storytellers

Storyteller: Kim Zoot Homes aka Miss Zoot

Kim Zoot Holmes by Gregg Gelmis
1. I started “themed” blogs that all died shortly after their inception between the years 2000 and 2003. One was dedicated to the show Temptation Island…I have no idea why I didn’t stick with that one. In 2003 I stumbled upon a few writers who were blogging about their struggles having children and I decided in January 2004 to just try a personal blog, one with no theme, but where I could also chronicle my own struggles to conceive. I gave my blog a name using my own online alias (Zoot) on the Typepad platform. Once I gave up trying to stick to a “theme” and just wrote a personal blog with personal stories, I found it was VERY easy to stick with blogging. Writing became cathartic, even if I was just writing about Harry Potter in between entries about having miscarriages. In April of 2004, after only 4 months at Typepad, I picked up and moved to my own domain: misszoot.com, and I’ve been there ever since.

2. I learned by being a blog reader first that the internet removed Geography as a hurdle to building communities. I spent my childhood often feeling like the odd-man-out but the internet gave me ways to find kindred spirits, even if they were living in another state. When I first blogged about being an adult who loved Harry Potter, several people stepped up to say, “Me too!” and it felt GREAT. And then, on the serious side, when I was struggling to have kids it felt amazing to find people who understood the things I had trouble explaining to my family. I’ve also written a lot about my anxieties and lately I’ve been writing a lot about my journey becoming a runner and a triathlete and meeting people on the same road to fitness. Telling my stories – no matter what they are – have helped me build an internet family that I still depend on today.

3. I have 3 kids (19, 8, 6) and work from home part-time as a web developer, but I have also become a runner in the last 3-4 years. I am not an athlete by birth and have never been good at anything, but I found something therapeutic about running long distances and training for long races so I run a lot during my off time. During the winter (my peak training season) I run an average of 50 miles a week. I usually try to do a couple of marathons, a couple of 50K trail races, and at least one 50-miler or one 12-hour run every year. I often barely slide in under the time limits for the races, but I’m doing it with a smile on my face!

4. If I had a million dollars...I’d donate to some of my favorite charities (The Trevor Project and our local group – The GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.) but THEN I’d finish my goal to run at least a marathon in every state. I don’t like traveling in theory, my anxieties make me very much a home body, but for races I seem to be able to look past my travel-induced anxieties. I’d love to pack the family up in an RV and drive across the country running races wherever I could!

5. The secret I’ve discovered to get over my social anxieties is to constantly ask questions to those around me. It makes me look like a great conversationalist, but it also draws attention AWAY from me, making me inherently more relaxed. And while I do this, I try to use the person’s name as much as possible so that I’ll remember it later. Nothing sends me into a downward spiral of an anxiety attack quicker than forgetting someone’s name! So, ask a lot of questions, use their name. And if you DO forget someone’s name, ask them their name and after they tell you say, “Oh, that’s right. I always want to say your name is ‘ALICE’ because you look so much like my cousin of that name.

6. My social anxieties are my biggest hurdle in life. However, the best thing I’ve discovered to help me get past them is finding out how many other people feel the same way. I actually started a book club with some friends because we all felt too socially awkward to ever go to them before. We call ourselves the Socially Awkward Book Club. That alleviates the pressure of being polished and smooth right away!

Find Kim on Twitter @misszoot and read her stories on her blog, Miss Zoot. Thanks, Kim! Find all the Storytellers here.

Photo of Kim by Gregg Gelmis.

Storyteller: Jill Krause aka Baby Rabies

Jill Krause1. I started blogging in the summer of 2007 when I decided I wanted to, well, get pregnant. And I, oddly, wanted to document that process and what followed in great detail.

2. At this point, it’s such a part of me that I don’t know how not to tell stories on my blog. In the beginning, though, it was to get these crazy thoughts out of my head because I knew I was changing, that my viewpoint was shifting. I wanted to look back on that process.

3. The glamorous answer- I tend to my lovely 3 children while balancing blogging and a freelance writing & photography/consulting career. On my free time I run and craft, and watch House of Cards with my hot husband.

