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Everything I Write, I Write It For You

It’s possible I’m mildly obsessed with Facebook. Scrolling through my feed, I am often — in equal parts — admiring, envious, and glad. I truly enjoy the “last-one-I-promise!” shots of vacation sunsets, successful kids, and sparkly cocktails — of folks I care about. But I do know — as I desperately hope you do as well — that Facebook hasn’t earned the nickname Fakebook for nothing.

Where are the pictures of us watching eight hours straight of Hannibal on Netflix? (This may or may not have been how I spent the holiday weekend). We don’t boast about our shrinking bank balance or that day we stayed in bed because depression got the best of us. When our Facebook friends do share their shadow-lives, it takes us aback. It’s like, “Don’t you know Facebook is reserved for our TV-ready selves? Get with the program, people!”

In the past few years, I’ve blogged a ton and written three books. I’m currently working on a novel which may or may not become a bestseller. (Who’s to say? Could happen.) When I tell people I’m a writer (which took a long time for me to say aloud, btw), they have some combination of these responses:

  1. That’s cool. I really admire you for doing that.
  2. I wish I could write, but I can’t because (fill in the excuse here)…
  3. Do you make any money at it?
  4. I would never put myself out there like that. Why would you do that?

Question #4 is a really good one. Why in the heck would I put myself out there for all the world to read? The plain answer is: I don’t write for me, I write for you. Before you fake gag, hear me out. I write for you because I hope one turn of phrase, one personal story, one emotion I invoke in you, will set you on the path to positive life changes.

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Great advice but…what other choice do we have? I’ve strolled through those flames more times than I’d like — the mega-bonfire of my divorce, for one. Divorce, if you don’t know, is one of hell’s guests of honor. Heck, it has its own presidential suite. Divorcing was one of the toughest experiences of my life, but honestly…so what? That doesn’t make me any different from you or your neighbor.

But here’s what happened: In the ashes of my post-divorce life, the lessons left behind kind of started following me around. And they were kind of yelling, “Share us! People need to hear this stuff!” So, I started writing those lessons down — sharing what I wish I’d known sooner. That, and I wanted those lessons to shut up and leave me alone. Turns out, they’re still hanging around and new ones are popping up all the time. Because of their tenaciousness, many of those lessons about divorce are in my books, Without This Ring and From Bitter To Better.

If I could have a few superpowers, one of them would certainly be preventing folks from marrying the wrong people for the wrong reasons. How great would it be to be able to swoop in and save people from years of marital misery? Answer: Pretty, pretty great.

But, without that particular superpower, my choices are limited. I knew I could help people one-on-one in my psychotherapy practice. But I realized, by writing, I could also get my message out to thousands of people at a time. That’s one reason I wrote Should You Marry Him? — to share lessons about what to look (out) for when you’re choosing your Mr. Right.

Writing isn’t a superpower, but sometimes its the next best thing.

Any blogger will tell you there’s little money in it. A couple of viral articles won’t make you famous or land you a book deal with an elite publishing house. I can’t tell you why others write, but I can tell you that whatever the topic, my message is always the same: Please learn from my very real mistakes, professional expertise, and life experience. Please.

But I’m also guilty of perpetuating the Fakebook persona which doesn’t feel very real at all.  I have a sparkly website. I display professional photos of myself wearing things I never would in my everyday life. And — surprise! — many of them have been retouched.

I love Gary Vaynerchuk. I love his blunt messaging. I’m pretty sure he rolls out of bed, brushes his hair (or not), and jumps in front of the camera. Vaynerchuk is the anti-Fakebook and I’m jealous of the freedoms that allows him. But although his love-me-or-leave-me approach works for him, it probably wouldn’t stand a chance for most of us trying to catch the public’s eye.

I want you to read my work. I want you to be touched by it, moved to action by it, comforted by it. And if a glam, Fakebook shot of me makes you click the link, then I’m all for it. Go ahead, perk me up and slim me down. If that gets your attention, good on me. Because it ain’t about me. It’s about your journey through hell — and my commitment to helping you to keep going.

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