These stories went a bit like this:
"I went down to the bus station after school today to see if I could find you and give you a lift home. There was a young girl there, about your age, and I remember feeling just so terribly sorry for her mother when I heard the torrent of obscenities that came streaming out of her mouth. She had the lanugage of a guttersnipe. And then she turned around, and I realized It Was My Own Daughter...."
"I was driving home after school today, and I saw a young girl, about your age, walking up the hill, and I remember feeling so terribly sorry for her and her mother because this girl was so clearly disabled in some tragic way. She dragged her feet, her cardigan was sloppily hanging off her shoulders, the sleeves slouched over her fingers, her bag was trailing around her ankles, and her head was lolling to one side. I don't know how she could see with that fringe completely covering her eyes. And then, as I passed her, I realized It Was My Own Daughter..."
Clearly I was channeling Robert Smith or Morrisey in the latter scenario, but this miracle was utterly lost on my mother, who only saw a sloppy and foul-mouthed little urchin emerging into puberty. Although it was immediately obvious that these "stories" were fabricated for shock-purposes only (in both cases, I think I would have noticed my mother stalking me so closely) she won in the end. By the time I hit sixteen I had shifted from the carefully cultivated grubbiness of an altnera-chick to a new-wave "casual." I sported the permed-do and frosted lipstick to prove it. When I started wearing cameo broaches, 10 chains of plastic pearls, and silk floppy shirts over leggings, she audibly heaved a massive sigh of relief and then set her sights on my brother.
And there, in a nutshell, is one reason why I have not given my parents the link to this blog. My mum and I have a great relationship now, in spite of (or because of?) being several time zones and an ocean away. Despite her remonstrations of "blasphemy" when I uttered the word "shit" at fourteen (it turned out it was unwise for me to then explain that, technically, "shit" was not a blasphemous term) she now uses the term liberally when we chat about certain things. The other day when I chatted to her on the phone, she used the term "minging" at least 5-6 times (to refer to my brother's hallway carpet) which I actually found quite disconcerting--no, I was shocked that she would use such a base word so freely.
So in some ways it would be safe to pass on the link. I made it a policy to myself when I started this thing that I would never write a word that could potentially hurt or offend anyone in my life (although I think there's an early post in here somewhere where I recount my mother's sadistic "acne treatment" methods from around the same period--maybe she would see the funny side....).
For me, this is a public and completely open space where anyone has the right to access what I have written--but that's due to the nature of how and why I write. Different contexts for writing will change this for people--and I respect that. I am, of course, protected by my anonymity--although a lot of friends of mine log on and read to see what's going on with me. I have toyed with passing on the link to Mum and Dad--and I think for the most part they'd get a kick out of it. Even the swear words might not really phase them too much (case in point, the BBC, since my departure, has now Ok-ed the "f" word for usage after 9pm. So if the Beeb is saying "what's the big deal....?" then...)
But when I brought up the idea to my husband the other day, he simply said "don't...it will affect your writing, knowing they are out there..." And I realized he was completely right--it would affect me. Even stump me. So for now, gingajoy is just between us.
So how about you? Has there ever been a time when the discovery that a certain person was reading your blog gave you pause for thought. Is there anyone you protect your blog from? I should add, I also protect mine from work colleagues--but this was mainly because when I started, I was not sure if I would end up writing about the workplace. What I have discovered as I went on with this is that if I am posting on something that one day I could regret or come back to bite me--best to not write. A friend of mine recently commented on how "honest" my writing was--and I responded, "well yes and no...There's a lot I don't write about too." I suppose this is another way of saying that my writing is filtered--I work to be honest and open, but at the same time it is carefully directed. I am not writing a personal journal documenting all my thoughts, fears, hopes and frustrations--though there are many people out there who are doing just this who I find fascinating and enjoyable to read.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts about how your writing is affected by a sense of who is "out there" (if at all). Did you, like me, find that once you had a better sense of that audience or other bloggers that resonated with you that your writing style changed?
Or let me put this another way--do you let your Mum read your swear words online??