Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Real Me

You know what really sucks about blogging under my real name?*

Especially knowing that some clients, my supervisors, old high school teachers, my in-laws, parents, many relatives, and other co-workers read this from time to time, perhaps when they’re feeling masochistic or need a reminder that their own lives aren’t so bad after all?

I can’t blog about the really juicy stuff. I think you know what I’m talking about here.

That’s right. The story about why I never pursued a career as an accountant. It’s just too hot to handle.

I can’t blog about why I had a bad day on Monday because it involves an incident at work (which I’m still horribly embarrassed about), and we all know what happens when people blog about their jobs…they become the most successful bloggers on the net. And nobody wants that to happen.

I can’t blog about Family Incidents, because…well, let’s just not even go there, mmm-kay? I mean, we all go through this. Show me one person that’s never griped about their parents or siblings and I’ll show you a severely deluded, in-denial, pathological liar.

His name is Bob Evans, and he works at Target.

(But PS, shameless self-promo here, I put many such incidents in the book, if you’re interested. Also some good stuff about ex-boyfriends.)

Bottom line with that shizznit is that I don’t want to hurt my family members’ feelings or embarrass anyone. Plus, I don’t want to sound like a whiny, ungrateful sphincter, even though I often feel like one.

So why am I not blogging anonymously (or at least semi-anonymously)? Because when I started this blog, back when it appeared I was actually going to bust out of Rejection Land and enter the mythical nation of Can-You-Believe-it-They’re-Actually-Publishing-Your-Novel-You-Sure-Fooled-Them, I looked around at what other writers / new authors were doing, and I thought, Hmmm… they all have blogs that identify them by name. I guess I need to do that, too.

I’ve always been an independent thinker.

Anyway, I started the blog last November to basically give people a preview of my writing. In case they’d be interested in reading my book, I suppose. Or avoiding it at all costs, if my blog gives them the dry heaves and/or makes them want to fire their collection of miniature tractors at the computer screen.

But then a funny thing happened. I connected with some hilarious, talented, thoughtful, eloquent, kind, honest, smart, witty, compassionate, and intriguing bloggers.** You don’t always meet awesome people like this in real life (except for Caryn, Swishy, and Manic Mom, who were every bit as down-to-earth and fun as their blogs). So this has been an unanticipated, amazing benefit of this whole endeavor, which basically started so I could spew crap that’s been on my mind to complete strangers.

Which I wouldn’t do in real life, unless I’d just guzzled a pitcher of dirty martinis.

But I guess that’s what blogging is all about. Thanks for reading.

*Which may or may not be Jess Riley.

**I was going to link to specific bloggers that fit these adjectives, but then I thought, Holy Massengill, that’s waaaaay too hard to narrow down! I mean, have you seen my blog roll lately? Plus, it always sucks when you visit someone’s blog and they’ve done this, and none of the links are to your site. I mean, it’s hard enough not to develop an inferiority complex with amazing young people like these roaming the earth. Which, thank goodness they do.


  1. #1 Michael Chabon is my absolute favorite writer working today!!! Gah! You saw him read??? Excellent.

    Second of all, "holy massengill?" Crap, Jess, you crack me up.

  2. Jess, you never fail to entertain me. Even when all you think you're doing is spewing to strangers.

    And even though I don't blog under my full name (which isn't that hard to discover anyway), I've come out of the closet to enough people that I have to be honest yet tactful. None of this business about how I could've been a child star if it weren't for the selfishness of my Joan Crawford-esque mother.

  3. Blogging as yourself requires frequent journeys out into the world of people who don't know you to collect material to blog about.

    (does that even make sense???)

    Anyway - you're doing a great job :)

  4. YOU are a SCREAM! And so honest! I just started a blog a few weeks ago and I'd love to share it with co-workers but I CAN'T because I know I'll lose it one night and whine about my job and people that go with it. They don't even know I do this...

    You have a terrific writing style!

  5. Pretty much everyone I know knows about my blog. And they know that whatever they do might be used as fodder. I don't use my blog to vent, though, so I guess I'm safe.

  6. This is why secret blogs were invented. Git you one o' dem, and a whole new world will open up for you.

    I did, and it's awesome!!!

  7. At first I was going to be bummed that we were missing the "juicy stuff", then I remembered how much I enjoyed your blog when I was all innocent and unawares. But, ya know, if you did start some super secret shizznit blog, I would totally expect a super secret email with the address. ;)

  8. Anonymous12:41 PM

    We've been on the opposite trajectory re. the anonymity thing. When I started out, I was very cautious - no recent face shots of my son, no references to my place of work... Gradually all of that has fallen by the wayside. Anyone who wants to figure out who I am can do so in approximately 10 seconds. I figure as long as my blog isn't the first thing to pop up on a Google search on my name, I'm all right.

