Last week I wrote a post called I need your help. I was stuck between a serious rock and a hard place. Your response was and still is overwhelming.
There was an ugly side though. Since then, many hurtful nostrils of the blogging world have been flaring away, denouncing me and this blog, calling me all sorts of names, petitioning others to leave SDL behind for good, telling me it’s inappropriate to “share my tears,” that I only write for the money, and more. I’ve received numerous emails from other parent bloggers telling me how irresponsible I was to quit my job, how stupid I was to do what I did as a parent, and how reckless it all has been in general.
I know many of you have sent me links to things you’ve read of this nature. Many of you have shared that you are sad or discouraged by what others are saying on blogs that you love and respect. Some of you even canceled your donations after reading some of the things you read elsewhere. Because of all that, I feel that it’s fair to share a little more about me, my journey, and the reality of the entire situation.
This is just a letter. To whomever.
In July of 2010, my life had just fallen apart. Again. It seemed to be a recurring theme. I went to the only place I could think of to help me with my pain… the keyboard. I know many of you know what that’s like. When I started writing I didn’t do it for money. I didn’t do it for fame. I did it for therapy. Writing has always been therapy for me.
After a few months, I wrote something that went seriously viral. That was very unexpected. I can’t tell you how crazy and exciting it is when something like that happens, especially when you’re not expecting it. Then another post went viral. And another. And another. And before I knew it, I was faced with an all-new reality. Because of the explosive growth in such a short time, and because I had no clue what I was actually doing in the blogging world, I was forced to choose between my job and my blog.
Now, I wonder, if you were in my shoes which choice you would have made? I’m guessing you never have been. I’m guessing almost nobody ever has been. To be slammed with not just dozens, not just hundreds, but thousands of emails and comments on single days? To suddenly have a very real following (not just traffic)? To have top New York book agents and publishers telling you that you have a very easy sell for a book they think you should write? To have reality tv producers, universities, and more offering to have you come speak? To have radio stations calling you for interviews? To suddenly be so sucked dry of time that you feel like you’re going to flounder…
I didn’t ask for any of it. I didn’t even want any of it. But it happened, and it happened overnight.
Oh, what a sad problem, you may sarcastically think.
It was a problem. A big one.
It started seriously affecting my ability to do my job and to do it properly. It started seriously affecting my ability to parent. It started taking away large chunks of time from my sleeping and eating routines. On top of all of that, I didn’t know which way to go. I didn’t know what route to take. I didn’t know what to do.
I do know that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. For a living. And not just a writer, but a writer that made a difference in this world.
And so, faced with the reality that I literally couldn’t keep both my job and keep my blog, I sat down and thought through what I should do next. Yes, I know, you think I didn’t think about it at all. You think I didn’t do anything but get blinded by the fame and the potential fortune and run skipping into my boss to quit without any ado. But, you see, I did sit down and weigh out the pros and cons. I did agonize over the decision. I had money in my savings account when I started this blog. I had equity in my truck. I even had money hidden above my fridge. In fact, I had enough money saved up to live on and pay all my bills for at least five months. More than enough time, my agent assured me, to finalize the book deal, get an advance, and move forward.
I was living in a house on which I owed nearly $600,000 but was now worth $325,000. I’d been through two divorces in this house. I’d been a slave to this house for a lot of years. Could I make enough to keep paying my house payment? Definitely not, but I was okay with that. In fact, I was very much okay with a general living down-size in general. Chasing money. Chasing things. When you lose it all enough times, it stops mattering so much to you.
On top of that, I was a slave to my job. I was on the road a lot of the time. Away from my son. Away from my family and friends. I would often put in 80 hour weeks. Yes, I could do without that as well. My son could do without that.
How much would I need to just live? A couple thousand a month? I could do that. Why not.
And so, yes. I walked in and I sat down with my boss, and asked him what he thought I should do. His answer… follow my dreams. You see, he had always followed his dreams, and he knew that I would always regret it if I didn’t follow mine.
And so I quit. And to be honest, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. To take a risk and a leap of faith when my entire life to that point had been lived based solely on what I felt I could control… it was invigorating.
And so, having done that for better or worse, I got to work writing my book proposal. My agent was very confident in it. He had talked to some big name editors who loved the idea. We put together a proposal which took a few months, and then… well, you know the rest of the story. For the next several months editor after editor said they wanted it! They took it to their teams and… one at a time it died in the final step of the process and an offer was never given.
Now rewind to the moment when I quit my job.
Advertising. I didn’t want to have advertising on my blog if I could help it. I didn’t want people ever thinking or believing that I was blogging for the money. In fact, I had no idea that anybody anywhere made any good money blogging at all. No, I was writing for me. I was writing for my therapy (always have, always will). So, I decided to keep it off and just focus on the writing, banking on the book deal that was sure to come in. Banking on the opportunities that would arise outside of the blog if I always gave it my best and always delivered quality content.
And then the book deal fell through. Every book deal fell through.
But my book meant something to me. It had a message for parents that I needed to share, and too many things happened to me in the course of writing that booked for me to not believe in its message and the need for its message all the more. And so, I decided to publish it myself. I had the belief that it would sell.
And then it didn’t. Not very well, anyway. It’s been averaging about 50 books a month. I make about $5 on each book. You do the math.
Now rewind to when my book deals fell through.
