When I first started blogging I didn’t really think about it. I just jumped in and started to write. I chose my name as my blog handle instead of something clever and cute because I wanted to get my name out there (and because try as I might I’m really not that clever and too old to be cute).
And one of the things I didn’t really consider was whether or not I should use my children’s real names when I blog. Some people do, some people don’t, but the point is, it wasn’t even a consideration with me. On my very first blog I wrote about my kids’ inability to get along and just typed out their little names for everyone in cyberspace to see.
Hello, Bad Mom of the Year Award 2008.
Of course I may be a bad mom putting my kids’ names along with their private business onto people’s computer screens, but I always change or eliminate my friends’ names when I have a funny or potentially embarrassing story about a girlfriend to tell.
For example, last week when my girlfriend told me that she was mortified because her cleaning lady found her vibrator under her bed and placed it standing up and her night table, I told her that that would definitely be something I’d have to work into my blog. (See how I just did that?)
“If you use my name I’ll sue you,” she told me.
“I would never,” I said. And I won’t.
Yes, I am a bad mom, but really, really good friend.
I have another concern as well: as my kids get older and I tell the world my story, do I have the right to tell theirs? I’m not very discrete and I know that I tend to over-share, but I really don’t tell all of it. Trust me, there are so many gems I would love to write about as they would be fantastic, interesting, sweet, funny blogs, but I don’t in the name of privacy. (And let me tell you – it kills me I keep them to myself!)
I’ve thought about going through every blog I’ve ever posted and changing my kid’s names, but considering I’ve written well over 100 and can’t even get to the things on my list that would only take 5 minutes of my time (some of which are incredibly & ridiculously important), I don’t see it happening any time soon.
And I wonder too, why does it really matter? I’m just a suburban mom who writes a little blog. I don’t think anyone cares or has given it any thought. (Until, you know, now.) We all know the names of famous people’s kids. Why not un-famous people’s kids?
Am I harming them? Have I told too much? Eh, that’s what psychiatrists’ couches are for.
Six years into blogging and seventeen and a half years into motherhood and I’m still trying to figure this whole Internet and blogging and motherhood thing out.
Has anybody really figured it out?
*Edited and slightly updated this post first appeared on the now-defunct skirt.com blog on January 10, 2011.
Well, Kim asked anyway. And since I want to be a writer like Kim when I grow up (you know, one who actually gets paid to do it – on a regular basis), when Kim asks, I answer.
She invited me to participate in a blog tour called My Writing Process (#mywritingprocess). My Writing Process is apparently a way to connect with other bloggers who identify themselves as writers. Yes, all bloggers write, but that doesn’t necessarily make them writers. (One look at Pinterest will tell you that.) I do not say that with any sort of snobbery or contempt (I mean, come on, what I write is certainly not literature), but to say people blog for different reasons. Some blog to show off their DIY prowess, some blog recipes, some blog simply to make money, and some of us, we blog to write. I blog to write.
So now I have to answer some questions and then pay this task privilege forward to three more writers who have blogs.
1. Why do I write what I do?
I walk around all day with a lot of chatter in my head. When I’m driving to work, when I’m running, when I’m fixing dinner my head is filled with incredibly clever and funny things to write. Things I must write. Of course then I sit down to write them and they escape me. What was that brilliantly funny thing I conjured up in the car on the way to work? I’ll think to myself. And I can’t remember. Or worse I do remember and once I type it out I see it wasn’t very brilliant at all. It’s torturous. (And trust me when I say that all writers are tortured.) But every once in a while that thing does work on paper (or the screen) and it’s clever and funny and brilliant (okay, I’ve never actually been brilliant) and that makes the torture almost worth it.
Also, I talk a lot (a lot) so I guess writing is just another way for me to keep talking when no one is around. I’m kidding. (A little.) I think writing is a way of connecting with people. There are so many times I read things and think to myself, “Yeah, I feel that way too,” so I hope what I have to say (or rather what I write) resonates with people. That they read my words and think, “Yeah, I feel that way too.”
Plus if you want to know the dirty truth, I like people to tell me I’m awesome. But people don’t tend to walk up to me and say, “Hey Charlene, I think you’re awesome.” But they do sometimes walk up to me and say, “You’re blog post was so funny.” Which is sort of the same thing.
