Saturday, October 12, 2013

dear bruckner,

I know, right? It's a total crisis, this Book Purgatory thing. And that terrible thought about All Books - I shudder thinking it ever even skipped across my brain-screen, if only for a nanosecond.

My favorite book currently is "Will Grayson, Will Grayson," which is a collaboration between my two favorite authors, David Levithan and John Green. Separately they slay with me with their wit and heart; in this book they get together and it's like, boom. Mind. Blown.

Now for the hap-py-blog-iversary questions (which I'm writing before reading M's own responses):

1) Do either of you remember why you started blogging? And why do you suppose nine years later you're still doing it?

I distinctly remember that I started blogging because M insisted. I didn't really get the whole concept of blogs at the time, or what sort of thing we were each meant to contribute, but I could not ultimately resist the offer to collaborate. Nine years later, I still can't resist that offer. And, as M has often said, this has become a written record of us. A little treasure box in the ether of our words. It's Pen&M, a history.

2) In these last nine years, what has been your most personal post?

Hmm, tricky. The Best of Bailey post comes to mind, although maybe there is another squirreled away in there. Certainly M is going to have many more to sift through and choose because, and this has always been and continues to be a blog-philosophy split, I veer away from the personal. Or at least too personal. For years I stuck to reality TV and other mostly non-personal topics in my blog-posts, and with prodding evolved to at least share daily life details and a slice of my feelings toward them.

However, I have trust issues, and while I do believe one's best writing can happen when one is at her most vulnerable, I am pretty firm about not delving into that vulnerability on a blog. So in some ways that's a hindrance to my writing here, but then, different forums dictate different styles, so I feel like my blogging retains its own value. I just refuse to bare my soul here, where anyone can just happen by and sift through its contents. Trust has to be earned, dammit!

Maybe that was my most personal post, right there.

3) Are there any topics that are off limits to blogging? If so, what are they?

Please see above.

4) If this blog continues on for another nine years, what do you suppose you will be writing about then?

The aches and pains of aging, for sure. And the increased incidence of death surrounding us. Also, holy crap, my children will be well into their teens by then, and I'm sure I'll have a lot to say. And I'm hopeful that I'll have more travel stories by then. Or some at all, as the case may be.

5) If you could go back nine years to just before this blog's inception, what would you tell yourselves about the arduous literary journey ahead?

I'd show me the recent words M wrote reminding me about unique voices, perspectives, experiences, and how not only are they meant to be shared, but that they are completely worth sharing. I'd tell me to shut up and just blog already.

6) Do either of you have drafts of unfinished posts? If so, how many? And what were your reasons for not pushing the publish button?

It's possible that I have unfinished posts, but more likely in my brain rather than on the blogger dashboard. Because I can't stand the idea of such detritus and would likely delete it to clear away virtual clutter. Unpublished drafts in my brain remain so purely because of time.

7) Have you ever considered posting under your real names? Would doing so dramatically change your blogging approach?

I've thought about it many times over the years. I imagine my posts would be more polished and pointed rather than rambling? Perhaps product-driven, rather than process-driven. So basically, my posts would all be pretty, shiny finished things, rather than scribbles and half-thoughts. But I don't think that'd necessarily be any better. I think there's more freedom under a pseudonym.

8) If a stranger happens upon your blog for the first time today, what do you believe they'd think about it? What would you want them to think about it?

I think there would be a whole lot of head-scratching at first. But ultimately after some sifting, I think they'd see it as a long and important conversation between friends.

9) Have you ever placed a hidden meaning in a post? If so, would it be too much of me to ask you to share an example? And if it wouldn't be too much for me to ask you to share an example, will you share one?

I'm sure I have, but what? That's one of those questions where you can think of the answer until you're asked.

Oh - maybe there have been references to terrible family members on here that were veiled. That's entirely possible.

10) Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say about your blog when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I'd like for God to tell me that my blogging, for all of its flaws and lacking, were still enough.

You might also substitute the word blogging for other things there. Friendship. Parenting. Wife-ness. All around person-dom. I think it's something everyone needs to feel or hear.


m said...

For the record according to some old email trails i referenced that bruckner had started a blog and so could we... Sometime in august 04. And at the time we were writing a pilot together... Also i think in looking at the first few months pen had a much more clear and dare i say vulnerability and THEN there was a shift... Mendacious does nor believe pen was as waitwhatthehellisablogandwhy wouldwedo it as she says. ;)

bruckner said...

Well, I'm sorry to hear about your ongoing book tedium. I don't read a lot of contemporary, young-adult books. What I recommend you read (if you haven't already) is the following:

1)I Love You Beth Cooper (forget the movie)
2)The Catcher in the Rye (forget the crazy people that gravitate towards it)
3)The Areas of My Expertise (not a young adult book. But it is contemporary. And it is damn funny).

I hope that one or all of these titles help restore your faith in books. And I apologize for not coming to your aid sooner. I've been off the grid in the Eastern Sierra.

Well, I see both of you took this years set of questions seriously. Very good. I must admit some regrets for asking basically softball questions. But i will more than make up for it next year. Next year's questions will be far more probing, far more daring, far more scintillating! You will be forced to bare your soul for the first time on this blog, penelope!

bruckner said...

Or you could try this approach:

m said...


pen said...

That's kind of fabulous! i do love your recommendations however. i hadn't heard of 1 or 3. Catcher in the Rye would be a re-read for me, but long overdue. Love that goddamn book.