The realistic answerI manage to keep 3 kids alive while blogging in my baby-snot-crusted pajamas. Somedays I do manage to brush my teeth. I answer a lot of emails in order of those I think might make my life easier quickest. I run because, in combination with my anxiety meds, it makes me feel less crazy. My hot husband and I do watch House of Cards together on our free time, which is to say we will probably get done with season 2 in 3 years.

4. If I had a million dollars… I think I’d remind myself that that’s not a lot of dollars. Relatively, you know? So I’d like to think I’d be a grown up and do things like invest it and pay off debt and NOT take off on a round-the-world field trip with the whole family for as long as we could afford it. But I can’t be certain.

5. I think this is where I would tell you about the cystical (a testicle cyst) I developed in my last pregnancy, except I already told the world that secret. Or maybe I’d tell you about how I eat rocks and sand when I’m pregnant? Except, no. Because that’s not a secret either. Uhmmm….. okay, I don’t like water parks. There. I said it.

6. I want people to know that I have no idea what I’m doing. I have nothing figured out. I’m not an expert at anything. That feels very good to get out there.

Find Jill on Twitter @babyrabies and read her stories on her blog, Baby Rabies. Thanks, Jill! Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess

cheesecake 1. Blogging since? 2006. But I didn’t start “The bloggess” until 2007. “The bloggess” was a late bloomer.

2. Why do you tell stories on your blog? Because I kept getting arrested for spray-painting them on the sides of trains. Plus the trains would pull away before I had a chance to finish or spell-check. Honestly, I’ve always written. I think it’s a product of my anxiety disorder. I was too painfully shy to talk so I let everything out on paper. Diaries, journals, short stories, terrible poetry, notes on napkins. Blogging was just a natural way of doing what I was already doing. I still write in journals and on notebooks though.

3. How do you fill your days? I get my 9 year old up and off to summer camp and then I spend the day writing. I also spend a lot of time reading, which seems a bit self-indulgent and lazy but I chalk it up to “research” and I punch anyone who questions me about “wasting” time reading. I also surf the net too much and I dress the cats up in clothes occasionally. Then when my daughter gets home we play games or watch tv. This month we’re watching all of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. That girl has great taste.

4. If you had a million dollars… I’d slap it to the ground. I have no reason to have a million dollars so if I suddenly found myself holding that much money I’d assume that I blacked out and robbed a bank. I can’t go back to prison.

5. Tell me a secret? This is a trick question, right? I’m a blogger and a memoirist so I don’t really have secrets. But lemme think… Okay, here’s a strange one. When I was a kid I heard voices at night after everyone was asleep. Every night. My sister shared my room but said she couldn’t hear them but I always did. I don’t know what they were saying but it was a muffled man and woman speaking monotone from far off. It sounded as if the news was on in the next room, but we only had one tv and my parents turned it off each night. I still don’t know what that was about. It stopped after a few years.

6. Anything you want others to know? That it’s going to be okay.

Find Jenny on Twitter @TheBloggess and read her stories on her blog, The Bloggess. You can also purchase her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, (and you should because it’s awesome). Thanks, Jenny! Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Fadra Nally aka All Things Fadra

Fadra Nally1. I was laid off from my job in product management and marketing for a software company in July 2009. As I started looking for “real jobs,” specifically in the marketing space, I noticed that every one was asking for a writing portfolio. Knowing that a dry technical document like product requirements or a PowerPoint written in corporate speak didn’t showcase my best abilities, I thought I’d start a blog. Because, well, why not.

And in September 2009, I officially launched allthingsfadra.blogspot.com. I put no thought into the name or the design or even what I would write about. I babbled for about six months on there before I discovered three things:

1. When I wasn’t writing for someone else, I actually enjoyed writing. Who knew?
2. There’s this whole community of bloggers. Yes. I was pretty late to this discovery.
3. If I wanted to continue with my new found passion, I better get on over to WordPress.org. Which is exactly what I did.

2. The one adjective used to consistently describe me throughout my entire life is weird. Seriously. You can post it on my Facebook wall and all the elementary through high school students I went to school with will agree. For a while, I wore it like a badge of honor. I was different! I was special! I was unique! And then I struggled like most people because I just wanted to fit in.

