Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight


What Happens Next… After Five Years of Blogging.

 

My grandparents often send me clippings from their local newspaper.  Usually, it’s recipes from the HEB store or articles mentioning Croatia, where my husband’s family is from. Years ago, my grandmother sent me a big feature article from Austin Monthly, with a tiny note attached.

“Dear Jennifer”, wrote my grandmother. She has always been the official correspondent from Grandparent HQ. “This gal was featured in the Austin newspaper in a big article about how she got a book deal from starting this thing called a web-log. Maybe you should do one. Maybe you could get a book deal too.”

My grandparents have always been some of my biggest fans, and have even created a binder where they keep things I’ve written through the years. I’ve leafed through the binder to find articles I wrote as a journalism student, stories from a now defunct website I used to write for, and papers I drafted in high school. They’ve even kept emails they thought I composed particularly well.

“Oh, but you wrote it so nice it sounded like a real story!” Grandma would reply, when asked why she printed and saved an email I sent her in 2001. ”I showed it to some of my friends. They enjoyed it too.” My body of work is already quite well known by every golfer and Lutheran in Marble Falls, Texas.

So I checked out the blog. It was Stephanie Klein’s Greek Tragedy– the OG of the blog world, back when it was full of personal stories and free from copious advertising. She was a terrific writer– sharp and honest with a strong, original voice. Some of my initial thoughts were “Damn, this girl has amazing hair”, “This chick has quite the mouth on her”, and “Huh. Maybe I should start a blog. Maybe I could get a book deal too!”.

Now this would be an amazing place to say… and I did it! Dear Readers, after five years of your loyalty I am proud to say I have finally landed a real-live-book deal! Grandma’s plan worked!!”

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Well that day ain’t here yet, but I will tell you that I’ve been working harder to hasten its arrival. I’ve been writing a book. Yes! A real, live book! Can I tell you what a pretentious A-hole I feel like writing that? Who isn’t writing a book? I’m sure half the Kardashians have written  a book. Snooki has a book. If they can do it, why can’t I?

If you’ve been reading for a while (and bless you for that, really) you’ll have noticed that this blog has gone through many iterations over the past five years of me tending it. It started as a fun way to document things I was doing around the city. I posted lots of pictures and recipes and scattered some stories in between. I spent a lot of time on here, and really enjoyed the creative outlet after work. But I could never keep up with 3 or 4 posts a week coupled with my job and personal life, and the only thing I’ve ever really been consistent with is my complete and utter inconsistency. I don’t make a lot of apologies for it because this blog is not my occupation, and I never want writing to feel like another obligation. I’ve taken long breaks and short breaks. Some months I posted every week, some months went by without posting at all.

I have done an absolutely terrible job at promoting this site, and the numbers show. I paid 50 bucks for a sponsorship ad once, gained about three followers, and never went down that road again. I feel like a jerk spreading my stuff on Facebook and twitter, which I’m not even convinced helps anyway. If I get one new bloglovin’ follower every other month, I’m thrilled. A lot of people say that content is king, but I respectfully disagree. It takes a lot more than original content to make yourself noticeable on the internet. I’m sure I could have paid a designer to make my site look more professional, paid more attention to learning about SEO, or spent more of my day commenting on other blogs in order to create a bigger community here, but with a (sometimes draining) full time job and a small budget, I just never took the time.

Time! There is never enough time!

I don’t know how other bloggers do it- I really don’t. I’ve done a lot of evaluating and rejiggering to find out where my time is best invested, and have made adjustments accordingly. I don’t post a lot of pictures anymore, because with my limited back-end knowledge and utter lack of technical prowess, uploading, editing and arranging pictures in a post added at least an hour to the process. There are pages on this site that have been “under construction” for two or three years, and the truth is, they will probably remain that way. I’ve chosen to concentrate my energy on my writing, and the other stuff is just not that important to me. I don’t really feel like spending time tweeting and retweeting either. I find social media a big enough time-suck as it is.

I kind of gave up on the idea of this becoming a popular blog long ago. My posts do not go viral, they are not the type that get “pinned”, and I will never be recognized on the street.  Isn’t that a trip? I have seen “famous” bloggers around the city, and completely recognize them. I’ve seen “Love, Taza” pushing her baby carriage through the Upper West Side; I’ve seen women I follow on Instagram hanging out on the Highline or Bryant Park. One time I even saw Stephanie Klein buying cheese at Central Market in Austin and had a completely embarrassing fan-girl moment. Anyway, I don’t think it’s in the cards for me to become one of those recognizable bloggers. Fine by me.

