Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blogging, Truth, and Beauty

So I’ve been mulling over this post from Soulemama the last couple of days, in which she admits to having bad days, just like the rest of us (I wanted to say, “us mortals” there, but I restrained myself), but that she chooses to document the things that are beautiful and joyful in her life so that that is what she focuses on, and in doing so bring more of it into her life. Now I admit, as I have many times in the past, to being a Soulemama addict, and I also admit to one of my reasons for returning again and again to her blog is to fuel my sense of inadequacy. I also admit that when a couple of months ago she took a blog break because her entire family was sick, my first thought was, “Wow, they really are human.”

Apparently someone has implied that that only focusing on one element of life (in this case the happy, happy, joy, joy element) is not truthful. Soulemama doesn’t think so, and neither do I. It’s impossible (and would be highly boring) to write about every single thing in our lives—we all pick and choose what to write about, and that is our truth. I do think it’s less real, and a lot less interesting. Honestly, I don’t want to read about how ever-lovin’ wonderful your kids are. But if your kid pooped in your hand yesterday, yeah that’s a story I wanna hear. The essence of story is conflict, and the point of literature is catharsis—pity and fear. I can pity you because yeah, it would totally suck to have poop in your hand; and I can feel fear, because it could happen to me someday. I can also have a moment of relief, because even if my day is totally sucking, well, at least no one has pooped in my hand (yet). Besides, chances are if you’re writing about your kid pooping in your hand, it’s going to be a pretty g*d d*amn funny story, and I tell ya sister, I could use a laugh.

When I saw The Passion of the Hausfrau this weekend (What? You haven’t gotten your tickets yet? What are you waiting for?), I laughed and cried so hard because I was right there with her when her kids were freaking out in the grocery store, when her son turned every stick or log or piece of toast into a gun or rocket launcher, when she realized she had just let her own life pass her by while she was focused on her kids. That’s the kind of story I want to read.

I have actually had the thought recently that my kids are at such a good place right now, they’re not very interesting to write about. Not that we don’t still have our moments (and our days), but 3/3/7 is SUCH and improvement over 2/2/6 and 1/1/5 and probably 0/0/4 (except I can hardly remember those days—did I actually live through that??)

But at least Soulemama has a clear reason and purpose for blogging, and apparently it’s working for her—she has 1000s of readers, has written two books, has a thriving Etsy store, advertisers and sponsors. I still don’t know why exactly I started this blog, or why I keep it up, other than as a platform for my Leo desire to be the center of attention to wrestle with my Introvert desire for no one to notice me. Ever. It clearly has not helped improve my writing skills, or forwarded my writing career. I have a long list of publications to which I plan on submitting work, but I can’t seem to collect the time, energy, motivation and focus to sit down and pen an essay for cryin’ out loud.

I read blogs with really good writing; ones that make me laugh; ones from which I can learn something—about current events, politics, a new way of viewing an old issue; ones that inspire me to make something, cook something, do something, go somewhere; ones that give me recipes or craft plans (although lately I’ve been rebelling against this romanticization of the domestic, like it’s an evil plot of the Patriarchy to keep us wimmins barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen or at the sewing machine). I also turn to blogs like Soulemama and others that make life appear so dreamy and peaceful and perfect to give me a little boost when my life appears anything but.


  1. hello, neighbor...i have been reading your happily snarky blog for MONTHS because it gives me great pleasure, and makes me laugh so hard. maybe because i knew you way back when? i'm not sure - keep up the good work in any case. i don't feel any burning desire to read about only the wonderful in someone's life - there's push and pull, and that's more significant to me. good to focus, but not realistic enough for me.

  2. the irony, andrea, is that i read your blog & see all the cool things you are making & all the cool things you are doing with your kids & it makes me feel like 'what the feck i am doing' & that i just can't keep up with all your wonderful projects & engage with my kids in the same way. sooooooo, how's that for some perspective? yeah, soulemama is in a whole 'nother league & i just can't go there. but you, my friend, are da-yum amazing in your own right.

  3. Shelagh--Hey! Glad to know you're out there staying connected on the internets (you know, since we live so far apart it would be really hard to actually talk in person!!)

    Sara--I guess it's all a matter of perspective...I am completely in awe of all you do in your life and w/ your kids--the music lessons, multi-cultural education, all the cool events and functions you go to, and of course the Bakfiets commuting!

  4. Well, this blog is to me probably what soulemama is to you in terms of fueling my sense of inadequacy, but I love it. And I love all of your other posts, too - not just the ones that make me wonder why I can't make everything we use and live off the land while raising kids and holding down a full-time job! Your blog is great.


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