November 6, 2007

Edit

I've been wanting to tell my brother about this blog, but I haven't trusted him since the day we came down on different sides of a hypothetical situation. The conversation was a year ago, shortly after I'd finished my NaNoWriMo novel. A NaNoWriMo novel is a novel you write in one month. The emphasis is on quantity, and there's no time for quality. I was explaining to my mother and brother that although I had not burned my novel YET, I certainly didn't want anyone to (*shudder*) READ it, and I was worried now about dying unexpectedly and having the novel discovered among my possessions.

Anyway, my mom and I started envisioning a "Burn When I Die" box: you'd use it to store all the things you don't really want your relatives finding unexpectedly through their tears: bizarre feti$h magazines, documents related to your secret marriage and subsequent secret annulment, novels so gaggingly awful you fear people would be relieved the author was no longer with us, etc.

My mom said, as I knew she would, that if I had a "Burn When I Die" box, she'd burn it for me without hesitating or peeking. I knew this would be the case: when I was a teenager, I had the only mom in the universe who would walk past my open diary in a deserted house and actually move a little further away because she didn't want to accidentally see anything.

But my BROTHER said that he would NOT burn the box. No. In fact, he would in good conscience make a deathbed promise to burn it, and then consider the promise meaningless when the person had died, and he would root through the box right after the funeral--or perhaps before, if it was an afternoon funeral. Dead people don't have valid contracts, was his point of view.

You see, perhaps, why I am not sure I can let him go rummaging around in my blog. The blog in which I might want to complain about my brother, or talk about S-E-X, or discuss my plans to steal his half of our inheritance.

But I'm finding I have to constantly talk around the blog: I'm always monitoring my Next Thing To Say to make sure I'm not about to say something about one of our discussions. More than once I've had to say, "Uh...I read on someone's blog that..." when I want to mention my own blog. This is getting silly.

So I've told my brother and my sister-in-law about the blog. But! Now I need to do a big edit. A biiiiiiiiig edit. Imagine you're talking on the phone to your best friend, and no one else is home. Now imagine your husband is in the room. Now imagine your husband AND your mother-in-law are in the room. With each new person, you have to think more carefully about how what you say will be received, or who might be hurt by it.

It is hard to decide where to draw the line. At what point is it so edited, I'll need to start a new secret blog so we can still have our private phone conversations?

57 comments:

Erin said...

Ah Swistle. I think about this in regards to my blog all the time. A lot of times I wish it were 'face anonymous' just so that I could write more freely. But then again, a lot of what I write, I write mainly for my family & friends. I guess it depends on what the priority purpose is. Which I suppose is your question. In other words, I don't have any good answer. Great. I am so helpful.

Jess said...

I definitely see why this concerns you. But I still think it's cool that you told them about your blog. And I think it's definitely possible to write a great blog while editing yourself, and still be honest and forthright and say everything you need to say.

Alice said...

i have the opposite problem... everyone knows *i* have a blog, but i keep wanting to tell stories about what happened to my blog friends, and.. uh.. sometimes people find it weird when i talk about people i've never met before like they're my buddies.

Erica said...

I have the same issues with my blog. It's not anonymous at all. Hell, my boss reads it. Granted, she's very cool, but still.

There are times I really want to write about something and find that I can't because of who may be reading. I always tell myself that I can start a "secret" blog on the side, if I need to. So far, I haven't needed to.

I guess I've sort of come to terms with what my blog is now. But I completely reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

LoriD said...

Only 4 people that I know "in real life" know about my blog. I haven't told even my husband! I do the same thing: "I read somewhere...." or "I heard from someone that..." I like that it's my own little thing. I don't think I'd have much to edit if someone did find out about it, but I feel your pain.

MrsGrumpy said...

I fled to blogspot because my mother in law was reading Xanga. And then, I thought about majorly editing when my husband stumbled upon this blog (well less of a stumble, more of a stupid me leaving the window open mid typing). We had a huge discussion, and came to an understanding. That this (well my own blog) is where I vent about things that might hurt him, or our family...and that the people who read it are not family or friends we have known for years. He wasn't "overly" enthusiastic about it, but he did read it and he did like some of the posts. I did totally scrub my xanga site once I knew my Mother in Law was reading.

