Showing posts with label metablogging topic week. Show all posts
Showing posts with label metablogging topic week. Show all posts

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Welcome to Metablogging Topic Week

This is the week where we'll feature posts from our regular contributors and guests on the topic of Metablogging- blogging about blogging. Some of us blog in total secrecy, while for others, blogging has become part of our professional identity. Hope you enjoy the posts, and thanks to the reader who suggested this topic.

Scroll down to find the posts...

To Blog or Not To Blog

I've been blogging for a number of years at this point. My original blog started as a non-medical place to play with writing, but soon evolved (devolved?) into a medical-based journal. I participated in Grand Rounds and kept up with multiple individuals through their blogs. I cried with Fat Doctor when she was hospitalized for her recurrent strokes, and was appalled when one of the "name" bloggers was publicly outed during a malpractice trial. It was in the middle of this that KC approached and asked about this site - for a short time, I tried to do both. But life changes, and so did my job; I soon learned that private blogging was frowned upon in my new group, and so my blog was (reluctantly) deleted. I'm still debating whether I want to start a new blog; if I do, it would have to be public, not anonymous. And as already described by so many, the concerns about self-censorship leading to a dry (BORING!) output has held me back.

When I was blogging regularly, I thought it was "secret" - but kids (especially teens) know everything, and I'm pretty sure my sons read my blog routinely. I haven't shared my blogging with this site with too many; in part, I'm frustrated by my lack of output. Like many of the other mom-docs who share in this site, life too often gets in the way of trying to put together a post.

My goal is to discover a better way to incorporate writing (this blog, NaNoWriMo, crazy ideas like "Elena Kagan Effectively Kills the Exercise called Kegel in Early Court Decision") into my daily life - much like exercise, time for family, and everything else beyond that black hole called work. I'm happy to be a part of this group, even if my contribution remains small. But trying to figure out this whole life-in-balance-thing was part of the reason for this blog's existence, right? Let's keep figuring it out together - one post at a time.



I started blogging in August of 2006, shortly after KayTar's medical and developmental issues became obvious. My life had just been turned upside down, I had no idea what was going on with my child, I had to quit my job to manage her very busy 5 therapies per week/8 specialists to juggle/endless testing/care schedule, and I felt isolated and a little like I had lost myself. I am a very private person, emotionally-speaking, my best friend is kind of enough to look away if God-forbid I ever start to tear up, because I absolutely hate being outwardly vulnerable like that. Because of my private nature, I never felt comfortable expressing my sadness or anxiety about having a medically-needy child to the people in my every day life, but I needed to process it and and release it somehow, and so I turned to blogging. I know, a blog is PUBLIC, how does that jive with my private nature? I never intended to have actual readers, I just wanted to write through my struggles in an effort to turn the amorphous feelings coursing through my veins into something concrete that I could set aside without having to explain myself or my feelings to anyone. I didn't want to write a post and have my mother call me five minutes later to discuss my precious feeeeelings. I didn't want to hear all of those supposedly comforting platitudes that often come across more like a slap in the face than actual comfort. I just wanted to have my own space to process the new (and sometimes scary or stressful) developments in my life. Thus, The Journey was born. I wrote my first post, "The Waiting Continues..." on August 24, 2006. The name of the post makes me chuckle now, I was so naive and hopeful back then. I thought we had been waiting so long for answers...but here we are 4 years later and we don't have many more concrete answers than we did back then, but life is so much easier anyway.

After publishing that first post, I got three comments...from STRANGERS; warm, compassionate, kind strangers. The simple act of writing the post had made me feel so much better, but the responses were icing on the cake. You know how the story goes from there, I visited their blogs, we made a connection...I visited new blogs, those bloggers visited mine...and I found myself in the midst of a beautiful, supportive community. I didn't feel isolated anymore, I was a part of something. I met people that I never would have had the privilege of meeting in my daily life, people scattered across the nation and world. Some of them had similar lives to mine, some were very different. When it came time for KayTar to get her g-button, it was a few of my blogging friends with personal experiences in this area who talked me through it, three long distances phone calls made all the difference in the world in those moments. When KayTar was inpatient last week for the worst test in the history of tests, the controlled fast, many of these same people were virtually cheering us on. Blogging has never simply been words on a page for me; it has provided support, information, and understanding when it was hard to come by in every day interactions.

