4/28/14

zombie blog

A friend of mine referred to my blog as a “zombie blog.” I think that is accurate. I frequently stop writing here for months at a time, and blog only when I feel like it. Nice work if you can get it.

I have, however, completely killed my ability to simply blog, that wonderfully informal writing medium that used to allow me so much creativity, not to mention fun. Most of my posts are more formal now, less personal. In fact, I rarely update about my personal life outside faith and religion, and I find I enjoy the relative anonymity that brings. When you live out your faith publically, in all its messy transitional glory, complete with failures and successes, it becomes very comforting to keep the rest of your life private. I’m also, more than ever, extremely protective of the people in my life who did not sign up for an online presence. I hate bloggers who see everyone in their life as potential blog fodder, from family to coworkers to random people on the street. (I stopped reading a blog when the “writer” started including photos of people she saw into on the street/gym/grocery store in order to make fun of their clothes, hair, appearance, etc. PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS IN YOUR ONLINE BLOG DRAMA. HUMANITY DOES NOT EXIST SOLELY IN RELATION TO YOU. )

I especially don’t know where the line is when it comes to blogging about family and kids. I see lifestyle blogs in which private family moments are publicized in order to make money, and I feel weird. EASETR MORNING! SPONSORED BY TARGET! GENDER REVEAL OF OUR FETUS! ANATOMICALLY CORRECT BLUE BALLOONS C/O ASOS!

But then I tell myself to stop being a hypocrite. I couldn’t fight the charge that I’ve sold my faith for freelance writing opportunities. I write here, and elsewhere, for pay.  I frequently talk about my faith, my relationship with God, and yes, occasionally and my marriage.  If anything, those seem much more sacred than a gender reveal or photos of kids around a Christmas tree or hunting for Easter eggs. Furthermore, some of my very favorite writers are memoir writers and personal essay writers. David Sedaris wouldn’t be David Sedaris without the stories about his family, both the happy and sad stories. Tina Fey making jokes about her coworkers made Bossypants funny and relatable. My favorite part of reading and writing is watching people become real, personalities appearing hangman style, one letter at a time across the page. Writing about the human experience is rarely a one-person show, so I don’t want to draw lines in the sand for what we can and cannot write about. Plus, you know, it’s not like I’m God. If you’re reading this and your baby gender reveal was sponsored by ASOS, good for you.
A few days ago another friend (hi Kimberly!) reminded me of the translation of “Namaste.” Namaste is commonly translated as “the God within me greets the God within you.” While I’m not ever certain regarding the fate of my zombie blog, and I don’t think there is a “right” answer on blogging and writing about the things and people we value, I do appreciate the idea of seeing the people in our stories as Gods, not products. When I read a blog and feel like I am “paying” with my click to buy a product, a sponsored memory or a voyeuristic view into a private moment, I can't see the gods in the writing. It feels different than getting paid to write, because it’s not the writing being sold, but the person, the kid who never had a say on if he or she wanted to be auctioned off on mommy’s blog. I don’t know if that will ever stop bothering me. But maybe I’m just grumpy. I’m usually just grumpy.
Speaking of grumpy, I notice the best writers even manage to write people they don’t like fairly. Whether a crazy boss or an annoying ex, when good writers reveal the less than god-like characteristics of people around them, they extend the process to themselves as well. You might judge me a little bit for saying this, but I admired how in Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob Lowe, (or Rob Lowe’s ghostwriter, I don’t know) made sure to include his own personal failings when talking about his negative interactions with Hollywood actors. He’s Rob Lowe! He could have said “I’m perfect and my stunning blue eyes and perfect facial features only brought delight to those privileged enough to interact with me,” and I probably would have believed him, because Rob Lowe. But he didn’t.
Here’s a vintage MCB (Vintage! Blogging! Darling! Blog Words!) judging space for admitting my admiration of Rob Lowe____________________________________________________
Plus, who can forget Mindy Kaling admitting in her memoir that she wasn’t a very good guest writer for Saturday Night Live? She wasn’t funny! Mindy Kaling wasn’t funny!  Maybe good writing is about equilibrium, either there are Gods in all of us, or we are all equally weird and flawed. I don’t have much interest reading about someone who sees only the God in themselves and the weird in others. And the alternative (I’m flawed, everyone else is perfect,) is just martyrdom, and Mormonism gives me enough of that nonsense on the regular. As does living where I live. (Utah culture, ladies and gentleman. What a trip.)  
These are the things I write about when I consider the future of my zombie blog, and when I consider telling a story about my kid, or a teaching experience, or a friend. I hope someday I find that magic writing equilibrium so I can discover not only the weird and deeply flawed God living in the people I write about, but the one living in my heart as well.
And, for the record, here is a list of celebrity memoirs I have read and enjoyed. See previous included judging space if necessary.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) Mindy Kaling
Stories I Only Tell my Friends Rob Lowe
Bossypants Tina Fey
And everything written by David Sedaris, who I consider an imaginary friend, as well as a celebrity in his own right.