Advertising. I still didn’t want to advertise on my blog if I could help it and for all the same reasons. I didn’t want to look like I was selling out. I didn’t want my blog to be anything but a place where people could come and be real. So, I decided to keep advertising off my blog while I got my book self-published. Enough little side things had come in that I had money to make it a few more months.
And so, when that all fell through, I tried another thing. And another thing. And another thing. And you know what… they all fell through.
And then, one month or so before writing I need your help, with no ongoing money, no ads running, no knowledge of how to do it, still bogged down with the serious time commitment of owning a big blog, and no other bankable revenue streams in the near future, I installed AdBrite on my blog and started running ads. And in that first month, they only brought in $50. I’ve been called a liar by other bloggers for claiming that. I’ve been called a lot of things saying it is impossible that that’s the case, but it’s true.
And that brought me to the moment that caused me to write the post asking for help. Single Dad Laughing has a lot of readers. And when I post something new, the server gets slammed with traffic. I didn’t understand this because I had been on Blogger and I had never had any problems because apparently Blogger blogs are hosted on super Google servers. When I moved to self-hosted WordPress, I got the advice of some professionals who told me a small VPS would be fine. That didn’t work, so I had to upgrade, and then that didn’t work, so I had to upgrade, and then that didn’t work.
And when all was said and done, I looked at the price of the server I would actually have to get and it was a hell of a lot of money for a blog I hadn’t made much of anything on since starting it 14 months before. I had already sold my truck to make it that far. I had drained my savings to make it that far. I had even spent the money on top of the fridge.
And so, I asked those that I have become such good friends with over the months, those that I’ve laughed with, those that I’ve cried with, and those that have always been so good to me… I asked them if 219 of them would pitch in a buck a month so that I could keep going with this.
That’s all I did. I didn’t ask for people to give me an entire income. I didn’t ask anybody to donate more than that. I didn’t ask for anything more than a handful of people to help me when I couldn’t do something on my own.
So why? Why is it that so many people hate Single Dad Laughing? Why is it that so many people feel a need to impugn it, to attack the intelligence of my readers, and to slander my writing? Why is it that so many people feel a need to destroy me where they can? It has been that way since this blog first went viral. Why?
As far as I can tell from everything I have read in these anti-SDL-posts, I have committed three “serious crimes”.
1) I was “too” excited when big things happened here at Single Dad Laughing.
2) I cried. And I shared that I cried.
3) I asked for some help when I needed it.
Holy crap. I can see why so many people are so up in arms. I can see why I’ve been called a fraud. I can see why people feel the need to slander me. I can see why people have worked so endlessly to bring me down.
How freaking, incredibly, horrifically sad.
I can’t be excited.
I can’t cry.
I can’t ask for help when I need it.
Well guess what. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy any of it and I never will.
When something good happens to somebody, I damn well hope they can be excited. I hope they can cheer for it. I hope they can take the momentum and run with it. I hope they can do it without me getting angry or envious or finding ways to drag them down. That’s something my dad taught me.
When somebody cries, I hope that they are allowed to do so without me calling them weak or a fraud. I hope they are permitted to feel and show emotion without me declaring that they are insincere or phony. I hope that those who care about them will be allowed to put an understanding hand on their shoulder and not have me call the lot of them idiots, naive, or stupid. I wrote a post about that.
When somebody I love and care about asks for help, I hope I can be there. I hope I can come running. I hope I can do so without calling them users, abusers, lazy, stupid, or incompetent. I hope I can understand that sometimes people do their best, and their best isn’t *quite* good enough, and that’s okay because sometimes my best isn’t *quite* good enough.
I will be excited when exciting things happen for me. Always. Forever.
I will cry when I am taken to a place that makes crying possible. Oh, crying. Damn it. If you know anything about “real writing” you know that crying from time to time is inevitable! You know that writing from the soul will leave you with tear-streaked cheeks, and you’ll fall in love with such moments. You’ll understand that that is when you are at your best! Of course any person who only reads the posts where I talk about crying can immediately throw up their arms and say “FRAUD! FAKE! POSER!” Why don’t you try reading the other 300,000 words in 550 posts that I’ve written and then make up your mind.
And, if I get to the end of some rope, and can’t go any further without some assistance, I’ll ask for help when I need it.
I’m just a guy, trying my best to be a good guy, trying to be as real as I can, trying to be the best damn dad possible, and trying to make a positive difference in this world.
The readers of this blog, they are just good people, trying to be as real as they can, trying to be the best damn parents and human beings that they possibly can, and trying to make a positive difference in this world.
They are not idiots.
They are not suckers.
They are not sheep.
They are not gullible.
They are awesome. In fact, they’re bloody amazing. Every single day I’m floored by the generosity and kindness I see going on between the people that come to this blog. I see people volunteering to help each other. I see people sending coats, money, food, and clothing to one another. And, I see people who genuinely love the other people of this world.
This is a blog where they can do it, and I’ll always keep it as such. If you hate it, go elsewhere.
Or, better yet, join us for a little while and then cast your judgments. Read more than the viral and controversial posts. Read more than the things that people have brought to your attention to try and prove how lousy and fake this blog is. Because you know what? We do have a lot of fun around here. We do have a world-class group of people here. And Single Dad Laughing isn’t going anywhere.
I will never regret following my dreams. I will never regret taking big risks. I will never regret being real. I will never regret sharing the times when I cried. This is my blog. This is my readers’ blog. And we’ll do it the way we want around here, not the way you think we should.
I’d rather be friends than enemies. Why the hell can’t we just make that happen? Why the hell can’t we all just get along?
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing