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First Things First...
The 'Raison d'être', the What & the How of this Substack
In this very first post for Sharon Shares I would like to share with you why I created this Substack/newsletter and how I intend to make use of it.
Allow me to start by sharing that I never thought I would go back to writing a newsletter. Ever. When I dismissed the MailChimp in 2021 I made two promises to myself: I would never return to that type of writing and I would never again allow marketing concepts to interfere with the joy, value and medicine I have always found in writing.
Some background information
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. The written word has always been my favourite means of self-expression and I honestly don’t know how (and even if) I would have survived some of the toughest and most challenging passages of my journey through life had I not been able to write — to process things and organize my thoughts through writing, analyse real life situations while writing blogposts, use journaling as a tool for introspection and gaining new perspectives, and find solace, healing, meaning and new rays of light and sprinkles of hope through creative writing.
Writing means a LOT to me. It means joy, exploration, medicine, creativity, relaxation, pleasure, inner work, delight and creatorship all at once and is, as such, an activity I have always deeply cherished and tried to protect and keep safe from external influences that could potentially damage this wonderful and precious thing that writing, to me, is. And writing newsletters the way I did prior to 2021, because marketing concepts had lured me into believing I “had to” do it that way…. turned out to be a true enemy of mine and a real thief of joy, a force that for a couple of years slowly but surely chipped away at my love and passion for the powerful multifaceted activity of writing.
The day I fired the MailChimp I vowed I would never again write “that type of content” in “those kinds of formats” — the type of content and formats present in typical commercial newsletters, aimed at selling products or services. I had never really wanted to work with newsletters “that way” anyway, but I had gotten lured into thinking that perhaps the marketing gurus were right and I should work with newsletters “that way” if I wanted my business to continue growing. I should have known better…
Prior to hiring the MailChimp I had been really reluctant, for years, to start a newsletter because I do not like to actively engage in strategies that are aimed at selling something. I do not like to talk about myself or my activities in a commercial manner. Asking me to give an elevator pitch is asking for a catastrophe to happen. Commercial networking events are phenomena that are not in any way aligned with who, and how, I am. And when I worked in restaurants, in my teens and early twenties, I was never able to sell the specialties of the house. Because the moment I become aware of having to sell is the moment part of my system goes into short circuit mode. I feel embarrassed and extremely awkward, start uttering weird sentences and chances are I drop something, bump into a piece of furniture or trip over my own feet right there and then. I “sell” when people see me in action — genuine, selfless action. When I am being myself and speak, talk, teach or present without having to sell anything, people get inspired and become curious and that is what oftentimes eventually leads to a new client or to a sale. But me and active selling strategies… that’s pretty much a genuine recipe for disaster.
So I really didn’t even want to start writing newsletters when I hired the Mailchimp. But after the umpteenth acquaintance insisted I should really start working with newsletters because it would look weird if I didn’t and “Everybody has a newsletter nowadays” and “You are a skilled writer, this should be so easy for you!” and “marketing” and “sales” et cetera, I succumbed. And I tried. I really tried. But the MailChimp and me, we never got along. Because I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I tried to work with “the formats that sell” while not at all being congruent or even slighty aligned with those formats. Which meant: disaster. It was a struggle - a real one and a very frustrating and depleting one. It made me dislike the whole newsletter phenomenon even more than I already did and, worse, it led to me loosing my enthusiasm for writing.
When I eventually set myself free by releasing the MailChimp, I felt a huge relief and promised never to work with a newsletter for the sake of marketing ever again. I needed writing to return to being and meaning what it had always been for me and meant to me prior to the MailChimp wrestling matches. So I returned to journaling, creative writing, working on the manuscripts that perhaps some day will be published (if I manage to find the time and the intrinsic motivation to actually bring those projects to a closure), writing new copy for my website pages and writing Seedlings.
So… there’s that.
And now I am here, writing the first post for this brand new Substack, which is… a newsletter. What happened? Did I change my mind?
No, I didn’t change my mind. I will never go back to writing the type of newsletters that I should never have been writing to begin with. I solemnly swear: Sharon Shares will not in any way, shape or form resemble what I created with the chimp I once hired to deliver my mail. Sharon Shares is something completely different, I guarantee. I promise. Because I need it to be something completely different. I need it to be a place where I can write whatever it is that I want to share, whenever I feel like writing and sharing. Without pressure or fixed formats and with no goal but to share what I feel like sharing in the moment, as the real life human being that I am and that loves to express herself in creative ways, especially through writing.
What brought me here
Over the years many people who have chosen to work with me and have come to know me as either a teacher, a translator, an editor, a writer, a ghostwriter, a manager, a coach, a counsellor, a trainer, a consultant or an artist have asked me to share more about who I am as a person. And while I know there is potentially a lot of beauty, value and power in sharing and letting oneself be seen as the real life human being one is, aside from the roles we perform, until now I never found a platform where I wanted to become very visible and share about aspects of my self, my life and my inner landscape. It’s not that I wanted to “hide” or anything. I actually like sharing my thoughts, writing about what interests and inspires me and telling what moves me — just not on social media platforms.
