Can we just be honest?


I’m having a moment of impatience with the blog world. I’ve been clicking around, reading a few posts, checking out what’s been going on in my virtual ‘hood, and i’m left with a racing heart and a horrible feeling of being less-than. I’ve blogged about the PR version before, how bloggers tend to share their bestest most shiniest selves on line and hide the stuff that will sully that projection — and I understand why they do it. It’s very tempting to turn our blogs into an on-going affirmation of what we want our lives to be like, hoping that if we share only the good stuff we can make it real. But it can leave the onlooker/reader feeling deflated.

I try and put a positive spin on the lessons life chucks at me, but even I get tired of reading the happy skippy posts that are rife in the blogosphere. It’s not even that I’m envying the bloggers who have the sun shining on them every day — i just find it exhausting to read and yearn for a bit of self-deprecation once in a while. I find it hard to swallow the my-life-is-so-awesome-i-am-so-grateful posts (and don’t even get me started on the all-you-need-is-love posts*) — they just don’t connect to my understanding of the world: that there is rough as well as smooth, that sometimes rain is just depressing and grey rather than an opportunity to don pretty wellies and splash in puddles before returning home for hot chocolate and laughter with cherished loved ones — i go home shivering with limp wet hair only to discover I left the bedroom window open and now my rug is soaked through.

I guess I like my blog reading to have a bit of grit in it. It makes life more interesting and real. More relatable. It makes me feel less alone.

I’m as guilty as anyone of avoiding this space when I’m feeling down — that’s when I have no energy to string words together and would rather be watching Buffy Season Six with a blanket over my knees. And I’m certainly not suggesting we only blog about our ingrowing toe nails and credit card debt; I just think it’s important to keep it real here, to share a realistic slice of what my experience of the world is like. Considering I spend most of my time alone at home working, I hope i manage to be somewhat entertaining (maybe I should throw in a few knock knock jokes?)

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot recently, as you can probably tell. I’m chipping away at my Blogging from the Heart guidebook and it’s making me dig deep into my own motivations for blogging; the blogosphere has evolved a great deal in the five years I’ve been writing online and it amazes me that when I started there was no Twitter or Facebook and Etsy was only a few months old. The internet felt smaller, somehow, and more cosy — yet now there is so much opportunity for connection and growth. I feel quite proud to call myself a blogger — it’s a really important part of my life.

Who’d have thunk it, eh?

So how does the blogosphere make you feel, generally? I’d love to know what you think…

* might be time to detox my Google Reader again…

153 responses
  1. amy t schubert

    TOTALLY understand.
    I try to keep it real as much as possible …. even down to blogging DIYs that I *know* my readers could have done better….
    Come check out the comments on this recent post for an example:
    But on the flip side, I genuinely AM happy and don’t really have a TON of ‘gritty’ to blog about….
    Where is the line?
    (p.s. love your blog, but I think this is my first comment)

  2. Stephanie (@dancingwaves)

    There are so many thoughts that well up with this right now. I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging, why I do it, etc. (much like you wrote about), and what role the “not so nice” things have in it.

    Thank you for this honesty. It’s appreciated.

  3. Kristin M. Snyder

    I don’t do a ton of blog-reading, and usually only find new blogs thanks to good ole stumbleupon. But, I do have a few blogs myself, which I am horrible at keeping up. Everyone says ‘blog what you know’ and I do – i have a travel blog (mostly to show pics from afar to my family) and a cooking blog (more like my compilation of recipes i’ve found & made), and i’ve tried to start a blog for my jewelry line and just – ug, i never can! i have all of these blogs seperate, and i’ve just recently thought – can i be real here?! i’m not just a traveler, just a cook, just a jewelry designer, just a clotheswhore – i’m all of those things! but for some reason in the blogsphere i’ve felt like i’ve had to divvy it up because the person interested in cooking may not give a crap about my weekend in hawaii, nor the cute outfit i wore to go out with friends. i’m toying with the idea of how to combine them all in one place because – as you say – shouldn’t blogs be a slice of life? a reflection of self? and ALL of those things are me – so lets be real, and not chop ourselves up into categories! But then, will ANYONE read? Especially if it’s more than $140 characters? … though choices for the digital age….