When I finally discovered blogging and starting sharing some of my “weirdness” (ranging from personal stories from my childhood to my quirky take on a garden variety of topics), I found that I was actually living amidst an entire population of misfits and never even knew it. Telling stories helps me connect with people who make me feel normal (and yes, sometimes special) and it allows me to let the weird people out there know they’re not alone.

3. Have you ever heard of a workhorse? Or workaholic? I am whatever the opposite of that is. If given the opportunity, I would spend an entire day laying on the couch with my iPhone playing mindless games. But since I’ve got money to earn, a family to feed, a dog to walk, and a house to take care of, I do get up. I bounce around my entire day from running errands to doing household chores to making dinner to just being a mom. And in all those in between times, I’m in front of my computer typing away.

The hardest part about this kind of life, which is actually a bit of a dream life for me, is that it requires a bit of self-discipline. And as I mentioned, my natural predisposition is sitting on the couch with my iPhone, so you see the problem. And it can be a bit of an emotional day for me. I may start with the greatest ideas in the morning, run out of steam by lunch, and be ready to give up on all of the internet by dinner. Every day, I have to find motivation – which I look for everywhere.

4. If I had a million dollars…I’d place it in a secure mutual fund and watch my money grow steadily.

OH, WHO AM I KIDDING?

Let’s get the charity aspect out of the way first. Of course, I’d give some of it away. My heart belongs to animals so I’d divvy up a good chunk to major animal charities like The Humane Society of the United States and to smaller ones like Tails of Hope (where I got my dog Roscoe).

And then, I’d do a little spending. I’d hire someone to come in and do all the things in my house that my husband insists we do ourselves – laying hardwood floors, building a deck, tiling a backsplash (all of this and I’ve never even considered doing a DIY blog).

Finally, I’d do a ton of traveling all over the world. I’d go to quaint, out-of-the-way spots and also luxury resorts on the Mediterranean. And then when I got back, I’d make sure I saved some money to hire a maid. And personal masseuse.

5. When I was in middle school, I had head lice. I felt so unclean and dirty and was extremely embarrassed. So embarrassed that I didn’t even tell my husband until after we were married. Now, it’s so commonplace. You can buy the shampoo at the grocery store and it seems I get a sample at every blog conference I go to! But I’m confessing because I’ve found that no matter what secret you’ve been guarding, you can always find someone who can relate and frankly, I find that very freeing.

6. I’m a horrible singer but love karaoke. I prefer white wine over red. I’m a connoisseur of macaroni & cheese. If I could marry any celebrity, it would probably be Steve Martin. I think Stephen King is a brilliant writer. And I love the color purple (the actual color, not the movie).

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an actress or an astronaut. Instead, I have a blog and make silly little videos on my YouTube channel.

I’m a late bloomer in life but it’s made me appreciate the journey a little more.

Find Fadra on Twitter @allthingsfadra and read her stories on her blog, All Things Fadra. Thanks, Fadra! Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Debbie Anderson aka San Diego Momma

mbp_deb12f 1. I started blogging in 2001 at the ridiculously-named “Debbie Does Drivel.” I used real names, gave addresses of where I lived, and generally committed every sin of online personal privacy breach. It was from 2001-2004 that I discovered many of the storytellers that I still love today like Mighty Girl and Que Sera Sera, and who luckily, are still around in one way or the other. I think of those years fondly and long for the time when blogging was really and truly about sharing stories. Through the posts I read way back when, I came to know bloggers as people, and I miss those days because the pendulum has seemed to swing to the side of being afraid to share who you really are because there’s a “brand image” to uphold. I really admire bloggers who can be authentic while making a living. That’s a hard balance to strike.

2. Storytelling on my blog gives me a way to parse out my experiences and emotions because as a woman who feels deeply and profoundly, I need to give words to it all or I would explode. The Indigo Girls once wrote, “I used to lie like that alone out on the driveway, trying to read the Greek upon the stars, the alphabet of feeling.” That’s how I perceive it: there’s a lot of unanswerable, undecipherable FEELINGS! going on inside, that I’ve got to navigate them by putting them into words. Telling stories also helps me to remember and make sense of what I’ve experienced, observed, and been confounded by, and to record it all in some small way.