In many ways, I am glad to be an “under-the-radar” blog, because it’s allowed me to write without a lot of outside influence or pressure. I have not been subject to the criticism or scrutiny that bigger blogs have. To my knowledge, I don’t have many “haters”, but instead have a smart and thoughtful cheering section who encourages me to share my pieces more often. I haven’t had to adjust my content to fit some larger standard because I simply don’t care about fitting one. As a result, I’ve been able to write what I want to write without worrying too much if it will appeal to a mass circulation. Most importantly, checking in here on a semi-regular basis has really, really helped me establish my writing voice. I feel like I’ve developed a very specific writing style that sounds like “me” at this point, and if I’d been writing for a really large group of people, it’s possible I might have derailed from it.

A week or two ago, Vin was scrolling through my Instagram feed, and happened upon a really sweet comment from a reader, urging me to “Write a book already!”.

“Isn’t it weird?” he asked. “Complete strangers are able to follow you and read your posts?”

I was surprised by his reaction, because getting complete strangers to read my posts has been the whole point of having these social media accounts, and a blog. “Of course it’s not weird! When complete strangers tell me to write a book, it’s the most encouraging thing in the world!”.

Seriously, it is. Please never underestimate the impact of your kindness. When you say “You should write a book!” to someone who has always dreamed of writing a book, you are doing many things at once–you’re making her day, you’re quelling her insecurities, and you’re lighting a big bonfire under her butt.  At least that’s what many of you–family, friends, and far-flung readers alike–have done for me. Your notes of encouragement have meant more to me than I could begin to describe. They make me feel like my thoughts matter.

As such, I have been writing here less, and trying to write this beast of a book more. If it shapes up the way it looks in my head, it will be a collection of short personal essays, filled with stories I’ve never shared on the blog before. Right now all the essays are still in the phase Anne Lamont refers to as “the shitty first draft”, but I plan to go back and gussy them up later. I hope they will strike a balance between funny and sweet, and remain consistent with the voice I think I have begun to develop here, on this little web-log that came about after my grandmother sent me a clipping from the newspaper.

If you know any literary agents who are partial to non-fiction and personal essays, feel free to slip them my number. There’s a $20 bill with your name on it if you do. I figure that’s a better investment at this point than a sponsorship ad.

And if (I mean whenwhen!) I ever do finish this next writing project, I already know when and where I’d like to schedule my first stop on the book tour. Pencil me in for springtime in Marble Falls, just after the bluebonnets have made their brilliant debut. I’ll be parked at a skirted table in front of the Lutheran church, where I’ve already established a loyal and supportive fan base.