  4. kelly

    I feel the same way. Life isn’t cupcakes, roses and all things frilly. I am honest and open on my blog writing about the good, the bad and the ugly. I have been chastised about it, but it’s my life and my blog.
    We should all try to be more honest and open in everything that we do. Maybe the world would become a better place if we did.
    Thanks for this post!

  5. Kurt

    Nice post. I have to agree with the over-abundance of “my life is great” posts. A lot of them even reference the author’s past, when it was not so great, but still, the end result is always, you own your thoughts, your emotions, and you can control them. Which, for the most part, I do believe, even if I cannot actually make it happen sometimes.

    I have found that I just tend to stop reading blogs for a while at times, focus on actually just living my life for that day, or week, or however long it happens to be.

    This is the first time I have read your blog, even though I’ve been a long-time twitter follower. I love photography, which is how that started.

    All that to say, I can relate to your perspective, and I appreciate your honesty.


  6. Nicola

    Ugh! There are times when my Twitter feed is filled with a million posts on “How to be a totally awesome raw food vegan who gets up at dawn and kicks butt all day, with just 100 possessions” and that’s usually when I clear the decks and start again. Usually I love the online world, but there are times when it feels like everyone is talking and no one is connecting….kind of like the real world then : )

  7. Tracey

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve recently been feeling exactly the same way. In fact there are several blogs in my blog reader that I just can’t bring myself to read anymore. Some honesty about the not-so-perfect moments would be very welcomed.

  8. Tia Sparkles Singh

    Exactly this. I haven’t blogged in 4 weeks because I got completely consumed by one part of my life and even though I have had SO much to say I couldn’t find the “right words” and had no energy to write. Even as I type this I’m realising how wrapped I am in HAVING the “right words” to say and how I didn’t want to write untill I had a nice little revelation or lesson to wrap up and present from my experience. Your post cut to the core of these thoughts. As bloggers and coaches we often tread the line between transparency and authenticity and it can be hard to decide how much to share. I think for me it comes down to – get the eff over myself and share! Not bleed all over my blog, but share the process as is and don’t worry about being insightful, educational, evocative or inspirational – just share. Thank you Susannah for giving words to the voices in my head!

  9. Rachael

    Im with you, sistah. Probably equally guilty of not getting into the ugly stuff as much as it’s there… But the bottom line for me is I seek truth. All the smiles non-stop has me a little disillusioned about how life really is and if I’m the only one who’s as raw & rough around the edges as I feel. Thx for writing this. Please give us every ounce of truth that u can bare. :)

  10. Tia Sparkles Singh

    Exactly this. I haven’t blogged in 4 weeks because I got completely consumed by one part of my life and even though I have had SO much to say I couldn’t find the “right words” and had no energy to write. Even as I type this I’m realising how wrapped I am in HAVING the “right words” to say and how I didn’t want to write untill I had a nice little revelation or lesson to wrap up and present from my experience. Your post cut to the core of these thoughts. As bloggers and coaches we often tread the line between transparency and authenticity and it can be hard to decide how much to share. I think for me it comes down to – get the eff over myself and share! Not bleed all over my blog, but share the process as is and don’t worry about being insightful, educational, evocative or inspirational – just share. Thank you Susannah for giving words to the voices in my head!

  11. Tiffany

    Hello, my dear –
    I discovered you quite some time ago via the lovely Erin Darcy (starving artist ink). I lurked about and learned so much about healing and growth and seasons because of you. I read a study recently that said folks are actually getting depressed because of FB, Twitter, et al, because people do post their shiniest selves. I know I have suffered at times when I have felt that my life was a far cry from the happy space folks might want to frequent or advertise within. And many blog courses said – don’t talk about your bad day. The only thing I know for sure, is that when I’m up, I try to share the healing techniques I found helpful. And when I’m down, I’m still a bit reticent to share as a reader used it against my family. So what I am trying to say, is that I read your blog because you are you – perfectly you. You have carved a niche in the blogosphere that only you can, and so I return everyday when I need a boost of reconnecting to Life, Healing, & Saying what’s real.

    XO, T

  12. Kelly

    I don’t have the wise or good words tonight, just, I hear ya! Oh yeah.

