the secret life of blogs

In ALL, WRITING EXERCISES by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

"You’re going to now need two of everything," a friend said to me recently.  "You need the public you and the you only your close friends and family get.  Two different screen names, email addresses, and telephone numbers."  Yeah, how about two different blogs?  There comes a point where you want to be small but can’t.  Small isn’t the right word.  There comes a point where you want public privacy. 

A private online chat of two, where there is the perception of intimacy.  It’s why we email.  Blogging when you begin is like emailing yourself, knowing there’s the possibility you might forward something to a friend from time to time.  I know other bloggers who have regretted sharing their URL with too many people because now they feel limited.  "I can’t write about that because what if she reads it."  I know that feeling, yet I don’t.  Yet I do.  I’ve thought of starting a new blog, one just for me, the way this one used to be, but now there are so many people listening.  I wanted small to allow for my rambling on about the movies I want to see, shit I want to eat for dinner, what I weigh.  How I felt during sex.  All the boring TMI no one wants to read. And believe me, if you think most of my posts do that anyway, you haven’t seen the half of it. 

Without some knucklehead criticizing me for beginning my sentence fragments with "I."   I’d still make it public though, to share with someone who might have lost their way in a click trail who might want to connect with another stranger.  I’d write fearlessly because no one would give a shit who I was or what I did for a living. It would just be me out there, some random unknown, without the judgment.  Without having to hear all the same boring things back.  "Well, you put yourself out there.  You open yourself to it.  It’s part of the gig."  Yes, I know.  And I would not change any of that.  The blessing of it is though, I can start a new blog, where I can write those boring things that don’t entertain.  5 posts in a row about my dog or how much I miss camp, the friends that have gone, the anxiety I feel.

How last night, I heaved, crying in the bathroom, into a towel, in the dark because I opened a part of myself I didn’t want to.  I expressed my greatest fears aloud, and even thinking about that now, the ache comes back, center point.  But why’d all the way back to three years old, where I felt the profound pain again.  The rejection.  So now, if I want to ramble, why would I do it there, on an unknown blog, and not here?  It would have to be fear.  That’s the only real reason I’d do that.  I’d be afraid of driving the people who do come here away by writing about those things… and that is EXACTLY what I didn’t have when I began this blog… any type of fear about losing people, offending people, giving haters something to throw shit at. 

Comments

  1. Stop worrying about the haters. You don't write for them. This blog is yours, to make of it what you want. I would love to read about the TMI – mindless stuff that means you don't have to try too hard and you can just write what's on your mind. That's what a blog is for. Don't let it own you.

  2. For the mood of this post… and this gloriously rainy day in the Northeast… "Real Emotional Girl" by Randy Newman.

    Find it. Play it. Wallow for a bit. And then put on your galoshes and go splash around in the puddles!

  3. Absolutely DO NOT fear anything you write….it's who you are. Others can like it or lump it. My blog is just pictures and lists of things I find interesting or disturbing! Just go back to when it was FUN! ~cassie

  4. Oh, Stephanie, I know all about heaving into a towel in the dark…it's my life right now. And the blog thing, I know about that too, as the persona I have on my blog is a secret, and I have my public place elsewhere, where I put on my happy face, where my writing only reveals a slight discomfort but underlying strength…the BS. I finally decided that my private blog, my anonymous one, should probably stay that way. My boyfriend knows about it, but I just can't let him have it. If I do, then I can't be free anymore. I have to be a palatable person, something I am not in my long dark awful blog entries in private.

    Start the other blog, see how it feels. I bet you'll find that most of it you can copy right over here. And the rest, at least it's OUT. Purging yourself in words, when you have an intensity and a gift for writing as you do, is far more effective in righting your tilting world than the bitter tasting offal erupting from your body in the night.

