February 2, 2010

An Interview With Myself

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately. I'm not sure why. But the other day I found myself in the shower answering my own questions about the process. That was kinda whacked out, me talking about blogging to myself in the shower. But I figured, hey, might as well write it down and get some mileage out of it.

Me: Hello there. You're looking rather good today. Have you been working out?
Myself: Hey, thanks. Nice of you to notice. In fact, I have been running a little bit.
Me: I thought so. Looking good!
Myself: You're too kind. Hey, you want to go out for a drink later or something?
Me: Sure. That sounds like a plan. Maybe a beer?
Myself: Beer! My favorite. How did you know?
Me: Just call it a hunch.
Myself: Anyway...on with this, right?
Me: If we must.

Me: What confuses you most about blogging.
Myself: I don't understand why people react to posts the way they do. Six, maybe seven years of doing this and I still haven't figured it out. I'll write a post that I think is the most brilliant or hilarious thing I've ever come up with and the reception is lukewarm. On the flip side, posts that are slapped together at the very last minute that I've written off as inconsistent and poorly written are oddly embraced. I don't get it. Clearly I haven't yet figured out my audience. That or I haven't figured out my own writing. Or both. Which is vaguely terrifying.

Me: What about blogging are you most surprised by?
Myself: That I'm still doing it. I've been able to commit three long-term things - marriage, being a dad, and blogging. This is remarkable since I'd been previously able to commit only to things with an expected duration of five or ten minutes. I have a supreme lack of will power surrounding things that take long-term commitment. When I started the blogging gig, I figured I'd do it for about a week. That was seven years ago.

Me: What's the biggest lie you've ever told about blogging?
Myself: I'd say it's probably the bullshit about the fact that I'd do it even if no one was out there reading it. I mean, I hope I'd write all this stuff down somewhere so twenty years from now I could remember what Mia looked like when she made the devil horns and started singing Smoke On The Water. But it wouldn't look like this. No, the fact that people read this enables me to keep writing and I would not write some things if people were not, in fact, out there reading. So that I do it for me explanation is only partially true.

Me: What's the hardest thing about it?
Myself: I've been doing it for seven years and I've been pretty consistent about style and frequency for the last four or so. So there's the expectation that I'm going to write something insightful or witty each and every day. I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me but those are some weighty expectations sometimes. And some days it feels more like a job than it should.

Me: What's your process like?
Myself: It varies day to day, week to week. Sometimes I have this long laundry list of crap that I want to get off my chest. Other weeks I have absolutely nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. That's when I get a little frightened. But something invariably comes to me (I've just jinxed myself, haven't it?). Anyway, whenever I have time throughout the day, I start sketching it out. A sentence here, a sentence there. I fill in the gaps and end up with something that hopefully doesn't suck. And even when I'm convinced it doesn't, I'll keep working on it until first thing in the morning. When I hit publish and let it loose into the world.

Me: Have you ever thought about giving it up?
Myself: Yeah. About once every couple of weeks.

Me: And what do you do with that thought?
Myself: I push it into the back of my brain where I keep the knowledge that my parents have sex and the desire to see Lindsay Lohan naked. Hopefully none of these thoughts see the light of day very often.

Me: Hey, what do you say about that drink now?
Myself: Isn't it a little early?
Me: When are you posting this?
Myself: Like, 7:00 in the morning.
Me: Oh. Coffee?
Myself: Sure. Coffee it is.

What is the appeal of blogging (reading or writing) for you? And what do you see here that you like or dislike?

Posted by Chris at February 2, 2010 7:38 AM

i started blogging to keep friends and family who are far away in the loop of our tremendously exciting lives. they rarely tune in anymore and now i do it because it's like therapy for me and i think it's really cool to look back on. every year my husband prints off a year of blogging and has them professionally bound so i can pretend i'm a real writer with a published book. they sure are purty to look at and the little girls love looking at them.

