Five years ago, I started a blog.
At the time, I didn't even know what a blog was — I looked up "online diary" and blogs were what I turned up. I spent about five minutes registering for a website, choosing a blog template design and coming up with the name Suburban Turmoil. And then I started writing.
I wrote stories about being a stepmother to 12- and 14-year-old girls. I wrote about my toddler's antics. I wrote about becoming a stay-at-home mom and feeling as if I was losing my identity in the process. Within a week or so, readers began showing up — first five, then 40, then 200 each day. I had always secretly wanted to write for a living and the response my posts were getting began to give me courage that I could actually make that dream a reality. And so I took a deep breath and sent my blog's URL to Liz Garrigan, then the editor of the Nashville Scene.
And I got a job writing a weekly column.
In 2006, this was kind of extraordinary. Blogging was still viewed with skepticism by traditional media, and bloggers — particularly "mommy bloggers" — weren't being offered writing jobs like they are now. The day my first column ran in the Scene, I put my real name and a photo of myself on my personal blog, my readership soared, and I began coming to terms with the fact that everyone from my stepdaughters' principal to the woman working out next to me at the Y was about to know my bidness.
I also began coming to terms with the hate mail my new column inspired.
Oh, the hate mail. I got plenty of positive comments, too, but not everyone was pleased with the fact that this supposedly edgy alt-weekly had hired on a snarky suburban mom. One reader wrote that she used my column to line her cat's litter box each week. Another said she felt sorry for my mom for having me. And still another claimed to open the Scene each week expecting to see a burned-out hole where my column should be. After that one, I looked into actually publishing a burned-out hole in lieu of my column, but unfortunately, it just wasn't possible.
I'll admit that initially, there were some major what-have-I-done moments upon reading those letters. It's different seeing personal insults on a printed page than it is reading nasty comments online. For one thing, there's no delete button. It's out there, indelibly, forever. But over time, I got used to it. And looking back, I think that's the most valuable thing I've gotten out of writing this column, as strange as it sounds.
I can now take criticism.
I don't always like it. But it doesn't bother me like it used to. Give me a couple minutes of fury and I'm rational again. If there's a lesson in there somewhere, I try to learn it, and if it's just plain mean, I forget about it. Completely.
Fortunately, the hate mail slowed after a year or so and now, I can't remember the last time I got a nasty letter. I guess people just got used to the snark. And I think I've grown more seasoned, too, over time. But I've had quite a few adventures along the way.
Remember when I wrote about a bathroom incident involving Martina McBride, and the column resulted in a music industry McToiletgate? And the time I riled up a bunch of stay-at-home dads because I wouldn't invite them to my play group? And remember that time when I waited outside a swingers club in order to spy on who was coming in and out? And the time when I was in a fashion show in New York City and I didn't wear pants? And remember that time when I went to a baby beauty pageant and wrote about it and a bunch of pageant moms wrote in saying I was just jealous that my kids weren't pretty enough to be in pageants?
Yeah. That was awesome.
But enough navel-gazing. If you haven't guessed, this trip down memory lane is happening only because it's my last column for the Scene. It's been fun, but five years after my first column was published here, I've started wondering what my writing would be like if I didn't have a weekly deadline. Or a word limit. Or an audience based mostly in Nashville.
I think it's time for me to find out.
Thanks so much for reading, for commenting, and even for complaining. You've made me a better person. And I hope that in return, I've kept you entertained — or at least given your cat something to poop on.
Keep up with Lindsay Ferrier's suburban turmoil (and send hate mail, too!) by visiting her website at www.suburbanturmoil.com.
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