Blogging has also afforded me interesting opportunities. When my daughter lost health insurance and could not be accepted into a new program because of her pre-existing conditions, I blogged about it. It was picked up by Johnathan Cohn, who was working on a piece for SELF Magazine. They also flew KayTar and I (and my mother) up to NYC for a photo shoot. I never thought I'd pick up the phone and have a magazine editor ask me when they could fly me out to New York! It was pretty amazing, and without blogging, I never would have been a part of something like that. I've done a lot of advocacy work for children's health insurance reform in my state and at the national level, and my blog has aided in that as well. 

What started as a secret blog has remained a secret blog. My husband knows that I blog, but he never reads it. I told him that he can read it, but I never want to know if he has and we certainly cannot discuss it face to face. My parents don't know, my best friends don't know, my classmates don't know. That is how I want it for now. Proportionally speaking, my blog is still mostly about KayTar, but I recently changed the name to Life with the 'Tars because I feel like that dark, stressful portion of our journey is over and the blog is lighter now and more accurately represents what our lives are really like. A good portion of it is about me now, not as a scared, uncertain mother, but about my own journey as I my pursue a career in medicine. I also like to dabble in photography and I find it is a wonderful way to share that, as well. Sometimes I think about telling people about my blog, but I'm not ready to sacrifice that privacy yet. I find it hilarious when I am telling people stories about the kids (especially KayTar, who is incredibly hilarious) and someone will say, "Oh Kyla! You HAVE to start a blog!" I just laugh and nod. Maybe one day I'll tell them, but I'm not ready yet. I don't blog as frequently as I once did and I don't always have the time to comment on all the blogs that I read, but I an definitely not ready to step away from it yet. I don't need it like I did when I first started blogging, but I enjoy it and setting aside that time to write, purely for enjoyment, is important to me.

I was thrilled when KC invited me to start writing here, because once again I've found myself a little on the outs with my real-life community. People look at me like I'm speaking a foreign language when I start talking about medical training and everything that goes along with it, just like they did when I would start in with therapy regimens and IEPs and ARDs and MRIs and LPs...but here at MiM, discussing those aspects of my life feels perfectly normal.  I think that is the true beauty of blogging, it makes it possible to find or build a community in way that can't always be easily accomplished in your day-to-day life. There are no support groups, or book clubs, or Sunday school classes, or any other sort of easily accessible form of community for mothers of perpetually undiagnosed medically-needed children who are also insane enough to decide to go back to school for a career in medicine...but out here in cyberspace, I've been able to piece that together for myself and it is wonderful.

Friday, October 8, 2010

not blogworthy

I fear I am guilty lately of not blogging enough to warrant suspicion of revealing any concerning details.

And I fear that I am guilty most of the (blogging) time of not revealing enough about that with which I wrestle.

I self-censor in a few ways, mostly thinking about whether or not something that I've experienced, thought about, struggled with, is, well, blogworthy.

I also ask if this is a topic MIM-worthy. Is my online journal post-to-be just about being a mother (or a parent for that matter) or is it just about being a pediatrician, rather than the interdigitating of these two major roles in my life (plus SPOUSE, daughter, sister, and all that).

Often at the laptop in the evening my husband chides me with a gentle "are you blogging" (kind of like the "do you like clogging" line from some Jack Black movie). I want him to want to read what my fellow MIM bloggers are writing, to be as into the fun, the heavy, the sad, the puzzling as I am. But mostly I just pull up the latest doccartoon and we laugh, cringe, and reminisce together over those.

Then I think about professionalism, over-sharing, living in the moment instead of blogging about it, and basically I go back to overthinking it all anyway. Blogging IS one form of reflecting, of which I'm a big fan. But it is also doing so publicly, whether or not "out." I am guilty of posts that are real, but maybe read too much like they've been put through an IRB???