Posted by: meanie at February 2, 2010 8:04 AM

oops, forgot this part - i'm pretty new to your blog but i like that you update daily and it makes me laugh and i dig your rock n roll vibe.

Posted by: meanie at February 2, 2010 8:06 AM

I was just thinking about this! More along the lines of what I've learned & what has surprised me & why I do it. Was going to do it as a one year retrospective, but that came and went in October (I've only been at it for 15 months), but I figure any time to document learning isn't wrong. So I'll have to get on that.I really like meanie's idea of printing & binding them.

Thanks for the introspective view!

Posted by: harmzie at February 2, 2010 8:15 AM

I enjoy getting a little peak into someone else's life. I like reading you especially for your perspective on parenting. As a female I find it interesting how you see and report on your family. You are also usually pretty funny which brightens my day. I like that you post consistantly. M-F I can hop online in the morning and expect to read something from you. Thanks for that.

My husband does not understand why I read blogs, but I don't understand why he watches crappy bargan basement horror movies. I guess I just find it entertaining.

Posted by: Ashley K at February 2, 2010 8:16 AM

I tried blogging for a while (like a week or two) and didn't like my own style. Or didn't give myself time to develop a style, not sure which. I like reading blogs because it is like catching up with friends (even when it is very much a one-sided thing!). I especially like your blog because when you are funny you are just my type of funny - witty and intelligent - and the days when you are not humorous you are insightful, and even though we don't always see things the same way (only 95% of the time rather than 100% :)) I always get something out of your posts. Plus, you get annoyed about the same things I do and rant about them much more eloquently than I ever could! I'm glad that you have stuck with it. I'd be lonely eating breakfast without your blog!

Posted by: Elizabeth at February 2, 2010 8:33 AM

I started my blog because my cousin made me! I know lame excuse for starting a blog, but I did it to shut her up. I never figured anyone would read it. Then I started writing because I actually liked doing it. Of course, there are days I have nothing to say. Life is dull, but I write anyway. I have only missed writing a post a day here or there, due to being operated on unexpectedly. Five years in May! I post every day about something, and hope that either people like it, or it helps end their insomnia~!

Posted by: Maribeth at February 2, 2010 8:34 AM

I read blogs to get a glimpse of other people's lives. I have a long list of ones that I read regularly. And they run the distance between heartbreaking and hysterical. There are a few blogs out there written by men with kids (obviously yours included) that I really enjoy reading, because while it's not always all about the kids, when it is, it's amazing to read. I know that dads don't deserve anymore credit than moms, but it still amazes me that my generation of dads seem to be so much more involved than dads when I was growing up. I haven't had coffee yet, I hope that made sense.

Posted by: Jess at February 2, 2010 8:55 AM

I love the give-and-take of blogs, although I neglect my own far too much to get much of that. I really admire your commitment here -- it takes a lot of work to post so regularly and well!

Posted by: Julie at February 2, 2010 8:59 AM

I love reading blogs to get a glimpse into other people's lives but I still haven't figured out the best way to apply it to my own blog so I find myself opening a new post and staring at it and then getting distracted and never posting. I started my blog to trry and exercise my poor writing skills but for me if just hasn't took. I read a lot of blogs, thank you google reader, but seldom comment. I've found though I'm more likely to comment on Facebook if someone cross posts there.

Posted by: Jody at February 2, 2010 9:15 AM

Regarding the queation about reaction to posts. Sometimes the thrown together on the fly posts resonate more with people because they seem more genuine...you know...not thought out. They are more inviting to comment on because comments to posts are not usuallly thought out but are the commenters gut reaction to a post.

What I like here is the consistency. What I dont like is that you a left wing hippie pink commie bastard.

Posted by: William at February 2, 2010 9:51 AM

I don't blog; I sometimes wish I did, but I've found that writing on pen and paper makes it flow for me, and the keyboard just doesn't cut it the same way. I tried to start zines as a kid.