3. I freelance as a writer and editor, so my days are filled with trying to make a living. I spend a lot of time online for work and play and I’ve found all that watching through my laptop has stolen a little part of my life that I want back. So I try to get out and live and not just watch other people do it. What this all comes down to is most of my days are spent working or angsting about not working.

4. If I had a million dollars…I would buy a house to make my very own and then promptly leave it to live somewhere abroad with my family for several months out of the year. I’d start with Norway and make my way to Singapore.

5. Tell us a secret? I’m frighteningly insecure. If my husband goes somewhere without me, I’ll always ask, “Did anyone wonder where I was?

I’m terrified of being forgotten or overlooked. (Which might double as an answer to #2.)

Find Debbie on Twitter @SanDiegoMomma and read her stories on her blog, San Diego Momma. Thanks, Deb! Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Angela Simione aka Blackland

photo(17)I started blogging in 2007 during my last year of art school. I didn’t really use my blog as much more than a place to post pictures of paintings, and thought of it more as a stand-in for a “real website.” But as I began to think more and more deeply about the actual source of my work, I couldn’t avoid the fact that every single image I made was, to one degree or another, a self-portrait. I was drawing from my own history and daily life in such a huge way in my visual practice that it started to seem strange not to speak about my own life when asked where a particular image came from or what my inspirations were as a visual artist. I started using the blog as a way to flesh those ideas out and to get comfortable talking about my personal experiences.

After graduating in 2008, I moved to the tiny northern Californian town of Calistoga. There is one stop light and one stop sign in Calistoga. It was a huge change and I was very isolated. I began leaning on the blog to an ever-increasing degree to simply maintain artistic, thoughtful, poetic connections to other people. I felt so removed from the art community I had only begun to explore in San Francisco. Attempting to nurture that connection over the internet was kind of my only option and one which I clung to as tightly as I could. I began to see the blog as a facet of my art practice in its own right, a place where I could experiment and test the boundaries of what I thought my work was all about. The things I wrote on my blog became more and more personal, more and more an act of exposure. And I was fulfilled by this. Even if no one was reading it, it felt good to put my words out in to the world. It felt good (and necessary) not to live in silence, to choose to tell the story of my own life in my own way. It felt good to know that, even if the blog was basically invisible to the world, it nevertheless existed. My words existed. I existed. And in the isolation of a tiny town, that feeling was so important to hold on to. The blog became a place of catharsis and connection, and it remains so.

I moved back to Oakland in 2012 and returned to the true profession of the artist: waiting tables. 😉 I work nights which is fantastic. Great money, a flexible schedule that allows for travel, and lots of time for art and writing. I wake up every day, write in my diary for an hour or two while I drink coffee, and then get a bit of art work done before shuffling off to the restaurant. Sometimes, I drop a yarnbomb on my way to work. It’s a very good life. I spend my days doing exactly what I want to do, and my nights learning about fine wine.

If I won a million dollars, I definitely wouldn’t wait tables anymore but the ins and outs of my daily routine would largely stay the same. I’d get to spend more time writing and more time making art and I would buy plane tickets left and right. I’d probably live out of hotel rooms for a while and just see the world. I’d throw my diary in my backpack and just go.

A secret? There’s a jacket hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in years. My longest friend, Daniela, and I went in on it together when we were 14. It couldn’t have cost much. We bought it from a thrift store called Ralph’s Bargain Spot where we would spend tons of time when we skipped school. The jacket isn’t an attractive fit and the burgundy lining is almost completely shredded. It’s a spectacular pea-green plaid, with burgundy, orange, and black throughout. Most people would call it ugly but Daniela and I thought it was amazing. We would share the jacket, alternating weeks with it, and it was always such a painful moment to give it up or, conversely, such a hugely joyful moment to receive it again. It’s one of the few remaining items I have from my childhood. I have it and a teddy bear and that’s really all. I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have it tailored so that I can wear it again. If I ever win that million dollars, I definitely will, and I’ll take it on the road with me and show it this wide world.

