...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Whom

by Backpacking Dad

I've been thinking about 'whom' a lot lately.

It's an excellent word. And, with both proper and improper usage it bestows upon its target a sheen of nobility; a polish; an in-bred whiff of aristocracy.

Whom.

Marla (not her real name), known variously as “Different Gal,” “Kind of Girl,” and “FADKOG,” is a very special whom. She's the 'whom' whom is on vacation this week and whom I am writing a guest post for (that's “for whom I am writing a guest post, if you're playing along at whome.) She is a hilarious whom, and I am really flattered that she is letting me mind the shop while she's gone. And I gotta say, it's really roomy in here; a guy can really stretch out. I think she needs the room because of her ginormous rack. (I apologize for the crassness there; those of us whom are guest-whoming have made a promise to mention said rack at least once in our guest posts. So....Marla has big boobs.)

Back to the non-boobish meat of the post...

My
blog grew out of some regular e-mailing I had been doing: writing to my infant daughter. I was writing so often that I began thinking of the world in its narrative shape, and sometimes stories would reveal themselves, like a statue in marble or the world carved at its joints. And not every one of these stories insisted upon being told to my daughter, so sometimes their legs atrophied before they ran.

I wrote in a Livejournal for a while, but as it said on my bio page there I really only had a Livejournal in the first place so that I could non-anonymously comment on other blogs. But when I began
Backpacking Dad my intent was to really begin opening my trench coat to the world and asking if anyone wanted to buy a letter Q. That is, I was going to participate in the blogging community as a blogger and not just a commenter. I was going to offer myself to the world, not because the world needed my voice, but because I needed to hear voices in cacophony identifying, criticizing, celebrating, and condemning: reacting. I needed a beach where I could leave fresh footprints alongside others' tracks.

But blogging can be a lot like shouting into the wind. I knew that going in, and I expected to languish for a while in obscurity. I didn't even quite know how to go about letting people know that I was out there waiting for readers. I think I started finding some popular blogs and picking off their blog rolls, leaving little comments on blogs that I found interesting. This is probably how most of us do it. And it works.

Suddenly, I had a reader. It was like my birthday, getting that e-mail from Blogger telling me that someone had left a comment on my blog. Someone wanted to engage with something I had written. Vanity, pride, hubris, arrogance....whatever: I was good enough to have a reader! And not just a ghost; an honest-to-goodness reader-slash-commenter.

That's when I began slowly shifting the focus of my writing. The blog began as a dumping ground for stories that I didn't really want to write down in an e-mail to my daughter, but that I needed to write and I wanted other people to read. Sometimes I had my daughter's face in my mind's eye as I wrote, and sometimes I felt like I was writing for my wife. But with a reader, a stranger, I began writing to an audience. I wanted to make this audience laugh, or think about something, or give a shake of the head and wander off thinking “that one was a strange one.”

That I have readers now is, I know, a function of the blog itself: something about it is resonating with people. But the tone of the blog and whatever care I take in writing it is entirely owed to the readers who continue to read. And to my first reader.

My whom.

Yes, I write for my daughter. And of course I write for my wife. And of course they provide both audience and material.

But I am also writing to whom it may concern. And there has always been one whom concerned.

And even though I know her real name, I always think of her as FADKOG.

Blame her for the tone over
there.

So, whom are your whoms? Do you write for whoms? Do you write for yourself? Whom do you imagine when you think of your readers? Is there one reader who stands out for you that you would like to recognize (totally insulting all of your other readers in the process, as I have done here, but don't tell them about it plskthnxbai)?

21 Comments:

Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Taking a blogger's comment virginity - crossed off my 'to do' list!

Notice how I keep coming back, asking if you want some more of this (though in my head, it's all "Yeah, you wants some more of 'dis, Papi?"), telling you to 'take it'? Yeah? It's because you're sooooo good!

Thanks for taking care of things around the place. Just pick up by the time I get back, k? Thanks.

Sunday, July 06, 2008 7:57:00 PM  
Blogger Chag said...

