The next morning I was in my office writing again, like I always do. I hadn’t slept well the night before because I was nervous, yet somehow I was wide awake. Mel and I don’t have cable TV or even an antenna. We just have internet. Sometimes we watch Netflix, or play games on our 13-year-old tube TV, but mostly it just stays off. But in this moment, I’d never wanted a TV more.
Around 7AM, an old friend from my undergrad posted a link to the Good Morning America segment on my Facebook wall, and I watched it, anxiously.
It started with a few short clips of my family, answers to a couple of the questions we were asked, and then it cut to a video of the host cleaning her house. Finally there was an open discussion of the essay.
I was happy that the discussion was positive. Everyone had good things to say. I did what was expected. I posted it on my blog, and online. My Facebook pages exploded with “congratulations,” and “You two looked wonderful,” and “I’m so happy for you.” It was all very exciting.
I must have watched the video a dozen times that day. Vain, I know. And the more I did, the more I analyzed it. I’m grateful for the exposure. This is true. But at the same time, I was bothered by the fact these obviously gorgeous and visibly successful hosts had to be sure to assert that they were self-proclaimed clean freaks. It felt like they were making sure that Americans knew that their bathrooms were clean, their kitchens were clean, and that their husbands didn’t have to step in because they obviously have it ALL together by themselves.
All of it felt like they were shaming people into being more like them, when in fact, I have to assume that they don’t even do their own makeup, and most likely have the budget to pay for a cleaning service. And the more I thought about that, the more I realized that at the heart of my essay, I was trying to change this shaming ideology, and yet, these women, knowingly or unknowingly, had just reestablished it.
Then I reflected more, thought about the fact that I’d cleaned my house before the interview so that people would think that we had it all together too, and realized that I’d fallen into the shaming trap, and was obviously no better than they were.
I assumed that being on Good Morning America would be a huge boost to my writing career, but that didn’t really happen. At least not yet. I did an interview with a local radio station, and an interview with LDS Living Magazine. I had a lot of old friends find me on Facebook to say congrats. The audience I already had was very supportive. But other than that, it didn’t have much of an impact on my blog views or followers.
Although, I must say that I had a lot of positive messages, and no negative ones. I’m really happy about that.
I suppose what I was the most hopeful for was that this would help me get a literary agent. In the past two years I’ve contacted over 200 agents, asking them to help represent two different projects. All of them have rejected me for various reasons. Some didn’t feel connected with the project, and others didn’t think I had enough of a platform. Many said both. After the show aired, I emailed an agent who’d shown interest in two of my projects, but turned down both. I told her about the viral essay on the Washington Post and my appearance on Good Morning America. “Do you think all of this might change your mind about representing me?” I asked.
Her response: “Congratulations.”
That was it.
I drove home from work that day in my 13-year-old pickup. I made a left turn from the highway to Johnson School road, and like it does everyday, my truck shot a large puff of burnt oil out the exhaust pipe. I looked at it in the rearview mirror, and thought, “I was on Good Morning America today.”
I will admit, it made me feel a little better. But honestly, now that it is all said and done, I’m still just a small town guy, with an amazing wife, and three really crazy kids, who gets up early every morning to write.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.