Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fear, Writing, & My True Self

I admit that I feel silly for writing yet another post about blogging.  Ever since I started blogging somewhat more seriously I've struggled to find a voice and a consistent blogging trend.  Instead of a woven tapestry I feel like I just have a pile of frayed threads, if you'll pardon my tortured metaphor.

The post I wrote yesterday about Rob's camel spider experience was different from my normal blog post in a few ways.  For one, I included foul language, and I didn't apologize for the somewhat gruff tone of the story.  I figured out that after I wrote it that that story, and the tone of it, was far more me than a lot of my posts.

I don't know if you can discern this from my blog posts or tweets, but I swear in real life a lot.  I have a pretty disgusting sense of humor and more often than not I say things that probably shouldn't be said in polite company.  I drink alcohol on a semi-regular basis--though rarely to excess--pee with the door open, and fart loudly in front of my husband.  Rob and I had a discussion about our table the other day that quickly devolved into a discussion about sex positions, and that's more or less a daily occurrence in our house.

Since I started actively connecting with other bloggers I've noticed that I've toned down my normal voice a lot.  There have been times that I've wanted to share with you a conversation like the one above because it made me laugh, or question some aspect of life or blogging, but haven't for fear that I'd lose followers or get a nasty comment.   This fear of confrontation causes me to take an opinion or a thought that I may have and water it the hell down with apologies and scare quotes, or just avoid writing the post at all.

I don't blame anyone in the blogging world for this--some people are turned off by swearing or crudeness, and the blogs I read are probably comprised of more people that are like this than not.  And it's no one's doing but my own that I'm too scared to just say shit I think. It frustrates me that I let something like the number of followers or comments dictate what I do and do not share, and it frustrates me that I'm so uncomfortable with myself that I feel like I can't share it with you for fear I won't be "accepted."  I'm getting to the point now, though, where I'm starting to think it's better to feel more comfortable writing honestly and risk offending than hand wring over word choice in order to please everyone.

This isn't to say that I'd rather write disgusting, offensive posts all the time, just that I want to apologize less for having an opinion or a thought or sharing something silly that might not be palatable to everyone.  I guess I'm hoping to orient this space more inward rather than writing for what I imagine everyone wants to hear.

Am I making sense?  Do any of you feel this way sometimes?

46 comments:

  1. "Be yourself" is never bad advice

    I'm trying to find mt blogging voice too. It's harder than I thought it would be.

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    1. It definitely isn't easy! I feel like most people have a consistent voice but mine just seems all over the place. Thanks friend :)

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  2. Post away! Some of us love nothing more that fart and shit jokes, dropping the f bomb and really, more of us than you think pee with the door open (I hate it, such a small space to be closed in). I think there are too many of us bloggers that conform to what we think is expected. It's better to be yourself. One of my fave blogs is 'The Fashion Turd', unapologetically crass - she is perfect. And don't worry, if you swear, I'll still read your blog ;)
    Toni xo

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    1. I love blogs that are unapologetically crass. I'm always jealous because I don't really have the confidence to do so. I agree it's better to be yourself, and I want to get better and doing that despite the insecurity. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. I think we might be the same person! haha

    I definitely tone down my personality on my blog--I have a very dry sense of humor that doesn't always translate well on the internet (or real life) so I have to be careful. I do try and keep my blog somewhat acceptable because it links to my portfolio, but it's pretty annoying when I just want to write what I want to write!

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    1. Haha exactly! I struggle with finding the right voice I guess...I also have a dry sense of humor that doesn't translate well :)

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  4. I definitely get it. There seems to be this thing in certain blogging circles where you're expected to be perky and positive all the time and not swear. I swear a fair amount when I blog, but I didn't at first. Or I only did it a little. It's not as if I don't have a decent vocabulary, but sometimes swearing is the best way to express myself. Or sometimes it's just for effect, to emphasize something, or to make something funnier. I've gotten to the point where I don't really care. I don't swear constantly, but when I write I just let whatever comes out come out. Sometimes that's swearing and sometimes it isn't.

