By popular account the My Blog, My Story session was a big hit on the weekend.
I enjoyed it immensely, as I think it tapped into my own personal affirmations I have about the strength of the blogging community – it is supportive, we all have our story to tell, and we all want to be heard. On top of that, if we may help another person who is struggling or wants to learn? That’s a bonus.
I have two bylines to my blog, the first in the title itself (“Trying to find the objective correlative, everyday”) and the E. L. Doctorow quote. Once upon a time it was the Oprah quote, ‘The courage to speak your own truth always frees someone else’, and I’ve never forgotten it.
I wrote my talk over the past two weeks in between preparing to moderate my content session, general conference organising with the other ladies, packing up the house and preparing for our renovations, and to be honest I wasn’t happy with it. I talked about my misgivings the night before with some good friends, but didn’t really come to any resolution.
Later, I twigged. It came back to that Oprah quote, I suppose.
What follows is my talk – or what I remember of it. I changed it, you see, up there at the lectern. I can’t write it down verbatim, but I will do my best (some of it will be word-for-word as I kept to some of the script).
*Holds up the clipboard*
I have a prepared speech, but I’ve decided it’s not what I want to talk about. Last night I rolled over to my sick husband at 2am, nudged him in the side, and explained what was bothering me. I told him what I wanted to talk about instead, and wondered what he thought. He said I should do it.
And here I go.
Once I posted upon my blog a shot of my son dressed up in my daughter’s ballerina dress. It was a modest, innocent photo and I forgot all about it. Until one day…
I haven’t had a chance to fact-check yet, but believe it was about eighteen months ago* when I discovered German fetishists/pedophiles had stolen this photo and posted it up on a site. How did I know this? Because they linked to my blog. They came for weeks in their hundreds and hundreds. They still do to this day – not very often but enough to remind me that ‘The Internet Is Forever’ (to quote Kelley). It didn’t matter I deleted the post, deleted the photo off Flickr, did everything I could, but they still came.
As you can understand, this shocked me to my core. My happy, safe place had been intruded. It made me reevaluate everything I did and said and, most of all, depicted photographically about the children. I know there are people out there who are open about most aspects of their lives and aren’t afraid to be so, as there are people who write under pseudonyms and are fiercely protective of that privacy. Believe me, I understand both sides of the spectrum. I really do.
I also understand the voices you have in your ear, friends or well-meaning people, who might give you conflicting advice – or tell you stuff you don’t want to hear. As you can see, I still post pictures of the children, but it’s not without double or triple thinking it through.
As far as I go, my blogging journey began around the time I scored very high on the Edinburgh Scale test and was referred to counsellor care. That same month a friend sent me a link to Dooce, Heather Armstrong’s site. I was moved and inspired by her story. I’m young enough to feel comfortable writing online as I’d kept a Diaryland diary for some time so in (some) ways I was familiar with the concept of blogging, but I don’t really start counting until I began Miscellaneous Mum (then called a longer name ‘Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum) on Blogspot in August 2006.
I’ve been open, some might think too open, about the things that have cropped up in my life: my eating disorder, the sickness and sudden death of my father, and the loss of a twin pregnancy. I don’t regret this, but it does ‘muddy the waters’ I suppose if there’s a line you’re trying to toe between personal and professional.
I’ve been blogging long enough now to know what works for me, and what does not. I’ve found my comfortable weekly posting quota. I have my fun, cut-loose days (what would life be without them?), but I’m interested these days in the ways blogs inform our identities and lives. For example, I publish poems and honestly don’t care those days if the traffic bombs, as it does, because I’ve realised if you want your blog to serve you, you must first demand from yourself the integrity and diligence to make it happen. This requires effort, and some bravery.
In return, you can find your voice. Your inner voice. Your writerly voice. A gift many people spend their lives searching for.
At the end of 2007, I made the decision to create a small publishing press to self-publish my children’s picture book, Surprise! I think now a lot of the confidence to take such a gamble – as it was, this was before the ebook, Amazon, and other factors really pushed along self-publishing into the mainstream – that confidence came from my blog’s success. It had given me some confidence as a writer again, something I’d lost. I’ve loved the elegance of language all my life, and strongly believe that the quality of writing that can be found on the internet is far greater than is often given credit for. This is why I published Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1 last year, and why I believe it got a positive critical reception. It is why I continue to blog: to improve, to discover and to learn.
That is my blog and this is my story.
There you go. I had some misgivings writing this out again (worms. can. opened) but afterwards at the conference I had people come up to me to say they really appreciated my honesty. I’m glad I didn’t do my original talk (I hope our moderator, Veronica, forgives me for shifting off the talk points I gave her!)
I have no idea if I went over or under time. It felt nice to get it off my chest.
*wrong, Karen – try two-and-a-half years.
Photo permission thanks to the lovely Fe at Lumsdaine Photography