Michele said...

I had to do a major edit after my husband (who knew about the blog but apparently never thought to read it) finally read it and took offense to a post about his parents. I vountarily removed all mention of them (and damn, there were some good, funny rant posts out there - along the lines of your latest MIL visit) but it was far more important for me to not hurt my husbands feelings than to be funny on my blog.

I also did a smaller edit before I told my best friend about it. She already knew 95% of what was there, other than my feelings about the dress she chose for me to wear in her wedding (think two Easter Hams for arms), and our opposing religious views.

In the long run, I am glad I took out what I did because I had already made my point, gotten reader feedback, and out the issue to rest long before I edited anything. Better to be safe then have mucho explaining to do later.

Devan said...

I have a BIL and SIL that know about my blog and that's the only family that does. (unless they've told someone)
BUT then I had a cousin "find" it and now my aunt reads it too, and I worry my mom is going to find it if she hasn't already and my worst, absolute worst, fear is that my MIL will find it. I would definitely have to start a secret blog then. My dh doesn't even know...

Leticia said...

Ok, quick question. Do they know about THIS blog in specific or do they know you have A blog...but don't really know the name or anything else about it? Just curious.

She Likes Purple said...

This is the problem all bloggers face. Censoring so as not to upset the real family/friends but not censoring so much that your blog is, truly, all about what you ate for lunch.

I have accepted that my blog could be (has already?) been discovered by everyone in my life. And that although some things I say may be harder to swallow than others, it's nothing someone who truly loves me wouldn't eventually be able to accept and deal with. It's also said (hopefully!) with some tact and a lot of thought.

And the big things I try to share with my mother first. She's the one person I absolutely do not want to offend (thank god she's open minded and loves me as unconditionally as you can love someone). But I usually take her to lunch and tell her I'm going to blog about this or that.

I have this theory that if being honest (in a considerate, eloquent way) upsets someone so greatly (even if it's something I would always say to the person) it was just a matter of time before I upset them greatly anyway. That's not a "pass" to do whatever the hell I want but to remind myself that nine times out of ten, I did all I could and after that, it's about them.

Sara said...

AAH, me too. A few family members, including my mom, read my blog and it is so hard sometimes!

I've been contemplating the new secret blog as well, but have ultimately decided that I'm not the type of person to keep secrets in real life, so why bother here. I'll write what I like, and anyone who has a problem can stop reading any time.

Colleen said...

Everyone knows about my blog. I've often thought of starting a new secret blog so I can use it to vent without anyone I know reading it.

Jess said...

I'm with you. My husband knows about my freshling blog and is only allowed to read it when I say so. I also have a family blog that I update for friends and relatives. I don't swear there. Or talk about "real" stuff. Sometimes I think it's a bummer that in order to the most honest with ourselves and others we feel a need (and by we I mean me) to do it anonymously. Mrphmf.

jen said...

n one knows about my blog but I'm sure they've all googled me, because they have nothing better to do, I'm totally paranoid like that.

Shannon said...

I have zero anonymity and I've often been jealous over yours. I don't know who reads it but I don't keep it secret, really. I don't go out of my way to tell people though. I even kept it secret from my husband and then he found it and was very hurt that I kept it secret. We had a LONG TALK.

I say don't edit. They are coming into YOUR space, your world.

Just PLEASE, whatever you do, don't tell your MIL. I need more stories.

Mrs. M said...

precisely why mine is private from those i personally know. if i bring it up and they ask I just say it's my private journal and not for everyone to read.

that's true. strangers, read away! i can vent my personal thoughts and feelings i normally dance around. it's great (cheap) therapy. i sometimes wish hubs didn't know so I could talk about his family! :)

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh, I love the idea about a "Burn when I die" box. LOVE IT! I've always thought about little things like that I'm not sure I want anyone to see. And my mom was just like yours. She never snooped and went out of her way to not look at my things. I think she'd burn my box, but I don't know if my husband would.

