Building Audience – For My Classmates

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This is a special article I am doing for my Creative Writing New Media classmates. A visit to my WordPress website about my American Dream might be a true statement of what the American Dream is or is not. I have several blogs but I dedicated this one to talking about our lives here in America. Like most immigrants, we want to live the American dream. What that dream is depends on how each one interprets it. I started this blog to document our path to that dream, a lot like a series of videos would do it for reality television. I have learned through the last few months, that desiring the American dream involves choices that sometimes will drive us away from the very dream we want to attain.

I love writing, writing takes time.  To write and share my writing here consistently meant I needed a reliable computer and reliable internet connection. For me to get those things, I needed money. I did not have the money because I was a stay at home mom looking after a new born. The money my husband was making, was not enough to secure our internet connection, and least of all buy a computer. The laptop we had broke down and my daughter’s computer was hers to use, I could only bully her into letting me use it because she would not do it when I asked politely. That was breaking our family. Well, then our neighbor moved, we said goodbyes to them without thinking or being bothered about their move until that afternoon when we realized we did not even have the erratic connection to Netflix or the internet. All that went away with our neighbors.

I hung around home and hoped that we would have new neighbors soon enough. No matter who they were, I was sure they would bring with them some hotspots that we could tap into for our internet needs. Well, we did get neighbors, but they were stripping the house and would take almost a year to renovate it before they moved in. Theirs was no longer an alternative, I looked around and wondered what to do next. Our status was still temporary legal aliens, there was not much that we could do besides secure jobs and live from day to day.

A couple of months later, we received our Green Cards and life changed for us. But, that did not alter my husband’s income nor did it open new doors for me to get a job. I could not leave my less than one year old at home and find a job, we could not afford childcare. When my family and I landed on American soil, my plan and dream was to pursue an Accelerated degree in Psychological Counseling at what is now known as Chatham University. I had applied, was accepted and was only waiting for schools to start after the summer break. Being at a University that was exclusively for women and pursuing five years of study in a field I hoped would take me to work with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, had me pretty excited. But our circumstances in America had us where you found me in this story.

It was then, I decided that I needed to do something about my circumstances. I refused to go back to cleaning people’s homes and bringing my precious baby with me. I had inhaled enough dust and mildew in the past, brand new baby did not need to be exposed to that. The next best job I had found, compared to cleaning the houses of individuals, was a housekeeping job at a pleasure resort. So I had moved from to doing work individually, to doing it for a bigger company that was contracted by hotels and Time Share Communities. It was fine until I got pregnant, that is the topic of another story article though, and had to stop a couple of months before I delivered. What I did next was not different. I did hard work, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, bathing older clients and looking after them around the clock. When my baby came, I felt I needed to concentrate on her. There was no need of me exposing her to what I saw as the unsanitary nature of an Adult Care Home on a daily basis.

That was when we moved and rented a house of our own as a family, the one in which we have lived since then, but I had no job. I made up my mind not to go back to cleaning homes for people and doing housekeeping. I was not looking down on those jobs but rather looking forward to using the skills I already had to seize better opportunities. I chose to go back to school online, so I would have time to be with my baby but also do my writing and pursue my degree studies. But then, I needed a computer and a reliable internet connection to attend online school. I needed money to do all that, but I  did not have surplus money.

I called my children together and told them how we could reduce our water and electricity usage to save money for internet connection and a computer. They were very cooperative, I wonder why? . That first month, we cut our water bill into half and our electric bill to a reasonably good amount. I then began to look around for a computer and found one on Facebook. It was a good second hand computer, but I did not have the amount of money it would cost to buy it. He agreed to be paid in three installments and I could take the computer with me when I made the first installment. I got it that evening.

I then bought an office desk from an elderly friend who was moving to a nursing home. I was only working with dreams and opportunities. But the amazing thing was that,  whenever I took a step to do something, the means appeared and I did it. I proved a lot that I had known but did not grasp steadfastly, that::

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. ~ Henry David Thoreau.

 

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrydavid163655.html#SpoXUEbVv6GbPTwr.99

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrydavid163655.html#SpoXUEbVv6GbPTwr.99

I then shopped around for internet connection companies and packages. I was approved and managed to get high speed internet. I immediately went back to blogging on Hubpages. I quickly learned that I needed to know more about writing in America for me to succeed at doing it on Hubpages I was part of a strong supportive community but I was challenging myself to do much more. I decided needed to join a writing community and learn from them. When I could not be accepted for the Hubpages apprenticeship program, I decided to go back to Writing school. Surprisingly, even if I had been accepted into Chatham university a few years back as a foreign student, as a permanent resident, the requirements were different. My school papers had to be evaluated by independent evaluators.I had no money for that and did not even attempt the lengthy process. I opted to sit for the GED exams instead. I tried to prepare for the GED exams while I continued with my writing on Hubpages. While giving feedback to one of my friends on Hubpages, I came across an advert for a Creative non-fiction Writing degree at one of the Southern New Hampshire University. They made the process of admission into their university much easier for me and in March of 2012, I entered the university as a Creative nonfiction student..

