Over time, I’ve been narrowing my own sense of what this blog is—and as I’ve probably alluded to a few times, it’s pretty much just about the world as I experience it, and my experiencing of the world. That seems pretty simple, and so in general I’ve maintained (to myself if not publicly) the idea that this is the one venue where won’t not second guess my writing either because of its subject matter or the actual facility of the writing. If I’ve recorded something that I’ve genuinely observed or felt, then that is part of the “record” I’m creating, and once it goes up, I don’t pull it down. (Although I reserve the right to correct spelling and grammer errors and delete boring bits, etc.) It’s certainly not the degree of social activism of other blogs I read and admire, but it is my own little code—this degree of personal honesty—and it’s what I have to offer.
This is not to say that everything is all serious, or that I don’t just as often post kind of “artifacts” instead of a real post—but these (like my recent cover letter in response to a UTA list job posting), are still indicative of what’s going on, how I’m feeling about things.
A few weeks ago, I posted some items that weren’t quite in keeping with the spirit of this blog.
It started with this job posting on Craigslist:
I am looking to develop a book-related blog geared towards women aged 40+ with teen or pre-teen children, who are avid readers and use the Internet. The idea is to have daily posts akin to 5-mins breathers for an otherwise busy and constraining day. The posts need to be well-written, have their own voice and be funny, provocative, gossipy or just interesting. They must be safe for a work environment and for an environment with children. Each post will be tied (if only loosely is fine) to a specific book. Book genres are diverse and span romance, sci-fi, fiction, non-fiction, politics, children’s etc. ……… A fit with current events or whatever else might make the content relevant to the women reading it would be great.
experience and style. This sounds like you? Please send your resume and writing samples to Xxxxxx: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response, I wrote a couple of samples that were like my style, but slanted–per the assignment, I tried to be a little more funny / gossipy than I am normally. Since the most recent books I’d read had been in conjunction with book clubs, that’s what I wrote about.
I have never received a reply to anything I have sent in response to a job posting on Craigslist, and this was no exception…so after a week or so, I figured I would just put my samples on this blog—and I did.
In the wake of these book club posts, I heard that two of the members portrayed in one of the posts had left book club. I didn’t hear of any reason why. I was genuinely sad, because they were people whom I liked personally, enjoyed seeing, and thought contributed a lot of insight in our discussions. And then I had a horrifying thought– perhaps my descriptions had hurt feelings and caused this. For the first time in memory, I went back to the post and edited out a paragraph.
Eventually, one of the women who’d left told me that what I wrote had not been the cause of her leaving. I was relieved she wasn’t angry with me, but somehow that news didn’t erase my misgivings about those posts, and here’s why:
It’s not that what I wrote was inaccurate in its portrayal of people and events, but at the same time there was an element of dishonesty. I was writing to amuse an audience of strangers. I was writing as a persona—someone funny and gossipy, with “attitude.” The result might have been fine for its original purpose as a writing sample, but it wasn’t really fine to use here, where, according to the unspoken contract I feel I have with readers of this blog, it might be interpreted as a true representation my perspective. I felt like I went to a party where I exchanged witty banter in an attempt to be cool–which was fine, because I do that sometimes–but then I brought it home and used it with real friends, where it rang a little false.
In retrospect, I might still have published those posts, but in context, explaining upfront about my habit of responding to weird and random job postings, and my attempts to be “funny-gossipy-attitude girl.” Maybe I wouldn’t have published them at all.
As a student of writing, teachers often talk about “knowing who your audience is.” I do feel like I finally have a sense of my audience for this blog. It’s me, and people who know me—and even if you aren’t a person who really knows me, from what I write, you should be able to.
I have a lot more that I’ve been thinking about blogging and writing and life that tangentially relates to this, but in the interest of not making a long post to much longer, I’ll save that for future posts and make my ultimate point, which is that I’m sorry. And I get that this is weird, since it’s unlikely you ever even noticed, but I am. I’m sorry for slipping into fakedom. I hope not to do so again any time soon.