None of my family know about my blog. A few people from my church read, but I don't feel the need to hold back for them. I think it would be totally different if my husband, parents, etc. knew about my blog. I've thought about telling my sister (who I'm very close to), but I still haven't. I'm not even sure I want her reading it. Good luck with the brother thing.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

The burn when I die box is brilliant.

Most people I know know about my blog because I couldn't keep my trap shut about it. It's such a part of my life that I couldn't NOT talk about it. That said, I have lots, lots, lots of stuff that I need to talk about, so I have a secret blog.

I hope that you'll find a good balance. And please don't let MIL ever find this, you're stories never fail to make me shake my head in disbelief.

Kristie said...

Oh, the dreaded edited blog. I have one too. I so much want to talk about how some of my family irritate the snot out of me, but I just can't.

I also have to watch my language because my son's grandmother reads my blogs and she's veeeeery religious.

It's tough to fine that balance. My rule is to not say anything I wouldn't say outloud to that person.

mom huebert said...

Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I was so excited about starting my blog that I told my husband and my kids all about it. I know my daughter checks in regularly, and I never know when Hubby will come by, so I have to edit very carefully. There are a lot of things I wish I could rant about, or ask all of you blog readers about, but I don't dare. As you suggested, I've actually been thinking about starting a blog incognito, if I were sure it wouldn't be somehow unethical or too confusing. But I don't know. Sigh. Good luck!

mamaDB said...

I read a few of the comments and agree, you need a secret blog. This could be your secret blog and then you can give your family a different blog i.d. where you can do a "water down" or just a big ol' edit.

Pickles & Dimes said...

I totally understand your blog anonymity concerns. It's sometimes hard to feel like you're censoring yourself.

My old blog was on Livejournal and no one knew I had it (not even my husband). When I told him about it, he was cool and even insisted he wouldn't read it. But I realized that if I bitched about him regarding a single moment in time, years later that entry would still be out there for him to find.

So I started a new blog and invited him to post on it sporadically too. We set up ground rules on what we could and could not post, which does unfortunately eliminate some GREAT posts about family or intimate moments (like the time a giant glass candle fell off our wall and onto his head during...you know), but that's OK.

It's much more important to keep the peace with those in my "real life" than to entertain some strangers online for just a moment.

Banana said...

I feel the exact same way! I'm very new to having my own blog, and so far only my husband knows about it (although he doesn't have the web address and we have different computers so it's safe). I don't know if someday I'll tell friends and family? I sort of like being anonymous.

Also, I'm embarrassed to say, but I can't stand it when someone has a secret and I don't know what it is. I might rummage through the burn box. *hangs head in shame*

Melissa said...

That is hee-haw hilarious. I love it!

Penny said...

I know, I went back and forth on the secrecy of my blog thing. I even started a secret blog for a while. It'd be nice if we could create a no-friends-and-family-access restriction for some entries of our blogs, wouldn't it?

Tessie said...

This is a tough issue and it's so interesting to read everyone's comments. I'm mostly my real-life self on my blog, and the only people I really hide it from are work people. But I don't talk much about it in the real world. I too say things like "I read" or "I heard". Also my husband knows about my blog but I don't think he reads it.

Farrell said...

You are so funny. The whole burn box thing? I've often thought of that; a direct result of watching too much CSI and "Without a Trace."
Also: my mother totally read my journals.
Also: my parents know I HAVE a blog, but they don't have the adress. I don't think. And they are not savvy enough to know how to look it up. I'm pretty sure they're not, anyway. Besides, if my mother was reading it, surely I'd get comments like "What did YOU do Halloween night?" And then i'd blush like mad, just like I was seventeen again.

CAQuincy said...

I've been trying to decide on the secret blog thing, too. There are just too many things I want, no NEED to talk about that I can't as family/friends are checking this blog every day. It's more embarrassing stuff (like birth control choices!) and annoying husband stuff than anything nasty. But as a result, my bff gets emails from me with all the "spill-over" stuff I can't discuss on my blog. Poor girl!