  13. Glad Doggett

    I agree with you. I like the gritty, real stories I read on blogs like this one. It’s so much easier to see myself in these types of posts. That’s why I read blogs: to relate, to see through a lens that’s a lot like my own.

    When a blog is all sunshine and light, I often feel I’m being lectured to , or that the writer is spreading their version of the gospel.

    I am also disillusioned with the sexy/sassy/shocking/in your face vibe that I see out there right now. It seems a bit forced and phoney.

    Maybe it’s my age. Or where I am in my life. I simply want to see past the veneer to the genuine, honest stuff of life.

  14. Rebecca Smith Benson

    I have always liked that you were so honest and real about your emotions and your life. I started reading your blog years ago and really could relate. We were both mourning the loss of a loved one at the time. But I understand not being able to relate to the way that some people put their lives out there. So often, I felt like I was on the outside looking in at a bunch of bloggers who somehow connected to each other and I just couldn’t quite get it. I stopped blogging for several years and even stopped reading most blogs. I have checked yours and a few others from time to time though. And I have finally decided to start back blogging, which feels good to me. :)

  15. Jeannine

    Blogging is very different than it was five years ago. As a blog reader, I’ve whittled down the blogs I subscribe to considerably, continuing with the ones that have, what you so rightly call, a little grit to them. I also am interested in the connection blogs offer … the conversation … and so many blogs these days (at least the ones I come in contact with) are all about promoting something (which is fine, just not what I want to read all the time).

    As a blogger, I find myself less inclined to post these days. There is a lot of pressure (self-induced, I suppose, but also based on interaction) to post things that will entertain visitors. I value and enjoy the process of writing introspectively in my blog, but the pressure to entertain often sucks the life out of my desire to blog, and so, lately, I just don’t.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inviting us to share ours. :)

  16. lisa field-elliot

    I think it comes down to your title, to telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is shiny, love-is-everything. Clearly, sometimes it is rain on the fucking carpet. I find it can be challenging to post from either place–the fear of judgement either way (too happy! too whiny!). In the end, I am most interested in freedom. And we all know that being in truth is the greatest source.

  17. Moyra Scott

    very interesting and refreshing post. I struggle with these ideas myself. both in terms of being honest, and also in terms of not being a moaner and trying to view the positive in life. At the back of it all, there is this idea of “laugh at death and weep at the exquisite beauty of life” which is by Jaques Brel, rather than me. For me, being an artist, or emerging artist, I cannot let go of these 4 words; Awe Beauty Horror Joy. I guess I might have forgotten humour there, but still. I sometimes think I should lose the Horror bit. But I can’t. Life is amazing, but it has dark bits. And without the dark bits it would all be a bit wishy washy wouldn’t it. xxx

  18. Abby - Bright Yellow World

    I’ve been in sort of the opposite mode lately – I’ve written a number of angst-ridden posts, and I got very tired of my own negativity lately. I think, like everything else, blogs tend to ebb and flow in their outlook. I like when people share both sides – which is why I vastly prefer personal blogs over lifestyle blogs.

    (And yours, might I add, is one of my favorites.)

  19. jane (faerian)

    i debated long and hard about my blogpost this morning – it is about how fu*king hard it is for me at the moment – it is shaming to say the things i have to say sometimes – it means i am not all immaculate makeup and perfect housekeeping but i truely beleive that when things are shit say they are shit otherwise the stink keeps following you around…

    yes we can be honest – people may not like it but then that is what we risk when we live life out loud instead of whispering it…

  20. Jules

    I try hard to be genuine on my blog, even though it can be hard when much of my family is watching (and let’s be honest, they’re the ones who cause most of my grief!). In fact, just the other day my father in-law asked me if I was always depressed, or just on my blog.


    He’s the only person who has ever said that about me. He’s a literal man; sometimes he doesn’t get my humor.

    Nor I, him.