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    1. Yeah, sometimes you just need swearing to get your point across, as natsy as it might sound :)

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  5. Holy moly dude. I skip out on my Google Reader for like 2 days and your post feed goes from terrifying spider stories to stitches to this! Haha. But seriously, in general it's just nice to see you writing again. I think that everyone has at least a *bit* of a different writing voice than they do a real one because it would probably be really hard to follow your writing-train-of-thought if it was half swearing. Sometimes I try to just write more as thoughts come to me but I find those posts to be the ones that are least understandable haha. Writing needs edits. It's just part of life! It's fun that you share every day stories like the one of Rob & spiders though (which to be honest I had to skip over because I am so blindingly terrified of any kind of spider I can't think of them which I obviously am now and it's making me nervous so I'll stop).... but yeah. The more you write, the more you're going to struggle with problems about writing. It's just part of the cycle. You're still awesome & I hope you still write lots and lots! I do love your blog :)

    Has this comment even made any sense? I don't know. Ha.

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    1. Hehe yes, you made sense, and thank you. I didn't want to swear between every other word, I just want to stop apologizing and censoring preemptively if that makes sense!

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  6. i definitely get it. while i don't swear (although i'm not offended by it) i think that my sense of humor is pretty dark and can be a little off putting at times. i find myself toning it down a bit because i know some people just wouldn't get it. AND...there is tons of sarcasm in every single thing that i say, but you can't really 'read' sarcasm online. so i tone that down too, for fear of someone taking everything literally and calling CPS on me.

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    1. I love your sense of breast humor, as you know. And from what I've heard it's even harder being yourself as a mother on blogs because everyone is just waiting for you to produce a photo of you holding a beer while pregnant as a joke.

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  7. I feel similarly, except that I tone down my stories because I know my real life friends/family are reading. There has been a lot of family drama caused by my blog in the past, so I am extremely wary of whatever I post; even things you wouldn't think would be dramatic, such as TV reviews or funny stories about my kids, have blown up in my face. I could tell the general Internet anything I want in any way I want because I know my "voice," but I question myself constantly because I don't want the backlash in my non-Internet life.

    And P.S. I'm with Deanna, in that I don't swear, but I am not offended by it. Go for it, dude!

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    1. I have family members that read though they don't usually bring it up to me in conversation...I'm sorry you've had so much drama! I also question myself constantly, it just gets frustrating. And thanks!

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  8. Yeah, I feel you. I don't swear on my blog (but I do in real life). Sometimes I wish I felt like I could let my guard down a little more but sooo many people in my professional life read my blog that I feel like I have to be so, so careful every time I write anything. Ugh.

    Sometimes I just want to be more honest about what I REALLY think about politics and about things like fashion blogging and stupid cultural trends and I feel like I'll just make people mad.

    Anyway, your post has me asking some of those questions again in a new way. Thanks for writing about this.

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    1. Thank YOU for commenting! :) I know what you mean, sometimes I just want to bring something up and have people just UNDERSTAND, but it's not always easy to get your point across when you aren't talking to the person.

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  9. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    I'm new to this blogging malarky, I've only been doing it a month. Right now I am trying to figure out what kind of blogger I want to be. Do I WANT to put everything out there? Do people even CARE what my thoughts and feelings about stuff is? I have started writing stuff that's on my mind, the daily, menial, unimportant stuff, (to me) I've decided to leave out. I also haven't covered any big issues yet, that may be perceived as controversial, so I guess I'm just blogging "stuff" at the moment.
    I don't get a lot of traffic so if I do decide to offend, I guess its not that many people! (oh wait, that's a terrible thing!!)
    I wrote a similar post yesterday about this and one blogger replied and told me her philosophy is "Dont think, just type" I decided I love this so I'm gonna go with that! You should too!!


    Louise xo

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    1. Thanks for commenting and thanks for that mantra! It's great. I think with that line of thinking you may lose some readers, but you also may gain some you never would've expected. It is a growing process, for sure!

