11 October 2008

Why Not?

Rick found an essay on the New York Times website tonight, by Verlyn Klinkenborg. (In much the same way I would like to be Nina Totenberg, Rick would like to be Verlyn Klinkenborg.) Klinkenborg is an essayist who writes about The Rural Life for the Op Ed page. He is thoughtful and observant.

The essay Rick found is from October of 2007, and it has gotten me thinking. I love writing this blog. I love having this outlet to write about funny things my kids do, or about days that would make me cry if I didn't find a way to laugh , or about ideas that percolate in my head.

Even though I love it so much, I recently stopped posting for almost three weeks. This was a particularly stressful time for us, with work and school and work and soccer and work and feeding people taking up most of our time and energy. But other weeks have been as full, and I've still managed to post. So why the break?

Well, I think it has something to do with Politeness and Authority. In this essay, Klinkenborg explores the idea that women writers tend to apologize for their own ideas, to avoid offending others. I have a million ideas a day to write about, most of which end up in one of the trash bins of my mind labeled: NO ONE CARES or YOU CAN'T SAY THAT or THAT'S JUST PLAIN STUPID. When pressed, I can admit that I do not actually believe this. I really do believe that I have something to say. I do not, however, behave this way.

I took a break from blogging because blogging was starting to scare me. Reading Klinkenborg's essay tonight took the questions roiling around in my head and placed them squarely on the page where I had to face them:

Why not, I asked, be as smart and perceptive as you really are? Why not accept what you’re capable of? Why not believe that what you notice matters?


I enjoy making people laugh with my posts -- and lots of people have told me how much fun it is to read about my children's shenanigans. But I've got more to say than that my daughter didn't wear underwear to Mass or that my laundry pile is threatening to stage a coup. And I shy away from those interesting ideas. Blog guidelines suggest that you find a voice for your blog, a niche, a "persona" of sorts. I don't think mine has one. But I do know that it's hard to swing back and forth between silly little anecdotes about my kids and more weighty topics like what I really think of Sarah Palin, the fears I harbor about my parenting, or the spiritual side of living a chaotic, messy, stressful life. I want to write about both. I need a little courage to do so.

Women everywhere should read Klinkenborg's essay. And then answer that question for themselves: Why not believe that what I notice matters?

1 comment:

Erika said...

Let us have it- your readers want your big ideas. But aren't you glad you ended up with your name and not as Mrs. Klinkenborg?