My mother was telling me about the mysterious purple goo on her pants which turned out to be jelly.
“I had peanut butter and jelly for lunch with chocolate milk,” she reported.
“You eat like a four-year-old,” I replied.
“What’s wrong with peanut butter and jelly?” she asked.
“Nothing. It’s the chocolate milk that pushes it over the edge.”
“Well,” she sighed, “I don’t like vodka.”
Where is my TV show? Where is my “S**t My Mother Says”? You know, because I’ve been at this blogging and tweeting thing a lot longer than Justin Halpern, the guy who tweeted, well, s**t his father says and netted a TV show starring Captain Kirk. For seven years, I’ve been writing about the, er, stuff my mother says, my kids say, my husband says, the school officials say when I’ve screwed up — again. And yet…
The thing is, I almost had a TV show, or at least a pilot. Last summer, a TV production crew came out to my house to plan out a pilot for a show based on MommaSaid. And it was all very exciting until their money ran out and the show idea died quietly, along with my dreams of a Hollywood makeover and a swimming pool shaped like the MommaSaid logo.
And you know what? That’s okay. Because I have had a very exciting ride with MommaSaid over the past seven years, including appearances on the CBS Evening News and the Today Show, an award presented by Cindy Crawford while Hollywood paparazzi snapped photos of us, spokespersonships for huge companies like Hershey’s and a three-book deal based on my web site. It’s the kind of thing most bloggers have only dreamed about, and I am grateful for it all.
Lately though, some bloggers have been wondering why we blog. Amanda of I Am Mommy warned would-be bloggers of What Nobody Tells You About Blogging, over at Blogher. She called blogging a rat race, “a full-on competition to see who can get most comments, most followers, most page hits, most features, have the most and biggest and best giveaways, etc.”
Over at Mom-101, however, Liz Gumbinner disagreed: “I understand feeling frustrated–even envious–when someone else gets recognition or a book deal or a link from Heather Armstrong. I understand feeling competitive. But that’s not the same as blogging being a competition. Is it?”
I guess that depends on your goal. Do you want to photograph yourself making unconventional uses out of your ex-wife’s wedding dress with the hopes of some sort of quick rise to fame or at least some very public revenge? Do you want a multi-book deal based on funny pictures of cats? Do you want to get so famous so fast that people care enough to spread rumors that you’re dead?
I don’t. I just want to write. I’ve wanted to write since I was the editor of my high school’s literary magazine, reading aloud one of my non-fiction stories, when an English teacher — a full-grown man — laughed out loud in all the right places.
Whatever that was, I wanted more of it. I wanted to string together words in such a fashion that they make people laugh or cry or, as one of my readers recently told me, pin to her bulletin board something that I’d written and leave it there for five years. The Today Show, the TV pilot, the paparazzi — that’s all just part of the ride that ends where I want to be: with me at my computer, losing track of time because I’m lost in what I love to do most.
So, I won’t compete for the comments, the re-tweets, the mention on Gawker, the link from Heather Armstrong, the TV show with the bad word in the title. Because I have found that when I write well and write often, some of that just comes with the territory anyhow.
It’s the reward for sticking with it through the good times and the very, very bad, for constantly working on your craft, for putting the effort into getting the word out on your work without living and dying by your stats. It’s keeping at the heart of everything you do the basic fact that people are reading your blog, and that these people matter the most. To me, blogging is about building a community of folks who can’t wait to read what you’ve written.
Would I want my own TV show? Sure. But mainly because it would guarantee that I get to keep doing what I love to do the most…and get paid for it. This year especially, it’s been harder to find those opportunities without a gimmick or a flash-in-the-pan rise to fame. But I stay true to writing, because I believe that good writing still matters and that blogging is the ticket to getting to do it for a living.
Besides, my mother keeps giving me things to blog about, and I just can’t pass that up.