As each year closes, I tend to look back and analyze certain areas. My writing became a much larger part of my life this past year, and I decided to look back over some of my older work that I’ve posted throughout the year.
I’ve been writing for just over a year and a half now, seeing you don’t count the shit-ton of essays and term papers I wrote in college.
I started writing because I felt I had my own little way of shaping everyday life into words, and molding them into a story that people/parents/women/men might potentially find entertaining.
In the beginning, I think I was the only one who read my blog.
I didn’t have any piece go viral when I first started, no piece that rocketed me into the sky for all to see, and later follow my trail. I started a blog, and I wrote. I wrote, at the time, the way I knew how. I used few commas (or too many commas), I ended most sentences in prepositions (still do), was (still am) a complete grammatical mess, and I read a lot of blogs/articles. Through that, I met people.
I’ve met more people doing this than I’ve met in my entire life. I’ve met many people who I’d go to the mattresses for, and some I’d prefer to keep at an arm’s reach. This internet space, it’s quite amazing the relationships you form, and more so, the unique way in which you all find each other. I never thought I’d find so many people who truly “saw” me for exactly as I am. More so, I never thought I’d meet as many people who view life through a similar shade lens that I do. Honestly speaking, that has to be one of my favorite parts about this journey thus far: the people.
I’ve learned one very important thing this year in particular. That is, do not change your voice to appease those around you.
I started this blog, and my Facebook page with just about 150 followers. Each and every one of those 150 people that “liked” my Facebook page, I had sent personal invites to. Basically, I demanded they like my page. “LIKE MY PAGE, DAMNIT!”
I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to have someone just read what I’d penned down. I joined an army of networking groups, not really knowing what my purpose was; not really knowing what the hell I even wanted out of this— but certainly, that I’d hoped at least one person, other than my mother, was reading. I ran a business by day, and a blog by night. I spent hours upon hours in front of the computer screen.
Slowly, it happened, and through networking, writing, meeting an amazing group of people, I grew.
I decided that I wanted to publish something on a site other than my own, however, I had absolutely no idea how to do that. I went to a blogger, who was also in the process of starting something new, Susan Maccarelli, from Beyond Your Blog. I reached out to her and asked her to proof-read something that I had written. She was beyond gracious, pointed out a few grammar errors, and gave me some ideas as to where to submit. I did just that, and with my first submission, I then had my first “yes” to outside publication by none other than Magnolia Ripkin herself. I was floored.
The voice that I’ve used my entire life, my voice, was now in words and being read by others. It was exhilarating. It lit a fire under my feet. I wanted to write more; I was having the time of my life penning down stories about my regular life, mocking ridiculous celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow), the insane shenanigans my child would get into, but mainly, just being myself- in words. It was great; it was something that I’d later call “my own personal slice of joy,” something that I’d previously found difficult to find being a working mom with the load of responsibilities that come with being a mom and business owner. Finding something that was my own was gratifying.
However, the more work I published, the more it was slowly being recognized. Not by many, but by enough that I’d see people at church who’d mention reading an article I’d written, or someone from my daughter’s school would call her by her “Barb Marley” name, which stems solely from my SmashleyAshley page.
I quickly realized that I wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and as I wrote more, I’d have second thoughts: “Well, so and so might see this—so I shouldn’t publish it.” Within time, I toned myself down a bit. At first, it was a perfect dial-back. I gained new friends that read my words, and I was happy with what I was putting out. However, I continued to tone back- so much so, in fact, that I would read some of my work and wonder where I went- wonder where “Ashley” went; wonder where the woman that started this journey back in May of 2014 went. I liked that chick- I was still that person in real life- but surely more censored in words, or no published words at all, as much of what I wrote in 2015 remains on my external hard drive.
Looking back, I poured myself into something, I poured my soul into something. Writing brought me to life. Within a matter of time, it was bogging me down as I tried to “edit” myself- and not just grammatically, but my voice… I was editing ME.
It is no secret that I am fond of the words “fuck” and “asshole.” I really love the word “butthole” and “douchecanoe,” too. There are also a myriad of topics that I find of great importance, and I should have no qualms about using my voice, rather than erring on the side of caution– at risk my thoughts/words may not be met with agreeing eyes. What’s the point of doing this if I censor who I am out of fear of condemnation?
I’m not everyones cup of tea, and you know what- I am okay with that.
As 2016 begins, I’ve decided that the aforementioned has got to go. I’ve never been one to care much about what others think of me- however, I have always been one to care about hurting people close to me, people that I care about, people that I love.
With much reflection, I’ve realized that the people who love me, know me best, know who the real Ashley Alteman is, they know she is quite fond of the “big bad word,” but they also know her other facets. They know where she shines brightly as a person, they know who she is, and most of all, where her heart is at. Those are the people that I want tagging along for this bizarre journey.
While there might be things that I may not ever be open to sharing due to the protection of my own daughter, I’ve realized that I started this space for me. This page that I pay for, this page that I pour so much of my effort, my life, and my soul into- I do it for myself. And, if there is anyone who doesn’t like that- they don’t have to read. There are a million pages on the web, and mine is just a small crevice- one that I will be damn sure maintains its authenticity.
With that, I wish you all a Happy New Year. I look forward to 2016, and I thank each one of you who has supported me this far. I have so much love and appreciation for each and every one of you, and I am truly so grateful for the many friendships I’ve made with so, so many of you.
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