I'd started writing this blog post today about my bad writing habits. While I wasn't (unfortunately) at a loss for examples, I was at a loss for substance. And there it was. My baddest of the bad habits. Hiding behind my words. I'm sharing what I wrote when I first wrestled with this truth. In its original form, it not only better conveys the experience, it reminds me to be me.
If I’m going to be honest about my dishonesty, then I must be honest that the idea for this post did not originate with me.
I started working with the savvy Beth Jusino, a freelance publishing consultant. She sent me an extensive questionnaire to answer prior to creating my (astounding!)Book Marketing Plan. One of the challenges I shared with her was that I couldn’t get a handle on my website/blog, not the design of it, but the direction of it.
The resulting telephone conversation (loosely paraphrased) after I read the plan, went something like this:
Beth: How is it that you write novels where you’re not afraid to tackle tough issues, the emotions no one wants to own, but you sound like Pollyanna on your blog?
Me: I didn’t want to upset or offend anyone.
Beth: I think that’s a blog post.
Am I intentionally hiding behind my fiction?
I don’t believe my blog should be a confessional for all my sins, a sales pitch for my books, or a dumping ground for minutiae. I doubt readers care to know my grocery list or the details of my dentist appointment.
But I did choose to be safe. To not discuss controversial topics or, if I did, leave my stance ambiguous. To not share much of what I wrestle with morally, both inside and outside of my writing. To not write more about places where my life intersects with my books.
Why? Because I feared being judged, being outcasted, being ridiculed. Because I wanted people to think, “That Christa writes about some real issues, but she’s such a nice person.”
In writing this, I remembered a widget, years earlier, that kept a real time count of abortions in the United States. After copying the code into my blog, I deleted it. I rationalized that the blog was too new for me to “rock the boat” and engage in pro-life vs. pro-choice controversy.
What makes all of this wretchedly ironic is I’m the once divorced, twice married, recovering alcoholic Christian wife of a Jewish husband, mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) plus three other children, a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay brother.
It would be stupid for anyone to go to a dry well. Why would I want my readers to go to a blog that offers them nothing beyond the sanitized?
Many of them face ugly, painful truths. Am I telling them it’s acceptable for fictional people to play in the mud of that, but we real ones need to avoid the muck?
If I want readers to know who I am beyond the pithy bio on the back of my novels, being honest about my dishonesty is an honest beginning.