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Point of View

    My husband doesn’t read my blog. He simply isn’t interested. The few times he’s “checked-in” have been inspired by something said in passing.


    A friend makes a comment or a joke and he’ll say, “What are you talking about?”


    They’ll laugh, and say, “You know . . . the blog.”


    This makes him feel a bit awkward or concerned about what everyone is hearing, so he’ll sigh. “I better read it and find out what Ginny’s been saying.”


     In a way, his interest is like that of a parent who feels they have to check upstairs because it’s too quiet – they feel obligated to police the silence to assure their kids aren’t sitting on the bed, naked, smoking a joint or something. 


   Sometimes, when our daughter makes a comment about the blog, he’ll say, “I’ve been busy so I haven’t gotten to it yet,” as if he is embarrassed that he isn’t a regular reader. Or, with an apologetic tone, he’ll comment to me that he hasn’t read my blog in a month or more -like it’s a marital obligation to read whatever I post. Of course, by now, I’m surprised if he does read it, so it isn’t necessary he make excuses for, or justify, his disinterest.    


  Sometimes I feel guilty about writing a blog, as if I am creating an annoyance for him –one more mundane task I’m heaping onto his to-do pile. “Gotta weed those damn flowerbeds because my wife has mentioned it four times this week and I have go pay for the storage unit because she is worried about that getting behind, and as if these responsibilities aren’t enough, now I better read her damn blog so I appear interested . . ..” He shouldn’t feel pressured to dutifully pay attention. My blog isn’t a test.


      When my daughter said, “Why don’t you read Mom’s blog?” he answered, “I don’t have to read that stuff. I live it.”


    Hummmm…….


    But last night he said something that really put his feelings into focus. In a testy voice, he said, “I don’t like the blog because it’s slanted. It’s her take on our world. Not mine.”


    True.


 


     A blog is more than a factual accounting of the events of one’s life – It isn’t an outline or a daily calendar. A blog is a way of sharing specific experiences and your perceptions of those events in a manner that challenges your ability to express yourself. It’s putting “life” into words – telling your own story – which is more difficult than non-writers might imagine. It’s a challenge to know what to talk about, what to include or exclude and, of course, having the gall to be honest. And it takes discipline. Many’s a person who began a blog with enthusiasm, but ran out of steam when another interest took center stage.


     My perceptions of everyday events are different – must be different – from my husband’s or anyone else’s. That’s what’s called point of view, a vital element of all literature – the element that makes a story poignant and intimate.


    For example, I got a llama for my birthday. That’s a simple fact. But how I feel about that event – how I experience it- is going to be far different from how Mark experiences it. For me, it was about the surprise and my emotional response to the gift. I assign my own set of “truths” to the act of getting a llama. The animal, as a factor, is besides the point. Receiving it, to me, was an act of love  – I interpreted it as proof of my husband’s commitment to making me happy. 


   As such, my llama blog is “slanted”, because it revolves around how I experienced the event. If Mark shared his vision of this very same event, it would be far different. The fact that he bought me a llama would still be the same – that is an undeniable fact. But from him, we would learn what it felt like to write the check for an animal that he feels we don’t really need (or that he doesn’t really want). We would learn what he felt looking at his wife’s face in those first moments when she saw the llama.  Did he feel satisfied with my reaction? Was it worth the trouble to arrange this gift, or was he disappointed with my response? Did he consider his gift an act of love, proof that he wanted me to be happy (as I did) or was it just easier to buy the llama because he was too stressed and disinterested to shop for something else? (Hope not.) This point of view is what would make his blog worth reading. Without the slant, it’s just journalism. Bah. Humbug.


   A blog is not supposed to be a factual accounting, sans opinion. It’s like a public diary -a medium designed to reflect and interpret accounts.  The fact that Mark is not interested in reading my interpretation of the experiences we share is a personal choice. He “lives” these facts, and as such, doesn’t necessarily desire to see them from an angle other than his own. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s his personal choice.


   I, for one, wish everyone I loved had a blog. I would adore a window into their heart and soul. I think freeform writing provides outsiders with a powerful resource to understand a subject and, maybe, to respond in kind. An honest blog (hopefully) makes a reader reflect and think. If I were given an opportunity to read my husband’s slanted view of the world, I may not like what he’s thinking, but I’d like to believe the awareness would be a gift. So often I wish I knew what was going on in that masculine head. This having to read minds and second-guess the one you love is a big fat pain.


 


    My blogs are always, absolutely, accurate. No question. I take pains to assure they are. When I write dialogue, you can bet those exact words were said – verbatim. If I describe something, I do so to the best of my ability, complete with what I notice, what strikes me as important and what stands out. And I garnish this with the feelings that hit me along the way. They are real too. Absolutely.


    I’m in a creative non-fiction course with a professor named David Rachlin. I send him two pieces every month. Because these exercises are meant to be derivatives of real life experiences, I browse my blog to find material. I find a passage that is interesting (or has the potential to be) and work on it, make it more polished and defined, to send as my assignment. David says some very positive things about my work, often commenting that my writing is very “real” and “natural”. He likes the funny details I include. For example, when I sent a 20 page paper about teaching Kathy to read, he wrote that he loved the extra’s I added, like making Kathy’s husband a septic tank cleaner and describing her lack of teeth. “These are the sorts of things that are unexpected and draw the reader in,” he said.  