I've been reading your blog for years, and strangely you've come to feel like a pen pal. When I was working crazy hours for months and years on end, I sometimes felt I knew more about the details of Mia's life than my own daughter, and that always made me feel like I should try harder as a dad. And I did, and my life and my family's have been better for it ( never know where those ripples in the pond go, eh? )

I've always thought the best thing about your blog is that someday, when Mia and Owen are older and fully people in their own right, they can read these blogs and get to know you in a way that few children ever get to know their parents. And their lives will be much much richer for it.

And so, as part of giving back, here are the top influences you've had on my life:
1. Will always think of DC as monkeytown.
2. Every time something strange happens in a public bathroom, I think of you ( sad, but true )
3. Know the meaning and usage of schnefergraude ( but apparently not the spelling ;)...
4. Have had deep introspection moments on a regular basis as I think about a post or think of a response ( such as right now )

Keep on trucking Chris!


Posted by: metawizard at February 2, 2010 9:56 AM

Your blog was one of the few "stranger" blogs I ever read consistently. I started blogging to reconnect with my high school friends who were blogging about their families and new babies.

But what blogging has turned out to be is the pathway to getting my voice back. I lost it somewhere along the way about five or six years ago, and I say things on my blog that I can't imagine saying outloud or sticking up for and when I get encouragement from the blogging community, those thoughts sometimes escape my lips in conversation and they are well received there, too. I'm getting my strong, opinionated voice back and it's making me stronger all over the place.

Who would have thought that after nine years of therapy, blogging would turn out to be one of the best tools...

Posted by: k8 at February 2, 2010 10:07 AM

I'm a blogger of nearly 6 years, and also find that some of my least thought out posts are the most responded to. Go figure!

Posted by: cassie-b at February 2, 2010 10:22 AM

I too, can't believe that I've been doing this for eight years. It astounds me. I thought for sure, I'd have given it up a long time ago, but it's become such a part of who I am, that I can't quit. And quite frankly, I love having an archive of my life. Even if it's just the stupid little things. It's an accomplishment. I went from being a divorced single girl, to married with two kids. And it's pretty neat to see the evolution of that.

Posted by: statia at February 2, 2010 10:27 AM

I started blogging to sort of chronicle my move from magazine editor back to my family's farm to become their cheesemaker/manager. A lot of really fun, cool stuff happened there that I'm glad I kept track of. But after a nasty falling out that is all too common with farming families, I also kind of used it like therapy to find my footing again. And now I just blog to keep up on my writing and document my goals and life in my little food-centric town.

I was drawn to your blog by your wittiness and hilarious rants, but every so often you zing me with those heartfelt dad moments too! I'm always appreciative of your candor and I love your voice.

Posted by: mandy at February 2, 2010 10:29 AM

As far as the brilliant post that no one comments on - I have a theory. Or at least my own inadequacies are here to give thought to it.

When I read a post that is really amazing, it's hard to think of anything to say in a comment other than "Great job, Dude!" and that's lame so I'd rather not comment at all. So when it happens (or used to, I haven't been brilliant in a really long time) on my own blog, I try to take it as a compliment.

Posted by: Candy at February 2, 2010 10:35 AM

I like how even when you talk about something serious you always make me laugh :)

Posted by: Shannon at February 2, 2010 11:36 AM

Two reasons, really. 1) I love the entertainment of good writing and the subject of family life in the US. 2) I learn a lot from other people who have different experiences. I've always been a person who can crawl into the life of someone else by reading their words and it's like I'm experiencing it too. I think reading other people's experiences makes me wiser about the world.

Posted by: Brad at February 2, 2010 11:58 AM

I don't blog, and one reason is that I don't think I'd have anything to say as often as something needs to be said. I mean, I keep a blog for my two kids, and they each get updated once a month. I don't know how I'd manage a daily or even several-times-a-week blog. Maybe someday, because I'm someone who likes to put it all out there.

