Back in the day when traditional media ruled, if writers wanted an audience, they were contributors to magazines and newspapers. In order to get stories published and distributed to an audience, writers would go through a pretty stringent editing process. Beyond the fact-checking and grammatical proofreading, usually an editor would ask the question: “Is this a Vogue feature?” “Does this profile work for Forbes?” or “Is this story about teen fashion edgy enough for Sassy?”
Each outlet would have a tone, purpose and mission which the writer would need to adapt to, a uniformity to assume. The Economist doesn’t even give bylines, that’s how uniform its editorial is.
Blogging changed the game. Now any writer has the ability to write about what they want, and an audience could find them. The blogger could set the focus of his/her writing.
But with an audience comes a certain amount of pressure. You might feel an obligation to tell a certain type of story over and over. I saw a comment by Wordgirl on Stirrup Queens asking whether she felt like she was James Taylor wanting to play new songs, with an audience constantly yelling “Fire and Rain!” Do you feel an obligation to keep your focus narrow? Do you feel an obligation to please your readers? Or do you simply write what you want?
If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that there’s an undercurrent here. I chose to call out This House is Now a Home about an audience sensitivity issue. I did this because I had a Mother Bear reaction. I have become quite protective of the feelings of my friends going through infertility, and some were hurt by the essay.
I really have been enlightened by the feedback from Kate, my readers and her readers. My hope is that the discussion made people more sensitive on all fronts. (Me included.) My fear is that I went against my own feelings (stated “editorially”, many times, in many places): be supportive of all mothers and try to bring more joy into my life and inspire others to do so. Maura called me out on this. I even say in my bio to “feel free to keep me honest” if I’m not living joyfully. Well, she did. And she has a point.
Here’s where I am on my big mission of 2011: a little disillusioned. Living joyfully every day may be “the good work, the sweet work”, but damn if it’s not difficult for me. I also have a total bugaboo about being authentic. How can you be authentic about feeling joy if it’s such hard work to get there? I still think it’s possible.
But infertility seems to have taken away my ability to look at any given situation in a purely positive light. I don’t know why: I have children, I’ve crossed the finish line. Darcy doesn’t get it either: he doesn’t want to talk about infertility anymore. (And he was totally annoyed he had to film my NIAW video for Resolve.) Maybe I have some strain of Irish melancholic gene, maybe I see the world the way it is, maybe I have taken on the pain of my friends. I don’t know. This post makes me feel less alone about my feelings of both joy and pain.
I think the best way to take action about the pain and agony infertility causes is for me to be an activist, work with Resolve, and do the March Walk of Dimes next year. Those are action items with a real purpose: items that genuinely can help us win the fight against infertility and pre-maturity.
All of you who have dealt with infertility, however you are dealing with it: you have my most upmost respect.
What makes you feel joyful? Do you think I should continue to try to seek joy? Have you ever wanted to change the tone or focus of your blog?