the simple things like breathing and sleeping, stop making more work and less time for yourself buy trying to spread yourself too thin in the name of Building Your Platform. That’s kind of like tossing a handful of balls in the air and hoping a few are reflexively caught by those walking by. You want to build your tribe? Find one person who gets what you have to say. Make eye contact. And throw a pitch directly at them. Maybe it’s not as splashy as the first option, but it’s the more effective option.

My new plan is to not make a plan. I’m sticking to what I know and what I do.

And I’m going to do them fabulously.

What about you?

 

 

This *is* happy two hours after her usual bedtime. Trust me.

I passed my Internet to IRL Stalker test yesterday. And with flying colors, to boot, having driven two hours to wait three for five minutes with The Bloggess.

I also did not know that bringing a five-year-old to a book signing on a Saturday night would grant me the opportunity to skip ahead in line and save about an hour of just standing there, but I do now and plan to keep a random five-year-old on standby for book signings and Stalker Re-certification training because mine will eventually age out.

Jenny is amazing, and you already know that, so it’s not like I made The Husband drive me just so I could let it slip to anyone that would listen that I, like, totally already know Jennybecausethatishernameyouknow and follow up with this little story about how she once pet my mexifro in a Hilton bathroom. Now that I think about it, that sounds kind of raunchy, and it’s probably why The Husband got excited when I first told him that story two years ago until he found out that Jenny isn’t a redhead. And it totally explains why he got all huffy and told me to stop embellishing my stories when he read my blog and realized she just hugged me in the bathroom and asked me to show her my mexifro and then I took a picture of it and posted in online for the world to see. I, personally, don’t really see why he got all worked up.

I would write more, but I’m functioning on about two hours of sleep after being kept awake all night by some horrible and mysterious food allergy reaction, thereby proving my level of suckness has been upped to code She’s Probably Just a Giant Fucking Hypchondriac So Let’s Serve her the Peanuts and See What Happens on the national registry of dinner guests. And then, because destroying my own dignity wasn’t enough last night, one of the dogs had her ass explode multiple times from only God knows what and I somehow managed to not throw up on my MacBook every time I sat back down after cleaning the mess up to work on Girl Body Pride. I think my point was that I’m tired and then I wrote a bunch of shit saying how I wasn’t going to do exactly that so let’s all blame the Adderall for only lasting four hours before I start pissing you off again.

So here are the highlights: a small child that was not my own raised her hand to ask The Bloggess why she is so freaking awesome and her mother automatically won for Coolest Mother of the Year because, obviously. And then a small child that is my own tried getting a reaction out of me today by dramatically calling out LIKE, WHAT THE FOOT, MOM???? before falling down into a pile of giggles and cluelessness because there was this microphone and this book reading and there’s probably going to be a few very offended teachers tomorrow when other people’s kids get that last part right…in public…because that’s always a bonus.

The other best parts of the night includes Jenny graciously accepting a Buttercup original artwork and making one little girl’s day when Mommy’s Writing Friend promised to hang it in her office because that makes her a real artist. The Husband giving up his day off to drive two hours so we could wait for three hours for five minutes with a woman I am proud to say actually remembered me when I stood before her was also a bonus. And when I walked away with my smiling kid and my signed copes of her book and he started talking about what it will be like when it’s my turn after I get published while we drove back home, I just smiled and let him dream out loud.

Me, Buttercup, and Miss Jenny. I'll explain The Bloggess thing when she drops her first F-bomb, because then I know she'll actually appreciate this photo.

 

 

I’m having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it’s kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I’ve shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I’ve received a raised eyebrow and a “YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT” in response to my pity party. I get where it’s coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O’BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong.

It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I’m a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I’m pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part…for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn’t leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin’s Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I’ve been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I’ve got going on over here on this little ol’ blog o’ mine. I’m working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don’t build themselves overnight.

I’m by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that’s okay with me. I’m not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don’t mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don’t end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I’m sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don’t end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it’s not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it’s a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It’s not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It’s me and my ego and my agent’s time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper’s staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I’m the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who — and what — we are. It’s our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it’s okay.

Because tomorrow I’m still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

 

A lot of us hide behind our words. It’s easier that way. Usually, anyway.

But then the voices inside our heads that can only be expressed with our fingers on our blogs or in our journals or in our essays remind us that we can’t always keep the secrets at bay.

If we had cancer or leukemia or a physical disability that other people could actually see. . . it might be easier. . . maybe. But instead we have our prescriptions and our therapists and our internal struggles and our own issues with shame because we know there is something. . . different. . .

And sometimes that makes us feel like less than we actually are.

