Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are You There God, It's Me Miss Missives

Dear Diary,

I haven't been feeling myself lately. First, at work a few days ago, I just wasn't putting enough fervor into the lashing I was asked to do. That man had paid good money to get a proper "talking to" and I totally phoned it in. Then yesterday I was happily strolling the boulevard when a rude woman pushed roughly past me, and all I could muster was a lukewarm, "slow the fuck down already.” I'm just not as angry as I used to be and it's worrying me.

Then I was looking for my knee high lace up boots because those always cheer me up when I'm feeling down. You know what? I couldn't find them anywhere and I was so bummed. Still, I need to count my blessings, stay positive because this too shall pass right? Oh, did I tell you about my new favorite coffee drink? Oh, and I totally forgot but I finally got an Ipod. I know, pretty cool. Oh and I had this dream where I'm like falling and I never hit the ground. Has that ever happened to you? It was really weird. Anyhow, until next time. -Miss Missives
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Have I properly illustrated the point? No? Let me spell it out for you. Diary entries, even diary entries of fabulous people, seldom make good reading. It is the rare diary that's interesting. It might be interesting if:

You think your twelve year old might be
a)having sex
b)experimenting with drugs
c)planning something for school that might appear in a breaking news bulletin

Your boyfriend is sending you mixed messages and you find this window to his innermost fetishy thoughts.

You find your mom's from like junior year and you are looking for ammunition.


Gwen is a nice person and her writing is clear and readable. The problem is she just isn't saying anything. Maybe to a few friends and family members but certainly not a general audience. Her blog reads like a diary and the entries are her day to day happenings, frustrations and mood swings. That's ok, because everyone is entitled to a room of their own and Miss Missives thinks moms especially need a place that is theirs and nobody elses.

Like a good diarist, she has blogged for a long time in a few different incarnations. Like a diarist, her diary is interesting to her. Gwen if you want to make this readable to a general audience, which I suspect you don't, you'd have to dig deeper. You touch a bit on conflicts with the husband, frustrations with life and this is where I start to pay attention because it's what begins to make you real, but you never go below the surface.

I don't want to read about your dental problems or the DMV. No one except masochists likes to do either of these things, much less read about someone else doing them. Seriously, the only thing more painful than going to the DMV is reading about you going to the DMV. As for the template, it is clean and pretty. Your 'About Me' is nicely written and descriptive. You have a drop down archive which is a plus but having the posts dated with years would make navigating old posts easier.

I'm not going to tell you to set it ablaze or stop writing but understand, the blogging you are doing is never going to attract a following. Even you ask yourself what your blog is supposed to be. It is in fact that last one, the running commentary of your completely average life. There are too many other moms that write straight from the gut, or the heart and connect with the reader in a way that keeps them coming back for more. You can write and maybe someday if you're inclined you'll dig deeper, but until then enjoy the room of your own, by yourself.




49 comments:

  1. For a second there, I thought you were reviewing OUR Gwen, the regular commenter Gwen, and I was prepared to rip you a new one.

    Then, I clicked on the link, and realized it is an entirely different Gwen.

    And I found myself in complete and total agreement with you.

    Here is an example of what you are saying:

    "My little Bubbers - please freeze time. He's perfect, he's my whole heart."

    These sentences say NOTHING, really, that is of interest to anyone but the writer.

    This sentence that follows them, however, is better:

    "He is my whole heart wrapped in footed pajamas and stinky diapers."

    See how much more evocative it is?

    Gwen needs to edit herself rigorously and brutally, and maybe she can distill some of this down into something that someone else will be interested in reading.

    Gwen: the best blogs tell stories that allow you to experience someone else's life from inside of their head.

    Your posts don't give us anything tangible. They are like reading a fucking hallmark card without any heart. Standard issue cookie cutter sentiments that really say nothing at all.

    The biggest thing is that your voice needs to mature. You write like you're 13.

    SO...EDIT. And, reach deeper.