Read Angela’s stories at Blackland. Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Jennifer aka Writing to Survive

100_03121. I’ve been blogging since early 2008, when my son was two and a half and I was a SAHM adjusting to an unfamiliar city.

2. We moved from Washington, DC to Berkeley, CA in April 2007 and I not only needed a creative outlet (after years of wanting to write but not actually writing anything) but I also needed some sort of creative social circle, no matter how remote. I was struggling with some traumatic childhood memories and had one story in particular that I felt a strong need to write about at the time, to write about and make public. So the drudgery and isolation of being a SAHM, along with these stories that were haunting me, propelled me into blogging/storytelling.

3. These days, I am in a graduate Marriage and Family Therapy program at a university in San Francisco. I am just finishing up my fourth semester as well as my first internship in a K-8 elementary school. Still have two more years to go in the program. I’m taking it very slowly.

4. If I had a million dollars, I would first buy my mother a place to live nearby. Maryland is too far away! There would be a few debts to pay off, maybe a nice trip or two to Europe (and elsewhere) for the family, and then I would identify some animal welfare charities to support.

5. A secret . . . not many people know that I once had a SECRET security clearance. A few more know that I have a license, but don’t drive.

Read Jennifer’s stories at Writing to Survive.

Storyteller: Maggie May aka Flux Capacitor

datenight21. I’ve been blogging since 2009. I had a dream that blogging would be my way into the world of writers and publishing that I perceived myself having been denied through college. After I began blogging I quickly saw that regardless of where my writing went, the experience, the world of blogging would be reason enough. I started telling the story of my family and reading many many blogs and quickly I was hooked. I don’t think I’ve not looked at blogs longer than a few weeks since then.

2. I tell stories on my blog for a few reasons- one, to free my writing. When I’m blogging, I don’t worry about the audience- which is partly why I never could keep one. There were a few times in the history of my blog where it started really taking off, in terms of page views and mentions on the web, but I found that when my blog tone or content changed, my audience grew uneasy and disconnected. The people who began reading me because I was telling funny pregnancy stories about my wacky kids and sweet husband weren’t hanging in there when my writing turned sad and introspective and full of poems, and vice versa. I have to say that even for myself, the blogs I stick with and read over the years have all stayed the same in their style and story-telling, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s awesome, dependable. I read Girls Gone Child, for instance, and her blog has stayed great and consistent in content over years and years. She writes about her kids and her marriage and being male and female and music and family in the same tone, so when I go to her blog, I know what I’m getting, and I like that. When people read one of my stories, it may be very strange and moody full of unformed sentences and unexpected metaphors (my personal favorite), or it may be pedestrian and have a (hopefully) hilarious toddler potty training story, or it may be political and I’m ranting about child abuse laws.

The second reason I tell stories on my blog is to connect. I’ve made many online friends blogging and connected with an entire group of smart, interesting, passionate, creative and loving women I would have never met. Some men- but mostly women. The connections are often silent though- it is the connection of reading someone else’s story and finding your own life there, in some small or large way, and you feel less alone in the world.

The third reason I blog is for my kids and future family– my great-grandkids.

And lastly, as I mentioned before, I blog to connect to the writing community and get published. And I have. I was able to carve out a part-time income freelance writing, have been published in all kinds of places online and off and have an Ebook coming out this month, May 28th, with Shebooks publications entitled ‘Scenes From A Marriage‘.

3. I fill my days primarily with my mother’s heart and hands. I have four children ages 19, 17, 12 and 3, and they take a shit-ton (can I say that?) of energy, research (I’m nerdy like that) restraint and time, not to mention love, love and more love. I basically do nothing but dump patience and love on my kids full time until they are four or five, and then I pull away a teensy bit and go ‘Hm, maybe you need a bath, too.

My husband works full time and I now work from home 32 hours a week. I write in the corners of my mind and in increments. Before my job, I wrote for hours a day, usually later at night, after dinner, when my husband would take over and then again after the kids were asleep. Now I’m lucky if I write at all each day. I have a novel, Agitate My Heart, and it’s about 80% done. I chip away. I have friends, family, two large stinky hairy dogs and a husband, and that’s enough for Erma Bombeck to make an entire career writing about, right there.