In life I am a person who is not afraid to emote, to tell it like it is, to feel, to cry. I don't know if I am that blogger however.

The Talker

Really, doctors who blog? That was my first response to an ACOG Today article that featured several OB/GYNs who had popular blogs. Curiosity got the best of me, so I began following OBGYNkenobi and TBTAM. It was intriguing to see the similar stories that I encounter on a daily basis, written in someone else’s voice. From these sites, I began following MIM. Despite working with other doctor moms, we rarely talked openly about the challenges the lie in our dual lives. Here was a forum for people like me.

Driving home from work one June day, I began to think of all the bad advice I got as a resident. I wished I had had a reference, like this blog, during my training. So I came home and wrote this post. With some trepidation, I submitted it to the site. Surprisingly, I was asked to join. I was excited to participate, but there was only one problem: I was most definitely not a writer. Hadn’t written anything before, hadn’t ever really ever had the desire. But the initial post was so cathartic to write, and it was so encouraging to see how others responded, that I decided to give it a try. Hey, it was anonymous!

I’ve tried to just speak from my heart. Endeavoring to share words of encouragement or hope when I can. The struggling med student, who is wondering if all the work is really worth it; the resident, who hasn’t slept for weeks between baby and call; the attending, who is trying to create balance without appearing to shuck responsibility: for you, I share insight into my life. My wish is that maybe in our shared experiences you might find some comfort or humor.

The other thing that the site has done, is give me insight into the lives of other physicians. From Physiatry to Pathology, I have developed more empathy towards other specialties. As OB/GYNs we sometimes think we have it the worst, from scheduling to malpractice; but seeing others perspective, has helped me realize that every specialty has its challenges and rewards.

I’ve also started writing for a blog, as myself, which I find to be much more difficult. I overanalyze every post thinking what will my patients or colleagues think if they read it. It’s hard to be entertaining, informative, HIPPAA compliant and not controversial. Despite my angst, for the most part, I’ve found that most people don’t really care.

Only my husband knows that I write for this site, and he’s supportive. He said that he liked my anecdotes and my posts seemed pertinent to the readers. As an aside, he also said that my writing isn’t so much “writing” as me just dictating how I talk. Initially, I thought this was not a flattering comment, but I realized that essentially it was true. I’m not a writer, but I am a talker… and most definitely a great story teller. So, essentially that’s what blogging is for me: my chance to tell my stories. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

That's So Meta...

My blogging started off way back in July of 2006. I began blogging for a number of reasons, the first being that one of my good friends had a blog about her life that I enjoyed reading, and loved how it was like a journal that could "talk back" to you, so, I totally copied her idea. The second reason was because I enjoyed writing and wanted a creative outlet, the practice of day-to-day medicine does not often lend itself to creativity. The third, more distant reason, was as an anonymous outlet for the frustrations surrounding my job at the time.

Since that time, my job and circumstances have changed for the better, but, save a handful of people, I try to keep my blogging anonymous. I do worry about being "outed." Not so much because I don't stand behind every word I write (because I do), but because I know that not knowing where I am/who I am affords my patients (and me) additional protection/anonymity. Not to mention the fact that it is more and more tempting to self-censor if your identity is known. I do a lot of "keeping up appearances" in my day to day life. I like to have a place to let it "all hang out." At times I worry about what my new partners would think of my blogging, but, at other times, I also have urges to spill about the blog. My husband knows (and he wants to "out" me all the time), a select few of my friends know, and some of the lovely ladies with whom I blog know "the real me." Sometimes I wish that I were not an anonymous blogger, mostly because I'd like to direct my family or friends to certain posts to let them know how I feel about particular issues, and, let's face it, sometimes because I am proud of the blogs that I write and want to brag a bit. Most of the time, however, I am very content to remain anonymous.