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  2. Ah. I can't find anything in your review that I disagree with... you do an excellent job of pointing out that there's much depth to my life. Hard to write with depth when you can find none. I suppose I should be disappointed by that. But I'm not.

    Thanks!

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  3. What's funny is when I saw "Gwen" in the paragraph and "Meh" at the end, I thought, "uh oh, my spanking has commenced." I'm relieved that another Gwen is getting it today.

    This Gwen...I do like her. She writes well and seems to be a pretty cool person. But after reading some of her posts a few weeks ago, I never went back to read more. She claims to be "snarky" but I just don't see anything in her content that matches that description of herself. I'm sure she has it in her, we all do. I just feel like maybe (and I could be wrong) she is trying to present the image of a hip, edgy mom but she isn't really willing to be raw, dirty, and brutally honest. That's what will keep me coming back to a blog - that combination of good writing and rawness. I think she has that potential, but she has to be willing to dig deeper and expose herself more (I mean emotionally, people).

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  4. Gwen:

    That's a bullshit comment. You can't really be happy being shallow and superficial, can you?

    And if so, how?

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  5. And by Gwen in the above post, I'm referring to Gwen the reviewee.

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  7. If Gok were here he would suggest that we review you together, you know, like two Gwens at once.

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  8. I am going to post as Gwen Jackson to avoid confusion...

    I found some good stuff within Gwen's posts. I love how she called her child's teacher a little liar. I love how she seems to keep motherhood in perspective, i.e. she realizes that life is more than being a mom. But like Love Bites said, she needs to edit. There is just so much unnecessary and boring verbiage in her posts.

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  9. Gwen(reviewee) you have much depth to your life,I saw the surface of it, you just need to access those feelings without feeling like they will knock you over. That is if you want to write for a larger audience. Hey, diaries are good to because we all need an outlet. LB's correct, edit and dig deeper and you will progress as a writer.

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  10. gwen jackson2/11/2009 9:59 AM

    Well the reviewee Gwen is pretty hot. I have no objections.

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  11. Those details are things that happen to all of us moms which proves that some people are better than others at storytelling, spinning the details and leaving some stuff out to pull it together. Editing is a good storytellers first tool.

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  12. I love Gwen and we have a ton in common. She leaves funny comments on my blog all the time.

    I know she has a lot to say. Our situations have been so similar I know it's in there.

    Gwen is a doll and I hope she gets below that surface!

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  13. BB That's why I couldn't run my fingernails down her nack and write a more scathing review. I like her too and much like Mongolian Girl(who is now writing about all sorts of cool stuff, she has stuff to write about ahe just has to stop caring how people on the internet see her. Good blogging is like the antithesis of the PTA bullshit where you have a brave face and act like you have your shit together.

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  14. Her back, I have no idea what a nack is.

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  15. You nailed this one, Miss. This blog is like acres of other blogs out there -- doesn't live up to its promise. Because it could be so much better! I mean, look at that cute girl and that cute design and that whole "I'm loud, I'm a heard-headed liberal" thing. How can I not like that? Well, I can not like it when it's not delivered.

    And there are things like this that I want to hear more about: "I have 3 dads, but even if you add all of them together, they don't equal the father that my husband is."

    I like her, but I want to like her more.

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  16. Thanks Cal, I felt the same when I started looking at it, then reading I felt like the teacher who knows the kid could be an A student. This may turn into a Gwenfest love-in but I really liked her too. I didn't want to push too hard on writing for an audience because sometimes you just want a place where you can take your bra off, tie your greasy hair back and let your gut hang out without having to be "on". If her blog is that place, that's ok. On the other hand, she certainly has potential as a writer as evidenced in some of the phrasing.

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  17. LB - I don't think it's a bullshit comment. I'm not saying I like being shallow and superficial. I'm not shallow and superficial.

    Obviously I don't have a large audience. I look for real connections. I'd like to be entertaining but, you guys are dead nuts on when you say it's a diary.

