The Blogger’s Conundrum

Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to hang loose. Dinosaurs help.

One thing I struggle with constantly as a blogger is how to write things that are personally meaningful and heartfelt and yet innocuous. I often write about my family because my family is my job and my life. If I were a physician, I would write about medicine or if I were a priest I would write about faith. But, I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I write about what that is like for me. I try to be respectful. I try to choose my topics and words carefully. Sometimes, I still end up upsetting people. Sometimes, even things I feel I have written in a pointedly joking way come back to bite me because someone I know and love takes my words in a way I did not intend. It’s never easy when someone you care about lets you know your words offended, hurt, or annoyed them.

While writing about my personal life, I aspire to achieve a balance between humor and sensitivity, but sometimes I fail. And, when others fail to grasp my meaning in a written piece, I have substantively failed as a writer. I hate that. Before starting this blog, I debated about using a pseudonym. I weighed keeping my writing a secret and not publishing at all. Knowing that I write from my life experiences, I carefully considered what writing publicly would mean for my relationships. I very nearly decided not to attempt it at all. Then, one day, I resolved to be brave. I would take a risk. I would put myself out there wholly and completely, and that is what I attempted to do. Instead, though, I’ve censored myself repeatedly to ensure harmonious relationships. I feel I have barely even dipped my toe in the pool of self-disclosure. In this grand blogging experiment, what I’ve learned is that no matter how hard you try not to upset anyone, sometimes it just happens. I’ve also learned that you can’t predict what might bother someone, nor can you claim responsibility for their feelings. All you can do is write and hope for the best.

I’m down to the last 22 consecutive days left in this 366-day blogging adventure. I would walk away now (and, believe me, I’ve been toying with that idea for weeks), but I’m not a quitter. So, I’m staying until December 3rd as planned, at which time this blog will undergo some changes. I will likely reduce the amount of posts per week and I will also likely limit my subject matter. Both those things will cut down on the amount of times I’ll be able to annoy those near and dear to me.

I keep wondering how other writers balance this delicate situation. Is there a solution I’m missing? If I write honestly, am I doomed to a life of endangered relationships and lengthy personal explanations? Do I write what I want and ignore the fallout of others’ emotions? Writing is a gift to me only when I write without self-censure. I found a great quote tonight by famed poet Allen Ginsberg: “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” While that’s easier said than done with blogging, I suppose it is still possible. Maybe I just need to write what I need to say and then put on some noise-cancelling headphones and move forward and don’t look back?

2 comments

  1. Love your Words, and Life experiences! I very much enjoy reading your thoughts about life, etc….Never are you Offensive. Please keep Writing. ….Plus one more day! πŸ˜‰

  2. Justine,

    I think it takes a lot of courage to put your personal life out there as you do. I don’t think I could do it. I think a certain amount of concern over being understood is natural, but there is a point where I just let go and get it out and when the juice is really flowing I don’t give a damn about the reader. That sounds cruel, but I figure when I go back and edit then I can think about my reader. I think that, in poetry especially, one isn’t going to be universally understood all the time anyway. Lots of my friends love Kerouac’s On the Road, but I was bored. So what. I would not call Kerouac a failure. He wouldn’t either, were he alive.

    I was always told “write what you know” and “stand in your truth”…no matter what people say. Yesterday I posted a poem by Richard Jones on FB about an Asian woman who centuries ago was having an extra-marital affair. Some of those who read my FB may not like that or may think that I celebrate “cheating” but it was more about the expression than the content. Sometimes if a reader does not get your drift it may be that the reader has a problem. It takes two and it is not all on the writer. Trying to make oneself understood when writing poetry usually ends in ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’.

    Your writing is clear and you express yourself well, to my ear at least. I say “stay with it”. Life is full of surprises. I didn’t begin writing poetry until I was 50 and, though I had always read poetry I never fancied myself writing it until inspiration paid a visit and I became serious about it. Now I am 64 and I still wonder what’s in store! (that rhymes…lol)

    Just saying…

    Ken W.

    BTW I like that quote by Allan Ginsberg. Another paraphrase of his that I like is “first word, best word”.

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