Life often gets in the way of blogging for me, and so many times I am struck with the urge to spill all of the thoughts from my head onto the screen. I love blogging. I love that it brings patients and physicans to a common ground, so the better to communicate as people, rather than 'doctor' and 'patient.' I also love the community of blogging physicians, it is so nice to share stories, laughs, and frustrations with those of us in the trenches, and it is also great to provide information and guidance to upcoming residents and medical students alike. Sometimes, however, I feel obligated to blog. I feel as though I am letting people down when I don't write. Then, if I feel obligated to write, sometimes the ideas don't flow as freely.

Ultimately, blogging has changed the way I think about people, patients, and medicine. In many ways, it reminds me every day to think of my patients as real people and not just problems to be solved or diagnoses to be made (or numbers to force through the treadmill). I try to keep in mind that even though it may be my 9th delivery of the day, it is *the* delivery of the day for my patient. I am thankful to be part of this blogging community, and hope to be blogging for many more years to come!

Hate mail, non-anonymous blogging and a favourite comment

I started my personal blog in October 2007, when I was working part-time and mother to a one-, three- and six-year-old. It made perfect sense to me that I take up blogging during the very busiest time of my life: blog posts were tidy, tangible, creative packages I could set afloat on the Internet, when everything else in my life felt messy and abstract.

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
Though I no longer blog at for reasons detailed here, I continue to blog at Mothers in Medicine for several reasons. For one, writing is a good exercise in putting one's thoughts in order. I agree with Emily Carr:
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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Blogging about blogging. I had never heard the term "metablogging" before this topic week, and I love it. There are people out there wondering about why we blog, and how our families feel about it.

When I first started blogging in November of ’08, I didn't really understand what it was, I was just following a suggestion from someone I know. I felt kind of vulnerable, and my now ex voiced his opposition to being subject matter - I honored that as best I could. I chose an anonymous name, and made up names for my kids. Occasionally I would weave him into a tale involving a great parenting moment with the kids.

Blogging became an emotional release for me. Although being anonymous felt somehow protective, I was still cautious about what I blogged about, understanding that when you are putting yourself out there on the web you are never truly anonymous. I had my mentor from residency read my first few blogs and give me tips about what to include and exclude. When I compose stories about work, I often bend the encounter to a point beyond recognition and make sure the time frame of the blog is far removed from the interaction. It was frustrating at first, because I am a stickler for details and precision, but eventually it became fun to fictionalize.

Positives about blogging:

A sense of community. Something to do besides reading after the kids go to bed. I have met a lot of incredible women, and made some amazing friendships through e-mail. Having people read and comment on my own blog makes me feel a little less alone. I do not keep my blog secret from my friends and family, and it has pulled me closer to my brother and his wife, who live pretty far from me, and my other brother who is in law school in another state. Local family generally doesn't read it, because they get enough of me as it is. I was honored when KC asked me to join MiM last fall, and my presence here has widened my blog social horizon significantly.

Knowledge. These girls are smart! I get tips on mothering, doctoring, books, politics, history, and life. When you are a professional and a mother, especially single, there is little time to nurture relationships with other moms at school through activities and play groups. Blogging, following blogs, and commenting on blogs supplements that. Some of my favorite blogs are SAHM blogs. It's great getting mothering tips from those who get to spend 24/7 doing just that (a sometimes escape fantasy for me, on my bad days).

Entertainment. Smart=funny. Nowhere is that more true than our own Fizzy’s cartoon blog. I remember when she started I was instantaneously enamored. Now she has a million more followers than me (not jealous!). Recently, her hosting of Grand Rounds led me to a lot of other blogs that I enjoy following.

Negatives about blogging:

Well, there really haven’t been any.

I’ve been blogging a little less lately, because moving and divorcing are stressful life events - both occurring for me in the last two weeks - but I also made partner Friday, which almost outweighed the negatives. Instead of blogging at night, I’m unpacking boxes. But I was off Monday to meet the U-verse man, so that should change.

