Monday, January 23, 2012

On Blogging and Boundaries and Gravy

Yesterday I went to lunch with a group of women I like a lot.

One of the women said something complimentary about my blog.  Then she said, I couldn’t write a blog the way you do.  You say so much personal stuff.  (I am paraphrasing, but this is what I took away from her comment.)

It made me think a lot about myself and about the unwritten contract a writer-who-blogs has with her readers.  How much personal stuff is appropriate to divulge?  What are my obligations?

This is tricky for me.  For many years, I was an introvert who talked too much.  I was very happy in the company of my own thoughts, and then I would go to a party and regale people I barely knew with information that was 1) inappropriate and/or 2) indiscreet. 

Oh, jeez.  It still makes me cringe.

Then I learned about boundaries, which is what you learn in therapy (in addition to all the ways in which you were toxically parented).  I learned that I didn’t have to reveal personal details of my life to mere acquaintances just to prove to myself that I was open and authentic.  I could be private.  I could keep my mouth shut for a change.

But here I am, blabbing away again.

I’d like to say that I’m doing it in the hope that something I say about my demented mother or my fledgling efforts to dress well or my difficulty adjusting to life as the mother of adult children who bungee jump in New Zealand and drink Scotch without asking my permission first may help someone else going through something similar.

And that would be nice.

But honestly?  The reason I do it is because I’m a writer.  And writers write for the glorious, intoxicating, simple pleasure of Writing It Down. 

It’s lovely if someone reads it, wonderful beyond description if it provides comfort or solace or a sense of not being alone in this world.

But that’s all gravy.  And as my mother used to say mournfully when the waiter brought her the meatloaf, “I didn’t know there was going to be gravy!”


1 comment:

  1. So, me here--of yesterday's lunch group. ;-) (Something made me realize that you just might have a bloggle, as my co-blogger and I call them over at our own bloggle. You have now been popped into my Google Reader, hooray!)

    So, first, my somewhat relevant comment, which is that yes--writers gotta write. For me, sometimes it's pleasurable and intoxicating, but just keeps me from being a really unhappy, ungrounded human being.

    Also, to go more tangential on you, this part really struck me, "I didn’t have to reveal personal details of my life to mere acquaintances just to prove to myself that I was open and authentic." It struck me for reasons having nothing to do with you, but a lot to do with my own writing, and to do with my thoughts about the blogging world and the ethos of the particular segment of it that I frequent. Not to mention ideas about honesty and the revealing of personal details in writing in general. My issue (if it *is* an issue) is that I'm a fairly restrained writer where those sorts of details are concerned, and I sometimes worry about that--as if maybe my writing won't be effective because of it.

    But honestly? What's authentically me is to be more restrained. What's authentically you might be something a bit more revealing. I always need to remind myself of this, and I suppose that's why that line popped out at me. Right! Thank you! I *don't* need to reveal all the details in order to be authentic--or effective. I have my own way of being authentic...which, you know, is kind of the definition of authenticity. How easily I forget.