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Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • Renee Rogers
    Yes! Writers write and you’ve long ago taken the big leap forward to your life-long dream job.I can’t wait to read what comes out next.
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Love you Auntie!! So glad we got to chat about it last night. Safe travels to Ireland today!
  • Elisabeth
    You should write a book! I’ve never commented before (and never really comment anywhere ever), but I started following you on Bloglovin a while back and love when a post of yours pops up on my feed. Just wanted to let you know that, since I can relate to the idea of how encouraging that would be. Good luck! And I hope your book tour includes Washington, DC, where I live. xxx
    • http://writemeg.com/ Meg
      Agree! Day trip to D.C.! You can take the train and see your loyal readers in our fair city. Name the time and place! ;)
      • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
        You’ll get a heads up FO SHO.
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      I am SO getting ahead of myself talking about/dreaming about book stops, but I’d love to go back to DC! I’ve only visited there really briefly, which is a shame because it’s so close. Thank you for your nice feedback– it is very supportive and sweet!
  • Marisa
    Ahhh! The whole post I was thinking about how if you wrote a book, I would just love it (especially) if it were to emulate the short, real life, funny posts you’ve done here…and then when you described your vision, I got so excited! Keep on writing and can’t wait to read it one day!
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      That’s awesome! Yeah, I’ve tried writing fiction before and I am just not imaginative enough to think of interesting plots…that’s why I have to rely on my own experiences:). Thanks for reading and commenting Marisa!
  • Lisa
    So excited to hear about your book! I also follow you on Bloglovin (and Instagram) and love your posts. And haven’t heard anyone refer to “gussying” something up in a while
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Hi Lisa! Thanks for your comment and for following along! I like to throw antiquated words no one uses around now and then. Let’s bring back gussy!!
  • http://www.coffeelightandsweet.com/ Jillian
    I would totally read your book! If it’s anything like your blog, I know it’ll be great. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Thank you Jillian! Hope you are feeling well and adjusting to the new apartment/neighborhood!
  • Alaine Mahoney
    When you are just about to publish your book, you have to get “gussied up” and go on a mission to find Brandon from Humans of New York to demand he take a picture of you (in a nice, friendly, non-threatening way). The book will be amazing, and I cannot wait to read it!
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Oh my god, imagine? Now THAT would be some effective marketing. My mother used to tell me to never leave the house without lipstick on “just in case” and I always thought that was crazy, but now I’m thinking it’s probably not a bad idea;).
  • http://writemeg.com/ Meg
    Oh, I would read the HELL out of your book, Jenn. I’m so glad I stumbled upon you years ago — I think when you were featured on A Practical Wedding? The Internet blurs together after a while. But regardless, I consider you a kindred spirit, and I love your stories about matters both big and small. Consider this another piece of tinder in that bonfire!
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Meg, you’re an amazing source of encouragement. You always leave such warm and thoughtful comments, and I so appreciate them. Hope all is well with little Ollie and that he continues to thrive in your loving care. He is so adorable!
  • Ashley Doran
    Jen! Your Grandma is right – you have an incredibly authentic voice and I would gladly read all your books once you finish writing them! Your posts are a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere and remind me that it’s okay feel normal and human (what a shocking thought!). I hope one day I do run into you somewhere in this city so I can yell “Yo! Jen and Vinny from Queens!” I’ll keep reading your blog no matter how much time you need between posts. Love ya.
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      I would fall on the ground laughing if someone yelled “Yo! Jen and Vinny from Queens!” Hilarious visual, thank you!! Really appreciate your sweet comment, Ashley.
  • http://cocktailsat6.blogspot.com Catybarb
    Alaine’s got the right idea – someone needs to tip off the HONY folks and get you in the frame! Everyone has already chimed in with wonderful feedback and encouragement, so I’ll make this short and just say I agree on all points. I think a book is a natural progression from the writing you’ve been doing here. At the very least, you can rest assured that each your readers will purchase a copy (plus a few to give as gifts to friends and family, of course). In the immortal words of Dorie the fish: Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming… :)
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      You rule, Catybarb! Thank you!
  • Brandi James
    I’ll definitely be at your book signing! Get to writtin’ girl!! :)
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Clearly, if I had a route, Austin would be on it:).
  • http://www.carolineavakian.com/ Caroline Avakian
    I am ready to preorder that book of yours. I will read anything you write. Truth.
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Thank you so much Caroline. You’re one smart, classy dame, so that means quite a lot coming from you.
  • Sonya
    You’re an actual writer, you write well and you tell interesting stories. I find that much more interesting than fashion blogs or bloggers who rehash the same old links that are circulating the internet with one little sentence about it that usually isn’t even well written! You have a talent and I would read your book. One of my favorite stories is the one about the rat in your apartment, closely followed by a retelling of the weekend trip you took to Woodstock. :)
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Hi Sonya- thank you for giving examples of stories that “worked”. That’s helpful feedback to me. Really appreciate your comment! Thank you. I am glad my rat trauma could be used for something purposeful.
      • Sonya
        You’re welcome! All of your stories “work”, those just happen to be my favorites.
  • Stacey
    I as in NYC two weeks ago and had this silly internal dialogue that I would meet you – I was trying to find some clever thing to say. Ha! Keep writing! This stranger loves it and would have fan girl-ed for you too! :)
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Get outta here! That’s awesome. I would have passed out from shock/glee if that had happened. Thank you for reading, Stacey!
  • http://thekeri.blogspot.com Keri
    I’d buy your book! (And that means a lot–I practically live at my local library.) Keep writing, please :)
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      I am flattered. Thank you Keri.
  • Bridget
    Well crap. The last two sentences made me CRY! You can list me somewhere just behind your granny. I’ve got a file folder STILL with all my favorite Jenn stories/blogs/articles…and quite possibly an email too. I’m a BIG FAN. Always have been, always will be. I’ll be first in line at your signing! Lucky for me I’m about 20 minutes away from Marble Falls! Can’t wait!
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      I love you, MISS Bridget. I am still trying to figure out where to put the darling anecdote about you giving me a folding knife when I departed Texas. You are so warm and wonderful, and you always have been. Any trips to NY in the future? We could go see a Broadway play with your mom and her girlfriends (the Ya-Yas!) again:).
  • Melanie
    This makes me so happy. I am guilty of often reading, seldom commenting but have long thought I would love to read a book from you, just as was described in this post!!
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Yay! Thank you Melanie! This comment makes ME so happy!
  • http://houseofhblog.com/ Heather
    Girl. You are preaching to the damn choir. I have lovingly titled this chapter of my life, “Will I Ever Write That Book? Is Taza Actually A Robot? And Other Unsolved Mysteries” Heh. I have to say though, I feel like you’ve already written a book! I spent the last hour catching up on all your posts that I’ve fallen behind on, and I’m telling you, it’s like reading a book I don’t want to put down. I’ve hit a real dry spell with writing lately, always typing and deleting. Your posts are the best inspiration to keep me going. Fo realz. Here’s to 5 more years of blogging (I hope!).
    • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight
      Hi Heather! I’ve been missing your posts and wondering where you were in the “blogosphere” (I hate myself for writing that). I find that the more frequently I write, the more I have to say and when I step away from it I start to feel as though I’m completely dried up. Having a blog definitely helps keep the rhythm going, especially when you’re not writing for a huge audience and can just keep to whatever schedule works for you. Keep it up! You’ve got a great voice, and that first year in New York City always provides much great material:).