Oh yeah! This is a blog. I think I’m supposed to end this with a question. How do you write about the people around you? What are your rules? If your blog job is to promote a product, how do you include your family in your posts in a way that feels authentic? Am I a total jerk for being weird about commercial mommy/lifestyle blogging? It’s totally possible. 

9 comments:

The Cotton Floozy said...

The line between being a blogger and a shill is pretty blurry. Every blogger gets asked to write a blog post about a product or a book or whatever. I say yes to this about 1.3% of the time, and only if it is something I like and/or believe in. The rest of the time? No thank you. Because then you just become a professional shill and all of the joy is sucked out of your life (until you start swimming in your money like Scrooge McDuck.) I don't judge, honestly. There is definitely a high enough price that would convince me to become a sellout. But meanwhile, I don't want to be trapped in a corner while people yell DANCE MONKEY DANCE at me.

Meredith said...

I love comedian memoirs. I loved Rachel Dratch's "A girl walks into a bar" and Chelsea Handler's "Vodka, its me Chelsea." Oh and Sarah Silverman's "Bedwetter." I have a serioius thing for female comedians. I'm DYING for Tig Nitaro's book to come out. I'll have to read Rob Lowes. Also, I lied. I don't read them. I listen to them.

Lauren Donna said...

My blog is a passive-aggressive playground. I should probably have more rules as far as who/what I blog about, but there's always the justification of "who reads this thing anyway??" I avoid mommy blogs, but indulge in reading waaaaay too many fashion blogs. Ugh.

)en said...

Hey there. I came across your blog many moons ago, loved it, and then forgot about it. So glad i found it again as I'm struggling to keep up my own blog which, too, once upon a time was a creative outlet for me I enjoyed frequently and verges on the brink of zombiedom (<-- which is kind of bada--)

But anyway, I started my blog almost 10 years ago. When i began i knew that this was the thing for me. I quickly had to define and set my own parameters for blogging because yeah, people quickly got out of control. I agree with your feelings, and if you're a jerk, then I am too.

Something that helps me set my own boundaries, etc is whenever I hear of some random person, maybe my mom's friend or a distant relative reading my blog, I picture them whenever I slap up a new post. Mine is largely personal essays, and not that personal actually. I am real but I don't go too much into the in-and-outs of my life. I probably should more, in some areas.

Also afraid to become a "shill" as Cotton Floozy said, (note to self: look up that word) my blog has remained basically unchanged. I'm afraid to make it into more for all the stated reasons you gals have said. Don't want to be a sell-out. Don't want to live a fake life. My personal blog integrity is very important to me. I write for ME! But yeah, i also would like some ca$h money, so that's a toughie.

But my rules have served me well. I've learned how to stop reading blogs that bug me and love to find those [seemingly rare] (<-- jerk) few that creatively inspire and uplift. I'm so happy to have found yours again!

I've read Dave, Mindy's and Tina's, but not Rob's, thanks for that rec.

Mary Goldsberry said...

I just read your article in City Weekly, and needed to say, "Thank You, for writing about what I feel and am slowly allowing myself to become aware of.". #You're Right, I'm Wrong. 5/8/14

Mary Goldsberry said...

I just read your article in City Weekly, and needed to say, "Thank You, for writing about what I feel and am slowly allowing myself to become aware of.". #You're Right, I'm Wrong. 5/8/14

rashid omer said...

new

UtahSouth said...

I have been reading you for some time. And am continually amazed at your tenacity and spunk and willingness to share your feelings. It does have its consequences and yet you let us be a part of that. thank you for sharing.

Stephanie said...

@Utah South Thank you for taking the time to give me some encouragement, I really appreciate it.