When I was pregnant with Baby V, I worked full-time as a high school English teacher. I worked until exactly one week before her birth. It was a tough year for me. After morning sickness wore off around week 12 (it was then sporadic for about 10 more weeks), the fuzzy-headedness often called “pregnancy brain” set in. Several times during my pregnancy, I told students we were having a test, and then I completely forgot to either write it or photocopy it. I postponed quizzes so often that whenever I announced a test, they became skeptical.
When I would come in and announce the delay, there was a predictable response. One third of the students had studied their hearts out and were angry and disappointed that I’d flaked on them. One third of them had forgotten about the quiz and were thrilled for a deferral that would give them time to study. One third hadn’t studied and wasn’t going to, no matter how many times I put off the test. So I was always satisfying the majority, but knew I would never please everyone.
As a writer, I have a varied audience. There are my friends and family, who are generally supportive of whatever I write. There is a small but vocal group who come from the camp of a popular blogger who frolics with Lilliputians to see what malediction I’ve spewed forth about their goddess (and, lately, to pray for my hellbound soul), a faction who comes to delight in any such defamation, and finally, a group who doesn’t take any sides and somehow found my blog and likes it. Like my students, some part of my audience is always going to be let down by what I choose to write.
A commenter told me that The lovers of Lilliputians have never heard of me, don’t know who I am, and never will. That they all dwell so far above me that they would never have occasion to muck around in the swill I call my existence. Well, good for them. Then I suppose, by that logic, I can write whatever calumny I want about that insufferable blog, that work of fiction, that novel in the making, and have no fear of hurting anyone’s tender feelings. As the kids would say, “Win!”
The thing is, I really have nothing to say. I visited the offending site today after a long week of working, battling a cold, going to couples therapy, living through my husband’s terrible cold, and all of the life stuff that makes weekends so precious. Instead of web-surfing, I’ve been writing. I thought I’d look at it though, since one of my regular readers asked me in an e-mail if I’d checked it out lately, so I did. Frankly, I found it boring. All those happy people with their little stick legs and their perfect hair and make-up and their Etsy junk giveaways and inspirational quotations failed to even inspire feelings of contempt in me. I have to admit, though, the marketing is clever. The whole, “I lost my voice for a while, and felt like maybe just giving the whole thing up.” Sniff, sniff, wave hands at eyes to ebb the flow of tears, pause for effect, deep cleansing breath, hair toss ANNNNNND fade up the inspirational music soundtrack (that is conveniently actually already playing). Then the heroine goes running (picture Meg Ryan in “City of Angels” riding her bike rapturously with her arms spread, eyes closed, and head tilted toward heaven after she tangoes in the sheets with the fallen angel — without the fatal bike crash). And by the way, it has NOTHING to do with any sort of perfectionist, A-type, people-pleasing neurosis, it’s because it makes her feel alive and reminds her that she INSPIRES PEOPLE! Then hundreds of people will write “You MUST continue! Where would we go? What would we do?” That they cannot imagine a world without this photo-blog full of pictures of a stranger’s children that they weep over on a daily basis. Tears fill their eyes! It’s genius. A perfect “Act Two” conclusion to the screenplay, and her PR person deserves a raise.
Okay, so I guess I didn’t have “nothing” to say about it.