: views from the Hill

Friday, April 29, 2005

Ayelet Waldman on Living out loud -- online

I wandered from Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind to Laurie King's Mutterings, which took me to this King blog post on blogging, which took me to Ayelet Waldman's now defunct Bad Mother Blog, which led (eventually!) to Waldman's new Salon gig (and one of the main reason her blog is now defunct).

At Salon I found Living out loud -- online wherein Ayelet Waldman writes about her husband, the writer Michael Chabon, being off on tour and reading her Bad Mother blog and realizing she was contemplating suicide. He did what he could from 2000 miles away, her girlfriends gathered 'round, the suicide threat was thwarted, Waldman's meds were adjusted and things settled back as much as they can to normal, but the whole very public blog episode unsettled her. She writes about using her life and those of her family as fodder for her blog.

Frankly, at this stage they are far more interested in Gaia online and Muffin Films Web sites, but there will surely come a day when they will Google themselves, find my blog and both be furious with me for having stolen their lives and humiliated at the extent to which I have laid open my own. I told the New York Times reporter that blogging was "payback for driving back and forth to gymnastics all week long," but I don't really believe that. As much as I despise carpool, I wasn't trying to exact some kind of complicated revenge for having been forced to spend too many hours in a minivan.

How much should you use of your real life, and the lives of those nearest and dearest, in your blog is a question most bloggers tussle with.

Some don't use their real lives and don't tussle.

Some have no qualms about exposing their personal lives and those of their nearest and dearest and don't tussle either.

Waldman also writes about the effect her blogging was having on her writing:

At the same time, I was becoming convinced that all this blogging was having a deleterious effect on my writing. It was more than the hours I was spending posting to my blog, reading my comments page, reading other blogs, and checking my site meter. As a novelist, I mined my history, my family and my memory, but in a very specific way. Writing fiction, I never made use of experiences immediately as they happened. I needed to let things fester in my memory, mature and transmogrify into something meaningful. The fictionalized scene I ended up with was often unrecognizable from the actual event that had been its progenitor.

But in the months I had the blog, I was spewing as fast as my family was experiencing. My initial idea, that the blog would act as a kind of digital notebook, was not panning out. Once the experience was turned into words, I found that it was frozen. The fertile composting that I count on to generate my fiction was no longer happening.

Read the article.

I sat through a brief Salon ad to get my fix. The brief ad was time well spent in trade for the opportunity to read Waldman's thought-provoking story and musings.

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