It’s okay if you haven’t heard of Stephanie Klein because I’m certain you have a friend just like her. Brutally honest. So funny you could snort. Sometimes whiny but able to snap out of a funk when necessary. Self-aware while also friend-aware. The person you call after you run into your ex with a hot new girlfriend.
This well-rounded character is what drives Stephanie’s universal popularity among the web savvy elite. That, and her courage to expose everything in her writing—from the most embarrassing moments to the most beautifully intimate moments. Her list of successes is long: she’s overcome a bitter divorce, given her heart to a new man, given birth to twins, written and published two books with major publishing houses, and her blog, Greek Tragedy, is one of the top ten most visited female blogs in the U.S. I was excited to speak with Stephanie this week about her obsession with writing and her unique ability to always stay true to her authentic self.
Weeks: I enjoy how you share your life story with honesty and irreverence. You’ve said that blogging gives you a feeling of liberation. Would you encourage every woman to start blogging?
Klein: That’s tough. There’s a difference between writing in a journal that no one will see and putting yourself out there for all to see. It’s nice to get thoughts down in a diary, however if you want true liberation you should post online. But be careful at the beginning if you’re afraid of criticism, you might not want to turn on the comments function right away. Or if you don’t want to manage a blog, you can find other outlets that let you get your feet wet, like on DivineCaroline.
Weeks: Are you ever scared about revealing so much of yourself?
Klein: Yes. Anything that we’re insecure about it is hard to write about because we think we’ll be attacked for it. But when you let go and write about something embarrassing or scary, it actually feels good. The fear disperses. Writing and publishing are the ultimate vehicles. We can show our bad moments and our best moments. We can share about parenting, having a career, whatever. Readers like to see the variety. During some of my emergencies, like with my son, people were very supportive. It was therapeutic to have them commenting with words of encouragement and it made me feel less alone.
Weeks: Most of the comments on your blog are from other bloggers. How have they found out about your blog?
Klein: I have an unusual story because I started the blog as a vehicle to write everyday, not to market myself. I started showing people my blog, they would leave comments, and then I would leave comments on others people’s blogs. I’ve been writing and doing this since 2004, so I’ve had lots of press coverage. There are topics that tend to get people more emotional and commenting on. Like when I write about arguments and my relationship with my husband. People get opinionated and tend to take a side—either for him or me. But I think this competitiveness is wrong—love is not about being right or wrong.
Weeks: When and how did you transition from a blogger to a business?
Klein: I wasn’t looking to start a business. I started the blog and it became popular by word of mouth. A newspaper in London, called the Independent, called me and said they wanted to publish my blog. Then I found a literary agent because I had interest from a publisher. I worked on a book proposal, which was a lot of work. It was 120 pages! I shopped it around and finally signed an agreement. After becoming a published author, I took things step by step. I looked at advertising networks to monetize my writing. For example, there’s a huge market for mommy blogs who can make money from mentioning products. Now I have a second book out. It’s been a major time commitment to manage all aspects of my business. I just can’t do it all myself now. I can’t approve comments, write blog posts, manage advertisers, travel for the book tour, do interviews, etc. So I tell people they have to have a business manager when you can’t balance everything.
Weeks: Are there things you would never blog about?
Klein: I don’t blog about money because people tend to jump to the wrong conclusions. And I don’t write about politics or religion. It’s not where I focus my attention.
Weeks: During the process of writing your newest book entitled Moose, what was the most fun part?
Klein: Going through all my old camp stuff I save since childhood. I got to read all the letters my friends sent me and things I wrote in my diary since starting it at age eleven. I had saved all the little bits of paper and fight songs and personal elements. Revisiting that age was a lot of fun and it was shocking to see how advanced my thoughts were back then.
Weeks: What do you hope people will take away from reading Moose?
Klein: I want readers to see that the childhood identity they still hold onto is a choice. They can either discount it or accept it and move on. It’s a choice they can make. Like, I was always the fat girl and I held onto that for way to long. Today I can tell my emotions, “No way. I’m not that girl anymore. I’m beautiful and I’m confident.” I hope women will show their confidence and won’t be afraid of coming off as self-absorbed. But it seems many women still don’t know how to take compliments because they have low self-esteem. Self-esteem isn’t just about the “self.” It affects others too. For those of us who have children, we are models for their attitudes and self-esteem.
Weeks: If you could have dinner tonight with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Klein: Oprah. Definitely Oprah. I’m sorry that it seems like a typical answer, but I think she’s fascinating—where she comes from, the strides she makes to change people’s lives, how she believes in herself. She’s a real inspiration. I’d love to get drunk with Oprah—that’d be great conversation!