One year ago…

 
Photo by
Lucinda Higley

 

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One year ago, in August, I started blogging by accident.
Well… I’d had a blog for years, but I wouldn’t consider myself a blogger. I’d
post an essay once or twice a month and share it on Facebook. Sometimes people
would read it. Mostly just friends. I never had intentions to be a blogger.
I’d been studying creative writing, mostly non-fiction, for
almost 10 years, and my goal was to publish a memoir about my father, and how I
overcame the shadow of his drug addiction. I had three degrees in writing, two
of them advanced. I’d finished a manuscript, and I’d published half of it in
literary journals that were funded by universities. I’d even gotten a nod from Best American Essays.
My job at the university was a 9-month contract, and so
during the summer of 2013 Mel took an internship, and I stayed home with the
kids. My plan was to use this time to find a literary agent to help me publish
my manuscript. I felt confident that with my degrees in writing, and literary
publications, I could find an agent. And if that didn’t work out, perhaps I could
find a small literary publisher that would be willing to take on my manuscript.
I was wrong.
I contacted 226 agents, and 30 small presses. Every one of
them rejected me. I started contacting agents and small presses before the
start of the summer, and I kept at it after the summer ended. However, come
August of 2013, I was deep in rejection and depression.
I felt like a failure.
I needed a change, so I wrote something different. Rather
than writing about my depressing childhood and rewriting my query letter, I wrote
about my summer as a stay at home dad. I posted the essay on my blog, and
suddenly people were reading it. In two days I received almost 1,000 views. At
the time, I’d been getting about 200 views a month, so this seemed like a staggering
amount of attention. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I was on to something.
So I started writing about my kids, my wife, and me. There
were things I’d never considering writing about before because I assumed that
they were too boring, but somehow I’d made this small family in a small town
something interesting.
I committed to posting five posts a week on my blog for one
year.
This was a huge leap for me because in the literary writing
community, blogging is often shunned as not real art. In fact, online
publishing in general is seen as something suspicious. But honestly, I was
tired of all that literary snobbery stuff. I was sick of sending my essays out
to 10 or 15 literary journals, having one of them pick up an essay, then take a
year to get around to publishing it, and finally mailing a paper journal out to
a circulation of about 500-1000, and never hearing another word.
It was time for something different.
For the first three months, my views doubled each month. I
learned a lot about blogging along the way. I learned that shorter is better,
and to try and keep my post less than 1,000 words. This was a challenge for me
considering I tend to be more comfortable in a longer format. Around December,
however, my views started loosing steam, and I didn’t know why. Around that
time a friend sent me an article from Huffington
Post Parents
. She said it reminded her of my writing. I read it and
thought, “This is horrible. I write better than this. How do I get my stuff up
on this?”
I did some research, found an email for the HuffPost Blog
Team, and sent them an essay about my daughter not being a princess. They
picked up the post the next day. Then they ran it the day after that.
Considering I was used to publications taking a year or more, this was surprisingly
fast. I assumed that my views would go through the roof, but they didn’t. The
post kind of flopped. It was only shared about 500 times, which isn’t much for The Huffington Post. But it did get the
attention of an author I’d met while in graduate school. She was impressed, and
gave me the email of KJ at the New York
Times Motherload
. I sent her something, and she picked it up.
It was then that I started seeing an increase in views and
followers. I started to figure out through research and observation that the
best way to build an audience is to find something with an audience, and to get
them to send their readers my way via a guest post or a share of my blog.
In the year that I have been blogging, I have gained almost
5,000 followers on Facebook, and nearly 1,000 on Twitter. I have been published
in The Huffington Post, the New York
Times, The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Fast Company
, and been featured on
Good Morning America. I’ve had a
couple essays go viral, which is always a mix of excitement, praise, and hate
mail.  I’ve learned that most
publications don’t pay, and if they do, they don’t pay well. I’ve learned that
blogging means writing every morning, and it means a lot of great messages from
amazing readers that are inspirational and heart felt and a very good reason to
get up in the morning. And I’ve learned that the comments section on major
publications is often cruel, ridiculous and filled with uneducated assholes. I’ve
also learned that getting a post shared in Reddit is never a good thing. At
least it hasn’t been for me. And I’ve learned that I can’t respond to every
comment on Facebook and Twitter, even though I really want to. I work two jobs
and can’t afford to get fired.
I’m not sure what is next. I still haven’t found an agent or
a publisher, and I’m not sure what to make of that. I suppose one of my hopes
all along was that this blog would create enough attention that I might find
someone to represent me (if you are an agent or publisher reading this, for heavens
sakes, make yourself known!). I’ve thought about self-publishing, but not sure
if I’m ready to make that leap. It seems scary, new, expensive, and time consuming.
But I am strongly considering it. I also feel that I have a lot yet to learn
about blogging and online publishing. I don’t know if I will ever figure it all
out, and if I ever did, it would probably change the next day anyway. This is
the internet.
But what I can say is that I’m proud of what I’ve
accomplished during this year. I want to say thank you to those who have found
me, and followed me, and sent me heart felt messages. I never get sick of
readers telling me that I make them feel like they are not alone as a parent.
Because you know what, having someone read my work and come to that conclusion
helps me to feel that I’m not alone, too. And that is a marvelous feeling. 

Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Clint Edwards was blessed with a
charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky
little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father
left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and
husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good
Morning America
, The New York Times,
The
Washington Post
, The
Huffington Post
, Scary
Mommy
, The Good
Men Project
, Fast
Company
, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and
Twitter.  
Photo by Lucinda Higley
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Showing 8 comments
  • Danielle Petersen

    I've only been reading your blog for a month or so but I love it! Keep it up!

    • Clint

      Thanks, Danielle!

  • Linds

    Have you considered self-publishing on the Kindle and Nook platforms rather than traditional print? The monetary investment would be much less. If you price your publications right (as in cheap or free), they will get exposure. I love reading your blog about your family! Please keep writing!

    • Clint

      I'm trying to work out those details now. But yes, I am thinking about it. Thanks for reading!

  • Denise Goldstein

    It has become something close to a tradition now; I read your posts out loud to my husband. Usually because one of us is always struggling with one of our children. We have a good chuckle, and get to feel normal for 5 minutes. Thank you.

    • Clint

      This is the coolest thing I've heard in a long time!

  • RJHUGHES

    As I have mentioned in previous comments, I am not a parent; However, I enjoy reading your posts so much and reminds me greatly of my father! As I got older, I saw that he struggled as a parent in the sense of getting to my level and trying to remain "cool" within my eyes. I am 28 now and I will tell you what I told him.

    I looked at him dead in the eye and told him " You're a Cop/Fireman. School Bus Driver and Dedicated Pizza Place Manager. You juggle more than one thing and on top of that you're an amazing father. TO me, you're my hero. The coolest and most spontaneous dad anyone could ask for." He was already cool in my eyes.

    Reading your posts brightens my day and when my FB tells me you've made a new post I get very excited!
    You have 3 beautiful Children. A Lovely Wife and you, yourself are one hell of an amazing Father! Keep it up! You're kids will be truly grateful!!!

    • Clint

      Wow! I would love for my children to say something like that. Your Dad sounds like one hell of a guy. Thanks for the amazing comment! You made my day.