Why I Blog

So, you know how periodically, I question why I do this blogging/writing thing? You know, given that I'm not sure it counts as a career, regardless of the amount of time I spend on it. Well, a new reader who is also a writer (Farm Suite --do y'all know her? You will.) asked me a question and in answering her, I kind of figured it out. She asked, "...how did you end up writing a column about your personal life... and being okay with everyone knowing that stuff?"

This is a slightly edited version of my answer to her incredibly insightful question. Because I know you all are DYING to know. (Oh, hush up and just hit delete. There's no need to get mean.)

I think there are a whole lot of factors that went into making me the kind of writer I am. As I started thinking about your question, I kept coming up with more and more of them.

One is that when I was a girl, I had a very serious eating disorder that thrived in secrecy. And the more secret I kept it, the bigger and more unmanageable it became. But when I finally started talking about it, I recovered from it. (Well, more or less. Still have some after-effects.)

Another is that I have big issues with being heard. Maybe this is from being the youngest of four or maybe it's because of the way I talk or something but I feel sort of invisible about half the time. Seriously, in my own family, every single person will ask me a question and then either not listen to the answer or sometimes, get this, even walk out of the room when I'm in the middle of answering. I can't even get the DOG to listen. Maybe I talk too much or something? I don't know. But it seems like when I write, people HEAR me.

Probably the biggest thing that affected my writing and led to me writing personal essays was that I had an epiphany one time where I realized that when I withhold information about myself, it's almost always because I am afraid of being judged harshly by someone. And for ME, that's the sin of pride and it's my biggest failing. So I decided to just stand naked in front of the world, so to speak, with all my faults and dumb mistakes and missteps right there under the fluorescent lights. Sometimes this is harder than others but I don't want to live my life inauthentically in the eyes of my God.

This isn't always easy. My husband is a VERY private person and he appears in both my columns and my blog with some regularity. He's not so happy about that. So I try to respect his privacy but still live "out loud" so to speak. It's a tough thing to balance, especially right now when he's about 85% of my adult interaction.

In the end, I keep blogging and writing because a very odd thing happened when I started talking about my darkest or deepest and silliest stuff-- it turned out that there were actually a lot of people out there who could relate and who felt somehow better knowing that they weren't the only ones who...whatever it is. And I developed this audience of people. Sometimes they tune in just because my work makes them feel a lot better about their own lives! I had a reader tell me that she loved to go read my blog because she always knew that no matter how crazy her day had been, mine was probably worse. (I'm not sure that was a compliment exactly...) So, I sort of see it as my mission to do what I can to bring down the false barriers between people, especially between mothers because we really are all much more similar than we realize. And a lot of people think the exact same things I write about but maybe they can't express them. It makes me happy to think that I can express it for them.

I never, EVER thought of myself as a humor writer. In fact, I STILL don't really think of myself as a humor writer. It's just that life is so FUNNY. And also, the best and fastest shortcut to building bridges between people seems to be a shared laugh. And then there's the concept I learned from one Jane Cooper (now 7) which is how amazing the power of positive energy is. That kid is going to take over the world.

So, this was probably way more information than you were looking for. But it actually really helped me to type all this out. I guess I knew all this stuff but there's something about writing the words, "my mission with my work..." that makes you realize you, um, actually HAVE one!


There, that wasn't so painful, was it? Tomorrow I'll be back to the absurd and I'll tell you how we paid darn good money to have a cabinet installed so that we could put the cat box in it. No, seriously.

Comments

Hannah said…
My first comment on here as a longtime lurker, but I just had to say, "Exactly, Exactly, Exactly!"
Thanks for putting it all into words, this weird compulsion to write it all down and to share with who knows who's reading.
I've gotten so when something happens during the day (usually just one of those moments that only I notice), my first thought is to start composing a blog entry!
kitmf said…
I am just thanking all the good powers that you do write.

And in the irony category, one of the offspring has just informed me that she and her spouse are moving to Austin for the next year.
Bullwinkle said…
You've had two comments. And I wanted to say "exactly" and thank the "good powers" that you do write. And now I wonder if I'd just echo all your commenters if you had 10 comments. And that worries me - that I have no voice of my own. But I shall choose the "Barb Way" (at 05:00 a.m. that is an Effort, I'm just sayin') and think, instead, that there are a lot of people out there who think like me and I am not alone.

Oh, and we're not all mothers. Some of us are just frantic and crazy and too busy and laughing at the details just because.

Love the blog. Thanks for being here. (And thank Coop too - because I've got a Dude who wonders what this is all about.)
annabanana said…
What a great blog post...all so very true.

Now my mind is DYING to know if the new cabinet will keep a dog from enjoying 'kitty poopsicles', and if the cats will actually get in there, and if yes to both can I have the design please?

Puppy kisses laced with litter are NO FUN....
Memarie Lane said…
I can relate to the being heard thing. Not because I have anything important to say, but because growing up as the youngest, no one ever listened to me. If I tried to talk people would just talk right over me as though I'd never opened my mouth, like I wasn't even there. Kind of pisses you off after awhile. So it's great to have people actually reading something I wrote, so I no longer feel like a piece of furniture.
knittergran said…
The best discussion of "Why Blog?" that I've ever heard or read!
I do have an off-topic question, though. How is Edward behaving now that he's been back awhile? Is he still a bit nervous, unsure of where he is, or is he "This is where I've always lived. This is how I've always lived. La, la, la"?
LaDonna said…
Oh, Barb, your explanation is so thoughtful and a much more articulate explanation than I could ever write myself. I don't blog as regularly as I would like, but when I do, it's because I feel like I need to know that there's someone else out there who is dealing with the same thing.

I'll admit, I'm a little embarrassed at the part that talks about the reader who told you she reads because your day has been worse than hers. I think I may have said something to that effect at some point so this may be me, and obviously it wasn't one of my most articulate moments (see? I just can't say it as well as you!) because what I meant was that no matter how crazy my day is, I know that there's someone else out there who shares the craziness of life with me. It was meant more as a sisterhood in the insanity of daily living thing than a your-life-sucks-worse-than-mine thing, ya know? And yes, I meant it as a complement. Hugs to you!
Dawn said…
LOL to the cabinet for the cat box!! Sounds like something we would do!!
Barb said…
LD--it wasn't you and I don't remember you ever saying anything like that at all to me. I remember you saying something like, "We're soul sisters and you make me laugh because you're a GODDESS with the verbiage..." oh, wait, I made that up. Seriously, it was actually the HUSBAND of a reader and he outed his wife. And dude, you know me well enough to know that it MADE ME LAUGH. So, no feeling guilty, silly. Because I hope you know that I would NEVER, EVER in a million years want to make you feel that, especially when it wasn't you! You're such a bright spot in my world, LD. I quite adore you. --Barb
LaDonna said…
Oh, now I feel all warm and gushy inside! I may just have to run off and add more to my Joy Rush List!!
Kathy said…
Eloquent, as usual. Not even worth mentioning because it's no less than what I have come to expect. It's funny because as I was walking to the streetcar this morning I was really struggling with that "why blog" issue. Why do I blog really? Nobody cares what I made for dinner last night or how many pounds I need to lose. But I keep on doing it. Guess I will keep on doin' it too. And for the record, I love the way you talk.
Chickie Momma said…
Wonderfully said.

And thank you. Thank you SO much, for not literally standing naked before us.
Liz in Ink said…
This is so dang lovely and right-on, Barb. Keep on keeping on. Even from way up there in the hinterlands of the Northeast. (Miss you down here...)