    I'll take the advice to dig deeper. I will and I'm sure I can. Here I was thinking that's probably NOT what people want to read about. I spend most of my days being told that I'm too emotional and too sensitive and too "in my head" so it's a bit balancing for you to tell me I'm none of those things in my writing. I have some work to do.

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  18. I agree with almost everything here except one thing: I think that a good writer can indeed make somebody want to read about DMV visits and dental problems. It just takes a certain turn of phrase, or an odd viewpoint, but it can be done, methinks.

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  19. Yeah, Wolf. Any topic can be interesting if it's written well. Some people have this innate ability to tell stories in ways that keep you captivated. Part of me wonders if there is this "storytelling" gene and either you have it or you don't. Sometimes I read something this is written so good and I think, "I should be enjoying this, but I'm not."

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  20. Thanks Miss Missives. My review here really HAS helped me dig deeper. And, I really needed to see that today because I've been questioning what I would like to write in my next post. Now I know I will.
    At the beginning of your review, for instance...it is one thing to read about someone being bummed because they cannot find their favorite boots. It is another thing to find out they want their boots to kick the fuck out of someone or because they wear them to give their partner a raging hard on.

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  21. I haven't clicked over, but I'll throw this in:

    I wish the blog url was shorter. My OWN blog url is ridiculously long, and that comes down to bad planning on my part. I'd tell Gwen that if she ever decides to step it up a notch, and then buy the domain, take half the words out. At least half. You've got to write a really REALLY kick ass site to make me type that many words into my browser.

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  22. Two Gwens are better than one.

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  23. And two Gwens, GoK and DPH are downright camera ready!

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  24. DPH is hot too. So it's Reviewee Gwen, DPH, Key, and me. Blog Porn. We'll get top dollar.

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  25. Maybe someone will actually buy this tape.

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  26. I was actually going to quote the same sentence Calamity did, because it's such a strong sentence. I'm not saying that to write well you have to have been raised by bad fathers, just that to be an adult you have to have been molded by your experiences. And this adult honesty and understanding of What Made You is missing.

    You know what I mean? No one expects aliens to attack you on your way to the DMV. That's not the reason people read blogs. But if you were bored and frustrated while standing in line, write a post about a woman on the verge of 30 who, as a kid, never thought she'd ever spend a bored and frustrated moment because life seemed so short then, instead of making me feel like I'm standing in line with you.

    And you have beautiful kids.

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  27. Well, she's just cute as all fuck-on, isn't she?

    I just plain like her.

    And to Gwen, everyone who reads this site looks for connections when they blog. That's why the come here in the first place: to see who they connect with. But the best way to feel connected to another blogger is to see their blood, even if it's just on the intangible internets.

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  28. Gwen- You might want to read a little mongolian girl if you get a chance.

    She started blogging a little 'stream of consciousness' and has really evolved in terms of 'digging deeper'.

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  29. Aww, thanks Gwen! I'm down for some porn. Who has a stuffed buffalo?

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  30. "My little Bubbers - please freeze time. He's perfect, he's my whole heart."

    My little Maui - please freeze time. He's perfect, he's my whole heart.

    There. Better.

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  31. That DMW post made me want to cry. Tears of boredom. I would have much rather her written, "I had the DMV for lunch today. It gave me heartburn." And left it at that. Because the way she told the story was not engaging on any level. I tried, TRIED, to find a single sentence of interest in the whole post and came up empty. Sigh. Ok, I'm going to keep reading because I know some of you guys like her and I respect your opinions. I'm just not seeing what you're seeing, I guess. And I want to.

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  32. Oh, fine. Struggle to like something the crowd likes, but when I hate something does anyone struggle to hate it? Nooooooo. Where was my solidarity, hmmmmmm?

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  33. Sounds like you need a biscotti.

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  34. A biscotti would be nice, provided it came with some soothing removal of my ovaries. Is it in poor taste to stomp the ever-loving shit out of something at work? Because if it is, I won't do it. I'd hate to be déclassé.