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  10. You know what I'm about to say here, right?
    FUCK IT!!
    Girl, be you...that's the number one reason we all stop by to see what Caitlin's got goin' on...cause we heart you!
    I am definitely not one to talk about keeping posts in line and following some sort of imaginary blogger etiquette, so maybe I'm not the best person to solicit blogging advice here, but I seriously believe that if you are not staying true to yourself and saying and doing what you really want from the core of who you are...you're missing the point!
    The blog world is not just another place to conform, it's a place to be free behind your computer screen, your words, and that little bit of life you choose to share with the world. If you can't be who you really are here...where can you be yourself? (I know, I know...in the privacy of your own home, I suppose). If this blog is about Caitlin and Caitlin's day to day, then I want to feel like Caitlin wrote it...like Caitlin is telling me the story (it's cool if I keep referring to you as if you're not aware of who Caitlin is, right?). I say skip the editing process (well, okay...spell check every now and again)...just say what you feel, what you think...what you want!
    I cuss WAY more in person, but that's just because I'm not always typing the words as they pop into my head and sometimes (just sometimes) I'm good at thinking before I speak, so I can give my "naughty" words the ol' switcheroo before I type them out so boldly. I don't think every post has to be all four letter words and "locker room talk", but if you interject a little bit of that here and there it's like a breath of fresh air. Yeah, maybe you'll lose some followers here and there, but (you might wanna sit down for this) you're not Jesus...this life isn't about getting people to "follow" you. And I think it's always important to remember that: The people who mind, don't matter. And the people who matter, don't mind.
    We're all real...we fall on cacti (well, maybe just you), pee with the door open, talk about sex with our husbands more often than not, and understand that sometimes cussing is the best way to fully describe something (they're just words, people!)...and the blogs I stop following are the ones that are too stuffy, too staged, too...fake.
    If you consider yourself to be a "lifestyle blogger" then you gotta be real! Embrace all sides of your existence and tell all about it. You are not one sided, you are not all food or all fashion or all fitness...you are multifaceted! The only thing that makes you stand out from the rest of the hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there in the world is being who you are. You're the best you ever, and you gotta own it!
    "Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits...wow."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp_UWuJXHx4

    Love yer guts,
    M

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    1. Oh Michelle, how I love you so. And wait, I'm not Jesus? WHAT THE FUCK BRO?

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  11. If there's one thing from when I held secret week on my blog, it's that I hid behind a person that was only half me for a majority of my blogging so far. I wasn't lying, or fake, or telling people things that were untrue. I just wasn't letting all of me hang out there, dirty laundry and all. And it made me realize why I needed that week. Why I needed to just let it out and be okay with losing followers (which I did.)

    So to you I saw BE YOU! I may do all the things you mentioned you do but don't showcase here, but I'll sure as hell respect you for writing the way the real you would. I've gotten to know you (at least a bit) and really dig (in a totally non-creepy way) your attitude. And I know a lot of others do, or will, too.

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    1. Thanks for this Ashley. I really liked Secret Week on your blog, that took a LOT of guts but probably was a great way for you to sort of "rip off the bandaid" if that makes sense. Thanks for your sweet words, friend.

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  12. Yes, be yourself! The posts I'm the most scared to post are the ones which seem to get me more comments and new followers - I think people respond well to your real voice!

    Actually, when my Friend Connect widget was mistakenly removed I had a bit of a panic at first. Then I realised that people who liked my blog would find their way back and, most importantly, I was no longer seeing that number every time I looked at my own home page. I wasn't seeing whether the count had gone up or down every single day and I felt a little bit liberated because of it.

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    1. That's exactly it, letting go of the fear of what more or fewer followers means. Thanks friend, I really appreciate your thoughts!

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  13. you know what i think about this: write whatever the fuck you want. and it can say fuck. i don't think that people are overly sensitive, i just think it's easy for them to judge others and make them feel bad from behind the safety of a computer monitor, and i hate that the fear caused by that has caused so many people to wear a filter they wouldn't in normal offline life.

    next, i like to talk to chris about fart smells and ball wrinkles, so i think you and rob, and chris and i would get along perfectly.

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    1. I read this out loud to Rob and he laughed pretty hard. WHEN CAN WE GO ON A FUCKING DOUBLE DATE?!

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  14. Blog for yourself and no one else!! Who cares if you swear or talk about things that a lot of other bloggers might not write about...this is YOUR blog :) I'll keep reading!!!

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    1. Thanks gorgeous! I appreciate the kind words.

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  15. yes, yes, yes! I definitely am myself on my blog, but I cut out my swearing habit. I don't want to offend anyone....but I think when blogging friends meet me in real life they are surprised my my bad mouth :).

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    1. Hehe I think it's the same with me. I know it's a terrible habit, but sometimes "fuck" is the only thing that gets your point across!

