When I write for publication, media kits and writer’s guidelines give me some sense of who the audience is, or, more precisely, who the publisher would like it to be.
But when I write here, there is no Power Point-wielding man in a suit trying to tell me that my core audience is 30-something Volkswagen drivers who go out to dinner twice a week and own at least one iPod. No one is trying to push me to write in a way that they think will attract more 23-year-olds because the ad team wants to sell more space to movie theaters and stores that sell sports equipment.
Ultimately, this space is here for me to write things that I will want to re-read ten years from now, not things designed to make more steak house patrons bookmark me. But because I have chosen not to shield myself with anonymity, it’s also tricky, and a bit scarier to dig into the real nitty gritty of motherhood. Overthinking this has has given me a little writer’s block this week that I hope to subvert by delving into NaBloPoMo next week.
Until recently, I hadn’t engaged much with the larger world of blogging. I’d done some of the standard mom blog reading, like dooce, Suburban Turmoil and Breed ’em and Weep. But I’d missed blogs like Twas Brillig, Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Running in Wellies and Not that I don’t love my kids…. Then, a couple of weeks back, I joined Cre8buzz.com, a social network which seems to have drawn an unusually high number of woman/mom bloggers by wisely promoting the fact that unlike MySpace or Facebook, the owners would not deem pictures of women breastfeeding obscene and delete them.
While the aforementioned blogs are among its top stars, there are hundreds more in its ranks, accompanied by a frenzy of women trying to get to know each other, make connections, get their blogs noticed, find respite from domestic isolation, or impart the secrets that make their homes happy. It becomes addictive very quickly – cruising through pages and pages of household scenes, images and mini-essays laced with powerful thoughts about personal identity, marriage, body image, child-rearing, sisterhood, bathroom habits, illness, death, meal planning and accidental comedy. This stuff is authentically funnier and more moving than anything Lifetime could come up with, produced by people with imperfect bodies and faces.
But beyond being a diversion, I realized that the reading I’ve been doing recently has reaffirmed the way I want to look at the world. As a writer, I’ve felt strongly for a long time that everyone has a story worth telling, and those of non-famous people are usually far more interesting than the ones behind the overexposed faces on newscasts and newsstands. The happiest work I have done has generally involved giving rock star attention to un-famous individuals.
For the last week, I’ve noticed faces in the grocery stores that I might have glanced past before and wondered more actively about what kind of extraordinary experiences they might be willing to share, what secrets they possess and if they might be one of the remarkable women I may one day happen upon on the Internet.