My Blogging Manifesto

The Truth Shall Set You Free… Sorta

January 13, 2008 at 12:48 am (Blogging, Essays, Random, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , ) · Edit

I’m probably going to write a few memoir stories in the coming weeks. Hang on to your hats. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.I recently read a post on someone’s blog where they discussed the importance of total honesty when spilling their thoughts to the general public. It kind of went like this: “I’m here to be who I am, and write what I want, and those of you who can’t handle the truth should just move on.” This got me thinking…To me, a personal blog is like a lump of clay, or a blank, endless canvas that allows us to create whatever we want at any given time. We can splatter words like Pollock, carefully sculpt sentences with the mastery of a Rodan, or repeat ourselves endlessly like a Warhol. Or repeat ourselves endlessly like a Warhol. Or…

…or maybe a blog is like a ball of dough. Yes, that’s it– it’s a squishy ball of dough, and a we can decide on any given day to form our words into sweet little sugar cookies, healthy, nourishing bread or gigantic, sloppy pizzas covered with whatever toppings we choose.

We can color outside the lines. We can play outdoors, and there’s no fence.

The lack of boundaries sometimes poses a dilemma for me. If I truly wanted to write only for myself, I’d be sitting in front of a pad of paper, or a word processing program, or I’d make my blog a private one. But I don’t. Sure, I write for myself, but I do it with others in mind too. I love sharing stories, receiving feedback, and getting to know the people who read my words. In turn, I love reading theirs. It’s like exchanging little bits and pieces of ourselves with each other, and I find the process amazing and inspiring. Knowing what you eat for breakfast somehow makes me a better person. In a world where we can live in the same house for 15 years and never meet a neighbor, I find it liberating to peek into your world, and to let you peek into mine.

That being said, the other part of this whole blogging experience is that we can trade this information while still maintaining our anonymity if we so choose. I find a great deal of freedom in this. My life has been crazy and sad and weird and wonderful, and as a writer, I love looking back at those events and people who shaped my world and putting some of it down into words. But I try to be careful not to unmask the main characters, and sometimes obtain permission before writing certain things, in an attempt to be respectful in my storytelling.

The tagline on this blog is “My Front Porch Has a Mood Swing.” If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that it’s true. I write what I feel like writing. Sometimes it may be funny, sometimes it’s heartbreaking, often it’s just plain stupid. But that’s what I find so beautiful about words, and about blogging. I can express myself here, however I decide.

But I often feel protective of my readers. I’ll write something, and people will say things like, “Oh my God! That was hilarious!” I feel happy that I made them laugh for a minute or two. The next day, they’ll read some bizarre story about my past, or a post about my obsessive worries about the world. The comments will switch to, “Oh my God! You made me cry,” and I sometimes feel guilty about this, like I’m yanking people around emotionally. I never intend to do this, which I why I sometimes include my Depressing Blog Post Warning System, and why I’m worrying about my upcoming stories.

I often wonder if this is okay, this blog moodiness, but ultimately, I have to think that it is. It’s just how my mind works.

My upbringing was strange and sometimes difficult, but probably no stranger or more difficult than many of your childhoods. There are so many stories I want to tell. In my head are memories of people, places and events that fill my heart with love and happiness, others that make me cringe. As an almost middle-aged woman (I plan on living to 100, so I’m not there yet), it’s nice reflecting on it all from a happy distance.

Some days I make sugar cookies, some days I make mud pies.

Stories that make me laugh may horrify or shock you. This is never my intent. Black humor is simply the way my family learned to deal with adversity. It got us through. It sometimes creates a blurry line when relating things, one that’s hard for me to find. This strange mixture of joy, heartbreak and off-kiltered-ness is at the core of my being, and the nature of this blog.

It’s not all about the past. Sometimes I want to write about my crush on Mr. Rogers, music, or my campaign for a teacup puppy. That’s the nature of this blog too.

It’s all inside me. The good, the bad and the ugly. These things are my pizza toppings. And I’m sorry if you don’t like anchovies.

I guess that the author of that blog post I told you about earlier was right. I’m now going to start singing, I Gotta Be Me. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The truth shall set you free.”

But it might just shock the shit out of everybody else.

16 Comments

  1. Brian said,

    January 13, 2008 at 1:51 am · Edit

    I enjoy the variety in your posting. I try to do the same, and have actually received compliments from readers because of it. Life is all about ups-and-downs, and if our blogs didn’t reflect that, they wouldn’t be accurate representations of the people behind them.

    Can’t wait to read what’s coming!!

  2. David said,

    January 13, 2008 at 3:38 am · Edit

    John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Ready for whatever posts you write moonbeam! As Brian says, your posts have a wonderful variety to them. I too am very fond of this form of sharing.

    All of us have been lucky to have survived our strange and difficult upbringings. Thanks for the warning, and blog on friend!

