Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Question of Privacy

I know you keep coming back here to see if I’ve updated my blog. I know this because many of you have sent me emails telling me so and subsequently asking, practically demanding, when I’m going to update my blog. I know, I know, I promised months ago – right before Labor Day to be exact – that I would return to blogging after my Pitchfork Pie Stand closed for the season, after I’d had a chance to recuperate from the heavy work load of simultaneously promoting my book and making hundreds and hundreds of pies to sell to hungry tourists. Alas, I have not felt like blogging. I have not felt like sharing my feelings, my activities, my whereabouts, my personal life, or even my professional life with the public. It’s ironic, but the more the number of followers and “fans” grows, the less I am comfortable sharing.

It started this summer when I had about six stalkers. They were all nice stalkers. They were all customers at my pie stand who lurked for hours to chat, who then mistook my polite customer service and smile as me being interested in a date. They’d show up unannounced offering to help at the pie stand. They’d come bearing gifts of baked goods, chocolate and flowers. One even stood outside my window, serenading me with his guitar. They’d try to friend me on Facebook. But the worst part was they all told me they read my blog. Sure, it’s my own fault for being a “memoirist” and sharing all my raw and (sometimes randy) inner thoughts with strangers. But it’s easier to write for faceless readers than pie customers hanging around in my living room. Did I want these male suitors reading my blog?

NO!

Then, in July, I actually did meet a male suitor I wanted to date. He wasn’t a pie customer. He was an old friend from childhood. He showed up at one of my book events. When I spotted him in the crowd his back was to me so I didn’t recognize him at first. My radar instantly went off and this is what went through my mind as I surveyed his backside, muscular and exceptionally fit, looking like a modern day Adonis in his crisp white shirt and wool trousers: “Oh my god, yowsa! He’s probably married.” He turned around and I was stunned. It was K! From high school! Looking very, very hot! And, as I had been told a few months earlier from a fellow classmate, he was single! He didn’t lurk. He didn’t show up unannounced at my pie stand. He sent me respectful emails conveying compassion about my grief. He replaced my worn out wiper blades on my Mini. He fixed the flat tire on my bike. He cooked dinner for me. We’ve been dating ever since. But K is from a big family of 10 kids. His sisters all read my blog. As far as I know, his mother also reads it. Do I want his family reading my blog (let alone my book)?

NO!

Then there’s the fact that I live in a small town. I recently calculated I have four times as many Facebook friends as the population of my town. That’s how small it is. As in very. I mentioned something to someone a few weeks ago, something very personal and confidential. Later, I had a conversation with my nice neighbors who had heard from my mean neighbors (people I have never conversed with) this personal information about me. “We heard you…” and my sweet neighbor conveyed my whole story to me, one that I had shared with someone, who shared with someone else, who shared with someone else -- and who knows who else -- until it finally got back to me. Who needs Facebook when you’ve got a small town gossip network?! In fact, who needs a blog? Do I want to further fuel this rumor mill by blogging?

NO!

Lastly, my blog is being used by a high school reading class. The students are learning the lessons of giving, sharing, building community, and yes, pie baking, through my written stories. There are some very useful, very appropriate blog posts – like how I taught pie making in a SouthAfrican township, and how my brother paints murals to prevent graffiti (in much the same way I use pie to heal grief). And then there are some not so appropriate ones. And no, don’t think I’m going to point those out here. But when I think that these kids are reading my blog, do I feel comfortable letting it all hang out in my writing?

NO!

So what’s a memoirist to do?!

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and I’ve come up with a few solutions. One is I’m going to stick to the not-so-personal stuff in my blog. I have a growing list of pie-related products I want to review. And I have a few profile stories on my pie-making heroes I can do. And there’s always the old standby: Searching the globe for delicious pie and writing about it.

The other thing is something my mother suggested. If you read my book, you know I don’t usually follow my mother’s advice, but this particular piece of advice, miraculously, stuck in my mind.

“You should write fiction,” she said.

And then, even more miraculously, I woke up at 5 o’clock the very next morning with an idea for a novel. (For the record, I usually wake up much later.) The idea was right there, crystal clear, not dissipating upon waking like dreams do, and as I lay there the story continued to unfold on its own. I hadn’t even had my coffee yet! I remembered reading that this is the same way Stephenie Meyer came up with the idea for her “Twilight” series. Though I was thinking historical fiction and not vampires. Still, I could be on to something.

Fiction, product reviews, whatever. I just hope my aversion to writing is relieved and that I can keep this blog better updated. I know you’re hoping for the same. Thanks for liking my writing enough and caring enough to send those demanding emails. And if I ever slack off again, you have my permission to give me a nudge to get back to work. It helps.