No no no. That’s not right. My mom didn’t say I wasn’t good enough. She said my writing wasn’t good enough. Isn’t that wonderful?
You might think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not.
You see, I found out a couple of weeks ago that I’m going to guest-post (maybe) on Jill Smokler’s Scary Mommy, which is in fact terribly scary for this mommy, since Scary Mommyis arguably the most popular “mommy blog” out there, and Jill Smokler currently has TWO best-selling books out. Probably about 10,000 people see each of her Facebook posts, whereas only about 200 see each of mine. At least I think it’s ten thousand… Help me check my math: If Scary Mommy has about 90,000 likes on Facebook, and Facebook is a greedy blood-sucking corporate whore-monger, then approximately 10,000 people will see each Scary Mommy post. Does that sound about right?
After I’d done that math and realized how many people would be seeing my writing (if Jill deemed me worthy), I was immediately beset with heart-palpitations. What if I can’t come up with anything to say? Or worse: What if my post has typos??? I publish misprints on my own blog all the time! I can’t publish misprints for that many people to see! Scary Mommy doesn’t edit. If a contributor has misprints, she just lets them fester in the interwebs for all of humanity to point at and jeer and heckle in derision for all of eternity. Well, none of the readers at Scary Mommy do that really; her audience hungers for content and ideas more than perfect grammar and punctuation, and the comments are always wonderfully supportive and uplifting.
It’s only a reflection of my own insecurities that I would think Scary Mommy fans would yield torches, hunt me down in the night, and burn me alive at the stake, all over a couple of typos. But it was my insecurities that founded this blog, so I’m going to continue to clutch them tight to my palpitating bosom like a beloved, tattered blankie.
When Jill agreed to let me submit a post (I have to do her laundry for a month) – which was not a topic of my choosing, by the way (ooh, an assignment!) – I immediately toweled off my profusely-sweating armpits and shut down the entire operation that is my home. Go watch TV, kids, mommy’s trying not to embarrass herself. And I sat down and began to write. I think we had fish sticks for dinner that night, and I’m pretty sure they were not organic.
That was Wednesday. Because I am both an over-achiever and a whack-job, I had told Jill I would have the post to her by Friday morning. I wrote and deleted and wrote and edited and chopped and hacked and agonized until about one in the morning. I was trying to squeeze out the best post ever crafted since the inception of the universe that very day, so that Thursday could be free for reading the genius post a gazillion times and editing out all the typos, which, if history is any indicator, would be aplenty. And of course I would need to include hyperlinks and a photo, which I would have to take myself because there wouldn’t be any stock photos that would fit the post exactly, and I’m of no desire to rot in jail over copyright infringement. (It’s a federal felony or something, isn’t it?)
After staying up late writing on Wednesday night, I sprung out of bed much earlier than usual Thursday morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like a flicky little squirrel who just remembered where he hid that giant cache of acorns. Thinking my post was more or less done, I sent it off to four close friends and family members for review. I begged them for honest criticism.
My little secret was that I knew something wasn’t quite right with the post. I was waiting for someone to point it out before I actually did anything about it. As if that weren’t lazy-ass enough, I was simultaneously hoping that everyone would say “that was fantastic!” and then I could ignore the other, more diligent part of me that was telling me my writing was sadly lackluster.
My mom got back to me right away, by text. “Your last post was much better.” (What! I expected glowing reviews from my mother! Isn’t she supposed to lie or something?) My armpits got all sweaty again as I called her and asked what specifically wasn’t good about it. Were there any parts she did like? Which parts did she hate, so I could delete them right away? Do my homework for me, mommy! We talked through it a little, and although she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be specific, my mom basically informed me that what I had written wasn’t good enough.
So, with a slightly bruised ego, I read the post with new, critical eyes, and was finally able to concede that about a third of it was good, and the rest was unoriginal and boring. So I completely ignored my children and all my responsibilities for the rest of that day and the following morning, and redid the entire post. I submitted the post to Jill at 11:45am. I saidI would get it to her by Friday morning, and I did – barely.
From the moment I hit “send” on that email, my stomach was in knots. I tried to tell myself that it’s just a stupid blog, no one cares about blogs, all blogging does is prove I’m a lonely, bored stay-at-home-mom, and why would I work myself up so much over something for which I’m not even getting paid?
But it didn’t matter what I told myself, because I actually do care. I do want to make money from writing one day. And even if I’m not getting paid right now, I still want people to read and be moved by my writing.
In our previous few correspondences, Jill had gotten back to me within a half hour. So naturally, I expected she would do the same after I sent her my post. But after a couple of hours of not hearing back, and me pretending like I was busy doing important bonding stuff with my family, I found myself habitually checking my email, even though there was no need, since my phone alerts me, loudly, if I’ve received one. Maybe it went to junk? Nope.
Of course it didn’t take me long to convince myself that the reason Jill hadn’t emailed me back is that she had read my post, discovered that I was mentally unsound on top of being a horrible writer, and had deleted and blocked all trace of me from her correspondence. Surely her erasure of my existence would be so thorough that I wouldn’t even be permitted the small allowance of sending her my profuse apology for wasting her valuable time. She’s been on the Today Show, you guys.
But, as usual, my dramatics were wildly unnecessary. Jill finally emailed me later that night and told me the post was, and I quote, “perfect,” and that she’ll be posting it on July 23rd. Yipeeee! I think that, for just a moment, I was uninhibited by Earth’s gravitational pull. I floated for a second, I swear.
Mark your calendars… July 23rd!
And all because my mom thought it wasn’t good enough.
Thanks, mom. Love you.
P.S. Right after finding out about Scary Mommy I learned that I will also be (probably?) guest-posting on Hot Mess Mom, another wildly popular mom-blogger and founder of the Million MILF March in New Orleans (I’m cleaning her pool for a month even though there is a bear swimming in it). Of course I had a similar reaction to that news… However, I haven’t found out when that post will go up. Obviously I will brag about it plentyas soon as I find out!