  9. With blogging you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. I usually avoid talking about my job, anyone I know and my sex life. All that's left are the neuroses and my dog. But I recently broke this credo to talk about my father. For one complimentary paragraph. Then I get a call from my mother. "I see you talked about your father on the blog. WHERE'S MY PARAGRAPH, HUH?"

    You were very smart to pursue fiction. "But...[insert name of annoyed person here] it's fiction!" (Congratulations on the book, by the way.)

  10. Honey honey honey. I learned from being on the newsgroups for 7 years that revealing anything too personal is a no-no in Internet Land. After 7 yrs of revealing stuff about my Dad and his lifestyle and my family, my career in standup, the bookers I hated etc. on the comedian's ng, it all came back to bite me on the ass in more hideous ways than I can name here.

    In my recent email to you I also mentioned the screenwriting ng, which I've always felt cost me my first sp because someone didn't take me seriously as an author, only a comedian.

    So now I only do what I started my blog to do. Write the funniest stuff I can. You've been very circumspect in not revealing yourself, TRUST me on this, and you'll probably never pay the emotional consequences. There's another blogger who recently went A.N.O.N. because her family was objecting to her personal posts.
    Step away from the ledge, Jess. You won't regret it.

  11. I just found your blog, and couldn't help but ask -- why do you blog under your real name?

  12. I don't blog under my real name BUT enough real life people know about it that I still have to be circumspect. Which means I can't complain about my mother-in-law...

  13. so glad I found your blog, funny comment you left for my friend jillie. she probably did say that. HA. I will add your book to my list. right now reading A Painted House by Grisham

  14. Denial...they all think that's a river in Egypt. I have to start blogging about some of the patients that I've been dealing with. The one I will do next is the one I call...Purple Haze. OMG! Love the blog...

  15. Holy Massengill? I love it. That's a great retort when someone calls somebody a douche bag. Do people still read Dooce? You can't convince me, I know your name isn't really Jess Riley. I do think this is a clever scheme though. Good luck ducking the fame and fortune that's soon to follow.

  16. What a great post! I was cringing as I read the part about great bloggers-yadda-yadda, until you said you wouldn't link to a specific few. Did you read my mind? Do you know how I hate that feeling of rejection, however misguided?

    I love the descriptions of Why I Started Blogging and Eventually Continued for Entirely Different Reasons. I think it speaks highly of you that went from a professional, clinical reason to a personal, heart-felt reason.

  17. Holy Massengill?? That was lovely. I may use it, accidently, at work.

    I actually just finished reading through my entire blog, archives included, because I just realized that I missed my first blog birthday and I want to do a post about it and I have about a gajillion nice comments from you.

    So, thanks for that.

    (and, since I've committed myself to posting every day for the month of November and have serious doubts about my ability to be interesting 30 days in a row, feel free to come guest post over at my place. You can spill all the beans you can't spill here! You could even be anonymous!)

    (I am shameless with the trying to get others to do my work for me. Anyone interested in helping me whitewash Aunt Polly's fence?)

  18. You could always start a new anonymous blog and then e-mail all your bloggy friends with the new address. (I've thought of doing that if anyone I don't want to read my blog ever stumbles upon it - I could just jump ship and start over somewhere else!)

  19. As you know, I just celebrated my one year blogiversary (thank you for the song!) It looks like you're coming up on yours too, so here's an early "CONGRATS" to you as well!

    The odd thing for me is I've somehow managed to keep my blog anonymous from my co-workers this whole time, although I'm pretty sure I'm about to be "outed" any time now. With the advent of my son's newfound celebrity, more and more people are finding me through him, so my secret identity of Harmonicaman may not last much longer.

    Joy. I can't wait to have to tell my employees to quit reading my blog and get back to work.

  20. Jess, because of your blog I've been waiting for that damn book to be released. And I'll continue to wait because if your book is anything like this damn blog (which you may or may not be writing under your real name) I'll be first in line at the book store to buy the first copy.

  21. Chetsmom8:33 PM

    Jess, you nailed it. The farther I go with this (and my blogaversary is coming up in mid-December), the more I realize that
    1. there are people out there who know WAAAY too much about me
    2. everybody's looking for trouble in your blog the way they look for cellulite on Demi Moore
    3. blogging about personal trouble crapola is the most seductive thing in the world, a siren on the rocks
    4. you find all kinds of new ways to intimate without exactly saying so that you're utterly miserable
    5. I dunno what #5 is, I'm too miserable. Here, I'm proclaiming my miserability in the comparative anonymity of your comment section. Maybe this secret blog thing would be cool. But you HAVE to give me the URL. Promise I wouldn't tell ANYBODY.And then I'll give you MY secret blog URL, and neither of us would ever write another book because we'd have to get a third secret blog when the second blog got outed. We'd just grow old, blogging and commenting into the night.