Just a few days ago, Jenny Lawson (everybody’s favorite Bloggess) bravely and beautifully told the world about her struggles with depression and self-harming behavior that she is hoping to get under control before her young daughter is old enough to really see what is going on. Jenny spoke about the cycle of depression and how it affects us and our families and how no one really understands the guilt that comes along with each breath as we realize how much everyone else had to pick up the slack because we were just working on being.

And survival. And pride. For us and those who love us. Jenny talked about those things to.

We listened, empathized, related, and shared. Because that’s what not hiding behind our words can do for those we are connected with. Using our words to open even the tiniest pieces of our souls to the world has power. And with that power comes acceptance and love and understanding and validation. .  and even more pride.

Because we survived.

I wear a silver ribbon because:

  • there are things I’m not brave enough to share yet but. . .
  • my sister is manic depressive
  • I am clinically depressed
  • eating disorders never really go away
  • happiness comes wrapped in a tiny little capsule
  • Obsessive-compulsive scab picking is how I self harm
  • when I tell you that there’s no shame in mental illness, I mean it but. . .
  • I’m not quite sure that rule applies to me
  • and I want it to

Thank you, Jenny. Thank you for using your words to bring us all to a better place that includes support and love and self-acceptance.

Why do you wear a silver ribbon?

***

This post originally appeared on Owning Pink.

 

You know that really embarrassing family story about the time the kids did that one thing in public at that one place and you were all like OMG that’s only okay to tell after five too many wine coolers with the girlfriends while the little angels terrorize Daddy because it’s your night off? Or that time you dressed up like an Italian sausage at Target while your kids picked out string bikinis for you to try on?

Yeah? Well, my friend just one-upped America with a book she wrote full of little gems like these that she wrote… while she was sober.

I know.

Okay, so the actual title is Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves and the mom behind the book is named Robin O’Bryant. I’ll let the following excerpt speak for itself…but make sure to some back Wednesday and Friday for my review and an author interview (including a giveaway for a signed copy of Robin’s book!)

***

After giving birth to Sadie, my third daughter in four years, I was perfectly happy to be fat for a few months while I finished breastfeeding, until I got a card in the mail from my little brother’s fiancee. I called my sister Blair immediately and said, “Did you get a card in the mail from Anna?”

She could tell by the tone of my voice I was panicking so she said, “OH NO! They didn’t break up did they?”

“Oh no, it’s so much worse than that…”
“Aw crap, did she ask us to be in the wedding?”
“Yep.”
I was flattered she asked me but I was horrified. I could wear a sarong at the pool all summer, but would probably look suspicious walking down the aisle that way. I reluctantly started going back to the gym and Blair started doing Weight Watchers. My feelings about exercising when breastfeeding are about the same as they are when pregnant: It’s pointless.

When I’m pregnant I’m going to gain weight no matter what. When nursing, my body fights to hold on to fat like I’m going to be hibernating. For example… my sister lost nine pounds in two weeks on Weight Watchers; I on the other hand gained a pound and a half going to the gym for a week. (Please save the muscle-weighs-more-than-fat tirade for someone else. When I exercise while breastfeeding I am ravenous and will eat anything in sight. I end up consuming more calories than I burn.)

As summer quickly approached I finally had to break down and buy a bathing suit. No amount of tugging and/or lubricant could coax my post-baby body into one of the million suits I already owned. There was no way my baby’s meal tickets were going to be squeezed into anything I already had.

I went to Target (also known to Mommies across the country as their “happy place”), and bought a “Big Girra Bathing Suit.”

“Mommy, how ‘bout this one? It is SO cute!” Aubrey said as she picked up a hot pink string bikini.

I looked critically at the bathing suit she was holding, and quickly deduced that the triangle top probably wouldn’t even cover my zipple.

“No baby. I don’t want the other mommies at the pool to have nightmares.”

We continued back to the “Women’s Sizes” and I flattered myself with the first size I chose and forced it on to my body, Lycra snapped and crackled as I pulled, stretched and sucked it in. After seeing my reflection closely resembled an Italian sausage I’d eaten once, I was forced to get a larger size.

This should have meant that I took off the suit and put my clothes back on to go get another one. But If you’re shopping for clothes somewhere you can also buy an ICEE or a foot- long hot dog, you need to realize that no one is going to come knock softly on your door to see if you need another size. I’m lazy though, so I put on the swimsuit cover-up I was trying on and walked to get another size, dressed for the pool. I’m not going to tell you what size I ended up in, though I will say it had a “W” behind the numberS. (Plural. As in there was more than one.) I called my sister while I was checking out and she texted back, “I’m in WW’s (Weight Watcher’s) can’t talk, ttyl :)”

I texted her back, “How many pts are a Butterfinger & a Coke cuz that’s what I’m eating rite now?” Maybe I can convince Anna that all of the bridesmaids should be in sarongs.

 

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