Sunday, 19 August 2012

In which I stop biting my tongue.

I got some criticism a few months back, delivered so that I had no way to defend myself without looking like an arse. A blogger who I admire very much suggested (in a manner that was just beyond passive aggressive) that Three Beautiful Things had gone downhill since Alec's birth because I wrote too much about him.

It really bothered me, and I wanted to respond -- but Nick said to leave it. So I stopped talking about it. I stopped reading the blog in question. I stopped defending myself in my head.

I think that for preventing drama (because no-one who does good has time for drama) this was the right advice.

But I didn't feel better. From time to time I pulled the criticism out and look at it, this way and that, like a badly fitting piece of clothing that I can't bring myself to pass on.

I know this passive aggressive blogger was only saying what others have been thinking. My subject matter has changed radically. The quality of my writing has gone right off -- some days, I just don't have the headspace, or the time to craft and edit. I know that there are people who loathe children. Worse still, I must be hurting people who are mourning children they have lost, or children they will never have. I am sure there are people who loved and needed 3BT who have now been completely turned off it.

 Last week, though, I talked it over with my cousin, and she came up with a one-word answer: "Authenticity."

The blog is about the three best things that happened in the day, and much of the time Alec is my day. I can't edit him out, because I would not be delivering what I promise to deliver. There will be people who don't like what I serve up -- and that's a pity of course, but I can't cater for all tastes without producing a bland mess. There are blogs of all flavours: check the Roll of Honour and find one you do like, instead of mourning what 3BT used to be. Read some back posts before you leave, though, there are six years of pre-Alec entries.

And and and, I know that a lot of you do enjoy reading about Alec and motherhood because I get comments and messages every week that give me so much pleasure. From today, I will work harder at delighting you people who I can please by just doing what I do.


  1. Ah yes . . . it's so hard to silence those critical voices and continue to be yourself . . . but so worthwhile.
    The ill-fitting garment idea reminded me of Marissa of who makes amazing changes in "found" garments. Does everything she makes suit MY style -- no, but it suits hers.
    You have successfully reformatted his criticism, and advised him on where to look to find other options. Freezing yourself to fit outdated expectations would be so very wrong.
    I have gone through a similar journey in dealing with local storytelling organizations . . . and feel freer the less attention I pay to others' opinions of me . . .

  2. I love hearing about Alec and your adventures with parenthood. You say your belief is that happiness is found in small things. I've always kept that in mind since I first read it and it has helped me remember to notice the small graces (as I call them).

    Whoever posted that unkind comment was not being helpful. No one knows what is going on with them. In recovery we have a saying, "What others think of me is none of my business."

    Keep writing as you are moved to and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. There are many of us who cherish the small graces and yours remind us to notice ours.

  3. You can't please all the people all the time, Clare. And my English teacher said once, if you don't like something, remember the fault may lie within you, not within the thing you dislike. So don't take on everyone else's hang ups.
    You are a beautiful person, you write about beautiful things. Your son is one of them. Ignore those who can't see that beauty.

  4. My English teacher taught me, if you don't like something, the fault may be within you, not the thing disliked. Remember that and don't take on someone else's hang ups. You are a beautiful person, writing about beautiful things. One of those things is Alec. If others can't see his beauty, that's their tough luck.

  5. I can't cater for all tastes without producing a bland mess. There are blogs of all flavours

    Exactly. It would be a boring community if we could only write our 3BT in a set way about set topics! I love the variety - in styles and topics covered - by all the 3BTers I read.

    I'm not a baby person in the slightest but I've *loved* reading about Alec. I feel like I've watched him grow from a "clearly want to announce it but can't yet!" baby badger to a fantabulous "toot-toot"ing little chap. There is no way you could edit him out of your posts, you just couldn't.

    -louisa :)
    (who is teaching drama workshops this week, so must be a really, really bad person ;) )

  6. Not that kind of drama, Louisa, the bad kind (that I created in a small way by writing this post)!

    Thanks everyone: really appreciate your kind words and the time you took to read and sympathise with me.

  7. Your critic reminds me of those people who get puppies or kittens and then stop enjoying them when they inevitably turn into dogs or cats.

    The world around us is constantly evolving, and so, of course, must we.

    I loved your blog before. Now it is different, and I love it for different reasons. I'm sure it will change again when the new Tiny Little Baby gets here. I can't wait...

    1. Thank you Laura, I _still_ struggle with the issue: I feel like I'm groping my way forward in the darkness, really not sure if I'm doing the right thing. Comments like yours give me some idea of the path :-)