There’s this girl named Claire who I go to school with who has chosen to make me the subject of her photography class’ final project. For the last few weeks, she has been following me while I do various tasks (record my podcast, write blogs, knit, socialize, grab coffee) while snapping pictures to document for what she is calling “Mia Renee.” It was on Monday when we were together in the campus’ coffee shop when she asked me to get on my website while she clicked away. I did so, and quickly realized my subscriber count — 1,006. We’ve officially hit over 1,000 followers on Mia Renee Cole.
1,000 really isn’t a big number in the business scheme of things. For successful and profitable businesses, blogs usually reach 1,000 followers within weeks of being launched. I’ve just passed my four year anniversary. But, of course, I haven’t been successfully writing for that long.
Every once and a while I like to write a post explaining why I do what I do. I feel like it’s important for people — readers, subscribers, and my family alike — to know why I spend countless hours a week writing, producing, planning, and editing various things…while making no money. So I wanted to take today to tell you all my story.
I’ve always been looking for a way to make a quick buck. It was easier when I was a cute kid with lots of cute kid ideas, but, funnily enough, most of these ideas have translated into my adult life. At 20, I have a blog that I write on weekly, a biweekly podcast, an Etsy shop, a hobby and love for photography, a cat who is my child, and am a student at UNC Chapel Hill. Basically, I’m living my dream. But how did I get here?
I started writing from a very young age, and it all started with a pocket-sized composition notebook that I filled with a four-part story based in Ancient Egypt. These were the stories that my childhood best friend, Caroline, and I wrote and then acted out on warm summer days in her bedroom with her American Girl dolls and tea set. I then got my first computer at eight; it was a hand-me-down, 1995 laptop that my mom gifted me so I could practice my typing and writing skills. It had no internet card, so I used it solely for the purpose of typing stories. I began with Harry Potter fan-fiction (which I didn’t even know of as a thing at that time) and progressed to more original stories such as “Cat Heaven” and “Luck of the Irish” — both adventure tales.
Around the same time, I started up my own monthly newsletter (well, my stuffed animals’ newsletter) with different sections and columns. I mailed it to a few people and had one paying subscriber — my grandma. She paid a hefty $1/month.
And that was how I began writing. I tried my hand at writing a novel based off my short story “Luck of the Irish” multiple times, and would get 10 or so chapters in before finding myself displeased with it and deleting it entirely from my computer. As a kid, I understood and felt writers’ displeasure.
So after three various (failed) drafts of “Luck of the Irish,” I kind of took a small break from writing altogether. In middle school, I wrote angsty songs about the people I hated, but that was about the extent of my writing for the time being.
I didn’t jump back into creative writing until I was 14 when I had a story idea called “Love is Blind” (of which I have, in the past, posted chapters on here). I had two failed drafts of this, both extending multiple chapters, before destroying them both. Collectively, both drafts took me about four years to write.
But in high school I began to get into other forms of writing. In 2012, I was asked to be a student correspondent at The Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC) for the summer of 2013. I accepted, created a blog for it, and let it sit — for six months. I had tried to start blogs multiple different times before and had failed, so I didn’t have much hope for this one.
I went to WJMC and, quite literally, had a life changing experience. I blogged and vlogged every day, I met Hoda Kotb, I got to go to the National Press Club, I was able to interview Kay Hagan’s press secretary, and I stumped Brian Lamb with a question. I went a curious student and left an aspiring political journalist. And thus this blog was born.
So I started writing regularly — not as regularly as I do now, but regularly enough. It was when I posted “And That is a Fact” that I found a love for activism and my writing frequency picked up. I wrote many blog posts from 2014-2015 that gained more traction than I had ever experienced, so I continued writing. When I went off to college, I built a schedule and, since then, have more or less been writing each week.
And I write simply because it’s what I love to do. It’s what controls the pace of my heart, whether it be calm and slow or excited and quick. It’s what makes me feel like me, like Mia. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate it when I know that people like you read my blog — my writing. I’ve always been very secretive about my writing, especially my current projects, and am very self-conscious of anyone reading anything I write, even the stuff I publish on here. It’s gotten a lot easier through the years, and it’s all thanks to you. Your encouragement, your kind words, and your support. You’re what keeps me writing.
It may be a while before you hear from me again on the creative side of things. I have something that’s been in my head for nearly 7 years but I’ve been struggling to start it, which is such a pain. With school, it’s hard for me to write anything besides a quick blog once a week, so I have no hopes of working on anything substantial for another few years. Keep hanging on though, and we may get to have some exciting experiences.
In the meantime, I’ll continue writing on here. Let me know what you’d like to hear by clicking here.
Until next week…
Photo Courtesy of: Claire Hagan
Pictures from Claire’s Project “Mia Renee”