I read a fabulous book last week called The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. The author was a Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal when she happened upon a small town in England that lost 2/3rds of its population to the Plague (Yersinia pestis) in 1666. She was drawn to the history of the town, and studied all patterns of 1600’s sociology from witching to farming to medicine to personal accounts in her research. The tale she wove about a handmaid to the preacher was exquisite. I especially recommend it to Mom TFH, Dr. Whoo, and Rh+ because a midwife passage was one of the most incredible I have ever read - I don't want to spoil it but my eyes got a little shiny and the words blurred. The main character, Anna, lost her whole world in a year, but instead of folding into depression she worked and created a new life for herself. I’m not sure where this book came from, but I found it last weekend in a box when I was desperately looking for an escape, and the story I encountered made me feel the find was serendipitous. We always look to others to buoy us in hard times, and that certainly helps, but the strength we need usually resides within ourselves.

That is what blogging has been for me. An escape, an emotional outlet, and a way to find myself. I’m not tending plague victims, but it has been equally important to me. A couple of years ago, I was desperately lost. Was blogging my only savior? No. My family, my kids, my friends, my partners all helped. But blogging has been invaluable in getting me from there to here, where I'm much happier.

Blogging ad infinitum

In 2006, my daughter was 1. That first year was so full of everything new: new feelings (both good and awful -hello, postpartum loveliness), milestones, joy, challenge, humor...I made some lame attempts to record what was going on in a journal, but I always felt like the richness of that year was lost forever. Sure, I had plenty of pictures (digital camera + first baby = photojournalism insanity).  But, it didn't seem quite nearly enough.

I  soon thereafter discovered blogs, well, mommy blogs (as unappealing as that phrase is to me), and realized what I had been missing. Here it was, the richness. I particularly recall coming across Dooce's blog and being captivated/jealous/inspired by her monthly letters to her daughter which captured the essence of that month in her daughter's development.

I want to do that,
I thought.

So, I started a personal blog, mainly intended to be devoted to my daughter. I wanted our family and friends to know about what she was doing, learning. And, I wanted to write (again). I (also) started a monthly tribute to my daughter on my blog, but instead of a letter, I decided I would post her developments in the form of a software update, complete with new features and known operating failures: Version 14.0 was the first release.

At first, the only people who knew about my blog were my husband (who would always be the first to read my posts no matter what) and a few friends and family. I soon discovered a whole community of supportive bloggers whose writing I admired - I'd post comments on their blogs and they would on mine. It was like having a cheerleading section with you - along for the ups and downs on your life ride.

Pretty soon, I was writing on a regional moms blog, freelance writing a blog for Disney (long story, but short version: they found my personal blog and asked me to write for them), and blogging was suddenly a very big part of my life. My husband has always been my number one reader-fan and despite my writing for multiple outlets, always made sure to read my posts and murmur supportive things about them. He sometimes would half-joke that everything - every funny conversation we had -might make it onto the blog. I tried to be sensitive about that since he's more of a private person than me. He once actually guest-wrote about what it was like being the husband of a blogger (me) on one of the blogs I was writing for. I loved reading his perspective.

My family knows about my blogging (even though it still weirds me out when I can see that my retired Dad has refreshed my blog page 20 times or more in one day) and my co-workers. In fact, a whole lot of people who know me know, apparently, sometimes catching me off guard. Mothers of friends have mentioned certain posts to me, and the other day, a former intern of mine stopped by my office to talk about a mutual patient when he mentioned HE was reading Momicillin and wanted to congratulate me on my pregnancy. (In my mind, I manually closed my jaw with my hand. In real life, I smiled back and said, "Thank you!!!")

Over time, I've tended to mask the identity of my family more and more while unmasking my own- I guess I'm making it more about me than about them which I think has more to do with giving them more privacy and exposing myself than about narcissism. (Hopefully.) Personally, I have come to believe in taking ownership for my words and my thoughts and standing behind them, for better or worse.

Blogging invaded my academic life and I started using private blogs for reflective writing with medical students and in 2008, this blog was born. I've had to give up some of the other blogging gigs along the way, but this blog, with its community of readers, with its writers, with its stories, is still one of my proudest bullets on my CV. I owe MiM for producing some of my most valued IRL friendships. These women I write with here are simply amazing.