  3. Little Miss said,

    January 13, 2008 at 5:02 am · Edit

    If we all wanted to just talk to ourselves, we’d all be writing in paper diaries. I used to have a ton of them. Years later I opened one up and barfed all over it after I read the self-absorbed crap I wrote then. I much prefer writing something that is semi-healing but also interests other people. Which is why I love your blog. I agree with all you have said.

  4. randomyriad said,

    January 13, 2008 at 8:40 am · Edit

    But, I do like your anchovies! The anchovies of truth are sometimes hard to swallow cause you can’t get those little bones out. Seriously keep up the hard and funny and silly or whatever you want. Pile on the works. Its all good stuff. Maybe the secret is in the crust.

  5. Sometimes Saintly Nick said,

    January 13, 2008 at 10:52 am · Edit

    This an an excellent essay. I believe that one of the wonderful benefits from reading blogs is that they are so diversified. It can be rather like standing in a book store and randomly reading through the books on the shelves: one never knows what gems one may encounter.

  6. puttysauce said,

    January 13, 2008 at 2:12 pm · Edit

    i think about this all the time. people tell me all the time, “i could never have a blog–i’d always worry about what people think.” and i can’t relate at all to it. i LOVE knowing i have an anonymous audience out there, and i love connecting to people who seem to get where i am. and i love reading about strangers’ strange lives and getting where they are.

    and i think i get what you’re saying. thanks.

  7. David said,

    January 13, 2008 at 4:10 pm · Edit

    And oh yeah, I love anchovies!

  8. Wendy said,

    January 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm · Edit

    Dammit! David just took my anchovies comment.

    I love your blog, as you know. I love the variety, but most of all I love your writing. I have to find humor in what I read no matter how serious the topic, and you always come through. In this post, for instance, you used that Warhol thing and I loved it. If I had to analyze this, I guess that a bit of humor in an otherwise serious post reassures me that this is indeed a mood you’re in, that you’re not ready to jump off a cliff. And the writing is always so eloquent, you’re just a pleasure to read. Even the posts that register red on the Depressing Blog Post Warning System. I like that system, by the way. It helps me to brace myself for whatever is about to come. And I’m ready for whatever you got, so bring it on.

  9. moonbeammcqueen said,

    January 13, 2008 at 9:16 pm · Edit

    @ EVERYBODY: I’m just going send you all one big huggy, sappy, gloopy reply. Thank you all for your encouragement, and for helping me stay on course here. I’m going to be writing some difficult stuff, and this really helps me know that it’s okay to just continue to put down what’s in my heart, no matter how uncomfortable it may be (for you or for me). I greatly (and gratefully) appreciate your feedback.

    LOTS of anchovies are on the way!

  10. Little Miss said,

    January 13, 2008 at 9:24 pm · Edit

    I echo Wendy’s sentiments. I think (speaking with my editor hat on) the hallmark of a good writer is they are readable and entertaining. A writer can have the most perfect syntax and grammar, but if they aren’t believable, entertaining, or easy to read, it’s a waste. You are in the group of great writers.

  11. iondanu said,

    January 13, 2008 at 11:32 pm · Edit

    Moonbeam, when you like someone, you accept her (or him) as she (or he) is: sugar cookie or mud pie. I did not met someone who would be only sugar or only mud… So, keep up the good work, whatever mood you are in…

  12. CuriousC said,

    January 14, 2008 at 12:56 pm · Edit

    Bring it on! The line for the rollercoaster is the where you’ll find me; only once or twice for the MerryGoRound… Sugar cookies, mud pies, anchovies, whatever… )

  13. Beth from Avenue Z said,

    January 14, 2008 at 1:24 pm · Edit

    Although I will certainly pass on the anchovies, I’m all for the truth. That’s why we’re here. If we wanted only one side of a story, we’d only need to read the feed from PRWeb.

    I’m staying on the roller coaster.

  14. Indigo Eyebrow said,

    January 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm · Edit

    As a newbie in the fascinating universe of blogs, I often feel torn between my need to tell the truth without omitting what I’m afraid might shock, horrify or upset my few readers and my natural instinct of protecting them (and myself!)
    I have been advised to write my story down; it seems to be therapeutic. I don’t know if that’s true in my case, I can’t tell yet. Anyway keeping a blog takes more courage than writing a private journal, and I’m sure it eventually pays off.
    I like your blog because it’s an honest one: it wouldn’t be if you always wrote in the same tone.

  15. Alyson said,

    January 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm · Edit

    Don’t stop. Write what you feel. Even sitcoms aren’t funny all the time, sometimes they’re serious or dramatic.

    BTW, I lauged out loud at the Warhol bit.

  16. moonbeammcqueen said,

    January 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm · Edit

    @ EVERYBODY II: I’m sending you hugs and thanks. I guess that this week, I’m making a few mud pies, and I really do want to warn everyone. There are some things that just aren’t funny, and I want to write about them anyway. I’ve grown up with mud pies, so they don’t particularly bother me, but I feel that it’s important to let people know that they may get muddy, especially when they may be used to my sugar cookies.

