I have been reading books from bloggers who have gotten book deals because of their blogs. (Not just because I'm a bitter and jealous woman, either (much.)) Reading these books, though, has got me thinking about the trade-offs and the ethics and a whole raft of issues that I never think about when I sit down to write my blog.
The Cake Wrecks woman released a book which is hilarious. The only thing is --and I hate to be picky-- the editors have edited out a lot of her humor in order to make the book entirely non-offensive or non-actionable, whichever. I understand why they did it and as the book goes on, a little of her edge starts to show. All humor has a bit of an edge, in my not-so-humble opinion. (Another tiny complaint is that my 11-year-old really wanted to read the book and I let her, but I had to warn her that there is an entire chapter on icing that looks like penises. (Penisi?) This was not my favorite conversation of the day. There are already a lot of pages devoted to icing mistakes that resemble poop --maybe that was enough? Just, you know, sayin'.)
And then I did my version of going to the movies, which is when a movie comes out that is based on a book and instead of actually seeing the movie, I read the book. (Because leaving my house to see a movie would be unheard of.) So, I read a good movie when I read "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously." The book is a little depressing to me (probably an emotional echo of my own days of trying to find myself on no budget while living in semi-squalor and working a dead-end job) and Julie Powell has a seriously foul mouth, but it's an interesting premise. The thing I loved the best about the book was the depiction of her relationship with her husband, which sounds a lot like MY relationship with Coop.
So, then I got into full fan mode and I read the actual blog that the book is based on, and I read Julie's latest blog. I find her writing style a little all over the place, but it's entertaining and she's got a good turn of phrase and I got really interested in her story/success.
Unfortunately, in the course of reading all that, it turns out that Julie Powell has a new book coming out about how she had an extramarital affair.
Which just really made me...sad. And disappointed. In fact, I felt somewhat betrayed that this person in whom I'd become invested had turned out to be someone completely different from who I thought she was.
So, let me see if I am getting this right: I discovered a writer who is putting herself out there, blogging about cooking and life and marriage, who turned out to be someone different from the person she is IN MY MIND (since I've never met her) and I feel misled.
That is Crazy on Legs right there.
I mean, it happened after the time span covered by her book and the cooking blog and certainly, I wouldn't have read or wanted to read a blog about an extramarital affair.
It's just that I have this ...THING about honesty. And as I get older, the less tolerant I become of dishonest people, especially cheaters. Even little white lies make me re-evaluate my feelings for the person who just uttered them.
Then, of course, I started playing Devil's Advocate in my own mind because that's what I do--not content with being just generically crazy like most people. I started thinking about how honestly I portray my own life when I am writing on my blog. Because, you know, I don't detail every spat I have with my husband, or the times when our long marriage has gone through the doldrums. In the same way I don't post truly unflattering pictures of myself (much), or write in excruciating detail about my battle with depression and clutter and endless, endless dog hair. I do this purposefully because I feel like I don't want to add any more cynicism/bleakness to the world. But mostly, I try to practice gratitude and a sense of wonder as a way of life. It seems to me that the more you complain about your life and your spouse and your particular travails, the more common it becomes to see that and only that. My working theory is that the opposite is true, too--the more you exercise your Wonder Muscle (get your minds out of the icing), the more wondrous the world IS.
But is that dishonest? Would you feel betrayed if I reveal to you that things are not always so rose-colored in my world?
I don't know.
And more to the point, does it make for good reading? Because look what happened to Cake Wrecks when it got (mostly) sanitized for our protection --it lost some of its humor and interest.
Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be over here cleaning up the dog hair...