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Being in school opened new doors for me and sharpened my American dream. I created the Myamericandreamblog.com to share the journey. When I started writing this article, I mentioned that many immigrants and minorities in America find that their need to make a living gets in the way of creatively using their time to do those things that would propel them toward their dreams.

My husband worked almost all the time to earn money to pay bills and take care of us. There was not enough left to take care of anything else after the bills were paid. A man goes to work outside the home, a woman more often than not needs to be at home to work there when need arises. I was working three jobs not being paid for them in any way; being a mother and wife, writing online and attending school full-time. I did not mention that I was also serving my community full time through a ministry I had founded four years earlier, The Community Prayer Centers Inc. I needed money for other things too.

When I responded to the need for money, my dream to live the life I had imagined was compromised as you will see. I went to school to train as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Two years later,  I work as a CNA for an agency. I make just a little more money, but I have struggled to stay with my University course work and perform well. I have struggled to make time to help my kids with their school projects and school work. I have struggled to bring up my baby in the comfort of our home where I felt I had the grand and unique opportunity to home school and watch her grow. I am half asleep most of the time and our marriage suffered so much, it almost ended in 2013. It has been a tough walk.

But, I have not stopped dreaming, I have not stopped wondering what it would mean to advance in the direction of what I have dreamed. Who would pay my bills or help me finance some of the important things I need to do if I did that? One good thing however that came out of being a Nursing Aide in-spite of the little pay and erratic hours,  is that I managed to work on my credit. I focused on building my credit so much so that in one year, my credit went up almost 300 points! It has not all been vain. Buying a house of our own and getting are possibilities not far from our reach.

Great credit also opened other doors towards the dream. My dream computer is now grand and keeps crashing even if it is still the best in our house. I cannot install the latest versions of windows on it, the programs it came with are being phased out and soon the machine will be obsolete. I went shopping for CDs in Walmart a few days ago, when I came across this amazing computer that I have only dreamed of getting. It would need a few hundred dollars to be purchased. Could I be allowed pay for it in installments. Yes it was if I qualified. In fact there was a promotion where I could pay for it in 18 months without paying interest at all as long as I paid on time. Well, I qualified and for the first time in my life I walked out of a store with a brand new item that I could pay for later. 

I have been watching my credit and spending habits so closely, you can rest assured, I got what I can afford to pay off in three months if I choose to. In fact the price was so good, I could pay it off with the refund from the tax IRS withheld. So here is to a brand new computer and new dreams and promises. The dream is hard to keep in perspective now because, the question is, what must I do now? My Nursing Assistant Job will never allow me to advance at the same pace I envisioned. If anything, it will hold me back to only care for bills, enable me to be less involved with my children’s learning activities because I am tired a lot. That is not what I chose so, I must find another way of realizing our American dream without sacrificing any of my family.

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Writing for WordPress has been a lot like leaving my dream to pursue my Nursing Assistant job so that I can be able to pay my bills. When I started out on Word Press, the only blog I have to pay for, it was a promise for me to be able to connect with Writers and readers who are American. In becoming a Nursing Assistant, I hoped that my job and income would enable me to live like other Americans, that may be I could buy myself nice clothes, do my hair, nails and take my children out to eat or watch movies once in a while. I invested money and time on WordPress and packed things on Word Press but I could not easily find inroads into the community. When I became a Nursing Assistant, my working hours and pay were so erratic that I was forced to accept any and almost everything that came my way to be able to earn money. I decided to follow many people and read their items and comment whenever I could, but that is a hard job for now.

The response I received from Word Press has been worse than I have ever received from all the other online forums I write for. Just like on blogger, I only have one or two followers here (actually it is better here), but the traffic to my articles on blogger is extremely good. It is 400% better for me there than on here  (Word Press), but this is the site I chose for this particular kind of blogging. I am sharing my content from Blogger the same way I am sharing my content from here with the same audiences, but somehow, blogger has traffic from unique sources that are not part of my regular audience, at least that is what the statistics tell me.

Am I missing something? We have an experiment here to learn about what influences traffic and why. Is building audience dependent just on what we do as writers or how the communities we write for are structured or built to assimilate us? This is a message and question to my classmates from the New Media class.

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