And the versions? They continued  on until Version 42.0 when I thought my daughter was getting old enough that it was becoming less my stories to tell in so much detail. Like Fizzy, I went back and published all of those old posts in a book, to give to her eventually. Now, I'm up to Version 33.0 XY for my son (although these have become far more sporadic like hers did at the end and plan to publish his own book of posts one day. In a few months, I guess I'll be starting all over at Version 1.0 XY(2)...and so it goes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fat Doctor, Versions 1-3

Hello, my name is Sarah Parrott and I am a recovering blogging addict.

In October of 2005, I struggled with emotional adjustment to a health crisis. Because I needed to write to heal, I Googled "online journal", found Blogger and decided my blog's title should be The Fat Doctor, because that's what I am. I chose the username bigmamadoc. My first post was brief, raw and full of anger. I still believe it's the best I ever wrote.

I thought the blog would be just for me, but after a week or so, I realized that taking my blog public would give me more "reason to write." I'm the type of gal who loves an audience. I signed up on medlogs and eventually a few people started to comment on my posts. After I hosted a couple of Grand Rounds, the readership increased. Somewhere along the line I started thinking about my blog as a brand and renamed it "Fat Doctor" and changed my username to that as well. Readers addressed me as FD.

My blog friends became increasingly more important to me. TBTAM, Doctor Anonymous, all sorts of bloggers felt as real to me as the friends I met for movies and dinner. During my hospitalization in San Francisco in April of 2006, Husband printed out the comments on my blog and bring them to me every day. In the heyday of my blog, which was probably Fall of 2006, I was getting about 800 hits a day.

In May of 2007, I was outed at work. Too many personal was bound to happen. My department chair came to my office and said that he was particularly dismayed to read my comments about a recent faculty meeting. He did not ask me to take the blog down, but I did just that. I moved to WordPress and my posts changed tone. Fat Doctor Lite, if you will. It wasn't that much fun anymore.

After changing jobs in July 2007, which probably was a result of the embarrassment I felt about being outed (and the lure of twice my salary), I kept that boring blog going. When I was laid off in 2009 and I needed to find a new job, I took it private, allowing only usernames I trusted to see it. Fat Doctor still exists, and I post there a few times a month, but only a handful (if that) of the 100 or so registered users read it regularly. I believe that blog has started the agonal breathing that signifies impending death.

Meanwhile, it seems a lot of bloggers have outed themselves. What a refreshing concept! I started a new blog as just plain old me. It, too, is extremely boring. I won't discuss work at all. I'm not sure this blog will work out, either, but it feels good not to hide behind an eponym.

Funny, but I don't seem to need blogging anymore. It really served a role when I was worried about dying, but I'm now convinced I'll live forever. Similarly, blogging served a role when I was miserable at my first two jobs post-residency because I could "safely" complain, but that kind of backfired. Now I love my work and want to stay where I am until retirement.

I need a new addiction, perhaps, but I certainly won't choose anything related to exercise. After all, my blogs may come and go, but I'll always be Fat Doctor.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mom, Are You Blogging About Me Again?

Did you know that more than 133,000,000 blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002? That is an amazing number. Now regardless of how many remain active is difficult to assess but it does prove that numerous individuals have found the idea of blogging attractive enough to start one. So, why do we start to blog?

The majority of people want to be heard and known. They want to share their life experience as if the more people know about it, the more meaning it will have. Some want to share their expertise and create a stream of income. Yet others want to blog about family, friends or problems. One of the most popular blogs is a young mother who suffered from post partum depression and her airing of problems resonated with a large audience. She now supports her family with her blog.

I started blogging because I find it fulfilling to write, share my medical and parenting experiences, and I love to interact with people in a variety of modes including the internet. Now, many times I do blog about my family and friends. What do they think about this? Well, to tell you the truth my family doesn’t even read my blog. They wouldn’t have a clue that I wrote about them unless I told them. I really don’t mind because the last thing I want to deal with is the possible criticism. “Why did you say that?” “I would have said this…” Blah, blah, blah!

Blogging is a release from my daily reality for me. It is my time to share a funny story and get feedback from a mostly objective audience. Sometimes I will write about something that has lit a fire under me like watching the movie, “Super Size Me.” Oh my goodness, that got me going about the junk we feed ourselves and family, and personal responsibility that seems to have gone by the wayside in much of America. Everything is always someone else’s fault. See, there I go again! 

