“What?” I asked.
“But…why?” I said.
“Because you can build an audience through it and then market the book to them. You’ll already have a set of readers when you publish it,” he answered. He then reached for another cookie.
“That’s the way a lot of writers get started these days,” Emily said, nodding.
“But…but what would I write about?”
Tara took a sip of her large Starbucks. “Write whatever. Write about your life.”
“Hmm,” I said. And then I remembered. “I did have this idea, a long time ago, about starting a blog about dating in your late 30’s in NYC? You know, never been married, no kids, late-in-life dating adventures? Something like that. I was going to call it ‘Not Quite A Cougar’.”
Lux laughed. “That’s funny.”
“I know,” I sighed and gave her a small smile. “Who would want to read that?”
“No,” she corrected. “I mean it’s funny. It’s a really good idea.”
“Really?” I said and raised my eyebrows at her. “You think so?”
Anna was nodding. “I love it.”
“Guys, come on,” I said. “I can’t write a blog about dating. I’m in a relationship.”
“Okay, Tracey,” Floyd said. “You are not in a relationship.”
“Floyd. Yes, I am.”
“No. You’re not.”
“Oh, shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said and shot him a glare.
I’d made the mistake of telling Floyd how I’d reconnected with my high-school boyfriend in California after not speaking to him for 14 years and how after a visit in April, we’d decided to both move back to our home town and live out the rest of our days together.
Floyd’s response had been: “Yeah. That sounds a like great plan. I’m sure that’ll work out.” He’d then smirked at me and wandered off.
I’d scowled at his back. What did he know about true love? He was 25 years old and rode a skateboard to work.
“I’ll have you all know,” I announced, as I looked over the group I’d assembled. “I just saw my boyfriend two weeks ago at my 25 Year High School reunion and we are still on for our plan. I’ll be moving in June of next year.”
“Okay,” Lux said diplomatically. “That doesn’t mean you can’t still date other people. You know, just to write about it.”
“Just for fun,” Tara added.
“I don’t know, guys,” I said.
“It’s just that it’s a really, really good idea,” Emily said.
“But,” I lamented. “I don’t know how to write a blog,”
“We’ll help you,” Anna said.
And within 2 hours, it was set up. Lux created the logo, built the site, picking the format and style, and started teaching me how to use it. She then set up an About Me account as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts. Tara and Emily taught me how to use Twitter and Floyd instructed me on Instagram. Archie set about on the marketing. It was a whirlwind of activity and I was so, so excited.
That night, I returned home and I sent my boyfriend an extremely long text about how I was going to do a blog and I had a Team helping me and we’d market the book and get readers and it was all going to be so, so awesome!
I did not, um, however tell him what the blog was to actually be about. I figured we’d have to sort that out in an actual conversation.
The response I received from him…did not live up to the level of enthusiasm I’d hoped for.
At first I was heartbroken. Then I was pissed. Like really pissed.
And I told him that.
This ultimately led to an epic 2-day text battle which culminated with him breaking up with me. The next day, as I’ve mentioned, I started working on this blog.
It’s interesting to me now, if it wasn’t for that meeting, My Ex and I wouldn’t have broken up (well, not that day at least). But if we hadn’t broken up, and I hadn’t been so devastated and incapable of writing my intended Fun & Flirty & Forties Dating Blog , this project would not be what it turned out to be. Which was my truth. And I think it’s the truth of this blog that readers ended up identifying with.
People sometimes ask me why, when I post about the blog or talk about it, that I always preface with “We’re doing this” or “We have this coming up.” And it’s because, as you’ve now seen, this blog was built not by me, but by the people around me. In fact, in the beginning, I just sat by dumbly and watched as they put together.
But it’s also because all these people in my life have allowed me to write about them and create ‘characters’ around them – and those characters are hands down the best thing about this blog. If this blog was just about me, you’d better believe it’d be post after post of me drinking Bud Light and singing sad songs to The Cat. It’s the other people who give this project life.
So now I’d like to thank those who have allowed me to include them in this, even when at times I’ve had to run a tad fast and loose with the actual situations and conversations.