So I guess I write what I do to quiet the voices in my head, to connect with people, and to fulfill my sad and desperate need for approval. And to torture myself. (And feel awesome.)
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Do I have a genre? I don’t consider myself a “Mommy Blogger” because I rarely write about my kids these days. At 17 and 13, I feel I don’t have the right to tell their story anymore. (Though every once in a while I can’t help myself.) So whatever my genre is – personal essay, lifestyle, or as I like to call it – “slice-of-life,” I guess what makes my work different is that they’re my stories to tell. The crazy chatter from my brain. Of course that makes everyone’s work different doesn’t it? I suppose others are much better at getting to the point. I’ve always admired others who can say a lot with very few words, where as I tend to do the opposite, which is saying very little with as many words as possible. (For example I could have cut the last eleven words out of the previous sentence and it would have had the same meaning, but I justcan’t! And this post? Waaaay too long. Sorry about that!)
3. How does your writing process work?
I get up early – 5:00 almost every day (yes, even weekends) to write. The plan is to pour a cup of coffee sit down in the quiet calm of my house and write. I don’t have an office, so I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table in my daughter’s spot. I don’t know why I always choose her chair over my own. Maybe because it looks out into the backyard. I open the curtains and watch the night turn to day as I tap away at my keyboard. Or sometimes I will write in a notebook – three pages, for those of you familiar with “morning pages.” I wrote the first draft book that way – pen to paper in the wee morning hours. Well, that is ideally how my writing process works – early, alone, in the dark.
Lately it is something much closer to what happened today. It’s Saturday as I start to write this and I’ve gone to bed late every night this week so I allowed myself to “sleep in” until about 6:15 this morning. I planned to walk the dog at 7:00 and go for a three mile run at 8:00, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out. Then I went on TimeSuck – I mean Facebook, so no writing took place – unless you call commenting on the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of my friends’ lives and informing them about the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of mine writing.
After the Facebooking and the dog walking and the running I woke Marley up and made her breakfast and then took her to an event at school. I was home a little before 10:00 and Chandler and Dave had left for the day, but instead of coming back to write immediately I rolled on my foam roller to work out the kinks from running, took a shower (well, after the running that was fairly necessary), threw a load of laundry in the washer, stripped my bed (but decided I’d put my clean sheets on later), cried my eyes out as I read the article in the Times about that horrific bus crash carrying college-bound high school students to Humbolt, and then threw the load in the dryer (after taking the time to hang my gym clothes and delicates), and then finally sat down to write this post. I typed two sentences and the phone rang. It was Marley, ready to be picked up.
I picked her up, took her to the library, went to Trader Joes’s for necessities (milk and wine), came home, had lunch, and then went to her lacrosse game. (Marley was goalie, her team won, it was awesome!) We returned at 3:30, I put clean sheets on my bed, stopped myself from taking the time to do the pillow cases, and sat down to write.
Oh, I didn’t finish of course. I only had about half an hour before I had to do other things. So I got up at 5:00 Sunday morning and wrote some more (like I was supposed to – alone and in the dark). And now I’m finishing this early Monday.
So I guess you could say my process is to get up early under the guise of writing and then avoid writing as much as possible until I can’t avoid it any longer. I don’t know why I procrastinate. I think is has something to do with the torture. Or maybe so I can convince myself that my writing sucks because I “don’t have time” to do it properly.
4. What am I working on?
Hmmm… other than avoidance? Good question.
Another rejection letter, that was fairly constructive rather than the standard “it’s not you, it’s us, but really it’s you because your writing sucks” form letter, is forcing me to look at my novel again. What can I take out without losing my voice? How can I punch it up? Make it funnier? Make you want to read more. I’m actually considering changing my beloved first line -my hook- which I’ve held onto as if my life depended on it. But perhaps the life of my book depends on me letting it go.
And I recently wrote a piece for Listen to Your Mother that got rejected. Which is fine, really. (Though it does make me bitter petty enough to not give them a link.) There were only 12 spots available and I think that at least 14 people auditioned, so you know, odds were against me. In all seriousness, unlike the poorly edited drivel I usually post here, it’s a kick-ass piece that has a place somewhere, so I need to shop it.
And of course I try to post here every Monday, but as I’ve stated, the chatter in my head often doesn’t translate to my fingers.
Okay, are we done with this? Now that I’ve bored you all to tears if you’ve even made it this far (which I suspect most people haven’t – I probably wouldn’t) and you no longer like me because you’ve figured out how weird I am?