  22. Oh, yeah. I can relate to this one. I KNOW some of my co-workers read my blog, and it keeps me measured and aware. Wonderful post!

  23. Anonymous10:10 AM

    if I blogged under my real name, I don't think I'd have ANY suitable material to write about -- everything would be off limits! And, yes, I'd DEFINITELY be fired. :D

    you are so brave, jess.

  24. I do know what you are talking about. I censor myself quite a bit right now.

  25. You could not be any funnier. You just couldn't.

    I'm sorry about your dog, Jess.

    Also, 2008 is too long for me to wait for The Book. **sigh**

  26. Aw shush. I think you're f'n wonderful.

  27. Do I sound like a whiny, ungrateful sphincter? Thank you, Jess. I will now add that to my list of questions to ask myself before I hit "publish."

  28. I have to be careful because:
    my ex CEO reads my blog
    my mom reads my blog
    my daughter reads my blog

    So I write about them, sure, but only in the best light. Who needs evidence that I slammed them all over the internet?

    I love your writing, though, and I'm looking forward to your book. I hope you'll sell it online, so I can get a signed copy. ;)

  29. You should attach your name to everything you write because it's hilarious. I'm always anon because my husband is a minister. It's not that I have an image to uphold or something. I just don't want to be too self conscious.

  30. I often wonder about this, if I should have told anybody about my blog. Cause there's a nightmare of a sister-in-law that I'm dying to spew about.

    Instead, I come to other people's blogs and trash her.

    So, let me tell you what she did at the 4th of July family picnic...

  31. P/S I like the fact that you blog under your real name.

  32. Frankly I don;t care why you started blogging I'm just so pleased that you did.

    I toyed with blogging under my real name but decided I could be more honest about things by being less honest about who I was. However, there is more than enough info on my site from which to deduce who I am if someone really wanted to (and indeed some people have busted me) and I assume eventually everyone who knows me will know about it.

    Sean (Moobs)

  33. Holy Massengill?!?! Never heard that one before!

    I also worry about blogging certain things because I'm afraid my family/friends/acquaintances will catch the allusions and the tongue-in-cheek commentary. And then if strangers comment on those moments from their personal, private lives, it just gets so much worse...

    Luckily, no one knows too much about me personally...

  34. Like Sweatpants Mom, I like the fact that you blog under your real name. I feel like I know the real you, and not some facade of yourself. (And I like you, a lot.)

    Now me? I could be pretending to be Nancy, Queen of Government Document Writing when in reality I might be Nancy, Dog-Park-Pooper-Scooper or something equally vile. And those blonde girls on my blog just might be some random person's cute blog kids. Ya never know. ;-)

    P.s., I'd never harm my collection of miniature tractors by hurling them at the screen. Unless it was covered with pillows to soften their landing.

  35. I know what you mean about not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings and I think I for one would be a lot more worried about that if I had any traffic :o)
    Something along these lines I've always meant to ask you... will you include your blog address in the book bio or on the jacket?

  36. Hey Friend! I am so humbly honored that you linked me and said such nice things! I first started blogging under my real name, then decided that was too dangerous when people over at conversations about famous people started finding my phone number and posting it in the comments section. That was a little scary! Still, people can find me, and Manic, just by googline Manic Mom, but like you, I want people to read what I hope will be stories about my future novel, someday, please Dog, someday!

    You are one of the most fun, most real, most sincere people I've met blog-world and otherwise, and I'm proud to have shared a toilet with you!

    And you totally deserve (and will get!) all the successes you've strived for because you are the type of person who ... DESERVES IT!

    xoxoxoxo mean it, really!

    I'm so glad we put ourselves out there for one another! Makes the world less Masengilly!

  37. I am proud to have shared a toilet with you, too!! You're so fun and smart and talented ... the last time Manic and I hung out, we were like, "We miss Jess!! We wish she were here!" And someday hopefully we'll be super-cool future bestsellers like you, too!

  38. Oh Jess, I totally understand every single point here. There are moments I'd love to bitch about work or home or family and god knows I can get some great essays out of my Aunt's baked goods at family gatherings. But I don't want to hurt people--least of all me.

    Whatever you're doing, you're doing right. I can't WAIT to read the book!