    Thanks for the kind words, the intelligent thoughts, and the encouragement. I have such great readers.

7 thoughts on “My Blogging Manifesto

  1. Kendall says:

    Fascinating blog. McQueen was my last name for about sixteen years, so that got my attention. But what held my attention is the honesty, the quality of the writing, the hypomania (I’m that way too), and the fact that you and I grapple with some of the same vexing ethical and artistic questions. I added you to my blog roll and would like, if you don’t mind, to quote in my blog a paragraph from this manifesto (with a link to your blog, of course)–on the subject of boundaries, who we are writing for, and why we have these blogs. My blog only has about 30 readers, 25 of whom are good friends from before I started the blog, and they already KNOW I embody the I Ching symbol, “She sobs and sings!” so I don’t feel any need to protect anybody. But I don’t share your feeling that I get to know my few additional readers through their comments. I wish I did. Nor do I embrace anonymity–I have a link on the blog to my Flickr pictures, and those expose me and everybody I know to the public gaze. I guess I have no sense of privacy at all–that being, in my mind, a hindrance to a writer–but maybe a few of the people who have been in my life might like it if I did. I always remember Joan Didion’s observation, “Writers are always selling people out.” I suppose we just have to get used to it. But thanks for your blog and its variety, honesty, and spice.

  2. @ kendall: I read some of your blog, and can’t wait to read more. What an interesting life you lead! Your comments here are so thoughtful, and much appreciated. The Joan Didion quote is so true. It seems that those I meet and the events that occur in my life are almost always (among other things) fodder for my writing.

    I love this: “She sobs and sings!”

    I’m so glad you found your way here. I really appreciate what you’ve written, and I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

  3. Kendall says:

    Ditto! So glad to start becoming acquainted!

  4. @ Kendall: Me too. I’ve read several of your blog posts tonight, and your writing is so wonderful and intelligent. I’m a little intimidated about posting comments right now, but don’t worry– I’ll get over it quickly! Mostly, upon first reading, I find that I want to ask more questions, and say “wow” a lot.

    I forgot to answer you about the link. Of course you can. Thanks for asking!

  5. Ann Marquez says:

    I don’t trust anyone who only writes happy. Your posts are beautiful and real and full of life. REAL life. You are authentic. Thumbs up!

    Speaking of Pollyanna;o)–my experience is that Pollyanna friendships are too high maintenance. They are draining and exhausting because I’m always on my toes to ‘look on the bright side’ of everything. It isn’t honest and is a huge reason that so many people are on anti-depressants these days. We don’t need to be happy all of the time and we definitely don’t need to flatline.

    I see that you posted this January 2008. When did you start blogging? How long did it take you to become comfortable? I’m feeling so discouraged. I’m thinking I should focus on supporting fellow writers instead of posting.

    But—on the bright side;o) You do have an amazing site. Thank you for sharing … the good AND the bad AND the ugly. (PS I’d forgotten about Joan Didion…I loved her writing!)

  6. Ann, I so appreciate what you’ve said here. I wrote this quite a while back, so I had to reread it, and I still feel pretty much the same way. I still have some of the same conflicts too, but a few things have changed. Sometimes, life gets too busy to write here, sometimes, things are just too complicated, and I don’t have enough time to sort it all out and convey it. But no matter what’s going on, I always end up drawn to blogging as a favorite form of personal expression.

    As for those Pollyannas- I do tend to see the good within the bad (eventually), but I never expect others to do the same. But I often find that there’s beauty in even the ugliest little mud puddle. On the other hand, sometimes I’m grouchy or blue, and it’s just a stupid puddle.

    In answer to your question, I started this blog on July 27, 2007 (it’s on my side bar). I went back and reread your blog, and I still think it’s wonderful (I promise, I wouldn’t say so if I really didn’t think so). I hope that you’ll keep going. Not sure when you started it, but sometimes I think it takes a while to figure out what direction you want to take. Mine just sort of formed itself, because I’m a blabbermouth, and I just post whatever I feel like. :)

    P.S. You like Ann Lamott, Joseph Campbell, and Sinclair Lewis- I love them all!

  7. Ann says:

    Thank you. I almost didn’t find my way back here to see if you replied. I was looking for a place to click contact when I posted this and thought this was as good as place as any. I’m still learning about blogging.

    I think I started a few months ago. (I’ll have to check ;) I plan to take week after next to spruce up/upgrade my site. And I need to learn more about what’s available on word press. But I don’t want to keep on too much longer if I’m just beating my head against a virtual wall.

    Yes, we seem to have a lot in common. I always tend to see the good within the bad (… eventually.) There’s no black and white in my world. My world is colored pondering gray, but there’s always a rainbow at the end.

    Anyhow, thanks again. So glad debbie found you! Take care. :)

    I remember when I first started blogging, there were a couple of us “newbies” who’d email (and sometimes call) each other just to ask questions, share information, and vent about how frustrating it all was. It does get easier. The WordPress Forums were a lifesaver!

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