Awash with stories as a widow and mom to young children, one writer found a path to share them
How many people do you know who’ve won two donkeys on a TV game show?
That’s just one of Kelly McKenzie’s adventures. She writes the blog Just Typikel. Get it? Her posts brim with the adventures of a mom to two grown children, and daughter to a 91-year-old spark plug of a woman.
Today, Kelly graces us with her presence here at Tech Life.
Kelly’s here to tell us how technology impacted her life. In this case, it was an online writing course that set her on a path of spinning tales of a life in an Asian antique shop with her mom.
Kelly’s blog holds anecdotes on such far-flung subjects as dogs eating paper mache science products and nude men randomly running down the street. So many entertaining stories on her blog, Just Typikel. (Get it? Typical Kelly, when things go this wacky.)
It was all so innocent. I simply signed up for an online writing course, The Momoir Project, designed to teach women the art of memoir writing. I was intrigued by the outline’s explanation that students would draw from our experiences as mothers. Little did I know that my life was about to be transformed.
As a single parent, I was awash with stories. My children were just 16 months and 3 years old when their father died. The intervening 13 years were rife with adventurous, quirky stories, just begging to be shared.
Yet, I wouldn’t have taken it had it not been online.
I’m an interesting mix. Shy, yet often comfortable being the center of attention, I’m averse to sympathy, particularly regarding the untimely death of my husband.
Having to read my stories out loud would have been anathema. Too raw, too painful. Many would surely have me crying; something I’m loathe to do in public. However, the concept of sharing them online with the teacher and the clutch of 15 faceless strangers was eminently doable.
Sitting at my desktop, in the cozy, nonjudgmental world of my basement, I wrote about the multitude of situations created by my fierce refusal to allow the death of their father to define our children’s lives. And also their ability to survive having me as their mother. Stories ranged from the manic dinners dished up in the car dashing between excessive swimming and ice skating lessons to the furtive family disposal of a dead baby crow found on our back lawn.
My classmates, dotted around the world, responded favorably. Bucked by their enthusiasm, I shared a story with my brother, a writer for an online magazine; something I’d been hesitant to do before. His email response was startling.
The journey begins
Would I like him to introduce me to his online editor?
This kind offer proved to be trans-formative. I was assigned to their fledgling “lifestyles” column, and asked to submit a piece every two weeks. Through the ease of online transmission, my ditties were subsequently picked up and published in weekly papers across Canada. The piece about my daughter returning home from college even led to a guest spot on HuffPost Live.
These magical opportunities would have been impossible without technology. With their offices 600 miles from home, I could hardly pop in at will. My stories would have been dependent on Canada Post and limited to a vastly narrower readership.
After two years of writing solely for the column, I wanted more control over my work.
An absolute blogging neophyte, I enrolled in How to Build a Better Blog, another online gem. In a class of more than 100 participants, I was the only student without a blog, so my learning curve was steep. Concepts such as Buttons, Banners, and Tribe were a foreign language.
However, I persevered, and my blog, Just TypiKel, launched in 2013, three years after I enrolled in the Momoir Project.
Technology bridges the divide
Once I began writing about my busier than me, now 93 year-old mother, things began to get interesting. Comments from readers and bloggers from around the world led to a wonderful engagement. Meeting several of them in person has been enriching beyond belief.
My work has been published in print and online. I’ve been a Listen To Your Mother cast mate and am currently writing a book about the 10 years that I worked with my spunky mother in her successful Asian antiques and collectible shop.
I’m blessed. And acutely aware that none of this would have been possible without technology.
[Tiffany Maytum: How tech changed my life, good and bad]
A quirk magnet, Kelly L McKenzie delights in writing about the minutiae of every day life, particularly from a mom’s perspective. Widowed when her two children were mere tots, she’s awash with material. Published both in print and online, she’s the voice behind the humor blog Just TypiKel where she irreverently spills the beans on her kids and 93 year-old mother. Inspired by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction to the latter, she’s currently crafting a book about the 10 years they worked together in their successful Asian antiques and collectibles shop. A veritable Antiques Roadshow meets Auntie Mame and The Odd Couple. You can also find her blathering away on Twitter and Facebook.