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2.01.2012

The Art of Blogging Honestly

This is a guest blog I wrote for The Nanahood. Please visit Teresa's great page for lots of gramma stuff.

I started a grampy blog a year and a half ago after my son moved back home with his kids. Crammed together in a small New England cape along with our 4 dogs there was no question this had the makings of a great blog: two grandparents giving up their retirement to start raising a family again, a dad who just got custody and didn't have a clue what to do next, and three boys who couldn't be different (a 10 year old jock, a cross-dressing 8 year old, and an OCD toddler). As the only woman, my wife had just one demand: "I want my own bathroom."

Before I could write a word, I had to look inside myself and ask this question (a question that all parent/grandparent bloggers face): how honest and close to the bone should I write? Should I be candid and share what's really going on in the house - warts, bad moods and all? Or should I do what is more typical and present a rosy impression of being a devoted granddad, complete with lots of smiley pictures and cute anecdotes. As we all know, life lies somewhere in the middle of bad moods and puppy smiles. Life is messy and life in a crowded house full of kids and dogs is the definition of messy.

I'm not sure how any fellow bloggers reading this handle their thruths. Do you make a conscious decision to only dig so deep? Do you naturally know where the line for discretion is in your writing, as in your day to day life? If a touchy subject comes up that might fall in a grey area, do you avoid it or write it? I think this is a critical point for for any writer: how much are you willing to expose about yourself to share the truth? Is the truth important?

After researching and reading a number of blogs, I decided if I couldn't be honest and share real feelings, good and bad, there would be no point to the blog. I try to reach into my thoughts and feelings every time I face the page to get under the piece I'm writing rather than just relate a story. That can be tough. After all, I'm trying to relate the dynamics of a multigenerational household in turmoil. I'll write about anything as long as I can maintain the dignity of who I'm writing about. When it works, and I share a common truth about an issue, it touches my readers deeply. And when I've missed I unintentionally insult my family, which is painful and I've apologized for it. Sometimes, it's not easy to know where the line is until after I cross it. Then it's too late.

As writers, though, we all face this. When you put your foot in it, or say something inappropriate, should we say 'I'm sorry', move on and learn from the mistake? Or do we back off and lick our wounds and stop writing with honesty? Shouldn't we be true to ourselves, even when painful, and true to our subject whether fact or fiction? Another tough call.

I'm a science fiction novelist so writing about the people I love is a challenge. However, I'm developing a sitcom pilot based on this little microworld so I sure hope my family can take a joke.