    I think the nicest thing someone ever said about my blog is that sometimes I make them laugh, other times I make them cry, but I always make them feel something. That made me think that I was doing a good job of showing the good and the bad. And, despite such a nice compliment, I still spend my days thinking my blog will never be as good as X or successful as Y or as artistic as Z. And you know what? I bet most X,Y, and Z think the same things about themselves sometimes. Bloggers. I suspect we are all a bunch of headcases. ;)

  21. beth

    i agree 100% with you. i think everyone feels so much more real, when they complain about something. it doesn’t have to be big, but i can’t believe that so many people seem to live with rose colored glasses on. i complain about the weather and when things were tough with my son, i shared it and honestly, i got so many responses from other moms saying i know, i know. many of them sent me personal emails instead of leaving comments as they needed to pour their hearts out privately. to me, that is real. that is real life. that is true blogging.
    and as far as the blogs i love to read….oh yeah, give me some real life drama. puking in the middle of the night from 2 kids at the same time, paint spilled on the new carpet and the fight with the hubby when it happened, sleeping on the couch because of snoring that lifts the roof….keep it real people. thanks susannah for reminding us that life is not always easy or perfect or beautiful and if that’s all we’re going to show or share, well honestly them, we’re faking it!!
    i’m gonna go now and clean up dog urine from the carpet with my little green machine.

  22. susannah

    welcome back to blogland, hon :) x

  23. susannah

    “As bloggers and coaches we often tread the line between transparency and authenticity and it can be hard to decide how much to share. I think for me it comes down to – get the eff over myself and share! ” — i like this :D

  24. susannah

    hi Kurt! thanks for coming over from Twitter for a visit!

  25. susannah

    The line – yes. this is another blog post in the making! x

  26. susannah

    thank you, love — and yes, the ebb and flow reflects how life really is, i agree

  27. susannah

    i don’t want to whisper it either, lovely jane xox

  28. Bria

    I feel so similar! It is a little tough to read about how great everyone is doing, how successful they are, and how amazing life is without also a little affirmation about the ruts and bumps they have to struggle through to get there. Though I have to admit I am guilty of abandoning my blog when things get a little dreary in my life, I have recently been thinking about how I can remedy this issue. Maybe it is time for me to post a bit of my own nitty-gritty and show the world that I am human.

    Thank you for this post. My google reader def. needs a spring cleaning!

  29. susannah

    hee!!! YES. we are all headcases – and thank god for that :D

  30. Heather Plett

    I’m right there with you. I tend to throw in a fair bit of grit, but sometimes when I do I get that nagging feeling that I’m the only one with a shitty life who can’t seem to get it together. It’s part of the reason I’ve been chipping away at my “Let go of the Ground” series, to show people they’re not alone when they go through the really painful ugly stages in life when there are no silver linings behind the clouds and Pollyanna is nowhere to be found.

    Thanks for your honesty. It’s what I appreciate about your blog.

  31. suvarna

    Thanks for this, permission, of sorts Susannah. Not that i need permission, but, just sayin’.
    I have kind of stopped reading blogs lately. I just felt I didn’t/ couldn’t live up to all the shinyness. I’m happy some of the time and just okay some of the time and really not okay the rest of the time. There are days when reading something shiny is a great boost, and there are days when it just makes me want to lose my lunch. Just kind of ebbs and flows I guess.
    For me blogging has always been about expressing what is and I think that has sometimes worked against me. My blog doesn’t have a theme, it doesn’t follow a predisposed pattern, I just blog what is happening in the moment, often without words.
    I’ve often thought of quitting just because I get a ittle sick of worrying over whether anyone is reading it, lol. But I always come back to the question “who is it for?” It’s for me, and me is taking each moment as it comes, that’s just how I roll.

  32. Amanda

    This is a really interesting post Susannah – thanks for your honesty. When a blogger is sharing themselves fully, the good, the bad and the indifferent, it really comes through and you do have a sense you know the person. Of course, this also means that there is a proportion that isn’t of interest – but I just skip those posts, and wait till the next one appears.
    On the other hand, some professional bloggers who really stick to their topics have great blogs too with useful info every time, but you don’t feel like they are friends. I’m not talking about the “oh the world’s so sunny and beautiful so just get out there and take control” type of thing. I mean particular skills or techniques I’m interested in.

    For my own blog, I have tried being honest, but whenever I share something bad there is a resounding silence, yep, not a comment. And boy does that make me feel unacceptable! I don’t know whether its been bad timing, or people just don’t know what to say, or they can’t be bothered, or what.

    So I decided to move in the more professional direction – and it has gone over well, comment-wise. So what can I say? Not what I really wanted, but I do want people to come by and comment, so what’s a girl to do?

  33. Star

    I’m so interested to read both the comments to this post and the guidebook you’re writing.

    I applaud you for hanging in there with the blogging, Susannah. I started blogging about the same time you did and, as you say, it felt more cozy back then. After a couple of years, the participatory communities I frequented dwindled and the reasons to quit blogging seemed to far outweigh the reasons to stay, so my blog died a slow death of neglect.

    I’m interested to read about your take on that “cozy” factor in today’s blog world. At the time I left blogging, it was just getting into the time when those who think they know better than all the rest were dictating a ban on sharing of a personal nature in favor of “branding” and restricting what you blogged to a single theme, supposedly that “thing” you were an expert at that would be of “value” to the mass of readers you should want to have flocking to your blog. The same mentality seems to have be creeping into other social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to the point that the internet feels less and less cozy all the time.

    I love reading here because you aren’t the Stepford blogger that you’ve described above, where everything is sunshine and roses all the time. I appreciate that, in addition to making a living from the e-courses and other projects you share here, there is a living, breathing human being who shows us the fun and the folly in her life (and Noah, can’t forget Noah!).

  34. Sylvia

    i don’t believe there is only one recipe for blogging

    people keep their blogs for different reasons {not necessary to write honestly about how their lives suck ;)}

    some blogs are just pretty, or funny or have a great content, and some… don’t

    can we just let them be as they are… without judgment?

    after all, blogs are our own creations and we bloggers choose what we want to share

    i respect honesty, but for some people (i’m a good example) it is not easy to find their voice in the blogosphere, it takes time and courage to show up and share with a virtual world ‘whatever’ there is to share

    but i like blogging my way and i think everybody has the same right to blog the way they want or can at the moment

    yes, there are blogs i don’t like – so i don’t come back to visit them again – however, people like different things, so maybe for others these blogs are fantastic…

    so, detox with a smile :*

  35. debi

    damn. are you lurking somewhere inside my head? yesterday i put up a “pretty” blogpost – sorta, lol! – and felt BAD about it, felt i wasn’t being honest, so today i talked about that, figured out why it was okay, talked about THAT. it’s been a horrible year & i’ve barely blogged, had to convince myself more than once it was my spot, after all, and i could say what i wanted. at the same time, i could barely read others’ blogs, couldn’t quite take the lollipops & glitter (as much as i love both). it made me jealous, unhappy (i am not proud to admit this out loud, but it’s true). i want reality most of the time. i wanna know what makes the writer/photographer/painter/musician tick. yeah – sometimes i just want the lollipops, but i want them to be homemade lollipops and i want to hear about all the ones the author had to throw away before she/he managed the perfect one.

    i’m just getting back to blogging again (2 days in a row!!!) and visiting others’ places. perfect timing it seems.

  36. amanda

    Sus, I have a blog post sitting in my “draft” box waiting for me to decide whether to hit submit.
    I have had an awful blog week- a week where I wanted to delete the whole thing and never do it again- but I found some clarity and came to my senses.
    That post is still sitting there with all I felt about this little incident and I probably won’t post it because it has nothing to do with my blog really but it is more about how I felt in that moment.
    I always worry that I come off as whiny. You need to teach me how to do it because you’re always so open and composed without the whine.

    Love you xo

  37. amanda

    p.s. i dont know if anyone else is seeing it but the comments look all screwy for me when i view your blog in firefox.
    it might just be me though.

  38. Mel

    I find blogging difficult. And I only started to find it difficult since I started thinking about it. I find it hard to write personal stuff on my photography blog. Fear of judgement, fear of rejection before they even know me and also a bit of “I am just SOOO FUCKING OVER spilling it all out”-ness.

    I love reading blogs when I feel a sense of “yeah that’s their life” and I actually do read people’s blogs who I have nothing in common with like one of a lady who is training for a weight lifting challenge. So not me.

    But I have deleted many, many blogs from my reader as I felt I only read blog posts that I had already red somewhere before. Most blogs on my reader right now mostly contain nice pictures. I am a sucker for nice pictures.

