How I Found My Niche.
There's likely a rule that says I shouldn't write this first, but then this is my niche, and my story, and like they say, 'I'm sticking with it.'
A while back when I was writing for our family newsletter, Reviviscence, I'll never forget my father saying to me, "we are trying to figure out where you're going... how we can help you."
The statement captured me the moment he said it, hence it's a statement that stayed on my mind. I couldn't answer him then, because all I knew was I wanted to write and had before me the gateway to an audience. But then true to my nature, the statement weighed heavy on my conscience... alas it would be something I would analyze and analyze.
Now before I go straight to the results, I'm going to take my time here, only because I feel strongly that at least one person has been cramming to figure this out, and too, because I truly think it's worth the story. And by the way, I have a blogger to thank for inspiring this post. Liz Strauss. Her blog, incidentally the Successful Blog, has been tremendously inspirational.
At any rate, every month I produced a family newsletter fashioned to feed the family positive news derived from any merits the family wanted to share. Within a short time the newsletter grew from approximately 20-30 households to about 150 homes at its peak. There was no advertising, just all word of mouth. "Psst...hey, have you read the newsletter?" That type of thing.
Five years I did this, where for a solid four years (at least) I was very, very busy keeping the news coming... birthday parties, graduations, weddings, anniversary parties, reunions... I even participated in my cousin's Change of Command ceremony. We held contests, there were 'home-made' crossword & seek-n-find puzzles tailored to our family heritage, an original cartoon sketch; short memoirs, poetry, a birthday list, a nickname list... I was all over the place trying to cover it all, which was in addition to managing my personal life, and of course working a 9-5 career to boot. It was great!
So back to my father's question, which I still struggled trying to figure out what more could there be, other than writing this positive uplifting news? For me, that was it. I was writing, and it was all good news we were being fed. But the question lingering, I recall thinking 'no one's reading, or cares about our little family paper. Where is all of this going?' Despite evidence to the contrary... the growing address list, the invites, emails and letters, the sporadic telephone calls, and the occasional heartwarming comments... “Rhonda, if you don't send another newsletter, you will still have enriched our family a lifetime." Or, and this one really stayed with me... "They grumble and gripe about the newsletter, but wait on it every month!"
And still, pondering, I moved on, essentially to find this more.
That's when it finally came to me. For as much as I entertained, and inspired, and sometimes too, annoyed our family with that newsletter, it was a medium that inspired excitement. It kept us reading, and learning, and thinking. I would be a lifetime and some decades sharing how much I learned... one experience I muse on all the time... when I was told how to write a home-going announcement. But incidentally, and not so ironic, it was through this newsletter, and thanks to my father's prose, that I found my niche.
All too often it's easy to get ahead of ourselves, or rather lose our page looking for more than there is to the story. I am a writer. There's not a genre that doesn't interest me. I can and will write about anything; and now today fully appreciate my audience; readers who enjoy reading my writing style... themselves looking for no more than a entreating good story. It's one hell of a niche.