Sharing is Caring? Why This Children’s Writer Started a Blog
Hello and welcome to “Matters of Life and Steph.” This is the place is where I’ll be sharing my now-adult take on the childhood experiences that paved the way to my becoming a children’s writer. Please, make yourself comfortable while I take a deep breath. I just need a second here to compose myself…
Why Blogging, and Why Now?
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m feeling a bit anxious as I write my first blog post.
Truth be told, I’m kind of a private person, particularly when it comes to social media. I’ll admit that I’m insanely jealous of the “sharers” in this world. You sharers out there take risks. You put your thoughts, ideas, and images out into the world, for all to see (and yes, sometimes, judge.) I won’t deny the joy you probably get from posting about amazing dinners, adorable children/pets/partners, unforgettable vacations, great friends, or whatever else fills your pages.
But me? Uh-uh. No thanks. (You can’t see me, but I’m backing away from my laptop…OK, I’m back.)
Here’s me taking a deep breath now.
I’m going to take a chance here. Because social media is here to stay. At least until artificial intelligence takes over. So, I guess that means it’s time for me to get on board.
You see, I was meant to be a children’s writer. I have been a writer in some form for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of writing came from my elementary school days. How I eagerly anticipated cracking open the pages of a new black and white marble composition notebook every September.
What promise each new notebook held for me! The witty observations I’d be recording; the clever stories I’d write; the amazing doodles of soccer balls, hearts with arrows, and rainbows that I’d draw (it was the ‘70s and ‘80s after all). Those notebooks would define and validate my creativity for that school year from the first page to the last.
I vividly remember how, each year, I’d write my name on the cover—always in ink—then hold up the notebook to examine my handiwork.
Insert the “wah-wah” trombone sound effect here.
As hard as I’d try, my name NEVER came out nicely. Some years, I wrote my name crookedly. Other years, I had to squeeze in the last letters so that my name would fit on the cover. (Why did I have to write out 9-letter Stephanie when I could’ve saved space with 5-letter Steph?).
At that young age, with my wobbly, smooshed name, I didn’t fully appreciate the subconscious message I gave myself at the start of every school year: writing isn’t about achieving perfection.
A writer’s search for the ideal word, phrase, or description is never-ending. Even now, as a children’s writer, every time I look at anything I’ve written, I can always find something to change. Even my shopping lists.
My Fear of Failure
As an adult, I spent the bulk of my career as a professional writer, working as an executive speechwriter/corporate communications consultant at Deloitte, a huge professional services firm. Because I was extremely meticulous (aka petrified of my superiors), whatever I wrote was fairly close to what ultimately went out. If there were errors, they usually went unnoticed. But not always.
After being promoted to a new role, in one of my very first messages—which was emailed to more than 40,000 people—I accidentally wrote “Deloitte and Touche” instead of “Deloitte & Touche” at the end of the message. I very quickly learned that you don’t mistake “&” with “and” at an accounting firm.
I was horrified when, minutes after the email was sent, several people took the time to write to my boss, a senior executive (who was a lovely person, but somewhat intimidating), and complain about this error.
“I bet the lawyers will have a field day with that one,” I remember one persnickety accountant from Wilton, Connecticut wrote. Yes, I still remember he was from. Although I knew that the lawyers at Deloitte had far more important things to do then quibble over “and” vs. “&,” I was horrified at having one of my errors—even a relatively small one—exposed.
Suggested Spot for Image: An image portraying someone making a mistake, error, or typo of some sort. Or, a picture of you early in your career.
And right there, in a nutshell, is why I never embraced social media. My fear of failure in front of friends and strangers. (I’m not sure what’s worse: to mess up in front of people you know or people you don’t know; I’ll leave that for a later discussion.)
To help me overcome my fears—and which is why I’m still typing—I think about the good that can come from social media. Change can be spurred. Barriers can be broken. Senses of community can be created. Positivity can be spread. Other good things that I haven’t thought about yet.
But oh, my crippling self-doubt. What if the messages that I share about being a children’s writer are boring? Unfunny? Or worst of all, what if there’s a spelling or grammar mirstake? (Just kidding! But if you do find any mistakes, please don’t feel badly about pointing them out. I shouldn’t live in ignorance.)
New Inspiration… and Becoming a Children’s Writer
I’ve come to realize that I can write a gazillion stories or fill up truckloads of journals that no one will ever know about it. Once upon a time, I didn’t care. I wrote just for me. And I have a bunch of work sitting in a drawer and hidden away on my hard drive gathering dust to prove my point.
Though, can I be honest here? (Since we’re 1,300+ words into this post, I consider us friends now, so I’ll take that as a yes.)
As a children’s writer, my priorities have changed. And the fear/ego/vanity of my younger self have been outweighed by a greater force. Or rather, two greater forces: my children.
I have two school-age sons, and I realize they have a world of information at their fingertips. Much more so than what I had access to when I was their age. My young, now internet-savvy (thanks, COVID!) boys are pioneering digital citizens.
They can use Google and YouTube, but I’ve tried limiting their access to other platforms that I can’t child-proof, digitally speaking. Soon enough (if they haven’t already), they’ll figure out how to get onto those other sites that I’d rather they don’t see.
I’ve looked at my kid’s search histories and generally know what they consume online. I’ve learned that they have vastly different tastes than grown-up me—or even child-version me. There’s a lot of people screaming about video games, wonderfully staged trick shots (though I’ll admit, Dude Perfect is kind of cool), bad practical jokes, or other junk that robs them of their brain cells.
While I am very present in my children’s home life, I try very hard not to overly police their “virtual life.” Which is what inspired me to dip my toe in social media. What if I were to use my passion for writing to more broadly promote messages about what I’d like my kids to learn about life, growing up, and making smart choices about who they want to be?
So, here goes:
If there’s a theme that I hope comes out of my writing, it’s that there’s plenty of humor and humanity that comes out of human experiences. And although I’ll be sharing mostly my experiences (for now); I hope you feel a connection; I hope to make you smile or laugh; and I hope you appreciate that there is much good to learn from the strange twists and turns of someone’s life.
Goodbye for now!
Do you share your life on social media or in blogs? If not, what’s stopped you? And if so, why do you enjoy doing it? I’d love to hear your take on this! Leave a comment and fill me in, or drop me a line at [email protected].