    Life is rarely a straight line. Sometimes things are shit, sometimes things are great. Shit and great can happen at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for what you got when you feel something is missing and other times gratitude will run out of every pore making people wonder and dislike you.

    And I also know that I myself have been sickening people lately with my “go get it attitude I demonstrate”, but in a way it’s just me pep-talking myself to keep going as there is frankly no alternative.

    I just keep unsubscribing:)

  39. melinda

    me i’m struggling between the two sides, too. your post made me smile. thank you so much.

  40. Debbie Williams

    It is so hard for me to know what to write about. Life is life and not always that exciting. Even though my life is certainly not rough or bad, it also is not all fun and games. I don’t write as much as I would like to but it is because I feel like my life is just everyday stuff, the same as everyone else’s and why would anyone else want to read about my life when they have one of their own to live?? I wish I had some marvelous information to share with everyone else.

  41. Brigitte

    Yes! All the people copying the style of White Hot Truth make me CRAZY.

  42. Leslie

    Thanks so much for writing this and being real. You bring something really valuable to the blogging world. This post gave me a lot to think about! When it comes to blogging authentically, I have a hard time figuring out how to balance honesty and over-sharing. Working on that…

  43. Brigitte

    hm…this is a hard one for me to think through, because I can’t stand the flip side, when people use their blogs or social media outlets to whine. Blogging has made me a genuinely more optimistic person, so I think my tone has shifted quite a lot over the years. I also would much rather find the humor in a crappy situation (online anyway).

    That said, I’m (perhaps overly) willing to write about issues I’m struggling with and invite my readers to share their experiences in similar situations. But they’re more “intellectual” issues than personal. Many of my personal issues revolve around my family, and I don’t think it’s my right to share negative stories that aren’t wholly my own.

    This is something I think about a lot.

  44. kristin

    girl i hear ya! there are some blogs that i follow that only write about how great their lives are and its starting to make me sick. i know its hard to blog about the tough times b/c you are putting yourself out there way more than if you write about the good. but i think we all just wanna feel normal and that we aren’t weirdos for having a bad day. so why can’t we talk about those days? obviously we don’t need to blog every negative thought we have, but a nice balance would be nice. this is one of my goals for blogging this year. to be more real. b/c i certainly am in every other aspect of my life. nice post. i really love your blog and work. i find it truly inspiring. :]

  45. Meggy

    I’m really looking forward to your Blogging from the Heart project, & here’s why.

    To sum: before there was blogging, there was online journaling — and before there was Diaryland/, there were domains owned largely by young women who wrote deeply and personally about their lives. I happened to be one of those young women in the mid-90s to early-00s. So I empathize, very much so, with how different online writing feels right now with how it felt six years ago (or ten years ago). Very shiny. Very this-is-how-I-learned-my-life-lesson. Very… unreal. And head-spinny.

    I had a talk recently with a ProBlogger (and how I loathe that term) about how I could “improve my blog” (i.e. “get more hits”), and it turned into a discussion of monetization and using tags to optimize SEO. Afterwards, I felt sad and drained.

    This is not the Internet I used to know. I don’t know how to find my way back to the Internet I used to know — or how to find my way forward to a new Internet. So yes. You’re not alone in this.

    I wrote a post that speaks more fully to this on my blog, The Novelist’s Hubris, here:

    Again, thanks for sharing this.


  46. Susie M

    I am in complete agreement with you. I feel alternately irritated with their rose-colored glasses filters of their lives and the absence of what life really throws at us. It’s so easy to feel envious, of the time they have to blog, paint, quilt, photograph (and then alter on PhotoShop), write, homeschool, AND keep their houses clean…I’m sure there is a hidden maid somewhere in the back/behind the camera!

    My blog has lots of the hard stuff. Here’s one of my favorite posts:
    and here’s another more recent:

    I was drawn to blogging for the release I could have. I needed to process what I was going through with my son’s medical issues. I am drawn deeply to blogs about the deeper issues. It’s why I started to read your blog in the first place.

    I hope to one day take one of your workshops…and I have your unravelling the year ahead (waiting for me to address all that) up on my bulletin board…staring down at me!

