One year

June 15, 2011

Many moons ago when I was young and naïve with acne decorating my chin, I discovered writing.  It was in Mrs. Dyson’s English class after turning in a creative writing essay.  I can’t remember what I wrote about—unrequited love, the acne on my chin, mechanical problems with my VW bug, but whatever it was, Mrs. Dyson liked it, and I discovered a craft that appealed to me.

I liked the freedom of expression, the rhythm of prose, the artfulness of writing. I liked building castles with words. 

Then I did a brilliant thing.  I went to college and majored in English.   English is a great major… if you want to be a teacher, if you want to go to law school, if you are independently wealthy.  But if you don’t have a plan, you are not likely to get a lucrative job. 

I had no plan.

So I set out to be a writer.  I just wasn’t sure what kind—a novelist, a journalist, a poet, a grant writer, a writer of children’s books or instruction manuals, an ad writer.  After college when I didn’t get a single interview for the scores of writing jobs that I applied for, I did what any resourceful young woman would do—I became a secretary (this was way back when secretaries were called secretaries, not administrative professionals). 

I didn’t like being a secretary, and I went to graduate school for a master’s degree in—if you guessed English, you guessed right.

After a couple of years of graduate classes, I landed in France on a fellowship teaching college English.  It was a great year, and I started writing a book.  When none of the publishers I’d sent my manuscript to jumped to publish my work, I approached my hometown newspaper with an idea for a column about being an American in Paris.  The editor was so overjoyed to have a Paris correspondent that she forgot to discuss payment.  When I inquired, she offered me $25 a column.

While I wasn’t overwhelmed by the remuneration, I was convinced I had arrived as a writer.  Evidently, Mimi and Belle thought I had too because every time a new column was published, Bonnie and Clyde set out for extra copies with Mimi driving the getaway car and Belle depositing the requisite quarters for one newspaper and walking away with half a dozen.  It’s not that Mimi was a hoarder—she just wanted to send copies to her family.  All of her family.

Eventually I returned stateside and got a public relations job writing fun stuff—press releases and newsletters and eventually web articles and magazine articles—and although I wasn’t getting rich, I was making more than $25 a week, and I had a modest pension plan and health insurance.  But I missed having carte blanche to write what I wanted.

This is how I found myself putting together a website last spring.  Putting together a website with limited technical abilities is time consuming, and by the time I discovered the daunting magnitude of the mommy blogosphere, it was too late to turn back—I’d done too much work—so I sallied forth anyway.  It was, after all, to be a chronicle of Jax’s and Moose’s beginnings, and if I found a few readers to share my stories with, that would be icing on the cake.

It’s been a year now, and it doesn’t pay as much as my newspaper job did—it’s actually more on the scale of what I pay Mimi to watch Jax and Moose.  It’s a lot of work on top of my other jobs—my day job, my mommy job, my freelance job—and sometimes it’s really a burden to churn out a post.  There are some posts I crank out in 15 minutes and then there are some that I struggle with and write and rewrite, and still they don’t work.  And even when I write something that I later decide is crap, I still have this audience of incredible people whose lives have touched mine, and whose lives I have touched, who respond.

I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to wake up and see your comments, to know that you had your coffee (or your bloody Mary) vicariously at Maison Bean, to know that you are in my camp. 

Thank you. You rock!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Irene June 15, 2011 at 8:11 am

We started out similarly….Mrs. Sokolowsky was the first to give me confidence. Then after 4 months of college, the only course I passed was Communications with a “C”. Looking back, I should have been smart enough to switch majors but being young, EXTREMELY naive and too busy looking for my next party, I left and came home to become a secretary. That lasted 4 years.

23 years later, I’m trying to find a job. With only about 5 years of work ethics under my belt it’s very hard to find an employer to convince that you have mad secretarial AND computer skills. They don’t really care that you produced a PTA newsletter monthly and designed the fund raiser flyers (amongst other things)til 1am on a dot matrix printer with Print Shop Pro software all on a 386 IMB computer. They have no clue what that entailed.

You’re blog is one of my favorites and I always look forward to finding out what’s going on at Maison Bean and what your father has gotten himself into. It’s been a great year! Here’s to another great one as well *raising glass*.

Jenn June 15, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thanks, Irene!

Job searching is such a PIA, which is why I’ve been in this last one for so long.

