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.
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.
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)?