Farrell said...

I think it's really interesting how many people don't let their husbands know they are blogging. This is not a judgment, just...something I didn't expect I guess. And if your husband (Tessie?) doesn't read it, are you glad, or does it hurt your feelings? Or, do you end up telling him in person most of it anyway?
I told my ex when i started my blog and he read my first entry and nothing else. NOW I'm REALLY REALLY glad he doesn't read it; probably doesn't even remember the name of it.

Farrell said...

sorry, last one: clarification: I told my then-husband, now ex when i first started. I didn't tell him or remind him as my ex.
?
Omig. maybe I should just STOP TALKING.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I don't know, Swistle. Your brother is dead wrong about dead people having no ability to make a contract (Har har!). That's what wills are about, after all. Thus, if it were in your will about the burn box, he or the executor of your will would be bound by law to burn that box without rummaging through it.

Related to the blog, if your brother is OK with rummaging through a box of potentially embarrassing or hurtful items, then doesn't he sort of deserve what he runs across? At some point, if you edit too heavily you completely lose the point of having a blog. You lose your "voice" and I've come to truly enjoy your voice and would miss it.

Then again, my blog is known to all of my family and a big pile of my friends, so there are certain things that I don't talk about at all (SIL issues! Whee!), so what the hell do I know?

Black Sheeped said...

This is why I have restarted blog after blog. And I've almost deleted my current one a few times, because I am pretty sure, due to site meter, that my family is secretly reading it. I don't post anything I wouldn't want them to read, but it haaaaaaaunts me. Eh. I try to ignore my fear.

The burn when I die box is an absolutely BRILLIANT idea, and I would totally want one. I would put in the binder of (angsty) poems I wrote in high school. I would like to see some sort of forum somewhere, where we all list what we would put in a Burn When I Die Box. And then we could all giggle. Maybe it would need to be anonymous, however.

That being said, hi brother! Hi sister in law!

Ami said...

Can I request that my entire house be burned down when I die?

Also, if you start a new secret blog, you must email me the URL.

Pann said...

You hit the nail right on the head, as usual, Swistle.

The thing that makes a blog shine is hard core honesty in my opinion, and if you're starting to edit yourself or censor, it's a loss -- I can't tell my family about my blog and sometimes I don't even like it that my husband reads it, because I don't feel I can rant about him.

Thus, enter Ranthaven.com -- I'm still getting it set up and haven't yet thought it through... but feel free everyone, to visit ranthaven.com/wordpress to blog loud and proud and anonymously! I'd welcome anyone's posts and can help people set up a username /password to get started posting there. I also welcome suggestions.

Stacie said...

My whole freaking family knows about my blog because it started as a way to share pictures with them. Now that I babble on I have to constantly self-censor. I can't complain about my husband because his mother reads it. I can't complain about her because, well, she reads it. And my mother, who I adore, has the thinnest skin in the world so I can't even mention when she's being crazy. And she's a crazy cat lady so there is crazy to talk about.

If I had to do it over again I would stay anonymous. I'm much funnier when I'm being pointed about family insanity, but I have to share that on message boards (gag) and not my blog.

Jana said...

Ditto everything Stacie said above. I started my blog to keep friends and family updated and now I'd rather them NOT read it so that I can talk about them. I did start a second "secret" blog, but I felt so guilty about not telling my husband about it that I deleted it after only a few posts. I hate that I can't be 100% myself in my posts, but oh well.

bananafana said...

only my husband and one friend know about mine. i don't imagine I'll ever really NEED it to be anonymous but I like that I can put anything I like. I thought I would have to censor stuff about the hubby but he really couldn't care less and said he would never read it if I asked him not to

Family Adventure said...

OK, I just found you, and I am so impressed that you manage to write anything coherent with FIVE children to watch. And be funny and make a good point at the same time?!
I will definitely be back for more.
And by the way - I so get you and the editing of what you say depending on who's around. Get it!

Heidi

K in the Mirror said...