4. I love to think about this! If I had a million, I’d buy my mom a house. I’d set up small investments for my kids. I’d set up a friend of mine who I’ve known since she was 13 and who was in foster care most her life, and is now a young single mother. I’d buy a small house. I’d buy my husband the truck he wants. I’d donate some money to the local children’s shelter. I’d realize that now, I have no money and have to go back to work!

5. A secret… I believe that unconditional love can actually create miracles.

Read Maggie May at Flux Capacitor. Thanks, Maggie! Find all the Storytellers here.

Storyteller: Kizz Robinson aka 117 Hudson

Kazz11. Blogging since July 2004. I started out reading Dawson’s Recap by Sara Bunting and Tara Ariano. That led me to some blogging awards (before blog was a word!) which introduced me to blogs and finally in 2004 I couldn’t keep my voice quiet any longer. Also, people had come out with easy-to-use platforms that didn’t require use of html which I still don’t know. I still love it, 10 years on!

2. I tell stories on my blog for a lot of reasons. I love to write and I find writing therapeutic. I’ve been very busy recently training for a new career and producing a Listen To Your Mother show so I haven’t had much time at all to write and it shows in my mental equilibrium. I could write for my health anywhere, I do work on other writing projects, but my blog is a conversation, a regular practice, and an outlet I remain grateful for. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a group of friends around my blog, people I wouldn’t have met offline, and they’re still loyal and interesting readers and contributors. I would miss them if I stopped.

3. I have an office job 4 days a week. I have 2 cats and a small, smart, terrier. I am training to become a force free dog trainer. That means reading for class, taking class, practicing with people and dogs, and logging hours toward accreditation. I love stories so reading blogs and books and other social media and watching TV are a lot of fun for me. I’m also a singer working on my next solo show. My days could probably be filled with a little more singing but I’m doing the best I can right now.

Kazz24. In NYC there’s a scratch off lottery ticket you can buy for $2 that could ultimately win you $1000/week for life. Years ago I had a roommate and when we’d go out shopping for the house our first stop would be two of those tickets. We would leave them, unscratched, on the dashboard while we schlepped all over getting what we needed. To amuse ourselves while we shopped we talked about what we’d do if we won the grand prize. When we got home and put all the groceries away we could scratch our tickets. We don’t live together anymore but we’re still friends and, despite never having won the grand prize, we still buy each other scratch off tickets and go to dinner to talk about what we’d do if we did. Right now if I won $1000/week for life I would see about cutting my office job down to fewer days per week so that I can do more dog training work, more singing, and more writing. I would hire a cleaning person at least once a month. I would give more both to the charities that are important to me and to the people in my life who need it. I would plan a big trip! Oh, and shoes, I would buy shoes.

5. It’s not a secret exactly but it’s something I don’t talk about if I can help it. (And here I could help it but I’m talking about it!) My mother is a hoarder. It makes it hard to communicate with her. It makes it hard to allow myself to live my life without taking everything as a sign that I will grow into her disorder or suspecting that everyone else who knows us both thinks I will.

Read Kizz’s stories at 117 Hudson.

Storyteller: Charity Cole aka Giggles & Grimaces

Charity Cole I have been blogging since February 2010. I started my blog as a way to force me to capture life with, at the time, 2 little girls, and to give me an outlet to share who I was. It became a way to share about my third pregnancy, subsequent postpartum depression and now bipolar 2 depression. Then we added in homeschooling to make life even more interesting. I love telling about things my girls do, or we do as a family and in homeschooling, but the biggest message for me is letting others know the real ins and outs of parenting/living with mental illness.

I fill my days with kids. Kids, kids, kids. I stopped working outside the home about a year and a half ago. So, I thought, hey, let’s home-school. We decided the day before school started, at 10 pm, to home educate. It has been great. I love it, but it means I am ALWAYS with kids. I will admit, I wondered about homeschooling with bipolar. It does affect it some. When I am hypo-manic (heightened mood), learning is a lot more interactive, a lot more hands on. When things head south, depression, it’s a little quieter, more worksheets and book work, but it’s good. It forces me to have a rhythm to my day, to put one foot in front of the other no matter what my mind says.

