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!