I shut down my blog last week because of things semi-related to this topic. And I'M DYING WITHOUT IT. I'm wondering how long it will take before I stop analyzing every event in terms of how to blog it... oh wait, no blog, and then I cry.

I'll be starting up a secret one relatively soon, I think.

Kristine said...

I have my family blog and I had a secret blog once. My husband's cousin found it. I had to stop writing there because of it. I couldn't trust that things I wrote there wouldn't get back to his mother. I recently put the stats back up on it and no one is reading it anymore, so I'm considering writing there again, but I still can't bring myself to do it. Which sucks, because I would love to write about the fact that my MIL demanded a lock of hair and before during and after pictures of our son's first haircut but will not tell us what they're for. And so help me if she makes us a shadow box and expects me to hang body parts on my wall I will punch her in the face.

Vicky said...

I feel the same as you about the blog. I actually started a secret second blog but I only wrote 2 entries and found I didn't have time to update the family and the secret blog. I'm thinking about starting it again. I could never discuss s-e-x and the huz's faults on the family blog.

I know you can hear me... said...

Such a great thing to write about! Not to mention, a burn when I die box is a great idea (although I would never trust my family to actually burn it without looking first).

I can count the number of people who know about my blog and know me in real life on one hand...I don't try to hide it, but I don't announce it either - because if I knew that my entire family was looking at it, then I would feel like I need to go back and edit things. And what would be the fun in that?!

donna said...

I got outed to a "friend" I complained about a lot on the blog. At my baby shower no less! I sneaked to the bathroom and had my husband take my blog down completely until I could get home and do some very big editing. Luckily she didn't have the name of the blog but I also don't take great pains to remain anonymous on mine. So I did some googling and figured there was no way she would be able to find me that way. I still edited because maybe it was my karmic payback for saying mean things about her in the first place.

But my brother and MIL and husband's grandfather and uncle read it and lie about doing so. So quite often I use language or talk about things just to make them squirm. Including the sex toys in the Burn When I Die Drawer.

Swistle said...

Leticia- Paul and my parents know about this specific blog--and when I let them read posts, I send them a link to that post, so they see comments and stuff, too. But so far my brother and sister-in-law have just been told that I have A blog--they haven't read any of it, and they don't know I'm "Swistle" or anything about what I write about. But after my edit, I'll give them the url.

Banana- I told my mom that I WOULD burn her Burn Box if she had one, but that I would SUFFER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE wondering what was in it.

Penny- A couple of blogs I read have done "password-protected" entries, and you have to write to the blogger to get the password. I wonder if that would work? I don't think Blogger supports it yet, but maybe they will. A really unethical family member could get an anonymous email address and email for the password--but that's the equivalent of someone reading a diary, and really WRONG of them. And like Woman With A Hatchet says, at some point it's too much editing.

Farrell- I kind of stopped giving Paul entries to read, because it hurt my feelings that he read them and didn't say anything about them. I used to send him the link to every single one that was okay to read, but then I got miffed when he didn't tell me how awesome they were!

Black Sheeped- I get nervous every time you say you might delete your blog. I really LIKE your blog. I don't want it Gone.

Pann- AWESOME.

amber said...

I know exactly what you mean. I was hesitant to give my blog address to my sisters, because...how am I supposed to vent if they might read it? My younger sister is dating a complete MORON, and I constantly find myself editing out what I might've said to spare her feelings. Gah.

Swistle said...

Pann- I'm going to mention your new site in a blog entry, probably tomorrow's. I have it with your name and a link to your usual site, but suddenly I'm wondering--do you want to be more anonymous than that?

Omaha Mama said...

This topic has been bothering me lately too. Or something close anyways. My mom "doesn't get" blogging and thinks I should stop. One of the only things we've disagreed about since I was a teenager. And it bugs me...because she's always right. So I find myself judging myself when I write, wondering if she's right. Ugh.

It shouldn't be this hard, I think to myself. And then kick around a secret blog.