If I had a million dollars…well the house would be bigger and have more than one bathroom and a school room, so my kitchen could be a kitchen! Then I would go a little crazy buying homeschooling curriculum and hands on learning materials. Finally, I would give money…to Postpartum Progress, an online foundation that helps families living with a postpartum mood disorder, to my friends getting ready to go on the mission field, and to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Tell you a secret…I don’t really have any, I spill just about everything on my blog, but I guess, it would be to have my writing noticed, to have people say, “You know, her writing and her blog matter.Having a voice is my biggest wish. I want to be heard. I want others to acknowledge the words I string together.

Storytellers

Storytellers1

You guys. I’m just going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I’m going to be using phrases like, “I remember when,” and “Back in the old days,” and I’m very aware of how tedious and eye-rolly that can be. BUT.

Back in the old days (See? I wasn’t kidding.) when I first started online journaling in the late 90s, it was a brand new world where I could share a story on my computer with my family who lived miles and miles away. I’d post pictures and write what was essentially a monthly update about the kids and it was fun and it meant something personal.

And then in 2002 when Joe moved me to WordPress, my mind was blown with how easy it was to add posts and update more often and easily put in images and add headers and and and…

But it was the day he introduced me to Dooce.com and said, “Look. Here’s someone else writing about their life and sharing it with the others,” that I realized there was the possibility of a real community out there in the innernets.

Soon after that I started my sidebar blogroll and kept people listed there that I felt a connection to and I started my interview series to highlight interesting writers and photographers and “internet people.”

We had a smaller group then. It was 2004 by that time and more and more people were beginning to write their stories but it still felt like we could keep track of each other. It still felt small even as it was growing. I kept seeking out new bloggers so other people could find them and I loved it! And then at some point the world of blogging wasn’t about storytelling anymore. It was all about “Brands” and “Cultivating an Audience” and sidebar ads, which I tried out in various forms myself and have nothing against in the abstract.

But things changed over the next few years, didn’t they? We started having fewer and fewer storytellers and leaving comments on blogs became a way for people to make money. Traffic was king and everyone was being judged on their numbers. We could look up each others stats and decide if that person was worth knowing on or offline at a conference. If they were worth our time. If what they were saying mattered because other people said it mattered. Oh, popularity. Just like High School.

That was when I didn’t want to do interviews anymore and I shut my series with bloggers down. It wasn’t fun to get emails from people saying they should be interviewed by me because “they were getting 10,000 uniques a month and wasn’t that enough? Why wouldn’t I interview them? What was wrong with them?”

I stuck to Google Reader. I went in and read the websites I loved every single day and left comments when it struck me to do so based on their stories and not on their brands. I still felt a part of a community of friends.

When Google Reader went away, I really felt like I was being abandoned. (I’m still kinda upset about it.) The other options of feed readers were all lacking (for my needs) so I just dropped out. And I’ve missed out and I’ve missed you!

Storytellers3

I miss the real stories. They are still out there. I see some of my old friends are still blogging and talking like real humans without all the freshly pressed look of a fine magazine going on. Not that I’m dissing fine magazines. I like them. But I’m much less likely to leave a comment on a post that isn’t a personal story. That’s where the heart is.

I recently noticed that Angela has an old-fashioned sidebar blogroll (You don’t mind if I call it old-fashioned, do you Angela? Not you, it!) and it got me thinking. I should stop complaining about missing Google Reader and woe-is-me-ing and do something about it.

So here it is, finally, the request I have for you. If you know of a writer/blogger who is telling personal stories and not “crafting their brand for an audience,” would you let me know? I’d like to add them to my Storytellers page. I’d like to read them and connect with them. I’d like to cultivate a community again. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you! I know there have to be thousands out there that I’ve missed out on while my head’s been in the sand.

Personal story telling and this community is what’s helped me through some really tough times. Really feeling other people’s stories is what it’s all about for me. Help me find you.