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Do you write or blog about your children?

Categories: Guest Blog, Parenting & Family, Your life

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This week’s guest blog is by Gwendolen Gross, an author, most recently of The Other Mother, a novel about two moms, one of whom works and one who doesn’t. (We recently interviewed Gwendolen on Work It, Mom! - click here to read the interview.) If you’d like to have your guest blog post featured on Work It, Mom!, send it in an email to nataly@workitmom.com. Please make sure it’s relevant to working moms and is under 300 words or so.

About Our Children

I am an author, but I don’t write about my children very much. I talk about them, of course, in that way you talk with women friends—picking up the narrative over breaks, the way you might pick up a book after putting it down to work and make dinner and carve pumpkins and fill out a thousand book fair-girl scout-family night-health-insurance-forms—a few days, or even weeks, later. I need the give and take of mom friendships; I need to compare my experiences to theirs (not in a ranking sort of way, but to touch the earth of common situation). But when it comes to writing, I feel like it’s a sort of betrayal to tell anything about my children’s stories. I feel protective, even, corresponding about them on mom-sites. I feel as though their lives are their own, and though I may borrow my experiences with them in the form of fiction, it feels wrong to make any characters who are clearly them. Maybe this will change, but I doubt it. Then there’s the contradiction—I love to read blogs about parenting issues common to mine. I love to hear about the successes and difficulties of the photographed but blog-named children. I love to feel connected to the parents via our common experiences—and sometimes I write to those parents, but I never post about my children, except about the most surface issues. It just feels wrong.

Am I being selfish? I’m happy to share experience and wisdom and mistake in my writing, but only when I’ve given those experiences to imaginary people. I have friends and family who have thought they found themselves in my fiction, and the truth is, there may be pieces of them there, but never a whole, and rarely does anyone recognize the bits I shared by design, finding, instead, unintentional parallels.

So what do you think: is writing about your kids taking anything away from them? Or is it really more about your experience of raising them, which belongs to you, not them? I suppose I’m a private person, after all, but more about their business than my own. My mother, an artist, used to photograph us and use some of the images, albeit altered, in her work. I don’t remember feeling as proud of those pictures as the ones of other things, but I don’t think I felt particularly betrayed or embarrassed about most of them (okay, except the shirtless one at age 10). I don’t think I minded being a model, except that I had to stay still. But writing about my children seems like showing them naked, seems like taking something away from them. And yet I don’t think the same of other writers who write about their children.

Writers and bloggers out there, readers—what do you think?



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4 comments so far...

  • I blog mainly about my life, which includes my kids. I do write about them, their experiences and issues and include photos - I guess because one of my main reasons for starting the blog to begin with was to share my thoughts (which definitely include my kids) and to stay in touch with family and friends. My kids are young yet though - when they get older I may change what I include about them if they have preferences about it. So I guess I lean more toward the ‘experience of raising them belonging to me’ side of things. :)

    Deb - Mom of 3 Girls  |  October 23rd, 2007 at 8:44 am

  • I think it’s different in some ways for bloggers, who are intentionally sharing their personal stories — whether for themselves as a “journal” like I do, or for family members’ updates — than it is for a fiction writer. Or even a non-fiction writer. Even if I were doing a “journalistic” non-fiction book, I’d feel more comfortable interviewing other people and relating their stories, with their permission, than to write my own kids’ experiences into a book. I’d certainly change names.

    I think if I had a friend/family member writing fiction, I likely wouldn’t WANT to find myself in their books, so I’m glad to hear you don’t really turn actual people into characters!

    Lee Thrash  |  October 23rd, 2007 at 9:06 am

  • I have started blogging quite recently that too on a shared blogspace. The need to blog for me or to set up my site was basically intended to share whatever information i had gathered during the journey of my first preganancy and thereafter raising my baby. I have yet not started writing or rather blogging about my baby coz I am not too sure how many people would really like to read about it. You can say I am kind of shy on blogging about my family…

    I am sure however of one thing that I would not like to use my baby stories or her pics for any kind of business oppurtunity…I might sound kind of too withdrawn but then that’s me!!

    Soumi Rai  |  October 24th, 2007 at 12:47 pm

  • Lee wrote: I think if I had a friend/family member writing fiction, I likely wouldn’t WANT to find myself in their books, so I’m glad to hear you don’t really turn actual people into characters!

    Lee, thanks for writing this–I’ve been carrying this discussion out with me in the fall air; my friends have agreed with you (though one friend says “hey, write about my ex all you want!”) that there’s a big difference between writing fiction and writing in the blog format, which is clearly more like a public journal/something self published (no slight intended, I am stunned by the eloquence of some blogs!) that is meant to be a public forum about the issues of, for example, parenting. It’s a whole other world. But on the other hand, how would you feel if you found yourself in someone’s blog? Just curious.

    I’ve been discussing blogs in my writing workshop as well–some women are sort of puzzled by the genre, some are starting blogs of their own…

    Gwendolen

    Gwendolen Gross  |  October 25th, 2007 at 8:15 am

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