You see, I am not a social media type of person and although I stood on stages in front of hundreds of people and have trained and presented to many groups in the past 20+ years, showcasing myself on social media has never appealed to me. I do not like those platforms. I can understand what their value and/or appeal is to many, but they are not my cup of tea. Not at all. Fact is: I am a rather private person and if I am to write and share about myself I need that to happen in a calm, peaceful and respectful environment, far away from the loudness, the ads, the algorithms and the trolls, scammers and impersonators of social media platforms, in a place where people are seriously interested in what I have to share and can appreciate the written word and long-form content.
A few months ago I discovered Substack. And after exploring this platform for a couple of weeks, something started to fall into place. The writer in me really liked this platform. The creative in me saw new possibilities and started envisioning what I could do on this platform. And a little voice in the back of my mind started whispering. Was this perhaps the perfect platform for me to start sharing more of myself, through writing? It sure looked like it was. And the more I sat with that idea, the more Sharon Shares started to take shape and, eventually, become a reality. A new branch of the tree of my life’s work became manifest.
What I intend to bring to this space
As I have written on my About page, I intend to write about what’s keeping me busy, interested, challenged, inspired, balanced and sane in this adventure called life in an ever-changing world. I intend to share things that give you an opportunity to get to know me as a person in a way that, hopefully, offers something of value to you.
What I bring to this space is myself. The real life human being that has never been able to present herself in a succinct way because no “short and simple” description would ever do justice to the many facets of her being. This page of my website gives an idea of who I am and what I do nowadays, workwise, but there is, of course, much more to me than the things mentioned on that page. Over here, I want to write as the human being that I am. A woman on a journey through life who contains multitudes.
I will allow myself to be inspired by whatever-it-is-that-inspires-me in the moment I sit down and write, which means topics will vary and the archive will ultimately become a collection of writings on many different topics — a mosaic of posts, woven from many threads that are all, somehow, related to the human being that I am.
As far as form, format and frequency are concerned I honestly cannot tell you what to expect. This Substack has no fixed schedule, no fixed format and no fixed menu. I need this to be my “writing playground”, a place where I can create what I feel like creating in the moment, in total freedom, without restrictions. Considering the fact that I am a long-form content type of person, it is reasonable to expect that many of my posts will not be very short. But don’t be surprised if a haiku or other type of poem or short type of text shows up, with or without a photo of one of my own paintings or drawings, or of the beautiful natural environment that I am blessed to call “home”. I do not wish to limit myself to any specific type of post, and inspiration doesn’t mix well with rules and restrictions.
What you can be sure of is that my writings are straight from the heart, fuelled by inspiration and/or real life events. What they will look like, what they will be about and how often I will post I cannot say. My commitment is to writing about what’s keeping me busy, interested, challenged, inspired, balanced and sane and that is what I will do. I will create. I will write. I will share. What, how and when? That’s something we will find out together as this adventure unfolds.
Another thing you can be sure of: subscription to Sharon Shares is and will remain free. I do not intend to activate paid memberships at anytime — because “going paid” would mean I’d have to deliver on schedule and that is not what I have in mind for this Substack. Here, I want to write when and as I please. Spontaneously. Riding the natural waves of inspiration and creation, without any type of pressure.
What I hope to find and co-create in this space
I hope Sharon Shares will become a space where all who visit will find something that somehow enriches their life — inspiration perhaps, or food for thought, information of interest, something uplifting, a paragraph or sentence that brings a smile to a face or creates a twinkle in an eye…
I hope it will be a space where people connect with each other and exchange kindness, respect, appreciation and humanness. And perhaps grow true friendships, over time.
I hope it will be a space where all who visit are willing to show genuine interest in their fellow human beings and where we can all learn from each other.
I hope it will be a space where we can all feel safe enough to show ourselves as we are — human, messy and marvelous all at the same time.
And last but not least: I hope it will be a space where I will be forgiven for the linguistic and grammatical errors I will inevitably make and for using punctuation marks in my own weird way(s). Writing in a foreign language is not easy. I am, among many other things, a sworn translator but not of the English language. My native language is Dutch, I am fluent in Italian (near-native proficiency, both spoken and written), I have translated and interpreted from and to Italian but writing in English is not something I have professional expertise in. I hope you will forgive me for punctuation mark offences and for the linguistic and/or grammatical crimes I will undoubtedly commit in this space…
Now that this “First Things First” post has been written, I look forward to writing you again, soon, in the next post of Sharon Shares. The month of July has been quite interesting, challenging and busy and I look forward to telling you more about that in days to come.
For now: thank you for reading this post and for joining me on this journey!
Take care, be well, be you.
Thank you for being here. I appreciate everyone who visits and look forward to connecting with you. Subscription is free of charge — and I intend to keep it that way.
If you are interested in my work and the ways in which I support people on their path of coming home to themselves, check out my website. If you would like to support my work you can consider referring a friend, working with me or supporting me with a donation.
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