      Creative non-fiction is all about taking truth and adding fictional elements to make the story more vibrant. But the funny thing is, I don’t add fictional elements to my piece. Kathy’s husband does clean septic tanks and she doesn’t have teeth.  And even so, the story was interesting, standing alone, naked as it happened. Frankly, I find life in general to be is pretty interesting without embellishment – all you have to do is simply look at it through interested eyes. That’s where “slant” is so very special.


      I prefer to keep my stories accurate. Because of that, I’m not really exploring artistry in the category of creative non-fiction. As such, I get lots of corrective criticism regarding my straightforward prose from my professors. I add sensory detail to make a story more vivid, but I can’t bring myself to alter the facts. Guess I’m all about the “non-fiction” element, but not about the “creative” element when writing creative non-fiction. 


    When an author springboards from real fact, just to enhance the entertainment factor, I don’t find them very trustworthy, no mater how acceptable the practice is in the literary world. So for me, the only element in my work that is up for discussion (in regards to it’s accuracy) is my point of view.   And frankly, that is mine to share and it can’t be criticized. No one can complain that your honest response to life isn’t what it ought to be just because it differs from there’s.


    I guess a person can hide what they honestly feel. We are taught from birth to be polite and to hide our gut feelings to avoid social discomfort. But I think, being able to write from an honest place is harder than it looks, and anyone who doubts this is so should give it a try. You’ll find yourself censoring your voice more often than not. Trust me. It’s easier.       


   But for all that honesty is a challenge and admirable on one level, sharing your honest feelings can get you into trouble. If you’ve done something nice and you share it aloud, people accuse you of trying to make yourself into a hero. Bragging. (My husband once read a blog about the bunnies and commented that I certainly can make myself into a hero when I’m in the mood. – Ouch. I rather thought he might see me as heroic due to my true actions, rather than focusing on the words that described them, as if they were the contrived just to get attention.)


     Then there is the fact that if you dare criticize something or proclaim your disillusionment about a subject you feel strongly about, you are suddenly hateful or attacking others. I wrote a blog about the tension and volatile emotional environment of the dance school business and was later told it “offended everyone who has ever known me, and now everyone hates me.”


    Everyone? Wow. People have known me (and professed to appreciate me) for over ten years and in one two page expression (which was only intended to explain some of the past riffs in relationships with people I always considered dear) they turned their feelings around 180? Talk about the power of the pen! But, rather than be devastated by that, (well, a little) I found myself feeling blessed. For no mater how painful it is, you have to accept that it’s a gift to know which of your friendships are superficial and which are built on sterner stuff. All I know is, if I sat and had a drink with a real friend, and I expressed an attitude they did not agree with, they’d tell me I’m full of shit and that would be that. But they wouldn’t stop being my friend. If one disagreement is all it takes to dissolve a friendship, then you can be damn sure there was never much of a friendship to begin with. My very best, most revealing, fights have been with the friends I love and respect. Honesty has the power to test your relationships on many, many levels.


 


    My husband doesn’t want to read my blog, and that is, at times, awkward, but mostly, it’s just a sign that our methods of processing  the world are different. He associates something to my being open that he doesn’t like – as if I’m contriving to get attention or something. Or maybe he just doesn’t trust that my point of view is a true accounting of my perceptions. He thinks I’m full of shit. Or maybe, the simple act of listening to the woman you’ve lived with for eighteen years is a complete bore. After all, what do I have to say that he hasn’t heard before? It can even be that he feels venerable and exposed knowing I’m talking out loud about things that concern him. He rather ignore it than start censoring me – which is a form of respect if you think about it. Perhaps his not reading the blog is due to a combination of all of the above.


   I’ve thought about what this means to me, this having a husband who doesn’t read my blog. Ha. For one thing, it means I can talk about him if I want. (grin) 


   But really, it just means I’m alone with my thoughts here. And that’s OK.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

7 responses »

  1. In Mark’s defense, I am reminded of the words of Paul Valery, who wrote: “It would be impossible to ‘love’ anyone or anything one knew completely. Love is directed towards what lies hidden in its object.” Maybe he likes to maintain a bit of mystery in the relationship? You two certainly do with me–haven’t heard from either of you since you moved. I find your blog very entertaining, because you do what I do–bitch about something that’s not as you want it, then you pacify your own ego to justify why it is so. I do that all the time, give myself a reality check to tell myself, “Maybe they’re right.” I wish I had the time to devote to a blog. I come up with moments of clarity, but nothing that warrants full postings. For example, I realized the other night for the first time that the melody of the Alphabet Song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are the same. That blew my mind. Saw your son on MySpace. Hope the family is doing well. You give new meaning to “Your Mama’s a Llama–Lover” Maybe an organic farm will occupy a portion of your 50 acres? You love to cook (or perhaps it was the novelty of it being fat free?) I saw this documentary called “The Future of Food.” If you have Netflix, I recommend picking it up. Well, write back soon. I would love to reconnect with you, and between MySpace and your blog, we have two opportunities to do so. Much love,Cory OTHER THOUGHTS TO LIVE BY:”A happy home is one in which each spouse grants the possibility that the other may be right, though neither believes it.”–Don Fraser “It takes a loose rein to keep a marriage tight.”–John Stevenson

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