Recently my friend Ben Opsahl sent me a note. He had subscribed here in early 2017 expecting a regular newsletter, and then noticed that he didn’t hear from me much. He had four emails from me last year, he pointed out.
So what gives, Ben said?
Even as I wrote that to Ben, it felt weird. Like an excuse. A cop-out. Why didn’t I write on my own site? Yeah… What gives?
2018 is the year to change that. Here’s the plan.
But first, a story…
When I was eight years old, my parents gave me a journal for Christmas. It was a one-year journal and it had 365 pages dated for every day of the calendar year, starting on New Year’s Day.
The cover had a drawing of the sun, and it had a flimsy metal lock on the side to keep out, I imagined, my snooping brother (who in reality gave zero effs about my diary).
My parents sought to encourage me as a writer. And it worked. On the very first page (January 1) I made clear my intentions: “Hello!” I wrote in big loopy handwriting. “Happy New Year!”
Then a few sentences later:
“I want to be a writter, O.K?”
(That “O.K.?” is interesting, isn’t it? The question mark. My 8-year-old need for validation. This is in my journal, and I am writing this proclamation to myself. So who, exactly, is going to give me permission? And why do I need it anyway?
(Would Alexander Hamilton have similarly signaled his intent? “Hello! Happy New Year! I’m going to write the Federalist Papers, O.K.?” No. He. Most. Definitely. Would. Nope. That.
(Fearless Girl is rolling her eyes at 8-year-old me. Hard.)
Anyway… I spent the first few weeks enthusiastically recording my days in my journal. When I reread it now, I remember the devotion I felt—and the small rush of excitement that ran over me when I snugly closed the door to my room and retrieved the journal from its hiding spot in my closet.
I was an outwardly reserved child with a rich inner life. Writing was a thrill and a relief.
For a time, anyway. It didn’t last long: By the end of January I had less and less to say, generally posting a single, dumb line.
January 28: “I have to clean my room. Bye!”
January 31: “Do you like my new pen?”
By February 10th, I started pasting in pictures of chimpanzees. Just to fill the pages.
It’s not that I didn’t love writing. I sure did.
But in those first few weeks of January, I gradually came to reject the point of a journal, its very presence intended to keep people out (the lock, the hiding, the private thoughts). It’s not designed to let people in.
What’s the point of writing things you already know to yourself? Day after day?
What I couldn’t quite articulate then, but can clearly see now, is what was missing from my journal. Missing was… well, Ben Opsahl. And you. And the rest of the people on this newsletter list: The people to write to.
I needed to write to someone.
More specifically, I needed to be in service to people I wanted to inform, entertain, connect with, help.
I decided I didn’t want a journal. I needed a newsletter.
That spring I conceived of and launched a neighborhood newsletter. My goal was to connect my neighbors to each other.
I wrote about the Hoells’ new car, someone else’s driveway basketball hoop, the town’s dog leash laws. I tossed in a poem. I delivered it on my bike. My neighbors thanked me. Now THIS was writing!
I lasted four issues.
The laborious process of pecking out words on a typewriter, trimming my articles by hand, laying them out on construction paper, and then having my dad Xerox the whole thing at his office (he brought it back to me in a folder tucked in the pocket of his leather attaché case, which always snapped opened with an aggressive POP that caught my fingers), and still needing to deliver it….
It just got to be too much. I had math tests to study for.
I had puberty to ponder.
So I paused my publishing dreams, deciding to wait for the Internet to happen.
* * * * *
But I’ve realized (with Ben’s prompt) that I miss talking directly to you and maybe others like you…
Who share my love of writing and books, but also marketing, content, and business.
Who might not identify as “writers,” but who can become better and sharper writers with encouragement, practice, and tools.
And who might just want to hear from me more than four times a year.
And so, I’m committing to a less lame 2018 and relaunching my newsletter. (Talk about burying the lead. I was a terrible journal-writer and (much later) terrible journalist, too lol?)
Every two weeks you’ll get a newsletter focused on marketing, writing, and content, with:
• New writing to help you stay in the know.
• Fresh links I believe you’ll like: trends, ideas, and the flat-out awesome that connects to writing, marketing, content.
• Useful writing or content tips because to this day I can’t help but click on things that will make me a better writer, either.
• Things I’m doing or where I’m speaking, so perhaps we can connect IRL, yeah?
• High-spirited shenanigans with a side of quirky… because life is too short, you know? Let’s have some fun with a side of business.
All of this is delivered direct from my tiny house (see that magical header image) to your inbox.
I call it Total Annarchy.
“Total” because it’s totally from me (and only me). And “Annarchy” because this is my realm—writing, marketing, business, life—packaged for you.
It’s free. And 100% spam-free. Unsubscribe whenever you want.
I love getting letters. Maybe you do, too?
I hope so.
You can expect the first issue of a renovated Total Annarchy next week.
Hugs for reading,
P.S. High-fives for forwarding: If you know someone who might appreciate hearing from me, please forward them a link to this post with an invitation to subscribe here: www.annhandley.com/newsletter.