Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just say no to mommy blog.

Have you noticed how I haven't been posting very often? You have? Shoot. I was hoping to sort of slip under the radar on that one. But I guess that's not very bloggerly of me, is it? Posting is sort of the whole point of blogging. No posts, no blog. That's just kind of how it goes.

But there's a really good reason I haven't been posting. Sort of. I mean, well, here's the long and the short of it. (I don't know what "the long and the short of it" means so I'm just going to ramble on for a bit and hope you forget I said that.)

About a year ago I met a girl at a party and for some reason when she asked me, "What do you do?" I told her, "I'm mostly a stay-at-home-mom but I'm a writer too." "Oh, what do you write?" This came as a complete shock to me which seems funny now considering, duh, of course that's what she'd say. I got all embarrassed and sort of stammered, "Oh, right now, you mean? Oh. Um? I just have like, a blog? Or whatever. I mean for now. But I've written other stuff too!"

"I have a blog too!"

"Of course you do."

I should have backed away slowly to a corner of the room where I could text myself something along the lines of: Having a blog does not necessarily make you a "writer". Lots of people have blogs. Please try to remember this next time you think you can slide one by a stranger at a party. Chances are pretty good that they also have a blog. You don't see them going around introducing themselves as writers, do you? Next time someone asks, just say you're a mom. No one ever asks questions about that.

(Yes, I always text in complete sentences with no abbreviations and close to perfect grammar and punctuation. I should remember that next time someone asks me what I write. "Texts. Really long and time consuming texts. Oh, and also? I have a blog.")

But of course, I didn't excuse myself from the conversation; I stuck with it and tried to talk shop. This was my second mistake. As it turned out, I didn't have the first clue about blogging. Simple questions like, "Who designed your site?" left me utterly confused and grasping at straws. "My site? Um. I dunno. It's like one of those template thingys from Blogger. But I picked out the colors!" I wasn't really even reading other blogs at the time so when she tried to compare the mommy blog community to the crafting blog community, I'm sure I just stood there slack jawed, holding onto my glass of wine like it was a life raft.

But some of what she said really stuck with me (I have a memory like a trap door - the strangest stuff falls in there and never comes out again) and now, all these months later, I understand what she was talking about. I've even formed some opinions of my own! Hey, Maggie - welcome to the conversation!

(Whoa...I think I may have just written the long of it and now I'm coming to the short of it. Yeah? Maybe? Never mind.)

The more I try to get to know this blogging community I am in by default (I mean, I guess having a kid and a blog makes me a mommy blogger, right?), the more I think that blissfully ignorant writer from a year ago may have known more than she thought she did. I'm really not a blogger. If anything, I'm a writer. Sure, I have a blog, but the whole point of the blog is so I have a place to write. Putting together words and sentences to tell a story - that's writing. Blogging? That's an entirely different animal altogether. Mommy blogging? Oh boy...

I may be entirely off base here - I can only "research" the subject for so long before I start to feel like I'm stuck at the bad lunch table with a bunch of uglies trying to talk over each other to make the same point - but I'm pretty sure the whole mommy blog community SUCKS. It seems like a very competitive, mean-spirited group that is out for nothing but comments and cash (or payola or blogola or WTF? Why do bloggers have to make up their own words for everything!?!). Here's sort of what the mommy blogosphere sounds like to me (in an increasingly shrill and desperate tone of voice):
Look at me ladies - I give away useless crap every single day!
Well, I have twice as many people following me on Twitter, so there!
Whatever - I'm so busy updating all my sponsored links I barely have time to write anymore.
Who cares about writing? You're not going to make Dooce dollars if you waste your time writing.
Screw Dooce, I hate her!
I love her!
I love to hate her!
Stay-at-home-moms have the hardest job in the world.
No they don't - working moms do!
No way - work-at-home-moms work the hardest!
Breastfeeding moms!
Bottle feeding moms!
Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!! No one cares! And while you're blabbering on and on like a bunch of freaking idiots, you're neglecting the whole reason you're in this mommy blog club in the first place - YOUR KIDS!
(That last one was me in case you couldn't tell.)

