women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I thought I was an honest person. And then I started a blog. And I learned how to edit.

Now writers know how to edit; we do it all the time. If you don't edit, don't write.

But it is one thing to edit for brevity and clarity. It is an entirely different thing to edit for content. And if you are a blogger, content equals your life.

Do I tell people I laid around in my yoga pants all day and ate Cherrios Cheerios (Think I have cherries on the brain? I have a friend and fellow writer who believes in revelation by typo) and carrots for dinner? Will they know think I am dysfunctional if I do so?

Do I write about the fights with my teenager twenty-year-old? Do I also write about the worry and the love? Does not writing about the one, truncate what you read of the other?

Do I tell the world I knit on Saturday, when I should have been working? Do I tell my boss, if he's reading? (Don't worry Hip, I won't charge you for the time, and I'll make it up this week. Got a deadline to meet.)

I had coffee with my brother this morning. He told me to put Paris Hilton's name in today's post because that would guarantee more "hits" (And no, that's not why I did it and I'll erase it if I start getting hits. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction. Unless she knits... Maybe she'll pick it up in jail?) This raises another issue: do I edit to be popular? (I'm flashing back to high school here, and it's not a pretty place to visit.Nuff said.)

I have friends who ask me, "Why are you writing about knitting?" and I tell my muggles friends, "I don't. I write about life and knitting is part of that life." Still, the fact remains that they would choose to tell the story differently. Their edits would be different from my edits.

And therein lies the crux of the issue: Do we edit because of what others think? Or do we edit according to what we believe in? I can hear all of you screaming in one voice (all seven of you anyway) "I would never live edit my blog or my life by other people's standards!"

But if we are honest (and if we aren't, then what's the point of this exercise? Honestly?) we all have to admit to a certain amount of editing. It is part of human nature.

The problem is this. When you become too concerned with what others see when they look at you, you lose your own clear image of the face in the mirror. And you forget where the edits leave off and the real you begins. We all know people like that. Hell, we've been people like that! At least, I have.

So where do you draw the line between your life being an open book and a closed chapter? And when do you step over that line? And why?

I promise you, my readers (Yeah, yeah - all seven of you - I get it!) to get real rather than along, to write what is true (unless someone could be harmed by it,) to move with the spirit and not popular opinion.

To put it in knitting terms for all the non-muggles out there, I will follow the pattern when I need to in order to avoid making a mess of things, but I won't be afraid to modify in order to make the sweater life my own. And I won't hesitate to rip back and redo, if that's what it takes to get it right.

Time to go cast on...


margene said...

Would anyone really be interested in the 'truth' of my life...what I had for breakfast, where I walk the dog (oh yeah, I did blog that), what other things happen daily that are fairly mundane? It's the writing, and editing, that makes the blog interesting. It may not be 100% TRUTH, but then we do tell, even ourselves, little white lies at times...why not our friends...hmmm, I could go off on this subject but I'll spare you and your readers.
Well put Susan!

amy said...

Hmm. Interesting. I wouldn't say I edit, but I do omit, and I certainly keep in mind that those who know me in real life are reading. There are topics I've avoided out of respect for certain people's feelings, or to keep peace, for example. I don't necessarily like feeling stifled that way (and it does feel stifling sometimes), but I made the choice to blog as myself and invite my family to read it.

Now, I haven't figured out how to strikethrough in blogger. How'd you do that?

Rachel said...

I think what you wrote is interesting and made me think...I came to the conclusion that it depends on what expectations you have for your blog. If you started it as a journal or a 'public' diary then omissions or edits may be construed as not being truthful or wanting to show an image of yourself that may or may not be true. But I started a blog simply to 1) help my friends and family keep up with what I'm doing and 2) keep myself motivated...putting projects 'out there' is a great motivator to finish. It has also evolved along the way as an outlet to meet new people with similar interests. So a lot of times I weed through the mundane assuming we are a busy race and most people don't have the time to read pages of the little things. Other times I don't weed cuz I can go days in mundane mode with work and such and that's part of who I am. Does doing one or the other make it a lie as margene suggests or a deliberate attempt to convince my 5 readers I'm something I'm not? You'd be hard pressed to convince me of either of those!

boy, as a writer, I bet you hate my '...'! :)

Donna Lee said...

What a good question. We shall (not)know them by their editing. I think I try to say what is in my mind at the time I am writing. I don't consciously edit but then I am a social worker by trade and I think sometimes I edit my thoughts and words all day and it is ingrained at this point. I try to be honest with myself and hopefully will then be honest with everyone else. This doesn't mean that if I go underwear shopping I assume anyone wants to know what I bought. Or maybe they do and it could be a whole different type of blog all together.

Opal said...

i have to admit that i edit (or omit as amy has said) to keep great chapters of my life private. i just prefer the world not know about certain sectors of my self.

i like what rachel had to say about one's expectations of one's blog. (gosh i feel silly for saying one's.) i started my knitting blog for the knitting and my other fibery pursuits and that's it. i didn't start it to share any in depth details of my personal life. i have another journal for that on livejournal.com.

the livejournal site is something i tend to keep closely underwraps too as i have security levels that only allow certain people access to read the more personal entries. the akamai knitter is definitely my public face and just like i don't go spilling my innermost secrets to people i meet on day to a day basis, i choose not to fully disclose the full details of my life on that venue.

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

A great post--thank you for keeping your blog both true and edited--I don't mind hearing about your cheerios that you wished were cherries, but editing is what makes us creative people. It shows our stamp, our own voice. Anyone can write a play-by-play. A writer is a writer because, she makes choices, not only in what she says but how she says it. I love how you examined the issue, thanks!