A little over a month ago, I pitched a feature story to a website that I’m a fan of, Hello Giggles. It’s a women’s lifestyle website with plenty of interesting, first-person stories about the highs and lows of life for women of my general demographic, mixed with op-ed style pieces about current affairs that relate to women, and lighter, fun, humorous articles reminiscent of Buzzfeed (but with more depth). Anyway, I really like the site, and as an aspiring writer seeking a little bit of exposure, I was over the moon when they agreed to publish it.
Despite my impending Internet fame and glory, however, I couldn’t really tell many people about it – because I didn’t want them to read it. The story I sent to Hello Giggles was about what it’s like to have your first kiss in your twenties.
It was a frank and self-deprecating account of my own experience. It’s the kind of story that I was happy to share with total strangers, and with my very closest friends, but not the rest of my friends or anyone else who might have vaguely known me.
It’s weird publishing highly personal stuff on the Internet and putting your name to it. I could have chosen to send the story under a pseudonym, but what would be the point? I had nothing to be ashamed of, really. And I wanted the exposure. I wanted people to read my words and (hopefully) connect with them, and putting my name to my story added a stamp of honesty and authenticity to the tale. I figured that if people I knew happened to stumble across the story and read it, then that was fine. But I wouldn’t actively promote it to my networks. Despite living in the age of social media, I am definitely not one for over-sharing.
I chose to share that particular story because I hoped that, maybe, another girl in the world who felt bitter and lonely and perhaps running a little low on self-esteem might read it and feel better. It sucks when there are all these expectations to kick certain social and romantic goals by a certain age. To get to the age of 22 and have never been kissed? It’s almost unheard of. I struggled with it and began to think I was somehow faulty.
I figured if I could connect with even one other person who was in a similar situation – and I could make them feel better – then my job was done. Plus, it was just a pretty entertaining story by itself (as evidenced by my close friends’ reactions when I told them the tale).
The day of publication came. A tweet from Hello Giggles was the first time I was made aware that my awkward but amusing and heartfelt story was splashed across a corner of the world wide web for absolutely anyone to see.
I had a quiet little freak out at my desk at work, simultaneously anxious to see how people would respond, and excited that I’d been PUBLISHED.
And then the first response came through, and my heart honestly soared a little bit.
I’d done it! GOAL ACHIEVED!
New Twitter followers started rolling in. I watched, stunned, as I got one notification after another, alerting me to the dramatic increase in my audience. Well, it was dramatic for me, considering I had close to zero followers before. I also felt incredibly happy that people were responding so positively to my story. It was amazing to see how many other girls could relate to my experience.
That night, I went to bed happily. The next morning, I woke up, looked at my phone, and blinked. 20 new emails? All of them notifications?
Overnight, Hello Giggles had shared the story on Facebook – and everything exploded.
Thanks to that burst of publicity alone, I watched the stats for this blog go from less than ten views in a day to over a thousand. Suddenly, I had an audience. I truly hadn’t anticipated the level of exposure I was getting – all for having a single story published online.
Now, I’m motivated to write so much more than ever before. Knowing that people are actually interested in some of the things I have to say – and knowing that my words can make a difference sometimes – has given me the kick I needed to try and actually give this writing thing a proper go. To write blog posts regularly, to pitch my ideas to other publishers, to actively pursue this dream I’ve had since I first learned how to read: to write, and share my stories with the world.
Writing personal stuff on the Internet? If you’ve got a good story to share, I highly recommend it.