Oh wow. I just had an embarrassing revelation. I was trying to remember which kind soul brought me gently into the yeah write fold, and I was sure it was some talented writer who blogs; I was sure it was someone I admired and wanted to emulate. But I just realized, and I’m actually reticent about admitting this — I just realized that I came to yeah write for the first time because I wanted to win a prize. I wanted to win a new WordPress theme for a blog I share with my business partner, Anna Sandler.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying “Oh, come on now. That’s not so embarrassing!” Or maybe you’re congratulating me on my competitive and mildly entrepreneurial spirit. But really it was a lot more sneaky and calculated than that. I must have seen some Retweet of a yeah write announcement about the prizes at some point. And I set out to check out what it was all about so I could break the code and win it all. Let’s just say I got a helluva lot more than the expected low down on yeah write.
First Lesson: I’d need nerve and a glass of wine or two to submit my posts to this challenge. yeah write was Intimidating. There were lots of great bloggers with heart-wrenching stories on the yeah write grids. The Momalog, Sperk*, Chicken Noodle Gravy, and more were so OPEN and willing to spill their insides in painfully honest ways. That’s not me. Much. There were also power-bloggers like Alison at Mama Wants This (Now at Writing, Wishing) and Mayor Gia — they both had huge fan bases that I couldn’t hope to compete against. On top of that were writers – – the real deal — like Kerstin Auer, Louise Ducote, and Deborah Quinn. Oh my.
Second Lesson: I’d need some discipline to make it onto the grid. yeah write demanded Time! There was a deadline for entry, and people seemed to be crouched by the gate, waiting for the grid to open. I’d have to get something done and polished well before the grid closed. On top of that, making the rounds to read every other entry was a pretty major time commitment — what with 56 entries my first week on the grid.
Third Lesson: I’d need to toughen up my thick skin. yeah write commenters might be (overly) loving even when the post was relatively weak, but the voting exposed the positive and meh responses for all to see, rump to rump like dueling pistols. I’ve never been one for self-promoting, and considering that my first yeah write post was about my father, I didn’t feel like spreading the word too vociferously. What could possibly convince anyone to vote for me? What if I was LAST on the grid? What if no one read it? What if they did read it! The pit of my stomach flipped more than once during those first few days.
Fourth Lesson, and most difficult for me: I’d need to share. It was pretty clear that yeah write was about the personal anecdote. This was not something I was at all comfortable doing. However — going back to my original motivation of a PRIZE — I sucked it up and shoved my abhorrence under the covers, and I wrote about stuff. I wanted to win, after all. So over the next few weeks, I wrote about my dad, a sock encounter in the park, dishwashing as therapy, my students, and getting mugged. It was really hard. I mean tangibly painful. I felt exposed and raw, but I was hooked. Earning an editor’s choice badge from the Oz-like Erica, getting a top row vote, having easy access to writers who blog and bloggers who write, and (most addictive) seeing my blog stats stand up and salute once a week kept me coming back.
So yeah, my perseverance and calculating approach to the yeah write superfecta earned me one of four spots in the winners’ circle, and I got my new wordpress theme. Long – more than 500 word – story short: I’ve been happily paying for it ever since.
Happy Birthday, yeah write! And congrats and many thanks to Erica for putting up with and focusing the loopy behavior that hops around the internet, like two young hares on Four Loco. You inspire us to be better writers. And that’s a good thing.