This morning I was browsing over at BlogHer, trying to get a feel for the place and trying to decide if I wanted to link up with the network. Pretty quickly, I happened upon this article, written by AV Flox, called My Family Found Out I Blog About Sex. I don't blog about sex (or, if you ask me, anything even remotely controversial) but this resonated with me in all sorts of galleys that I can't help but respond to it. You would do well to read it but I understand that you probably won't. That's cool. I get it. (Italicized quotes were taken from Flox's article)
Essentially her article details the aftermath of her family finding out that she's a sex columnist after she sat in on a sex-panel at a BlogHer convention. They solicited that she take a surname, initially being very lighthearted about the subject and eventually snowballing into little more than "you write about smut and you're a disgrace to our family name." She went on to spell out her mission statement (in all honesty, it's a lot longer than I was ever instructed that a mission statement should be), her family still maintained that she was a degenerate and a disgrace and wondered how her parents could possibly manage to hold their heads high when this is how their daughter turned out. And then her mother responded with nothing but complete support, love and honesty. And I thought that was incredible.
I don't have family members begging me to take up a pseudonym but that could be in large part to the fact that our family name isn't particularly notable or prestigious. I have had, on more than a few occasions, people who tell me to change my style or who criticize my subject matter or have told me that they're "extremely disappointed" in something that I've written. One person wrote, "I would have loved to have forwarded this on to my aunt but your profanities keep me from doing so." I didn't respond to that, but I would love to suggest that this person's Aunt has billions of editions of Chicken Soup For The Soul that she is more than welcome to sift through. And, I mean, I have a dozen regular readers anyway. It's not like I'm pulling in huge numbers or anything here.
"Anecdotes teach. The difference between an academic text and a personal anecdote is that the latter affects us on another level. ...A story that touches your heart, on the other hand, with all the details -- details that aren't sanitized to be more palatable -- stays with you for much longer. Anecdotes have no fear of being ugly, of being inappropriate, or of breaking your heart." It's true, it's why blogs are so damn popular anyway.
I know, I know. No respectable writer would take to blogging as a realistic venue for sharing her talents. I know it's low-brow because it's free and not library bound but I haven't got a whole lot of interest in all of that. I care very little for being taken seriously. I care very much for being taken honestly, though.
I think, and this is why I write in the first place, that everyone wants to happen upon an opportunity every once in a while to say, "Oh my God, me too." You could read a study that says that X number of marriages fall apart after the death of a child or you could read Heather Sphor's blog and see how hard she works every day to keep her family together after the unexpected death of her oldest daughter two years ago. Yeah, it's sad kind of stuff sometimes but sometimes life is sad and I think that a lot of times we forget that that's okay. Allie Brosch isn't popular because her drawings are nice or deep and artistic, it's because she makes you feel like a kid again and isn't that kind of what everyone craves from time to time? She takes you into a place where you are allowed to relate to and feel like yourself. We want an opportunity where we don't have to wonder if we're normal or if maybe we're the only ones who have felt the way that we feel. Let's admit that a lot of our adult lives are spent, for the most part, being diligent, sanitized, polite versions of ourselves and we just want to let loose for a few minutes. But you are not sanitized and I am not sanitized and neither is anyone else--even though it really looks like it and that's what makes you feel like such a fuck up sometimes.
"And if one thing I write makes one person feel less isolated, then my mission is complete."
I don't write about sex (I would but what is there to say?) but I do write and I do make it public and I do get criticisms because people think that they have very delicate personalities that are not to be damaged by things like eff words and ideas about God that contradict with everything that I was trained to believe. People who continue to read what I have to say despite the numerous ways in which I have caused damage to these sensibilities. It's curious, isn't it?
"We can do without this kind of acceptance, esteem and pride, but how strongly we can grow when we have these things."
"Give me the hook or the ovation, it's my world that I want to have a little pride in."