So, in summary, I blog for me and for you my audience…if anyone is out there. My family may think I am crazy, wasting my time, etc. But the benefit outweighs the possible criticism, at least for me.

My secret life of blogging

Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to have a diary.

When I was about eight years old, my grandmother bought me a little pink diary. With a lock and key! And multi-colored pages! I was so excited, I started writing in it immediately. However, I recently rediscovered this diary and found it was a mish-mosh of entries every 3-6 months, mainly focusing on either my latest math test or my latest crush. I guess grade schoolers don't have that much to say.

During college, the internet was becoming pretty big (although clearly just a fad), and I found a few interesting blogs online. In the midst of studying for my midterms during sophomore year, I decided to give it a go.

Everyone I knew was informed about this blog, which was how I found readership. My parents would make comments like, "You sound a lot more bubbly and happy on your blog than you do in real life." (In real life, I'm apparently chronically depressed.) My blog was also a good way to inform my boyfriend that I was pissed off at him. But for the most part, the entries were shit: brief random musing that had nothing to do with anything. This is a sample entry, that I presumably wrote after learning about Mendel and Martin Luther:

Monks have made a lot of important contributions in history. So I don't want any more monk-bashing, ya hear?

But somehow knowing people were reading kept me going and I wrote in the blog all through college. Then in med school, I took my blog offline, but I kept writing. And now I wrote in-depth entries about my experience going through the oft-times fun but mostly pretty horrible training process. (Anyone who says "I love med school," just know that I hate you. You and med school should go get a room.)

After med school, I discovered Livejournal, and I moved my blogging over there. It has a great format in that not only can you lock individual entries, but you can filter entries so that only a handful of trusted people can read the more personal, gut-wrenching stuff. I've been blogging there for the last five years, with all entries locked. That way I don't have to worry about that thrill of fear in the pit of my stomach when a colleague or family member discovers my blog.

It's nice to have a public web presence though, which is why I like blogging for Mothers in Medicine. But does my family know about it? Other than my husband, no. There have been tons of times when I wrote an entry that I would have loved my mother to see, but then I realized that if I showed it to her, I'd have to constantly be censoring myself here.

I do censor myself somewhat though. It's a mistake to think that anyone on the internet is completely anonymous. Whenever I write an entry, I ask myself if I would be in any trouble if everyone I knew saw this entry. If the answer is yes, I don't post it. A few times I've complained about resident colleagues on here, but I was secretly hoping they'd find the entry and realize what a dick they'd been.

When I started my cartoon blog, I fully intended to tell my parents about it. However, I showed my father, a psychiatrist, this cartoon and he declared it "not funny." I decided that I'd prefer to stay anonymous than deal with any more negative critiques. My husband reads the blog though and he says he appreciates my "really immature sense of humor."

I think the best thing about blogging is looking back on old entries. After my intern year, I went back and collected all the entries into a book, which I published on Lulu for myself:

Recently I was having lunch with some friends and one of them mentioned the idea of starting a travel blog and was looking for advice. I kept my mouth shut, not mentioning that I contribute to three blogs. If I go around telling people that, I may as well tattoo a big L on my forehead. So really, it's my little secret.... not so much because it's scandalous, but more because it's a little embarrassing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Next week: Metablogging Topic Week

We're having another Topic Week next week on MiM, this time, the topic is metablogging (blogging about blogging).

The topic was suggested by a reader who wrote:

I love reading your website. All of the women are so inspiring. My suggestion is, what do your families/friends/whoever you write about feel about your blogging? Do they ask you to leave things out, are they uncomfortable, do they support it? Do they know? 

So, look out for our posts next week on this topic. We also invite any other bloggers out there to contribute guest posts. Who knows about your blogging? Do your co-workers know? What is your relationship with blogging - why do you do it? What have you gotten from it? Any regrets?  Basically, anything related to blogging is fair game.

Please send guest posts or ideas for future topic weeks to