Sunday, July 25, 2010

Getting Personal

First, I'd like to say thank you to all the new followers. I believe you all arrived after a thread of conversation on Agent Query, which, for the uninitiated, is a site that includes tons of information about how to query a literary agent, information on agencies, and a community of writers — both agented and not.

That particular thread also broached a topic that I thought I'd like to address here: personal information.

Here's a little story about myself and my blogging. When I created my first blog, Matt Sinclair's Coffee Cup, one of my brothers visited and warned me to be less informative about my personal things. At the time, I think I was just discussing the random things going on in my life — umpiring baseball games, watching baseball games, drinking a beer while watching baseball on television after having umpired a game that night... I wasn't griping about work or calling someone names or whining about a hangover or anything completely idiotic like that. But I understood where my brother was coming from, and I toned down some of what I discussed. When my kids were born, I became even more standoffish about personal information, especially as it pertains to them.

But there are times when personal information is useful to making a point. As a writer, a lot of my scenes in what I write are informed by what has happened in my real life. They're fiction, but they might have a germ of reality in them that morphed into some imaginative piece of crafted prose (or maybe something else that starts with the letters "cr.")

A blog post is different, but the goal can be the same: engage the reader, be honest, be interesting, and oh yeah, be honest. As John Lennon sang "All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth."

I ask you, faithful readers, followers, friends, Romans... How much personal information do you include in a blog post? How much do you allow to enter your fiction? Do you think of these things as different? Mutually exclusive? Closely tied together? Wrapped in leather?

Come on, you can tell me....

10 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm pretty careful about putting personal info on my blog. I do talk about having kids and family and emotions, but no details. Nothing that would embarrass or upset anyone. I hope!

My fiction, so far, has nothing from real life - I'd like to keep it that way! :)

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, Jemi. I certainly can't argue against it.

caroline_hagood said...

I'm careful about some things and take wild risks with others when it comes to the personal. It's the poetry that really makes it hard to not be personal. I think I'm trying to get used to the fact that I'm always going to be somewhat exposed, but that I need to keep certain protective limits and boundaries. And, as to the wrapped in leather, yes, absolutely. Wait, did I say too much? No, but seriously, I think I take certain risks and put myself out there because I know how moving and funny and wonderful reading about the personal is for me. I think it's worth the risk.

Matt Sinclair said...

It sometimes amazes me which lines or phrases might catch a reader's attention.

I find risk-taking in fiction invigorating; I tend to be somewhat cautious in my personal life.

As the oft-leather-clad rockstar and self-purported poet, Jim Morrison, used to say, "Break on through to the other side."

Brian James said...

For my blog, I try to refrain from anything too personal that doesn't somehow connect to what I'm trying to relate. But in my nothing is off limits.

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks Brian. I think you're right; it's important to keep any included personal things relevant.

Phillywriter said...

Hey Matt, interesting question for me right now, as I'm blogging about how wheelchair accessible I find Philly. I think of myself as a bad-ass, yet as I describe my day to day, I find myself writing about things that make me look not so bad-ass.

At any rate, I know enough to steer clear of the following: annoyance at my family; anything related to my job; anything related to my love life.

Matt Sinclair said...

Writing about family can be a slippery slope. We all know there are positives and negatives with any relationship. No matter how much sunshine comes out someone's butt, it's still a butt; they all stink at some point. Not writing about one's job is always a good plan.

The love life can be a challenge for a writer. It's one reason I write songs too. Somehow, it's easier to write about love in music, at least for me.

Thanks for your comment. You've got me thinking....

dr3am3r said...

As a new blogger, I try my best to not give very much information about myself. Yet, I find that sometimes I just enjoy sharing some of the interesting occurrences that happen in my life. There are times where they might make a reader chuckle or even think a bit harder than usual. Yes, I do try to keep the complaining on the downlow.

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks dr3am3r, and welcome! I know exactly what you mean. Personally, I get a thrill when I know that I've made someone laugh or have provoked thought. Even more when I do both at the same time.

And honestly, who likes to listen to anyone else complain?