I imagine all my whoms as extremely bored individuals.

I like to think I write for myself. Maybe not. Maybe I did at some point. Not so sure anymore.

Great questions, BPD. I just don't have any answers.

Sunday, July 06, 2008 8:03:00 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

My writing is kind of my replacement for singing after I walked away from the professional career in it. I kind of look at it like my little bit of applause. It helps ease the jealousy pangs that I get from time to time.

Plus, I love making people laugh. And cry. (But mainly laugh. I'm not TOTALLY sadistic.) It's also nice to have a record of my life, even though I only record about 2% of it.

As for favorite commenters, well...You are all kinds of awesome but lately my blog is in peril of being named the "I heart Backpacking Dad Blog" so I will just say that I love funny commenters. They are worth their weight in gold.

Nice guest post.

Sunday, July 06, 2008 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

FADKOG: There's some leftovers in the fridge for you. I hope you like smarmy bullshit. :}

chag: We're not bored. We're out-awesomed.

loralee: shhhhh. you're going to make FADKOG jealous. She doesn't know about us....;}

Monday, July 07, 2008 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Black Hockey Jesus said...

I try to write what I'd want to read.

I try to make myself giggle.

I also imagine that I'm trying to impress some chick I want to nail.

Monday, July 07, 2008 2:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Rock and Roll Mama said...

I like that question...I hadn't thought of it in those terms before. I write for two of my good friends that I spend much time with, but that we never ever get to finish conversations because we have 7 kids between us. So I imagine my blog as a place where all the moms/dads can actually finish a thought...then someone dumps something on the floor. Yeah, gotta go!

Monday, July 07, 2008 7:24:00 AM  
Blogger CaraBee said...

I wish I could say I write 100% for me, because that is certainly how it started. But that wouldn't be true. Nor do I write strictly for my readers, meager though they might yet be. The truth is somewhere in between and the split varies from post to post.

(btw - my word verification was poopzq, he he)

Monday, July 07, 2008 7:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

i read blogs to be entertained, or to be moved.

since i have a problem moving anyone with my words, i *try* to entertain my readers. sometimes i get lucky and it actually works ;)

i also write to keep a record of the things that happen. funny things my kids say, or ridiculous things that they do. so i'll never forget...because my 30-year-old brain? she ain't so good anymore.

Monday, July 07, 2008 8:18:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I think you really nailed this, BPD.

I started out pretty much the way you did, just sort of randomly surfing blogs I liked, and then venturing a comment now and again. At a certain point, it just made sense to have my own blog, and post some of my thoughts on my own behalf, rather than just leave comments willy-nilly all over blog-space.

And as you go, you form relationships with other bloggers, and the stories you post (I, too, am pretty much a blogger of the 'stories of my life and family') become part of an ongoing 'conversation'. And those relationships, that conversation, is the thing that I find immensely appealing about blogging. . .

Monday, July 07, 2008 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

I blog to keep people up to date, I want to try to make people laugh, and because I like to tell stories (always have) but I know it can be annoying, so I blog, and let people go there by choice. My first non friend comment was by Mocha Momma on my original blog, and on my new "public" blog, she left my first real comment of substance, and I will always adore her, and her writing.

Monday, July 07, 2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Swirl Girl said...

I write because I can't stand talking on the phone and I don't know how to text message.

I also will have fodder to embarrass my children when it comes time to put together the 'wedding reel' of their lives...complete with Paul Anka singing in the background "Good morning yesterday, you wake up- and time has slipped away..."

Blogging is email for the public. It's fee free therapy. It's acting on a cyber stage. It's substance abuse that doesn't kill you....well, they haven't determined that yet.

Monday, July 07, 2008 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger A.C. said...

I write two very different blogs...one for me...one for the scholarly me. The one for me is the blog in which I get to say "I" at least a hundred times per post. The blog for scholarly me is actually less for me and more for an audience interested in a particular science, so I try to say "I" as few times as possible.