  5. …I happened across the same type of feelings awhile back. When I started, my blog was basically my diary – a place where I could express what I was feeling at the time, what I was doing, how much I love cake, etc. Anything – trivial, superficial, embarrassing, secret, shocking…didn’t matter. I would blabber about it all. Then, people close to me found it, and I encountered the dilemma. Once my audience was anonymous. Now I had faces lingering in the back of my mind. How will THEY react to what I’m writing?…about me?…about them? So, I made a promise to myself that, no matter what kind of comments I figured I would get, I would stay true to my original intentions. And my blog stayed my diary. And everything’s worked out fine. If you’re true to yourself, there is nothing you should be afraid to write…even if it is a 2,500 word expository on how your dog farts when he sleeps…stay true!

  6. Fcuk the haters, there will always be people who will want to tear you down. The more they see you shine, the more they will want to throw shit at you, it makes them feel temporarily better about their own miserable lives.

    I liked the book The Four Agreements–basically about if you live your life according to these 4 agreements with yourself, you will always have your compass – have integrity with your word, never make assumptions, don't take anything personally, and always do your best.

    I know, eaiser said than done. But remember NOTHING anyone does or says to or about you is really about you, it's a projection of the speaker's own fears, guilt etc. onto you. There are ways to protect yourself, spiritually.

    Or you could always disable your comment function for a while during those times your confidence is shaken, to reclaim your voice, if only for certain posts. But you don't need any more advice, any more book, movie or music recommendations, you'll know what to do when the time comes and it will be perfect. . : )

  7. My father is in the public eye. When you edit yourself, the world fills in the blanks with its own boredom and insecurities and hate. So put it out there and feel blessed that you are always honest. And if you're honest, sometimes you're boring, and annoying, and you'll piss people off. But if you're honest, you'll surprise yourself, meet your center, find a sacred place, help others to do the same. I read your blog because it touches me, makes me laugh, resonates with my own boredom sometimes.

    My father has toughened his skin, learned to make niceties with random people stopping him wherever he goes. And hiding from the world when he needs to. But on the flip side, the power he has (and in your case the power of your words) is all worth it to him.

    Keep one blog. And if people don't want to read about your dog, they can move on to something else.

  8. Don't feel limited. I struggle with the same thing. Am fairly certain my husband's ex reads my blog every day. And of course, I want our relationship to sound fabulous to her so I fight not typing the bad arguments. But I type em up anyway.. cuz it's real and if she derives pleasure from our pain then she sucks.. I can only imagine you feel that emotion a hundred times more severely.. After a bad 'crying into the towel session', if you're ever inclined.. you can come post on a 'your stories' section I have on my blog.. and use whatever damn name you want. Nobody will ever know.. not even me.

  9. The fact is you have a readership. A large one. Writing with this in mind does not make you fearful or phony, it makes you a writer with a readership, and that's better than being a writer without a readership. If you want to start up another anonymous blog, go for it. Do it for you and anyone who may stumble across it. You're not screwing us, you're not tainting the authenticity of Greek Tragedy, you're writing what you need where you need. I AM SENOR NUMBNUTS

  10. i'd read way more often and with a whole lot more desire if you opened yourself up rather than shut parts of you down (the real parts that make you, YOU). i also believe you'd have a LARGER following if we saw more of you than some of these "high level" posts prohibit. it would make a whole lot of us feel a whole lot less alone.

  11. Oh do I know the feeling right now. I let people in real life know about my blog, and while most of them don't read it, my coworkers do. Which is fine, because I don't write about work on my blog, but sometimes I want to write "guess what this idiot did today." It sucks. The point is write about whatever you want to write, I enjoyed the TMI posts and you have a huge fan base, so I doubt that people would just up and leave.

  12. I have been a reader of your blog for quite awhile and have often felt inspired to comment but haven't yet. Today I was. Don't let fear of what others think get in your way… it's something that I find myself strugging with right now and I am finding hard to overcome.

    Your words are inspiring. They make the rest of us feel normal and alive all at once. Write about the big things and the little things… beacause life is made up of both.

  13. Stephanie, I love that you write about anything and everything. It reminds me that it's ok to lay it all out on the table. It gives me the courage to not censor myself when I write.
    I love reading your stuff because of the way you say things, and how your emotion comes through so clearly… it's wonderful. and we're all human… we all think and do silly things, we're all amused by stupid shit, we all get upset. that's what makes us great.

