Tuesday, June 10, 2014

General Or Personal

To my son Tommy,

When you have a story to share, how do you share it? I am not talking about the media or form, be it verbal or written or even digital like this blog, but do you choose to share it as your story or do you modify it to make it about everyone else? This discussion is taking place each day in the dad blogger world. If you share your story as your own, you probably write better, and tell the story better, and the reader can feel the emotion. But if you share the story and generalize and make it more about everyone else out in the internet world, you will have more people read it. It all depends on what you want and even I find myself sometimes removing myself and my loved ones from the story to try and reach others, when I should be focusing on making it personal and teaching you.

Take, for example, my post from yesterday about avoiding difficult times. I spoke in generalities about difficult times and only briefly touched on the personal. I could lay it all out on the personal level but I didn't. I didn't add in all the true difficulties. I should have told you everything that is going on like the following.

Your mom was running a fever all weekend and we are worried about the Crohn's return. Plus this puts your mom's return to nursing school a bit less secure. Nansy is in home hospice and is taking a big turn for the worse and we are trying to spend as much time visiting and helping there. Your Great Grandpa Leo is in rehab and no one seems to have a plan for anything and that makes me feel anger and guilt and all types of emotions. We found termites outside the house but catching them before they get into the house doesn't lessen the bill to treat and money is frankly tight and there are a ton of other home improvements we need to get done that all cost money. We are trying to find you some summer activities but so far have only signed you up for a once a week reading course, which isn't exactly the most fun thing for the summer. Work is so busy right now that I am not sure if I am coming or going and when you see me looking down at my phone or ipad, I am no longer wasting time with some silly game. I can't seem to get my weight under control and am starting to get really worried about my own health, which I missed some basic doctor and dentist and eye checkups of late because it feels like I have no time between work and everything else going on. And there is more and even the tiniest of set backs feel like a ton of weight thrown on our shoulders.

Instead, I brought that all down to "Difficult times are part of life." and spoke in more general terms. I don't know why. Perhaps I didn't want to seem like I was whining, or perhaps I wanted to make it more general so someone else who was reading it could insert their own difficulties for mine, or perhaps I didn't want to bore you with the details, or perhaps I wanted you to focus in on that beautiful and real moment when you said "I love you" for no particular reason right when I needed to hear that. Instead I talked in generalities about health and wealth and wisdom and such and how no matter how much you have of anything, it doesn't protect you from life.

Personally, I like people who share their story. It all comes down to why do you write, or blog. Do you do it for the fame or fortune promised from some elusive book deal or internet ad program? Or do you write because (as Maya Angelou is credited with saying) "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."? Do you want one thousand people skimming your work daily or one person who reads it well enough to quote and be touched? Do you write for the generations of now, complete with writing about whatever tops the SEO lists for the week? Or do you write for all the generations about timeless topics of parenthood and love, especially for that of your legacy? Thus, I think I should share our story complete with details. I don't like the vagueness created by generalization. Sure those who read this, who don't know me from Adam assuming they stumble upon this page, may have to work a bit harder to place themselves in the story to see the lesson, but I believe the truth and emotion and feeling created by sharing my story is what makes my time writing worth it. I have decided what I want from this blog and that is to leave you a legacy of letters for you to read and perhaps for your children and grandchildren to read. I have made my decision to continue to write to you and for you, numbers be damned.

Sincerely with love from your dad,
Leo

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