Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ethical Family Blogging

We think we may have fixed the problem that made the video in my last post unviewable to most people ... but now I'm feeling a little guilty about posting it, because one of the Beautiful Children featured in that video (I'm not supposed to say which one) said it was "embarrassing" and I shouldn't post it. The same child has had issues in the past with being mentioned in Mommy's blog, and I once rashly promised that I would allow said child to approve anything I wrote about him/her before posting it.

The fact that at least one child is now old enough to read my blog and have an opinion on it has really given me some pause for thought about the ethics of being a "mommy-blogger." A lot of blogging moms have babies or preschool children who obviously don't have an opinion about the issue, and a lot of others keep their own and their families' identity anonymous online. For various reasons that I've blogged about elsewhere, I choose to use my real identity online, which means I can't tell my children, "Oh, nobody knows who you are when they read my blog."

It's funny that if I write something about my students that involves quoting them directly, I ask permission, but I consider my children fair game. As a parent, I think there's a transition from babyhood, when you think of your children basically as extensions of yourself, up to the point when they become completely independent human beings. And somewhere along that process, I guess I have to think carefully about how I write about my kids, how honest and open I can be, how much of our family life they want me to share with the world.

One of my favourite writers, Anne Lamott, has taken some flak lately for the way she writes about her now-teenaged son Sam -- something she has done ever since she wrote about his first year of life in the excellent memoir Operating Instructions. More recently, some readers have felt that Lamott's very frank and open way of discussing their parent-child conflicts might be exploiting her son -- although in at least some of her writing she talks about getting his permission to write about certain things. Just as, it seems, I am going to have to get my children's permission to blog about them!

It's an interesting dilemma as a mother and writer -- I consider everything in my life to be "fair game" for my writing, but then that's easy for me to say because I get to make the editorial decisions about what gets shared and what doesn't. Is my family also "fair game"? I don't want to exploit my children for the sake of my blog or any other writing -- but I also hate the idea that a child's embarrassment might preclude me from sharing those "cute kid moments" that I so enjoy blogging about. I'll have to give this some more thought!

In the meantime, it won't embarrass anyone if I tell you that the reading Wednesday night at Mount Pearl library went well; I talked to lots of lovely people who really enjoyed my reading, and I thoroughly enjoyed other people's readings as well. It was great of Christine to invite me. There's a more detailed recap of the event up at Tina's blog if you're interested.

And now, with another week of work, family, writing and whatnot behind me, I think I'm planning an early Friday-night bedtime!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit on a note that I started to think about after your comment about the video, AND after I blogged about my own preschool and toddler so frankly. Hmm... like you said, it is food for thought. But then again, I think that some of the things that happen as a parent HAVE to be shared so that we feel normal.
Glad your reading went well!
Lori M

12:18 AM  
Blogger Tina Chaulk said...

Ah, Operating Instruction, a must for any new mom. I would not be lying when I say that my Sam is named that in part because I grew to love the name from reading all things Anne Lamott.

12:41 AM  

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