The other reason is that I keep a journal, and when I used to keep an online journal, which was pretty much a precursor to blogging, I almost never had anything to say to my paper journal. And that felt like cheating. My journal (celebrating 25 years next month) is my biggest achievement in terms of commitment (so far; I'm sure my marriage and kids will rank someday). Some days it's hard to write, sometimes I get tired of my own whiny voice, but I keep doing it because I'm always sorry when I don't.

Posted by: Brooke at February 2, 2010 12:29 PM

I started blogging as an easy way to update family located all over the country about how we were doing raising a newborn, then a toddler, and for some reason, last summer, it just got harder to blog. Not sure why. I haven't posted to my blog since September.

I think daily (well, almost daily) about starting it back up. I definitely plan to print the darn thing out so that Leda can read it when she gets older.

Why I read your blog? Your writing interests me - even if I don't agree (but I tend to always agree, so not sure I could come up with what I don't like!) Your blog is one of a handful I check every day. I used to check A LOT of blogs, I'm down to maybe 5 that I check regularly. Your's is usually first - don't you feel special? ;-)

Posted by: cyndy at February 2, 2010 12:54 PM

my blog is private so i do genuinely just want it for a memory record. although it does make me happy when one of the few readers actually leaves a comment on my photos :)

i love your blog (and i don't love many) and i would be really disappointed if you stopped, so please don't!

Posted by: kati at February 2, 2010 2:34 PM

I think everything you write is crap and I can't stand you or your blog. There...there now that the pressures off....keep on doing your thing. I come here and read because you have great music and book recommendations, you're a great dad and you're not full of yourself.

I loved blogging when my son was little...now that he's older it's a bit tougher because much is going on but I think he has a right to his privacy so I can't blog it.

Posted by: Kristy at February 2, 2010 4:37 PM

Wow, you've got a really good memory to be able to remember that lengthy conversation with yourself. I talk to myself and poof! It's gone.

The appeal of reading blogs is for the humor and the connection. Finding out that there are people like me, who do the same things, think the same thoughts, etc.

The appeal of writing my blog is the challenge that it brings me. I've never thought of myself as a good writer at all, and so I do it to get better. And to get attention, of course. ;-)

Posted by: Suzy Voices at February 2, 2010 4:49 PM

I keep reading because you're genuine and it's actually fun to read about your kids - other bloggers, not so much - you do a good job not being overly parenty (is that a word?).

Posted by: Heather at February 2, 2010 6:03 PM

I'm not sure how long I have been reading your blog,oh and the wife's too. I'm just nosy...plain and simple, a blog is like looking in someone's living room window, with words..lol.I'm a bit older than you and have raised my son (18), so I like reading about parenting wee ones today. Although I know you can't "know" someone just by reading their blog, you and Beth are some peeps that I would love to have over for an evening for some cold beers Canadian (BLUE) of course, but only if you bring those beautiful children with you...lol...and no, I do not have a blog, but read a few. I tend to gather up a bunch and then weed out the ones that just don't cut it...I really look forward to reading you everyday...anyway we can get you to blog on the weekend...jk....and the above ramble...is why I don't have a blog....lol...Roberta

Posted by: Roberta at February 2, 2010 6:07 PM

Same reason for starting blogging here just to keep family and friends in the loop. When it became tiresome and I got to the point where I rarely blogged, I stopped.

Blogs that I continue to read are the ones that I connected with the most. Yours is the most interesting and diverse. Quirky, wickedly funny (at times) and I love the loving hubby/parent aspect of the story that weaves itself into every aspect of your writing. Not to mention that you regularly make parking lots and bathroom visits an adventure.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at February 2, 2010 6:48 PM

I spend a lot of time in my shower asking myself how you do this 5 days a week, every week.

Shut up. At least you get shower time.

Posted by: Mr Lady at February 2, 2010 6:52 PM

I keep a Livejournal which is private to everybody except a few people, and it really is for me. I don't care if anyone reads that or not. I've tried several times to have a public blog, but I just don't have the interest, patience, or whatever it is.

