Under the Radar: Do You Prefer Reality or Reality-Based Journals?

The New Orleans French Quarter is more dramatic than historic downtown Winona, Minnesota

The New Orleans French Quarter is more dramatic than historic downtown Winona, Minnesota

My cousin has an idea for my blog.  She thinks it should be more dramatic.  She says  I should  incorporate scenes of what she calls ” bawling, bellyaching, and bellowing” into my  autobiographical comedy.

“You turned off the ‘like’ button,”  she says.  “You’re writing for nobody.”

I turned the off the ‘like’ button off because I think it’s silly.  I rarely cry or scream.  “I am writing for nobody.  It’s a book journal with reality-based diary entries.”

“People want gardens and cute pictures.  And more personal information.”

“I have no personal information.”

Since I refuse to  photoshop pictures of my bedraggled geraniums, or of my cousin standing behind me making rabbit ears, she suggests I eschew reality altogether.   “You should write massively untrue stuff about yourself and the books you read.”

Well, strictly speaking, that might spice things up. Instead of writing about going to Winona, Minnesota, where I actually went, I could pretend to go to New Orleans, where I have never been.  I could trawl information about New Orleans from Anne Rice’s Lestat books and  Shirley Ann Grau’s The House on Coliseum Street.   Vampires and Gothic Southern women:  it could work!

But if I wrote my blog thinking of only imaginary readers and statistics, and I had to invent New Orleans instead of chronicle Winona, I would be bored and resentful.  . I record just enough personal information that I can look back a year from now and know what I was doing.

My cousin isn’t so worried about her personal information.  As a librarian, she knows it’s all out there anyway. She bets  she can write a blog driven by  personal information and rehab anecdotes that will be twice as popular as my most popular post (about Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet.)

I don’t doubt it.

She will write about what it’s like to be a professional woman who does  not have it all .

She shrieks, “I don’t have any of it!  I don’t have friends, I don’t have money, I don’t have a boyfriend…   And I’ll recommend books I haven’t read!”

“You do that anyway.”

“And I’ll write about rehab.”

“You do that anyway.”

Though she is a librarian, she seldom reads books: she prefers to read about them at Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal.  But many of her colleagues do far worse work than she: they have catalogued Doris Lessing’s last novel, Alfred and Emily, as biography, and declared Caroline Blackwood’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Great Granny Webster, a children’s book.

One must be true to one’s own tone.  My bookish readers don’t expect too much.  A book, a bike ride, a short trip:  that’s all we’ve got!

8 thoughts on “Under the Radar: Do You Prefer Reality or Reality-Based Journals?

  1. Frankly Kat, I prefer your blog to reality based efforts. We all have problematic lives, few live perfect lives. I think your cousin is wrong, we all have enough of mundane lives, I like the tone of your blog and its subjects. Just keep going the way you are, it’s just fine, in my honest opinion. There is no need to gild the lily.


  2. Like Clare and Silver I like your blog just as it is. It’s real: remember George Eliot’s “Speech is but broken light upon the depth Of the unspoken . . . ” and you need only keep speech true. Myself I don’t think other blogs lie but rather that they exaggerate: they exaggerate their good time, they over-speak the joy they felt in this museum, or how great that dinner party was; they omit all that say Trollope will include in a typical scene of his of social life.


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