I knew that if my blog attracted any kind of readership, I could expect hate mail. I prepared myself by deciding that when the first nasty comment arrived, I would see it as an accomplishment, a marker of an ever-widening circle of readers. Then someone called my kids f***ing ugly and interpreting that as a mark of success proved more difficult than I had anticipated.
All posts are vetted by Pete. On more than one occasion he's responded with, "I'd actually file that in the Who Cares Department." I post those ones anyway and invariably they're particularly well-received.
I've never blogged anonymously. For one, I wanted to take responsibility for what I wrote. I also wanted full credit for it. When I write, I consider that anyone could be reading: patients, employers, ex-boyfriends, my mother, my child's teacher. This keeps me cautious, and keeps blogging from landing me in any sort of real trouble. That also means that out of respect for family, friends and even institutions, most of the very best fodder for writing is off-limits.
For example, I won't write about:
- being actively discouraged from pursuing medicine by family
- being raised in a small, religiously and ethnically homogeneous community wherein women pursuing careers was rare and having a child in formal daycare was unheard of
- the refining of my Christian views as medicine affords me glimpses into human hearts, lives and suffering
- the complexities of relationships with friends who home birth, don't vaccinate and seek medical advice through Facebook status updates
It seems to me that it helps to write thoughts and things down. It makes the unworthy ones look more shame-faced and helps to place the better ones for sure in our minds.For another, I value having records of events. I am certain I would not remember the small details of my son's radial/ulnar fracture had I not documented it. I'm grateful I made the effort to describe what my typical day looks like. For me, writing captures memories far better than photography does. It also feels like the most authentic me; my writing represents me much more accurately then my CV, or my wardrobe, or my library.
But what I enjoy most about blogging is having others derive pleasure from my writing. The best blog comment I ever received was from someone who wrote:
When I saw that you were gonna describe each of your morning patients I got so excited I actually got a bowl of chips and some coke to thoroughly enjoy the read.When I tell a story face-to-face, the response is immediate. When a piece is published in a journal, that very fact is affirmation enough. But a blog audience, for the most part, reads in silence, and that inscrutability can be unnerving. Learning that someone out there is settling in with a snack to enjoy a post is a huge incentive to continue.