  14. Hey Stephanie!

    You're in the spot light- that's for sure, but remember, this is about "you", and whatever you write, is YOUR business, making it apparently everyone else's business "by choice".

    Key words "by choice"——your readers have that choice to log on, read what you write ~or~ read what you write, and then—log off—-IF they get offended.

    Be you. Don't be anyone else. Don't hold back. Why would you? If you happen to be "too real" and give people TMI—it's ~their problem~ and NOT yours.

    Why do you think you have so many readers? When you get to be 'big' as you are now, the more haters come out of the woodwork to steal your glory.

    Be you- stay 'you'—-because we all love ""you""!!!

    Tis why we still read…right? Keep coming back for more! Stop beating yourself up. Enjoy your life sweetie!

  15. wow. your insipid wannabe carrie bradshaw act really does suck. you have to wonder why you need/get so much support from loyal readers after being slammed so many times. i have reached two conclusions: 1) your loyal readers share the same delusions, and misery loves company; 2) you are not a good writer and have earned the derision and scorn you get. You want to post your life online for dissection, accept the inevitable downside. It takes a solipsistic narcissist to write a blog like this, so take the criticism you earn.

  16. I appreciate your candor. many times I or my girlfriend will read something you wrote and shoot it to the other. Thanks for giving food for thought. Don't censor yourself for anyone who thinks they know you or is voyeuristic yet bitter.

    Be yourself because we appreciate it.

  17. This post hit a nerve with me. I could see it being frustrating trying to write as a journal when people feel you are solely an entertainment vehicle for them. There is a blurred line here.

    Thankfully for the self centered elitists out there that they have been given a voice here. You think they sit at home and yell at the tv? Scream at the newspaper/book? Throw something at their radio? Give someone the ability to comment and they will do so whether it is pertinent, intelligent, constructive or accurate. People love to hear themselves talk. So when someone writes a comment, remember it is because you are the only one who affords them that opportunity.

    Keep writing or else!

  18. Please keep sharing. Like most here, I love the closeness you allow us to feel to you. In our increasingly "distant" virtual and synthetic world, your blog is an old fashioned way to sit on the porch and get to know each other. Thank you and don't stop.

  19. The readers love YOU, Stephanie. Write about whatever you non-sensical thing you want. They read bc they feel your personality coming through your sentences. Your word choice. Write whatever you want, I'll still read it and love it.

  20. I completly agree with you!

    I´ve never shared my URL with any people in my "real world". I want to decide what others should know about me. So go on! It´s time for a new blog.

  21. I like it. I think it's fun. I think people are afraid of being drawn in, intersubjectively, and that they will be shown to be less than the tough men they wanna be.

  22. Absolutely DO NOT start another blog! The entire purpose of a blog is to talk about your innermost personal feelings…no matter how ugly. If you want to protect the people in your life from exposure to the rest of the world, fine (i.e. change names, don't post their pictures). But do not protect them from you. As soon as you do, you stop being true to yourself, as well as to your readers. The day you start siphoning off your true feelings to another blog is the day I (and probably many others) stop reading this one. You're a talented writer with interesting insight…don't change!

    "It's tough to handle this fortune and fame.
    Everybody's so different, I haven't changed."

    –Joe Walsh, "Life's Been Good to Me (So Far)"

  23. I am also in the public eye. I live in a fish bowl. If you do what's in your heart and not super analyze everything (something which I do), then it will be ok. Please keep up the blog. Say whatever you want. Your honesty is refreshing in a day where many speak in pre-approved sound bites.

    Bob

  24. LOVE your new picture. You look like a smart, beautiful librarian.

  25. oh just screw it! who cares? i say let it fly baby. let your heart pour forth. if people are turned off by the 10th post about your dog, let them go elsewhere…

  26. Stephanie-shake off your haters! Enjoy your life. Write whatever, you want, whenever you want….This is your damned blog and if they don't like it, this is America we have choices. Your haters choose to visit your site, there is over a million blog sites, but they choose yours. Why? because it's interesting and spontaneous. Here's a piece of advice from the ATL. Make your haters, your motivators!