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  16. Yes to all of this. I swear a lot in real life. I, too, fart in front of my man and male roommate. I keep the most of the dirty stuff off of my own blog for the most part (my Nanny is reading!), but I always appreciate when other bloggers just let it out.

    Some of my favorite blogs (including yours!) are the ones that are authentic. Sometimes when I read your posts it's like I can hear you talking. THAT is what I consider a good blog. :)

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    1. Thanks Janelle, that's so sweet of you to say :) I like to think that if you read my blog you have a pretty good idea of who I am in real life (mostly awkward).

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  17. I would be so happy to read more posts with swear words in them.

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    1. Fucking yeah you shit would. And shit.

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  18. Swear words make me horny. Not really. But actually now that I think of it....

    You should swear more.

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    1. Fucking...fuck. Shit. And things. Turned on yet? Wink wink?

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  19. Yes I totally hear you. I curse like a sailor, its the environment I was raised in. But once I became a Christian, then ended up working for a mega church in the DC area (over 13,000 members) I toned down my blogging ALLOT (I had a wordpress blog thats now private) and I was always, always in fear of either losing followers because honestly I couldn't explained something with out cursing or I was afraid someone would "tattle' on me to one of my coworkers at the church and try to get me fired for not being "Christian" enough on my blog. (I did get tattled on quite a bit and now the church I worked for has some sort of blogging policy...thank goodness I don't work for them anymore). But my husband, grew up in a VERY different environment than I did. My aunt is the first gay person he has ever met. He doesn't curse at all and he is often shocked at my sense of humor (it comes out more when we are in new england visiting my family). But I am rambling on, I loved your post about your husband yesterday and honestly I didn't even notice the cursing in it. Like I said yesterday I was on the edge of my bed because I was so into the story about the spiders. People curse, I don't think its a character flaw, its just the way we are raised. Scott does things I don't necessarily do, and its because of the way he was raised. Its okay Im not out there murdering people with my words :-)

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  20. Totally. Especially since there are so many people I know or have met that read my blog ... so I never know exactly how "me" I can be without creating awkward situations later.

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  21. You can cuss & fart in front of us, it's okay. We like the real Caitlin, not the watered down, apologetic Caitlin. And I always enjoy your blogs about blogging. I totally "get it".

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  22. i feel like everyone's always apologizing too much for what they write on their blogs. "sorry for going on about this too much." "sorry for not posting this week." "sorry for such a long/picture-heavy post." "sorry for being incoherent/bitter/too happy/too mad/wordy/etc."
    you'll maybe weed out a few followers, but then you'll feel freer to write whatever the heck you want. and maybe attract other readers to replace the ones you've lost. win/win/win.
    :)

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  23. also: the spider post. i didn't care about the swearing, i cared about THERE'S CAMEL SPIDERS IN MY PERIPHERAL VISION ALL OF THE TIME NOW.
    but i still love you.

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  24. I struggle with this too wanting to say "shit" without apologizing before or after... not so much because of readers but potential big sponsors who contribute to the business. The more you free yourself and let go of perfection, the more people will gravitate towards you though. #fart

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  25. I think (personally) it has to do with not knowing EXACTLY who your audience us (blogs are sneaky like that!). Like, will someone be offended by this? Maybe I should tone it down. Truth is, a little snark/profanity never hurt anyone and most importantly, the people who end up reading your blog on the regular will do so because they relate to you and love your personality - dirty mouth and all :)

    P.S. Just found you, awesome blog.Come say hi to me if you feel like it!

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  26. I just found this post through Ashley at After Nine to Five, and ahhhh, girlfriend, I can so totally relate! I don't have a ton of followers or anything, so thus far my self-censorship has been for the benefit of my family and family-friends, even though none of them requested it. I swear a ton in real life, and I hardly ever do on my blog. There a lot of topics I want to write about, but I can hear my mom saying, "Now Rachel, you know that your younger cousins can read those blog posts, right?" And it's not that my family doesn't know who I really am...but let's just say that they like to keep things polite. It's been a struggle, trying to be true to myself while at the same time not upsetting anyone. I'm finally getting to the point where I think I just need to be me, though, and damn the repercussions; I'm an adult, and I have every right to be the person I want to be, whether or not others agree. I mean, what's the worst that could happen, some mild familial chiding or a loss of a few followers? So be it.

    That felt good, thanks for the opportunity to get that out. Love the blog, just started following you =]

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