By Martha Nichols for Talking Writing
Here's what I'm resisting: That in my blog, I must turn my entire life into a story. That my family members are the cast of characters, complete with cute snapshots. That readers will be privy to all the details of my life--pictures of my foot surgery, my dog, my Uncle Fred--none of which exist, of course.
Actually, I think most bloggers are writing about their real lives, in both illuminating and eye-glazing ways. The relentless focus on reality is both the pleasure and pain of blogs, and I wonder where they're heading.
The Problem, #1
Keeping a diary has been around for eons. What's different is making that diary public--and making money (if you're lucky) from your nightly scribblings. Here's one of the latest from Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, a six-figure professional blogger:
"And then five minutes later I feel another menstrual cramp. This goes on for, oh, seven hours? Eight? I can't remember, only that I was certain it meant that I was going to take an enormous crap. That's just my track record. During the last week that I was pregnant with Leta I thought I was going into labor three different times, and each time Jon would break out his watch and time the contractions, and we'd get all excited, like BABY BABY BABY, and then BOOM, I'd go take a poop and everything would stop."
So what's wrong with that? Nothing. Really. Writers need money. I need money. Except.... Heather Armstrong is a good writer, often funny. But most of the parenting blogs like this are too diary-like for me, too insufferably cute or self-conscious. I feel bad saying this, too, because as a feminist, I'm a believer in the power of quotidian details. I just don't want to see pictures of somebody's ultrasound.
I want a good, well-told story.
The Problem, #2
The gender flip on mom blogs is the often male-authored megaphone. It's an op-ed with Hunter Thompson's Disease. Here's a sample from John Batchelor of The Daily Beast:
"The sad-eyed Townhall Turfers now follow the saucer-eyed Birthers and the cranky Tea-Baggers as the latest political fad that the weakling Republicans not only cannot get away from but also cannot get enough of, like chocolate sauce on anything."
It's almost a zinger, almost so bad it's good. It did compel me to read farther, but after a post or two like this, even with great titles like "The GOP Freak Show," I feel exhausted. I become hypnotized by long strings of comments about Sarah Palin (for example), which alternate between wittily brilliant and Neanderthal. This is the blogosphere, and I'm still surprised that so many people type out their thoughts, anonymously, their ids run wild. Maybe it's the id-charge that keeps them doing it, like placing prank phone calls.
I want a good, well-told story.
Ode to Pleasure and Pain
There's something quaint about the proliferating lines of text with these comments, though. People love YouTube, but they love writing, too. They check in on each other's comments, they argue and quibble. They're engaged with each other's words. It's not about pictures, but text. And while I haven't figured out what's coming next for myself as a writer or whether I can turn my blog into a series of mini-stories--has anyone figured it out? have you?—I am writing, more than I have in a long time. In the shorthand of Dooce: It's cool.
1 hour ago