None of this could have been possible without my Social Media Marketing Team, of course. I’ve mentioned what Lux contributed at the start, but she also continued to teach me how to improve the blog – how to add pictures, add pingbacks to old posts so I could ‘introduce’ characters I was currently writing about, and stick certain posts to the banner area of the blog. Archie, who in addition to doing all our advertising, gave me the wise advice after I’d published Sanity in Sweat – “Your posts are too long. People just want to read them on the train. Not feel like they have to take off an entire afternoon. Break them up – then you’ll keep people interested and have more content.” Thus, was born The Cliffhangers. The other members of my Team who have also been instrumental: Anna, Emily, Lainie, Tara, my Dating Intern – Lily and of course Floyd who, it could be argued, changed my life that day with his idea. He also told me early on, “Consistency is more important than content in the beginning. Just get stuff up there.” I’ve thought back on this often.
I originally wrote out all the things Sean and Thalia have given me from Day One of my life here in NYC. They have been my cheerleaders, my support system, they give me back faith in myself when I’ve lost it. And what they’ve contributed to this blog is a long list that when I wrote it all out, I could hear Archie sighing and saying, “This post is already too long, Tracey.” So I will have to thank them personally. But I will say, they helped me with slogans, merchandise, legal advice, the store and marketing ideas.Thalia has also spent countless hours putting together our One Year Anniversary Party, which is tonight, and I’m sure, under her watchful eye, will be spectacular. I can’t really get into how much I feel I owe her for all of this, as I’ll probably get weepy.
There are a number of other recurring ‘cast members’ who I owe so much to as well. Such as my dear friends Marlie, Caitlyn, Bree, Sheri, Veronica, Nicole, Bea, My Ex, Mia, Paul, McKenzie, Zeke, Shannon, Tina, Marc, Jack, Samantha, Kristen, Lin, my old bosses RJ and Seth and of course Wade, who in the beginning gave me the excellent advice of, “When you publish on Facebook, link to the actual recent post, not just the site.” I had never thought of that.
My family, although at times a bit, er, concerned about things I’ve written (Hurricane Crazy comes to mind 🙂 ), have been steadfast in their support as well: including My Dad, and My Mom and also those who I’ve never written about, but still are fierce champions of this project.
And to the many, many other ‘characters’ who perhaps were not recurring but still added so much to their respective posts. I feel very fortunate that none of you called me after reading an entry and said, “Um, is that me? I’m pretty sure I didn’t sign on for that.” And a side thank you to Rachel S., who introduced me to ‘The Pierces,’ and in doing so, opened my eyes to a whole new world of music from which I created the two exclusive playlists I use to get myself settled down and focused each night to get this done. It has been invaluable.
Also on the outside, I’ve been touched by the readers who have consistently shared my posts with their friends and families, helping to build our readership. Meg N., Michele D., Adriana G., Jenny L. and Erin S., I feel so lucky that you thought my stories were worthy of inviting others to read.
I have also been so grateful for those of you who’ve commented on the blog, sent me notes and messages of encouragement and support. This project has brought a lot of people into my life and that has meant the world to me.
So, because of all of this, while the publication of the Sorority Book has been postponed until next Spring due to the unexpected rigors I’ve taken on in getting this up and running, the experience of writing NotQuiteACougar.com, I know, will only make that project better in the end.
She probably doesn’t remember this, but after one of our Social Media Marketing Team meetings, Emily turned to me as she was leaving and said, “You know Tracey, people wouldn’t show up to these meetings for just anyone. Cookies or not.” It was by far one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received and I will never forget it.
I’ve been trying for a week to write the end of this post. And it’s just not coming out the way I wanted.
What I keep trying to say is that because of all the energy and effort you’ve all put into this project, it’s given me what I feel is what I’ve gained the most from working on this blog. And it isn’t what I expected. At all. Yes, it’s fantastic that we’ve posted 76 blogs, gotten over 1,000 comments, and are now read by over 85 countries. And yes, this blog has given me a purpose, it’s given me confidence, it’s given me hope, it’s even given me a new job. It has truly changed my life. But the most important thing I’ve gained from all of this? Well, I keep writing that it’s made me feel cared for or loved or…I don’t know. Every time I try to write it, it just comes across as sappy and cheeseball. So I’ll just say this instead:
I may always be Not Quite A Cougar, but at least now I know, I run with a pack.
And now, we celebrate.
Image – our last SMMT meeting of the First Year at NotQuiteACougar.com