Anyway, now is the part where I pick three people to keep this tour moving. Picking only three people is very hard. Picking three people who will actually do it (and not murder me) is even harder, but here are my three:
Tina Drakakis – my soul mate from skirt.com. Yeah, I always pick her for things. Because she is kick ass and awesome and 1,000 times funnier than me, which makes me really want to hate her, but I can’t because I love her too much. Plus she’s been posting a lot to her blog lately, but I haven’t seen much that is new, so I’m giving her a kick in the butt to get back at it. She loves it when I do that. (Or maybe not.)
Rina Nedar – her blog, Mommy Has a Story, is quite lovely. You should read it. And her fiction is even better. Plus she started the writing group I’m currently in that makes me set goals and keeps me accountable, which quite frankly, I find a little bossy, so now I’m going to make her do something. (So ha ha Rina!)
Abby Byrd – her blog Little Miss Perfect is hilarious. She says fuck a lot, calls her two-year-old an asshole, and isn’t afraid to piss people off. I would like to say the F-word more (like I do in real life), but people have told me they don’t like it, and I don’t like to piss people off (except for the three people I just named, obviously) so I don’t use it as much as I’d like to in my blog. And as I stated above, my kids are older now, so I can’t call them assholes. Oh, and Abby uses a pen name for her blog, but one day when her memoir is published (and it’s great, so it will be), you will know her real name, trust me on that.
Get to work ladies – you have one week to expose your soul to the internet. But hey, you’re writers. You’re used to that.
(And for those of you who stuck with this entirely-too long post, I really do thank you.)
I often wonder how people come across my blog. I’d like to think it’s the fascinating and hilarious content, but I’m not that delusional. So sometimes, just for laughs, I go to the very technical inner workings of my blog and check out my search terms.
My biggest search by far are these brown boots:
Whether it’s via Pinterest or Google Images so many people end up here because of these boots. If only there was a way to convince these brown boots shoppers how M-F-ing funny I am and how enriched their lives would be if they subscribed to my blog. Sigh…
(Oh, and if you did end up here because of these boots, since I’m nice, here’s where you can buy them. Now do the right thing and fill your email address in that little box on the right and subscribe to my funny blog dammit!)
But it’s not just the brown boots that bring strangers from around the interwebs to my blog. Oh no. A close second to people looking for cute boots is people trying to get skinny by crash dieting. (I’m so proud!) No, it is not my awesome Just Lose It program where I lost 12 pounds and 13 inches by (literally) working my ass off and eating healthfully (though that is gaining momentum), it’s my Diet Diary of the Cabbage Soup Diet. (Yeah, it works if you’re trying to lose weight super fast, but it won’t stay off and I don’t recommend it.)
My third biggest search has to do with 80’s Rock God Adam Ant. In particular with him being fat. In fact, if you Google “Adam Ant Fat” my little blog comes up #1. It’s true! I am a top Google search. Go ahead, open a new tab, go to Google, type in “Adam Ant Fat” and see my blog pop up on top. But then come right back, because you will not want to miss some of the crazy terms that people search for.
You back? Good, here we go, some of my favorite searches that have brought the masses dozens from across the web to my little blog.
Meaning of Mark Twain quote difference between lightning and lightning bug – This refers to a post I wrote about quotes and one of my favorites, which is, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug,” by Mark Twain. Look, if you can’t figure out what that quote means please stop reading my blog. You’re too dumb. You will never understand my highly intellectual humor.
Charlene spanx – Um excuse me, but that’s a little rude. Yes, I did write a post about Spanx once, but still. I think that’s a little insulting. Perhaps you’re searching for another Charlene.
Black Booty on the bus – uh, huh? (And BTW – there are multiple searches for Black Booty on the bus. That’s a little scary!)
Yoga Santa Claus – once again, what?
Inspiring words love of booty – that’s just weird. What’s even weirder, is that search will get you here.
Jessica Chastain plastic surgery – I may have used the words Jessica Chastain and plastic surgery in the same blog post, but I never said she had it. I swear!
Charlene Ross novel – there are actually three searches for this. Whoo Hoo! Sadly, none of them appear to be from literary agents.
hot boys after braces – leave my son alone!
Charlene Ross hair styles – well, gee, I’m flattered!