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  35. You're right Cal. I need to get my priorities in order. First up: I'm going to work on hating the things you hate. I realize how annoying it is to think something is craptastic and have everyone around you say "That was great!" I feel that way about Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. Those shows suck so hard and yet everyone in my orbit practically orgasms when talking about watching them. It makes me sick.

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  36. All I ask is that you try. Try to hate.

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  37. Because I am mean and jaded I tried to hate her and all her stupid cuteness. I couldnt do it though. I like her.

    Dammit.

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  38. I'm with Gwen J. I was trying to love it. She says some interesting things and I like her and I think if I knew her in real life I'd love her blog in a "Oh, Gwen, you get into the funniest hijinks" kind of way. Not knowing her, though, it was very much like reading a stranger's diary.

    My favorite blogs are the ones I read and think not only "that has happened to me" but then "WHY didn't I think of that???" or "I wish I'd reacted that way!" I just don't get that from Gwen. We've got the same things have happened to me vibe, but not the after thoughts. I'm left with a guy who kisses like a dream but has a pinky-pene. Lots of build-up, high expectations, but no Big O.

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  39. Let me clarify - I like, Gwen, the woman. I think she's cute, sweet, precious, pretty. I just can't get into her writing. It bores me. But she seems like a great person and there are moments in her writing where I feel like I get glimpses of the real Gwen. Ok, this is just too weird. There aren't that many Gwens around so it's freaking me out to be saying "Gwen" and talking about somebody else.

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  40. I don't see how she does get into that many wacky hijinx. From what I've read she has a pretty run of the mill life. Which is fine - it's already been said that we don't need to have amazing or bizarre things happen to us to write interesting blogs. Her perspective is just so generic. And I sometimes get the sense, particularly from her Debbie Downer post, that she wants SO badly for people to see her as a snarky, cool mom and it annoys her when people don't. If she stopped trying so hard to be snarky and cool and just let the words well up from deep inside her, then I would feel like what I was reading was real. Hopefully, I'm coming off here constructive and not mean.

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  41. The last time I let something well up from deep inside me it was not pretty. It was, however, a pretty awesome story. Gross. But awesome.

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  42. Sorry. Apparently my PMS-induced rage comes with a side of overactive ba-dum-dums.

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  43. Hey, I'd take snarky and cool over bi-polar, truly psychotic like some awesome "Amy" anon who commented this morning! :) I'd usually take my ball and go home, but FUCK. That is my home. I know I put myself out there... but damn.

    I think what is showing up here is how much of yourself you lose when you have kids. It's not the kids fault. I know I used to have it, I lost it.

    mongolian girl - I've been reading for a while now - since your review and I see the diff. I'll take a sip of your kool aid and see if it works.

    calamity - yea, it wouldn't be pretty. The 3 dads thing had a hell of an impact. I've worked really hard to bury that stuff so I can tell you now it will take a long time and a lot of tries to get that right!

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  44. I just went and read Amy's comments. I'm a little disheartened. I'd assumed that the folks who read us would have the big hairy nuts to comment with their real (well, as real as blogging gets) personas.

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  45. Gwen: As a 43-year-old mom, let me just say that losing it is a choice. You don't have to subsume yourself in your kids. In fact, doing so isn't good for them...or you. You need to carve out some time to read books, think thoughts, listen to music, etc. Now, you might have to have that book on the counter while you're fixing dinner, and you might burn the spaghetts that way, but don't let go of it. You'll wake up in 10 years, soulless and hollow, and wonder where in the hell Gwen went.

    That's how midlife crises are born.

    You carve that place out in your blog, and you hold it as a sacred spot for things that transcend mommydom. I know you can.

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  46. Decide already. Shall we expect Gwen on Gwen action or has the Meh hit the fan?

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  47. Miss Missives:
    God called and told me some joke about whores in church. Turns out he really does have a sense of humor.

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Grow a pair.