What I love about reading your blog is that we have almost the same political views, and you're always guaranteed to make me laugh or smile at least once a week. Also, one of the very first things you influenced me in was music. Upon your recommendation in 2005, I picked up Coldplay's X&Y (never listened to Coldplay before) and fell in LOVE with their music. I'm still a fan today. So for that, I thank you!

Posted by: Stephanie at February 2, 2010 7:14 PM

I keep two blogs: one for my DIY stuff and one for everything else. My friends roughly split into those two audiences and would complain if I spent too much time on one area or the other, so I made it so people could just read the blog they cared about.

I blog to share knowledge, and to get thoughts out in the open that I think ought to be out there.

I just wish I could keep a posting schedule like yours.

Posted by: Kat at February 2, 2010 10:14 PM

I may give myself the same interview (crediting you, of course) - would you mind?

Blogging gives me an outlet for expressing myself and a way to meet people :-).

My favorite thing here is your "weeklies," but I just like your general approach to blogging - oh, and your book reviews.

Posted by: Florinda at February 2, 2010 11:02 PM

Note: whether I comment or not has absolutely no relationship to whether I cracked up out loud about the post. It's more about replyable openings. And how long after you wrote it that I get to read it. And how insanely overrun with kids I am.

Also, I know you asked what I thought of Juliet/Naked, but we've been insanely busy over our Summer school break. Let's just say it was a little light on narrative, but Hornby's prose is still like he stepped inside my head and did lovely, unspeakable things to my brain. And I don't really say that about any other writers. In fact I haven't said that before, and it sounds a bit creepy. You know what I mean.

Posted by: Jo MacD at February 3, 2010 3:40 AM

I started blogging largely because our families live far away (in 2 different directions) and it was a way to share the growing up of our girls. Since then the blog has morphed into a 2-headed creature, with part of it having to do with parenting and our kids, and part of it having to do with what I'm doing. I think I have maybe 3 or 4 readers (including family), and most of them don't care about the *me* stuff and want to read about the kids. I'm ok with that. No really, I am!

I try for humor, and most often that seems to happen when I'm writing about the absurdity that goes along with parenting. I wish I had your ability, and look to your writing as a good example of how to do things.

Posted by: pvz at February 3, 2010 10:45 AM

For me, the part about blogging even if nobody were reading it is actually true. See, I have an unusually bad memory. It's more than frustrating. It's downright scary how much of my own childhood I can't recall.
I'm terrified that I'm going to find myself with grown kids and be completely unable to remember the moments of their childhood. So I write it down and take a million pictures, in the hopes that they will still be there for me when my own mind has discarded them.

Posted by: Amy at February 3, 2010 1:58 PM

There was this one time, at the office, where I said this fucked up thing, about myself, and it was:

"I am so seriously awesome of myself."

Bryan and the guys couldn't stop laughing and have never let me live it down.

BUT. I have to say.

This post is so seriously awesome of itself.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at February 3, 2010 7:08 PM

LOL You have me laughing that you wrote this. I know the pressure you're feeling. I'm only a month in and already I have days where I just don't know what to write about. I'm honestly wiped out from my Wednesday blog. I more than DOUBLED my views. Came close to tripling them. So Staying up late writing it, keeping up with the comments, and trying to get some sleep.... it was a long day. So tomorrow's blog is just a HUGE thank you.
I keep a blog notebook for ideas. I plan to do a travel series because I've been to 10 countries and had a wonderful time. Problem is I can't find my journals... I know they're here somewhere.... I also want to do a bunch of interviews of friends/fellow bloggers/the dog/whoever will sit still to give me information. I want to use them on the days where I'm just not feeling it....
I have a friend who blogged that used interviews while she went on vacation for 2 weeks.

Posted by: Rose at February 4, 2010 12:56 AM

I've wanted to ask you these questions for awhile.

You going to run the Pacer's Love the Run You're With 5K?

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