  27. steph, just keep being yourself. who gives a chit what others think if they don't like it, they can move on. your loyal readers are inspired and encouraged by your writings. don't EVER stop…we take the morsels of wisdom you give(whether you look at it as wisdom or not) and it gives us courage to be ourselves.
    you are beautiful inside and out. we love you just the way you are.

  28. I love the fact that you're fearless when you blog. So many others seem to "hold back" for some mysterious reason. But I always think, Why? Why hold back? It's the stuff you consider holding back that is the most interesting, the most human. When I started blogging, I made the decision to be honest and if others don't like me or what I write about, that says more about them than it will ever say about me. Because I had the balls to put it out there. And be honest. Now, I revel in writing about the "inappropriate." I'd rather be shocking than be boring.

  29. The first thing that came to mind when I read this post was the phrase, "F–k 'em! F–k the lot of them". We like you, just the way that you are-If you want to write 3 consecutive posts on the piles of shit that Linus left the other night that made you gag like rancid fish, go for it(I laugh, because I have a horse and beagles-enough said). If you want to talk about your MID, go for it(all of us guys can change the M to a W and deal with it). This is your home-we are all privledged to be here. What you share is up to you, and what we get is a load of honesty that is like fresh bread at 3.30am. It helps us to get honest in some ways, because I guess that we are all like sheep(pardon the analogy, let me be clear. In the mountains, there are warming huts for storms that herders put the sheep in to escape the elements. If the sheep are left to their own devices, then one will get it's head warm, block the enterance, a few others will get part of their bodies warm, and the rest will die in the elements) who need to get out of the elements.

    Most of us apprectiate your writing and what you share of your life with us. The blogosphere is a community, and there are asscannons in every community. But there are really good people too, who appreciate what each other has to share. Please don't censor yourself-let it out, because there is bound to be someone, somewhere who is feeling the same way, and is feeling much more alone and isolated in their emotions that you will ever feel.That sounds really corny, but what you do effects people in ways that you will never know-remember the domino effect? We appreciate what you share, and when you read our honest little pissposts, you will see that yes, we are all the same in the human condition. Some just know how to articulate it better than others.

    If you must, have another, but remember that we like you just the way you are, period.

  30. Stephanie,

    Don't change because of people who don't like what you have to say or how you say it. These are the people who are so miserable within them selves that have to trash other people to make themselves feel better. You should pity them and continue to write what you want as you want in YOUR blog.
    Let them start their own blog!

  31. If people don't like you, why do they visit? I, personally, do not have such a large readership, and therefore, have not had any spam or hateful comments, thankfully! (I don't have a thick skin!) But really, what if you scare people away, would we be bored really? We all talk about our dogs, our cats, what we like to eat, how lonely we feel, it's just reality. And why blog and not just type a journal into your computer for no one's eyes but your own?

    We do it for the feedback, the humanity of a shared experience and existance. I like to know there are others out there that touch me and that I touch.

    And you have touched me! Keep being real.

  32. Fame and fortune most definitely robs you of privacy. I hope you don't get sick of it all and disappear someday. Sometimes I wonder…

  33. I think that this is the first time that I've actually agreed with you on something. At least with blogging, eh?

  34. This is a pickle — one to which I relate utterly. I, too, started a blog with the best intentions of writing my real life, and upon having friends and family actually start reading it, was forced to think very carefully about what I wrote. You can almost see where it occurred… when I reverted to posting pictures and relaying facts, instead of interpretting the events and conveying the emotions. I slowly expanded out again, but am still very conscious of every word.

    I believe in my soul that anonymity decreases credibility (eliminates it, actually), so instead there are some things I simply don't say at all. At the same time, there are things I'd like to tell without fear of hurting anyone. So I have created a new persona, given her a name, birthdate, hometown, and hair color, created an email address for her, and setup her blog. I even wrote her life history (in very brief detail). Then, I researched how to blog anonymously, so I wouldn't have to fear any clever hacker discovering my true identity and "outing" me.

    My situation may be a bit different than yours (I haven't got a fraction of your readership). But this issue is very much the same. Which is one of the reasons I read your writing on a regular basis. I — as it appears many others — can relate. I wonder, will I stumble across another blog whose author has a familiar writing style? Will it be you behind the curtain, pulling the levers and pushing the knobs and working the smoke machine? Until then, I'll keep checking in on Greek Tragedy. Best wishes on the book.

