I don’t think I’ve slept more than three consecutive hours per night since I found out this was happening. The whole experience has been a bit surreal.
Somewhere out there on the Internet, for all to see, is a column, that says “By Jennifer Winter”. It even has my picture! In other words, it’s totally legit….I swear, I’m not making this up.
Like I said, surreal.
I’ve always had mixed emotions associated with the idea of seeing my name in print. When I was younger, I was briefly interviewed by the local newspaper while attending a local basketball camp at The University of Montana. I think they quoted maybe two or three words, which I’m pretty sure weren’t incredibly insightful…something along the lines of, “I really like basketball” or “Coach Selvig is nice”. Hey, I was 14, gimme a break.
But when the paper finally came and I saw my name in faded black ink that smudged to the touch, something stirred with joy deep in my heart. I hadn’t actually done anything and certainly didn’t say anything all that interesting, but suddenly, I felt as if I had a forum. To me, at that moment, the entire paper was the avenue to which my words could reach everyone in my hometown, the entire state of Montana…hell, maybe even the whole world!
And then, the gravity of that realization hit me – hard. I immediately understood the power and weight of words and felt a deep sense of respect for those that wrote them, mixed with an incredible fear for uttering the wrong ones myself. My feelings of pride and celebrity for being merely named in an article, spiraled into anxiety and paranoia when I fully understood my mediocre words were on display for anyone to see.
Now that I think about it, this might be where some of my writing stage-fright originated. A few silly words in a newspaper that few (if any) could read today.
Fast forward 20 years, to the debut of my very first column. In an online magazine. Which is, you know, online. For the ENTIRE PLANET to see whenever they want, probably for the rest of my life.
When I woke up that morning, dizzy from the precious few hours of sleep I did manage, my first thought was…dear god, what have I done?? This wasn’t a small town newspaper that would eventually be reduced and recycled into toilet paper or filler for packing boxes. What I wrote would actually be read, and probably by a much wider audience than that paper way back in the early 90’s. What the hell was I thinking??
Now EVERYONE would know if it turned out I was a shitty writer. What if no one likes my style…what if no one even bothers to read it? What if, what if, what if….
The freakout ensued all morning and I secretly began to hope the column would be pulled while simultaneously feeling deathly afraid of that same scenario.
Deep down, I knew this was happening. Despite a million little voices in my head spreading doubt and fear, trying to convince me I wasn’t good enough, and who was I to think they’d actually put that garbage on their perfectly respectable, and well-read site…underneath all that noise, I just knew.
I mean, I have an editor. Me. An EDITOR…to edit my writing. A good friend gently reminded me of this fact mid-freakout, and in that moment, everything became real.
Whether I was going to be a one hit wonder, overnight success or (please, please, no) just moderately tolerated, my name was about to be “in print”, ready or not.
And then, it happened.
I refreshed my browser for the 78th time, and magically, there it was. My very first piece in an online publication – not just an article, but my own fucking COLUMN.
I didn’t know what to do. I sat for a moment at my desk at work, and just stared at the screen. I couldn’t even focus my eyes enough to read through the piece. I just stared.
There was my name up at the top, right next to a tiny picture of me, all lined up nicely with the title of my column.
After about five whole minutes (which is an ETERNITY in Internet time…and feels even longer in cubical time) I started to get excited, and it occurred to me I should share this great news with my friends.
I started emailing and messaging, still slightly worried my announcement would fall on deaf, uninterested ears, but I was past the point of no return now. I was too excited to keep this to myself.
When one of my friends asked me how I felt, I paused for a moment to reflect. I wasn’t really sure. “Oh, I don’t know, pretty good, I guess” I dodged. She didn’t let me off that easily, “C’mon, how do you feel, right now?” she pressed.
Here’s what I said:
I kindof want to throw up…but in a good way.
I’m more proud of myself at this moment, than I have been in YEARS.
I feel like I just won a race at a track meet back in 8th grade.
That pretty much sums it up.
I’m proud and excited and I want to throw up.
But in a good way.
P.S. What’s that you say? You want to read the article?? I’d be honored
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