I don't think I have to go out of my way to say that not all blogs written by people with children are like this. Obviously. But the more I read the more I feel like a lot of mommies out there have lost the plot. Like they're all fighting for the chance to sell themselves and their families for a measly commission, a few cheap laughs and some sympathy from strangers.

And I swear this isn't sour grapes. Really. I love to write on this blog and it makes me eternally happy when people read it and it touches them in one way or another, but I am not interested in finding success in the blogosphere (I really hate the word blogosphere). I did not start this blog to make money or get free stuff or increase the traffic to my website (I don't even have a website); I started it as a commitment to something I am passionate about (writing) and a reminder that, no matter what my daily life might suggest, there is more to me than being a mom.

So, anyway, the point I was trying to make (sorry, no short of it here!) was that the reason I haven't been posting a lot is because I started to see myself as a part of a community I didn't like. The less I posted, the less I felt like a mommy blogger. But now, after writing the LONG of it (yet another reason I like to write - it helps me figure out how I feel about things), I realize I can be a stay-at-home-mom and a writer if I want. Just because I have a child and a blog does not mean I have to learn some secret handshake and go to the BlogHer conference. Writing for the love of writing is a perfectly good reason to write. Of course I could write without sharing my work. But as someone who loves to read, there is no greater joy than writing for other readers (it's not all about me, you know).


ae said...

As I have the brain of a writer stuck in the body of a software trainer, I can really relate. Most of my writing is either my blog, e mails or grocery lists.

But why did that woman have to get all uppity with you? We are what we believe ourselves to be. If you say you're a writer, that's good enough for me.

But since I am not a Mommy, I don't even get to hang with the mommybloggers. That's some rarified air, and I do NOT fit in.

There's one I love, hate and love to hate.

She homeschools her four kids, lives on a big beautiful ranch in Oklahoma, writes a blog that includes daily posts, gorgeous photos taken by The Pioneer Woman herself, recipes, etc. She cooks everything from scratch, has lots of clever and lovely friends, and gives away the coolest stuff.

And has readership in the thousands.


No Mommy Brain said...

"whore." love it!
ps - that woman was not uppity at all! she was really cool and just making conversation. any inferred uppityness was probably just me being insecure. and drunk. ;)

hezza said...

I am so glad you aren't a mommy blogger. I write for work ...but healthcare writing is not exciting party conversation.

And I think my taste in blogs speaks for itself:

mostly silly crap, some crafty stuff and my friends

Callie said...

I really enjoy your blog and am grateful you do it for you! It's refreshing to not see all the ads on other blogs. Keep writing Maggie!

sunT said...

you go girl!!! tell it like it is!
i have to say the majority of the mommy blogs end up making me feel inadaquate. (the pioneer woman included)

i mentioned i had a blog to someone the other day and he was like "so your a mommy blogger?" i was like ... uh shit. (i have a blog because i have alot to say and know one really cares and for friends and family to hear about how awesome my kid is. thank you very much)

a few min before i read your post. i was reading one of my favorite decorating blogs...

and i thought to myself..."i really want to smash this girl's face in.. she is so annoyingly everywhere"

thank god i never get that way with you! haha! i LOVE your blog. i look foward to it all the time cause it makes me laugh. write your heart away maggie, no matter what they want to catagorize you as.

Celina said...

As I began reading your latest piece, I had the sneaking suspicion you were going to write that you were not going to be writing your blog anymore in order to spend more time with Liam. SO glad that's not the case! I love your blog, Maggie. I don't have kids yet, but want some someday, and reading about your experiences, experiments, triumphs, and challenges gives me a little insight in what it's like to be a mom (I know a person can't REALLY know until they are in the thick of it), and gives me such great ideas for the future. Thank you for your writing! I love to read what you write! :D

Jaime Sarrio said...

A someone way smarter than me said, "The first rule of writing is to write." Writing makes you a writer. Nothing else.

And for what it's worth, I like your perspective. It's a bridge between non-mommies and mommies. It's interesting to read your perspective on parenting, and I'm glad you do it.

No Mommy Brain said...

wow - i was totally not expecting all the encouragement and support but i really appreciate it. thank you!

Linnet said...

Well said - as always chica!