  35. Today, I sat with a friend in her kitchen, drank an ice cold beer and said, "Sometimes I think the dumbest thing I ever did was tell people I have a blog. I started it so people would learn about the "real me" the one that only lived in pages of journals I kept over the years…and now I spend more time editing it for fear of hurting people's feelings."

    I'm glad it's not just me. I'll tell you one thing, I've seriously considered investing in old faithful: a leather bound journal and a bic pen.

    Shana Tova…

  36. I certainly wouldn't want people in my life to know as much about me as I know about you. I mean, you're allowed to have secrets. Why not? Besides, your blog has served its purpose – you got your name out there and it helped you get a book deal. Now you should start fresh, with a new, anonymous blog, where you can be as honest as you like. There's no reason not to. If your faithful readers want to know more about you, they can buy your books.

  37. You are the bomb. What you don't know is even though some people may think your blog is mundane or the haters are hating, the other 90% of us are healing. What you write is what many of us have gone or are going through. It is healing. Your words are healing us because we know that even though we don't know you "personally" we know someone like us. Who is struggling like us and it helps. Keep blogging. That is why I do it. IT may touch someone one day and heal them.
    T

  38. I can relate. I recently had my blog life and real life battle, and it was hard to have it go from strangers reading it to people in my life, and have the two collide.

    I don't always like your posts, but I like your gumption, and your fearlessness. You cannot be loved by all, apprecieated by all. Continue your blog, and screw them all. Do they have book deals?

  39. When I found this site last summer (via the Times article), I was living with my boyfriend in London. Away from my good friends, my work, and missing New York, your blog made me feel so much less homesick. I read it every day and was always surprised by your honesty and humor and, despite your book deal and very active life, that you continue to open yourself up to a world of virtual strangers and remain so down to earth and relatable.

    I've also noticed, since the summer, a tremendous backlash from people who I can only assume (whether they admit it or not) are suffering from jealousy. To them, it must seem so much easier to break you down than to actually focus on themselves, to take their own risks. For the rest of us, your words articulate sentiments and experiences that we may have known (or now know, vicariously) but never heard described in such a candid and artful way. I think part of the instinct you have now to pull backwards and start over might be due to the fact that so many people who read this feel that they are invested in you, almost like a part-ownership, as if you owe them Big Truths all the time. But the range of subjects in your writing here is necessary and important and the sometimes frivolity is just as valid — for one, my relationship with my hair has done a total 180 since I started using Infusium leave-in conditioner.

  40. I've been blogging almost daily since November of 2004, when my father was finally — and miraculously — discharged from the hospital. Obviously there's a measure of self-censorship that needs to be employed, but I'm not writing for anyone other than myself. I use my blog as a forum to get my thoughts out of my head and onto the page to a) chronicle where my head is; b) acknowledge what's important to me; c) determine what is acceptable for me to share with people (and therefore stuff that doesn't embarass me); and d) to keep track of ideas, people and things that I want to have in the now.

    Essentially, I don't care if anyone else reads; I assume a measure of openness that applies to the general public. If my writing touches people in a certain way, great; if my writing is only witnessed by me, fine. I don't use the blog per se as a form of self-therapy; but if I was an alcoholic foot-fetishist who enjoyed Greta Garbo movies, I'd be sure to seek professional help and keep that information out of my blog.

    Keeping two separate blogs makes sense on some level, but I think it's thoroughly excessive and self-indulgent. I subscribe to the notion that what I want to share in the subway with a good friend is blog-safe.

    One blog, one life, one mind, one URL. Works for me.

  41. Oh please don't stop writing. Ever since I read about your blog in the NY Times I've been hooked. I look forward to reading nearly every day, and I would absolutely hate it if those who comment just to bring you down got to you. You are fabulous, please don't change.

  42. Stephanie, I started reading your blog after reading an article that the Star Tribune in Minneapolis did about you. At first, I will admit…I didn't want to like you or your blog. And I will also be completely honest and say that it WAS jealously. Because you've got talent. And moxy. And you've achieved the dream that so many of us bloggers fantasized about when we started our own blogs.

