Gingajoy and Her Bad Mother are embarking on a more academic look at how blogging is affecting women and culture, and it's something that interests me immensely. As a person who is about as far from academic as humanly possible, and as someone whose wardrobe (since my mom stopped dressing me anyway) will NEVER be sufficient to bump her into even the smallest of small professional circles, I am nevertheless interested in how the savory stew of life, influence and understanding is concocted.
So, for what it's worth here are my answers to the five questions posed by these thoughtful women:
1. Who are we?
In the most clinical of explanations, I am a small-town journalist who works as a copy editor at a small city daily. I identify as a writer, photographer and a mother. I am white and middleclass. I'm not sure anyone of privilege would call me privileged, but for the most part I feel financially stable if not secure, and able to afford small luxuries.
In more artful terms, I feel as if I'm still the kid I was in elementary school: shy and inarticulate, coming to terms with everything around me as if it was critical for the future. I never intended on being a wife or a mother. I never dreamed of being famous or even notable. I have difficulty making choices but not long-term decisions. I wanted to collect every thought in case I ever needed it again. It didn't matter if it had significance for anyone else. In many ways, I was and still am a "thought" packrat.
2. Who are we writing to? Who is our audience?
When I started this blog, and previously a Web site dedicated to the birth and first year of Ittybit (and even prior to that a Web site dedicated to the details of our wedding) I was writing for myself and for any members of the family who wished to check in. Although these "life" transitions were important to me, and I needed to work them out in words, I didn't expect others to actually want to be a part of my internal monologue. I figured if I gave out the Web address and people visited, they'd want read and wouldn't just be patiently (and politely) listening to me drone on and on.
Answering who I am, of course, is a difficult proposition. Who am I? Isn't that what we are all trying to find out? Isn't that why we jot things down on the blank pages of little flowered books in a practiced script from the time we first learn to scribble?
3. Why are we writing? What is our purpose?
I think part of why I write in this blog, as well as another, is to leave a record of who I was. Perhaps I won't be able to define myself, but I hope to leave something behind for my children and their children to get to know me. So often we lament not having asked questions, not having paid attention, when we had the opportunity. And yet, even now, even at an advanced age, I'm not sure I'd be any better at getting to know my grandparents than I was when I was small. As soon as I had a child my mortality came at me with a force I didn't expect. What if something unforseen and terrible happend to me. Would she ever know me?
4. What is the context for our writing? What are we saying? What is our message?
The context of my writing is to capture in words (and photographs) a snapshot of life as I see it. Thoughts, feelings, ideas. Mostly it centers on the life change that is motherhood, but it also takes on ideas from media and society that make me stop and think and put each into my own perspective. And it changes. I allow myself to grow on these pages, to entertain, to inform and to wonder, but ultimately it is about my life, my children and my family. It is my auxiliary memory.
5. How does the medium of blogging affect all this?
The public nature of blogging -- the media goal of getting readership and engaging in dialog -- often makes writing a constant learning process and a challenge. As someone who writes for a readership, there is a constant checking and re-checking of goals. Do I want to be a columnist or a diarist? Am I out there for recognition or for exploration?
Simply speaking, though, the medium -- a computer keyboard, storage space out in the ethosphere, and one address that ties it all together -- makes it possible for me continue gathering these observations faithfully. As someone who's never liked their handwriting, never felt comfortable with the inked out marks of revision, and who is vaguely nauseated by the sight of a blank page, the miracle of the backspace has made me a more fluid thinker and more confident scribe.
Of course even this concerns me in a conflicting way, not so much as a matter of privacy but rather a matter of permanance. Yes, all these thoughts are out in the world and open to anyone, but they are also on servers that could feasibly crash and be lost to me, the author. And let's face it, as someone who still doesn't totally understand how the fax machine works, I have no problem envisioning all this mind melt disappearing into the void. Talk about impermanent permanence.