Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bombeck, Blogs, Balance, and Barf

"Uncle Rod" wrote this comment about my last post:

Well, I have to admit that I have many times wondered at the secret juicey stories that DON'T get written about !!I've been in yoiur house and know some that don't get written down. (Except maybe in your daughters' diary...)Those bad hair days, stupid comments, embarring events... the ones you choose you politely overlook or that get edited by the perpetrator...Someday one of your kids will take revenge and probably write a book of some of those things you didn't include...

It so happens that I have been thinking along these same lines myself recently. A friend of a friend went to a writers conference, I was told not long ago, and there they heard Erma Bombeck's husband and children talk about what life with Erma was really like.

I thought, hmmm, what would my husband/kids say in a similar situation?

I think my family would say, mostly, that the stuff I write is accurate. But they know that there's plenty that I don't write about. What isn't accurate is the conclusions people draw from the relatively little information they have.

In my newspaper column, I write about 1200 words a month. Well, believe me, you can describe only the teeniest slice of life in a family of eight in 1200 words a month. Yet regular readers feel like they know every detail of our lives from these monthly bites.

Since I like to write essays where everything is tied in a neat bow at the end, I choose a topic where things actually turned out. For instance, if you recall, the story of the two cats and how we ended up keeping them indoors. A friend of mine wrote to me after that and said that my life must be full of tidy endings, or something like that. Well. That was one tidy and happy ending among a hundred loose ends and unresolved situations that month.

I suppose I blog about 1000 words a week. Again, that lets me be very selective with the topics and details.

I recall reading that the old Jewish scholars would interpret the Scriptures by what was written, and also by what wasn't written. And that was why it was said of Melchisidec that he was without beginning of days or end of life, or father and mother--because these details were left out of his story, and that was taken as significant.

There is a delicate balance here between not enough honesty and too much.

There are difficult people in my life I won't be able to write about until they die. There are church situations that would be gratifying to the flesh but completely wrong to expose to the world. There are faults and sins of my own that I don't care to publish.

When I have to throw up, I shut the bathroom door, turn on the fan, and flush it away when I'm done. You don't want to be there. If you're a very very close friend or sister, I'll let you be there, maybe, to hold my head and hand me tissues.

Just because you have never seen me throw up, doesn't mean that I never do. And believe me, you don't want to see me throwing up in print either.

Quote of the Day:
"There's something I've always "wanted" to do but it was against my better judgment, you know: Set an alarm clock for 12:00 and hide it in the pulpit."


  1. I think so often people make quick judgements about what, how, or why someone is or says what they do or say, when, as the Bible points out, man looks on the outward, God knows the heart.
    Maybe in your experience this truth is more noticable since you are always under public scrutiny.
    People will, it seems, always see what they want to see. So long as we are honest and able to stand before our Lord, it is enough.

  2. wow well said my Dad always said {in Pa. dutch}"don't you any shame" somethings aren't meant for everyone to hear or see

  3. I agree, we talk "so little" in relation to what we actually live that it is foolhardy to draw too many conclusions from the small glimpses through the soda straw we reveal.

    Today so many people try to make the responsibility lie upon the speaker to clearly articulate their thoughts in a way that is completely clear to ALL listening. Yet even Christ did not do that. There were a few close friends who knew what He was going thru and the others, He often spoke in such a way that if your heart was there, you would understand, and if it wasn't you were unable to grasp who Jesus really was.

    So go ahead. Walk with those that God has placed close in your life and the rest of us will rejoice with you in the little glimpses we see and leave the whole picture to those who need to know and are walking thru it with you.

    BTW, Hope Byler was wondering if your new book is a republish of the first one or is it all new stories. I couldn't find in any of your posts here what the specifics were.

    Have a great weekend!!

  4. Hi, Dorcas,
    Just like readers want 'accurate, fair and balanced reporting', so I would assume writers appreciate fair, balanced and understanding readers. There are many such readers out there in many cultures and subcultures, so please write on!

  5. Dorcas its your blog and your newspaper column, so I think its up to you to decide whats written there. And its the readers problem if they totally think they can tell what goes on or doesnt go on in your life, just because of the small glimpse you have shared with us. So yea, its the readers problem if their mind runs away with imaginations.

    There!! I feel much better since I voiced my opinions. :)

  6. Hey Dorcas,

    I did not expect my comment to get quoted in your Blog; thought I was just smiling at and with you...

    The throw-up analogy was excellent - very real to us all. And we appreciate your closing the door and turning on the fan, both at home and in your articles!!!

    We get all these wonderful stories in the Bible about miracles and conversions.... and we never hear from most of them again. There is no "they lived happily ever after."
    I often wonder: Did the woman at the well go back to old ways? Was she ever accepted? Did the Gerasene live a normal life afterward? Or what struggles with their pasts did they still deal with? We just don't know...

    Many of us love the Hymn "When Peace like a river..." and the story of how he wrote it after his wife and child's death. But we don't like the neglected fact that he ended up in a mental institution and a wreck til the end of his life.

    May it give me more grace to let others work thru their issues too.
    Both in their lives and in their blogs!

    Uncle Rod