Methinks you need embellish a little, so that people understand how great you really are. 😉

Betsy at Zen Mama June 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

Hi Jenny,
Drinking my coffee, back from our trip (time to put the bloodys away) and very excited to catch up on your blog. One year! What an accomplishment!! Congratulations on your anniversary!!

As for your book you wrote… Sound like something I’d love to read! Have you thought of self publishing??? Please go to my website link and read about createspace! The publishing world is changing fast and the publishing world is so cruel!! I have just loved using Createspace and am busy writing book 3 and 4!

Jenn June 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

Thank you, Betsy!

It was called “Love from Paris” (and I had a Moose-style temper tantrum when a movie came out with a similiar name–“With love from Paris”), and, unfortunately, it was more like a half-written manuscript and proposal.

When there was no interest, I didn’t finish it. Maybe one of these days….

Melissa Sankey June 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Cheers on your one year! I look forward to reading more of what is in store at Maison Bean.

Jenn June 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks, Melissa! We’re delighted to have you here!

papa June 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I celebrated your anniversary by cleaning off the top of the refrigerator and under my couch. There will be a auction sale tomorrow. There is a nice pair of red sandals in your size. I’m opening the bidding on this item at $25.00.

I know you and Mimi will pay top dollar for toys just to shut the boys up. If you’re short on cash, we can discuss a trade for red wine.


Jenn June 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

You touch those Cole Haans, and I start eviction proceedings.

Christine June 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Just found your blog and love reading about Maison Bean. Congrats on your anniversary, and here’s to the next year!

(Good luck getting those red sandals in the auction 🙂 )

papa June 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Opening the bid is now $100.00.


Craftwhack June 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Yay! Congratulations on a year. (And what size are those sandals, please?)

Ally June 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I may not have been here all year, but I’m glad I found your blog. I love your writing style, and always leave with a smile on my face. I have to admit, Papa’s comments make it all the more fun. 🙂

Luna June 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

what a great story…

The Flying Chalupa June 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

You are very welcome! And I feel the same way – getting a post out is hard and I never have time for it, but I love it so I do it. Somehow.

Ah, an American in Paris! I spent 6 months studying there and kick myself daily for not having made it a year. Or more.

Arohanui June 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I am a couple of days late due to being totally self-absorbed, mais bon anniversaire de blog quand mȇme 🙂
If you (or Hyacinth) need a proof reader at any time, keep me in mind!
Thanks for all your comments & the prayers xx

Jenn @ Home is Where You Start From June 17, 2011 at 3:06 am

Happy Blogaversary!

I always wanted to be a writer, I think that’s why I love blogging. You are so right, I didn’t realize what I had gotten into when I started blogging. I thought it would be a little hobby..hah!


justine June 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I had a Mrs. Dyson too! 8th grade social studies. I think.

Anyway, happy blogiversary! I love reading about the trials and tribulations of the bean sprouts! 🙂 I am so glad I stumbled upon this blog!

The Pepperrific Life June 27, 2011 at 1:35 am

Just keep doing what you do, because you write so well…now, why does that sound like spam? hehe

Seriously, you’ve got a good blog going on here. You are conquering mommyhood, one adorable bean at a time 🙂

rtcrita July 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Happy belated blogging anniversary! I didn’t realize you only started a year ago. I love reading your blog because there is always something going on. If I miss a few posts, I can still be in the loop if Ijust go back and read. And catching up is such a great past-time for me. I always find myself laughing or giggling, sometimes I even gasp!

I think you’re a wonderful writer. I find it very easy to visualize in my mind everything that you describe. Your characters (aka, family members and friends) are full of life and color. I bet you could write about making a peanut butter sandwich and there would still be a story involved where, somehow, Moose, Jax, or Papa turned it into a catastrophe of some sort!

Kristy K. James May 23, 2012 at 6:48 am

I’m going to wish you a happy…early…second anniversary instead of a REALLY belated first. I’m almost a year behind you (June 6) and it’s kind of exciting to hit that mark, isn’t it? Like you, I fell in love with writing in a creative writing class (9th grade, so no VW to put in essays). Glad you found you liked blogging. It helps idiots like me who have been awake nearly 24 hours. Ninth grade was awhile ago and I’m just too old for all-nighters now. 🙂

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