This space has been kind of quiet lately. I’ve taken a step back.
I came home from BlogHer12 with more questions than answers. When a friend asked me about my trip to NYC today, I told her the truth. I felt fulfilled by BlogHer, and yet it pulled back the curtains on some ugly truths. For me. For you. For all of us.
I realized that I’ve been writing the top layer of my life. When Todd Akin ran his mouth about rape and abortion, what I really wanted to write was a thoughtful, gritty, feminist piece that was laced with my own sexual history. Instead, I wrote about my motherhood. It felt safer. But it was only topical. I am often afraid to trust my instincts in this space. Wary of doing the walk of shame the morning after I hit “publish”. There is an inherent identity shift that shadows the act of motherhood. I suppose it would only make sense that I’m having trouble peeling back the layers of who I am. And of course bloggers do everything publicly.
Why do you blog?
Do you blog to keep a record of your life? I love having this space as an online scrapbook, a virtual treasure box of memories that Max and I can take out someday and look through together. Do you blog to make connections? I’ve found some of the most lovely friends here, and discovered that they are even more gracious and eloquent and witty in real life. This space allows me to challenge myself. It asks more of me than my friends in real life do. It forces me to be public with my thoughts and my doubts, but why?
Don’t we blog, to say “Look at me!!!!”?
Look at me, I’m struggling with (fill in the blank) and I need your support. Look at me, and make me feel like something about goldfish crackers and diapers and preschool drop-off is glamorous. Look at me, I’m writing a book. Look at me, I’m important and I need you to validate that. Look at me! My pain, my triumphs, my life….all splayed out in public, in hopes of finding community. Or maybe page views. Because really. When you link up, when you tweet it, when you syndicate it, when you dig deep down into the darkness of your real life and you mine your experiences to share with the world…..what are you hoping to accomplish??
I know the answer that I’ve always given. That I’m documenting our lives, our truths, so that one day Max will know the raw essence of who his parents really are. So he’ll know for sure how much he is loved, how much he is treasured. I know that I’m trying to throw a life jacket out to any mom that feels like I once felt. Alone, afraid, angry, isolated. Struggling with breastfeeding. Parenting alone when their partner is at work for endless hours. Recently, I’ve been writing to challenge myself. To see if I remember how to write for a prompt, or string together prose, or weave research into stories. I know that all of those things together, drive me to blog.
But I’d be lying to say that I don’t care if anyone reads it. And you would too.
We care because we’re on Twitter. (I love Twitter by the way. Especially since I’ve now met so many Twitter friends in real life. But Twitter is really just one big ego-stroke, dressed up to look like information sharing). We care because our blogs have Facebook pages, and we check Google Analytics and obsess over our Klout scores and how many followers we have.
I love to write. But what is writing if it isn’t READ. If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it….
Can you really tell me that you don’t get a tiny rush of adrenaline when you hit “publish”?
That you don’t time your disclosures to coincide with when your audience is around?
You get a little kick out of introducing yourself by your Twitter handle. You are thrilled when you create strategic alliances with other bloggers, or when you crack the code and a post really takes off.
Writing is like giving your psyche a makeover. You can be whoever you want to be, just write it out. I loved being forced to give my elevator pitch 600 times at BlogHer. Because I changed it each time. “I’m a parenting blogger. I write about children with health issues. I discuss politics and current events. I write about feminism. I used to work in Social Services, so I talk about families and trauma. Post-partum depression. My blog talks about formula and struggling with breastfeeding.” I write about all of these things. Perhaps that’s what a “Lifestyle Blogger” is? Seriously, WTF is a lifestyle blogger? My guess was that’s what they called us “Mommy Bloggers”, so that we didn’t punch anyone in the face.
I’m embarassed that I’ve let my voice be overwhelmed by what I percieve my audience to need. It makes me furious that the best memoir inside of me, the one that begs to be written, can never live on paper because I signed a confidentiality agreement. I am embarassed that I’ve thought of sharing personal, private, painful things here, and that has stretched the boundaries that my family is comfortable with. But maybe I should tell you anyway. Isn’t that what bloggers do?
What is this space for?
I need reminding. I need to know how you balance your stats and your truth. Tell me why you blog. Tell me what it feels like for you, when your fingers are typing furiously and your brain is in over-drive, and you vomit raw emotion that terrifies you, but you share it anyway. Why? I’m asking you honestly, why do you do it? How can I find my way here?
Tell me the truth. How do I get back to this sacred space?