    But you know what? You're fantastic. The past few weeks I have found myself reading your posts and being flabbergasted because you have a knack of perfectly expressing certain things that I find myself pondering on the same day, at the same time.

    I have struggled with the issue of anonymity, also. When I started my blog, I made the decision to use my real name and real identity because I wanted to keep myself accountable for what I wrote. My readership has grown tremendously over the past year, bringing both blessings and curses. Some have discovered the blog and have made me wish that they hadn't. Yet others have become devoted readers and have given me the kind of affirmation that has become invaluable.

    My blog is a mix of the mundane and the meaningful, and I'm not going to change that. I started it because I wanted a place to get out all those thoughts I had swimming in my head and didn't want to burden my friends with (they can only handle so many e-mails about "Who I think is sluttier – Christina or Britney"). And that's the advice that, to sum up this reeaallly long comment, I'm going to give you. Write whatever the hell you want. It's YOUR blog. As long as you keep writing, your readers will keep reading.

    Oh, and another thing – the haters? Take it as a compliment. People don't hate the inconsequential. Which means that you are doing exactly what a writer is supposed to do…affecting others.

  43. No one gives a shit. You're a writer and supposedly now famous, but so what? Say what you want…otherwise why bother talking at all?

  44. One of the age old questions…if you are not telling a lie, are you telling the truth? The true you is beautiful, passionate, and so very real. For better or worse, be true to yourself.

  45. DON'T YOU DARE start sensoring yourself due to immature, self-centered, self-rightegeous cowards that choose to judge and attempt to inflict pain upon someone brave enough to put herself out there day after day. You let those "haters" win when you hold back the real you. Screw 'em!

  46. This is in response more to the comments from others than the actual post, but it's a topic that has come up more than once on this site. From a psychological point of view, it's fascinating. I've never understood the way bloggers seem genuinely surprised that they find themselves conflicted when their "real life" people find their blog and learn all the secrets they never wanted anyone in their "real life" to know about. I've always thought, "why the hell are you putting the secrets you'd never want anyone you actually know to learn about ON THE FREAKIN' INTERNET??" Why don't you keep your private thoughts private? Then I realized that people have this weird need to TELL things. Telling things to their diary fulfills this need to a point ("Dear Diary, Sorry it's been so long since I've written…" – as if the Diary is a person to whom one writes a letter) but what could fulfill the need better than telling their secrets to real people the way you can through a weblog? A blog is better than a diary because it lets a person TELL things, to real people who LISTEN. It's reassuring, a validation of sorts. But unfortunately, privacy DOES NOT EXIST on the internet. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't expect to be able to tell your secrets out loud and maintain anonymity as well.

  47. Allright, I will extoll the unquestionable scientific merit of this blog: it has proved the existence of a horde of "human beings" (i.e. the absolute majority of the readers of this blog) about whom it is impossible to think and say politically correct things. A non-trivial contribution to anthropology or to entomology maybe.

    Anyway, on a more conciliatory note, I too had to use a towel last night after reading the last post of this blog. Thank God I had bleach in the house and my washing machine did not let me down.

    Adieu.

    Julian

    THIS PERSON IN THE LAST WEEK HAS COMMENTED THE FOLLOWING AS WELL-

    10/6 "Very touching indeed. My hemorrhoids are bleeding for you."

    AND

    10/7 "I've randomly come across your blog a week ago and I can immediately offer you the answer to your dilemma; it is very simple: you are taking yourself very seriously. Furthermore you seem to believe that "writing" about yourself may lead to superior state of knowledge. Funny. You are just a replica of Sarah Jessica Parker. Like the character of the tv series you are pretentious and self-referential. And you totally lack sense of humour. Your little world. Your little problems. It is a sad and hopeless affair. An American tragedy."

  48. 'Knucklehead?' 'Haters?' Oh, brudder. Groucho Marx genuinely understood the nature of "clubs." The beauty of the internet is FEARLESS freedom of speech. God bless us, America.

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