Not sure I've been helpful, but more of a "me too".

mpotter said...

great post.
this is why i have only basically shared the blog w/ strangers.

i keep wanting to share it w/ some friends (only 2 know about it) but i have to think about what topics i MIGHT one day share.

and not that i'm expecting to blog about people, not everyone needs to know what my future plans are, or what i think about things.

sooooo if you have to move i hope i can find you again. i'm enjoying it so far.

Delia S. said...

I love the whole "burn box" idea, although I know if it was someone else's box that I had to burn, I'd do it, but spend the rest of my life kind of "interesting" things might have been in there!

As for the whole issue with the blog... it's something I think about too. Currently only 2 people know of it, including my husband, although I haven't mentioned the name or the addresss to him... but I know he's quite capable of finding it if he wants to read it! He's very, very good with PC's and he's just generally amazing adept at finding stuff that you thought you hid *really well*. He, like me, is incredibly curious at times. Nothing is sacred when it comes to PC's or Cyberspace.

I had an account on a forum site before we got married where I posted a few rants regarding some fights we had, or some issues at work (we work together). I thought I was safe as he never really showed interest in the site. That was until he got curious, went to it, found said posts and confronted me the next morning. A huge discussion/ argument ensued. Needless to say that I felt like I couldn't vent online anymore in the even that he read it and there were more issues. But I also get his point, if postions were reveresed, I'd probably have been upset about finding those posts too.

So now I have adopted the policy, (especially for my blog), that if I want to say something/ rant, if I would not be prepared to say it in front of the person I'm ranting about or I'd would prefer them never to see it, I don't post it. It means that I do end up censoring a fair amount, but then if they were to stumble across it by accident there shouldn't really be a major fallout. Then again, I also tend to keep the people I'm referring to relatively anonymous, so that also kind of heps.

the Girls' Moma said...

Oh, wow. 49 comments, and I just read every. single. one.

This topic intrigues me, as does the sheer number of people who manage to keep their blogs secret! I would love a private place to vent. But I started my blog 4 years ago as a place to share about my daughter to friends and family, so I guess it was never really "mine" in the first place. Maybe if I'd ever started with a blog just for ME, I'd have kept it more of a secret.

Now that I'm more than a little crazy, I'd love a place to vent. I'm definitely going to check out RantHaven!

JMH said...

Congrats on the ads Swistle! :)

Swistle said...

JMH- Thanks--I have my doubts about them. Adult diapers? Geez.

Misguided Mommy said...

dont even get me started on the time my uncle started reading my blog and turned around and told my mom everything i had written, and my cousin, and on and on and on and i had to delete it all and start over.

JMH said...

Swistle, I think the ads are great and I especially like that the title above the DIAPER ads says "oh crap" :) Too funny!

BTW: I think adult diapers are a bit "eww" but what are craft diapers ??!!

Swistle said...

JMH- I DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW! Did you click through to find out, or were you nervous too?

Judy said...

I am so with you on this having to edit and censor yourself when it comes to your blog. My in-laws all have my blog address, and it PAINS me because I could probably be the best-read blog out there if I could just WRITE about all the SILLY STUFF they do. But, I can't. Because I have to look at them all at least 3 times a year, and I am a wus and wouldn't be able to pull that off if I wrote about them on it.

More power to you - I'm going to have to start my own anonymous blog to post about the weirdo family I married into, but then that means ONE MORE BLOG to keep up with. It ain't happening today!

Adri said...

Sigh - this makes me feel better! I always thought all the good bloggers out there had the fearless, all-disclosing, I'm-posting-this-whether-you-like-it-or-not attitude. I started my blog about a year ago and have been keeping myself from running full-speed across 'the line' of appropriateness. I always have to think before I post: Would my mom gasp incredulously at something I said (oh my god, yes, we have sex!)? or would my husband take offense to a post and defensively ask if I really think his nipple hair is unsexy??! He used my razor once to shave it and ever since I have sworn it looks great on him - even brings out his eyes!

It's hard balancing the truth with people's feelings. At least there is are 'edit' and 'delete' options - I've had to use it a couple times!