Personal Blogs

Penelope Trunk sent out a tweet that two agents called her about a post that simply listed her old posts chronicling her relationship with her farmer-boyfriend.

I know Trunk is supposed to be a business blogger, but she's not. People don't read her for her advice on networking. They read her because she talks about her flings with her co-workers, a miscarriage at work, or fights with her in-laws. Trunk is a personal blogger and is increasingly distancing the blog from her business.

I wonder if having a super popular, personal blog does weird things to your life. Do you create drama in order to gain blog fodder? Does it force you to create a narrative and connections between the random events that happen in life? Does it push you to get off the sofa with a box of Mallowmars and the remote control? Do personal bloggers have more fun?


8 thoughts on “Personal Blogs

  1. Do you create drama in order to gain blog fodder?
    That may explain why Instapundit all of a sudden has a “Cousin Oliver.”

  2. The only personal blogger I know has, over time, offended every person he knew in regular life. It seems everything was up for grabs if he really really needed a good post. You could actually watch it occurring, how posts about getting invited to parties slowly gave way to posts about video games. Sad.
    Laura, do you consider yourself a personal blogger? Do *you* think personal bloggers have more fun?

  3. I made a decision a year or so ago, which essentially excludes writing about my family. I swear, I think my hits dropped drastically once I quit talking about my kids. (I still do it occasionally, but not to the degree I once did.)
    I think people really want to hear about personal relationships — and it seems the biggest bloggers write the most about their personal life.
    I’ve always considered your blog more of a current events type blog.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of people lose perspective because they have a little corps of loyal reader/cheerleaders who pat them on the head for their personal decisions, no matter how wacky, and then other readers who take potshots at them. Makes for a lot of defensiveness (who wouldn’t feel threatened by being used as a punching bag by strangers when they feel like they’ve been talking to friends?) and sometimes over-the-top reactivity.
    Your blog isn’t precisely impersonal, but it’s not “Laura’s trials and triumphs,” either.

  5. I don’t think it’s new to blogging. David Sedaris’s essay “Repeat After Me” is about how his family doesn’t like sharing anything with him because he instantly mines it for material. In Nora Ephron’s book Heartburn, the protagnanist’s soon-to-be ex husband is a journalist who is always turning their life into columns.
    I read your blog for the comments on education, academia, working families, etc. The references to your family give it context.

  6. Hmmm, very tricky question. I commented in Anjali’s blog a while back that I don’t think it’s the being personal per se that make such blogs so popular. It’s the kind of lives they lead, Trunk, Bitch PhD, for example (here’s my comment:, if anyone would care to check it out).
    My blog is deeply personal, but I guess my life is just so “boring” (in spite of its unexpected ups and downs in the last two years) that I’ll never be popular. I’d never create drama to create blog fodder. In fact, when that kind of happened when I reacted to an anonymous commenter, I felt really bad about it afterward.
    In my point of view your blog is personal only at times, but enough to keep my interest (I basically read only personal blogs, they are the ones that interest me and help me the most).

  7. “I read your blog for the comments on education, academia, working families, etc. The references to your family give it context.”
    This is what I think, too. And, the feeling that I have context makes me like this forum better, than say Carolyn Hax or Lisa Belkin in the main stream venues. Their decision (need? given the huge and uncontrolled audience) to keep their own lives separate, or to present it in limited ways ruins their commentary for me. I just don’t feel like you can talk, for example, about the role that high-level consumerism plays in school cliques without a description of one’s own personal situation.
    I think that Dooce manages to have a personal blog that’s relatively drama free (say, compared to Trunk, who is admittedly atypical). I suspect that Trunk doesn’t create the drama for her blog — that she blogs, and people read, because she creates drama for herself. We’ve suggested that the same is true of Tsing Loh.

  8. I guess my life is just so “boring”
    Mine too. Our big thing yesterday was that we got through five errands in 45 minutes (two of us splitting-up and trading-off on who was hauling the little one). I even had time to test drive a Prius in exchange for a $10 gift card. Toyota must be a bit worried if they are paying people who walk into Best Buy $10 to try a Prius. They were paying a half-dozen people to run this thing. I’d never been in a Prius before and was a bit alarmed that you can now drive a car without putting a key into an ignition and that “Park” is now a button on the dash.

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