I have two whoms (one for each blog). The whom for my more personal blog has really inspired me to keep writing because I worry that writing about myself will send people away. What I've realized is that the blogs I enjoy reading the most are the blogs in which people talk about their lives. I relate to those and they make me feel less alone and a part of something.

Yay blogging!

Monday, July 07, 2008 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous attiton said...

Isss verry interesting that you seem to have zis need to be accepted.

Monday, July 07, 2008 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Bunny said...

Who I write for changes regularly. Mostly I write for me, to get things off my chest (my so-much-less-spectacular-rack). But sometimes I write to amuse my reader, whoever he or she might be on a particular day. But even when I write for my bloggy friends, I'm still writing for me, as stay-at-home-mom who needs an outlet for adult musings, opinions, and random junk that pops into my head. Kind of like FADKOG, but not so well written.

P.S. A law school prof told me that my use of "to whom" instead of "who . . . to" in a question in a mock trial was pretentious. I argued that it's not pretentious to be grammatically correct, but he argued that I would come off pretentious to a jury. Hrmph! I still got an A.

Monday, July 07, 2008 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

I'm completely selfish and I'll admit that I write for myself. But I also write for an audience, as I cannot imagine trying to write WITHOUT one.

Monday, July 07, 2008 6:22:00 PM  
Blogger Manager Mom said...

Awww... FADKOG rocks EVEN HARDER, now that I know this heartwarming tale.

Monday, July 07, 2008 7:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Originally, I just wrote to keep family updated. But then it became more of an outlet. Although, since I don't blog anonymously, it's not a complete outlet.

Maybe someday I'll start an anonymous blog, just for the fun of it.

Monday, July 07, 2008 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

BHJ: I will never admit that. but yeah.

rock and roll mama: that is a fantastic way to look at it.

carabee: poop is always funny. When it's on FADKOG's blog.

ali: You move me with your toque.

desmond jones: the relationships are the important bit for me too

amelia sprout: sometimes I'll write something and think "not even if they came here voluntarily do they deserve this", and then "delete".

swirl girl: I have a really hard time texting too. I think it's because I'm paranoid that my cell phone bill will shoot through the roof because I was blindfolded when I picked my plan.

a.c.: I'm going to start a scholarly blog: Backpacking Dad Is Smarter Than You. And it will be written entirely in the third person and I'll have footnotes and everything.

attiton: :} I'd leave a witty response at this point but Neil Patrick Harris just showed up in a very self-mocking Old Spice commercial.

bunny: it might also be pretentious to answer "4" when queried with "2+2". Sometimes being right is important. With grammar though? Not this guy. I just like "whom".

aunt becky: it's okay. You can admit that you are writing for me.

manager mom: yeah she does.

mandy: I'm this close to just saying "to hell with it" and writing stuff that my family shouldn't read.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger katie said...

I do my blog purely for entertainment and to exploit my wiener. my wiener dog, man. he's a freak and for some reason people love him. it might be his penchant for all things doobie that keeps him so interesting.

blogging has opened up a whole new world to me-sometimes a very weird one. there can be alotta drama around the blogosphere. kinda like highschool again. you get what i mean?

I love the concept of your blog and your daughter is beautiful!

and i'd also like to give a shout out to my fave Diff Kinda Gal!! hey hey hey!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger justlori2day said...

If it werent for FAD I would be talking to myself! I do have a few other commenters, but I am not entertaining, so I cherish her comments! :)

And your blog rocks. I love reading about your days at home with your darlin!

Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:45:00 PM  
Blogger Brann...it's good for you. said...

Great question. I write for a few reasons...

1. I was leaving teaching in the summer of 2006 for an IT job, and I hated the idea of losing my creativity.

2. I wanted to document what it was like to be dad, somewhere.

3. I wanted to write about my obsessions (sports team, politics, music, art, literature, etc.).

4. It's the English major and former teacher in me.

Since I have so few readers (I think...), I can't really say I'm writing for anything else.

Friday, July 18, 2008 11:42:00 AM  

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