Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Because We Love That Monkey On Our Back, Or Sometimes On Our Nose
It's coming up on a year now that I started this blog thing and I have to say that I've taken to it like a baby monkey takes to a human nose, so to speak, and it's become a major part of my life.
Not sure exactly why but I'm sure it has a lot to do with my natural passion for words, my opinionated soul, and the fact that it appears that some people do read my wordy opinions and even take the time to comment on them!
I feel like I'm late to the party with this blog thing. It's been going on for quite a while (in internet years, anyway, which are like regular years only on meth, cocaine, and espresso all at the same time) but here I am now and here I'll stay unless my magic box (aka The MacBook) dies and my husband refuses to waste any more money buying me a new one. I'm the sort of frustrated writer that would write no matter what- readers, no readers, whatever. I'm like Deacon Fuller, a musician I used to love to go dance to in St. Pete who once ended a show saying, "Thanks for coming out and supporting live music because if you hadn't, we'd all be sitting around our living room, playing for ourselves."
You gotta do what you gotta do.
But I've been trying to analyze what this compulsion to blog means. Not just for me, but for others and there's been a lot of news about it in the media. The mother of all bloggers (in my opinion, anyway), Heather Armstrong, has recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, on the Today Show, and on Nightline. It would appear that the woman is bringing in ad revenues of up to $40,000 a month which is a lot of jingle in the pocket which has allowed her and her husband (who helps with the technical stuff and has a more visual-content blog himself) to stay at home with their daughter and basically live the American dream which is to figure out a way to make the money to support the family doing something you love.
The media is calling her one of the "mommy-bloggers" and yes, she is, but she writes about a lot more than her child. And she's one of those writers who can write about anything and make it funny or heartrending or poignant and that's all there is to it. She's a talented woman and I am in awe of her.
She gets an awful lot of hate mail and most of it boils down to something in the various categories of, "You don't deserve to make money writing about your stupid kid and your stupid dogs," "You're ugly," and "You're profane."
Well, she's not ugly and she is profane and anyone who gets four million hits a month on their blog obviously does deserve to make money with it.
And dammit! I wish that when I'd been a young mama I'd had the blogging outlet. Being a mother is a hard, hard job and anyone who doesn't admit that has either
(A) Never had a kid, or
(B) Is a big fat liar.
And Heather's blog covers the mothering-ground from the moments of such pure-white-blissed-out-wonder at the way she loves her child to the moments of wanting to grab the car keys and hit the nearest interstate and not stop driving until the pavement runs out.
She's honest. And people can't stand that for some reason. Especially if that honesty combined with a terrific talent for writing combines to bring in a healthy income.
Mothering is a strange thing. We talk a big talk about what a hard job it is, how important a job it is, and even how sacred a job it is, but we offer the women who do it absolutely no money, no social status and no health insurance, which makes it mighty difficult for anyone to actually DO it.
It's isolating, it's frustrating, it's constant and it never ends from the moment of conception. Not when the children go to school, not when they leave home for college, not when they get married and not until we die, at which time we can almost positively say we're going to get a good rest.
Until then- don't count on it.
So anyone who's really out there doing it, whether it's the lady who lives in a single-wide on an acre of land in the middle of nowhere, to Angelina Jolie, is doing the hard work. Even women who are doing it who have a lot of money and get to be in movies or on television are still having to get up in the middle of the night and deal with sudden high fevers and vomited-on sheets and the constant worrying that accompanies motherhood. Sure, it has its moments of transcendental joy but there's a lot more poop involved than there is glory, no matter how much money you have.
If you're really doing it right, anyway.
And I admire these mommy-bloggers who have discovered and created their own little world in the blogosphere. They've created a community, a way to be creative, and in some cases, a decent living. And I don't think they're necessarily "using" their kids, either. You get any two mothers together and they're going to start a discussion about their families and their lives and they may end up crying and they probably will end up laughing, but either way, they will go away feeling better because they know they're not alone in how they feel about this monumental task they're doing.
And blogging seems to me to just be a natural extension of that.
So here's what I say to all the people bitching and moaning about Ms. Armstrong and her blog- first off, don't read it. Secondly, admit it- you're fucking jealous.
Start your own blog. If you can figure out how to comment on someone else's, you can certainly figure out how to create one of your own. And if you're a fantastic writer and you have something to say that people want to hear, you might even make some money at it.
Or, like me, you might just find that you love the entire process of it so much that you can't remember what life was like before you started.
Sort of like having children. Without the poop. And very little glory.
But the sort of reward you just can't really explain.