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  47. kristen

    well, life is very real these days and i’ve had enough sunshine blown up my ass for awhile so i will now go ahead and write the two posts that i’ve been thinking about this afternoon, holding back because they’re a bit too real. thank you lovey. xo

  48. Robby

    This is something I think about so often- the integrity of blogging. I love blogging, and I love communicating with so many people I would never have met otherwise, but it does feel a little false sometimes. I only post when I’m happy. I only post when I’m inspired. Sometimes I think that tips things more in direction than another. It’s a balance we can all search for. :]

  49. Roxanne Galpin

    Yes, I, too find the sunshine heads a little hard to swallow. Life on life’s turns does not always feel sunshine-y. On the other hand, reading about someone’s pity party doesn’t exactly float my boat either. I guess we must all strike a balance, and for each of us that looks different. I try very hard in my own blog to refrain from blowing sunshine up anyone’s ass. People have told me they like my blog and my writing because it has rawness and grit, without seeming too indiscreet. I suppose blogging is an art?

  50. Olga

    I have been following your blog for a LONG time (and waiting just as long till registration for Unraveling 1 opened – and I did register ;-). It’s posts like this one that make me want to compulsively read your blog and few others. I do agree that people have different reasons for putting forth various (perhaps one-sided) aspects of themselves and their lives – I, for instance, am much more open on my personal art blog than on my professional business blog. But for those who just run a personal/art blog with all sunshine and flowers and gratitude all the time, I do feel like they are doing a disservice not only to others, but also to themselves. Part of the wonder of the reach of the cyber-community is to be able to RELATE to one another and share solutions to problems, and not feel so alone. The endless sunshine-and-roses stream of writing does seem to defeat that purpose somewhat.

    I can’t wait for Unraveling to start, and THANK YOU for this post and for the many others that have resonated with me in more ways than I can say.

  51. jennifer

    yes – i agree with you! xo

  52. jennifer

    i agree with you, however, what Sylvia said rings true in my soul as well… it’s not for us to judge what should come from the heart:)

    and… if we are feeling down, reading about people’s happiness can sometimes bring a smile to our faces… nobody’s life is perfect – everyone suffers…

    so i guess what i am trying to say is, that i like the blogs on my blogroll because they are a mixture of it all… some are only happy posts, some many not so blissful posts… people who are dealing with the struggle of chronic pain… people who are trying to sell things and promote… gratitude blogs… – so on any given day (or moment sometimes) i can quickly check in and see a whole spectrum of emotions and a mixture of human experiences…

    i myself, try to find a balance between both on my blog… i don’t want it to be too utterly personal, so sometimes i am vague about a struggle i am having and i tend to post a lot of my artwork, which, if you check out my blog has mostly positive messages.

    i believe that for the most part, we get back the energy that we give out… so it’s okay for someone to have a vessel (blog/diary/body of artwork) that focuses on the blissful moments in life, because that is what we will manifest back into our hearts.

    so please, continue to be gritty, real, honest, positive, sad and all of those amazing qualities that you possess… that is why we come to visit you so often;)


  53. TJ Wood

    Thank you!! Well said. I’ve been holding off on writing much on my blog lately because I was afraid it would come across as too negative. But I want to be real. So, I finally let out how I really felt about Mother’s Day–therapeutic! But I’ll still feel bad if my daughter ever reads it…

  54. jojo

    grit says it all susannah! i await your book… patiently :) i am alone most of the time too so i can relate to days without coziness… or shiny happy stories… and i do tend to not blog for spats of time during funks. i want to learn to write through the funk without feeling like i show up with a woe-is-me pathetic splat of words (on my blog). it is an frustrating exercise to solve. oh, but how i am about GRIT and REAL! i seem to always come here at the right time :) xo

  55. jen

    I think that you hit the nail on the head, and I could not agree more. I rarely blog anymore…it has been months…and my reading has become scarce mostly due to what you describe above. I don’t have the emotional energy for it and would rather immerse myself in whatever fluff makes my heart happy in my free night time hours than in reading things that just make me feel more icky. Thank you for putting this out there. It is all too real. xo

  56. Melissa Jaine

    Kristen – LOL!
    Susannah – the older I get, the less bullshit I want/can tolerate in general. And I’ve struggled, struggled, *struggled* with my online life. Recent events and realisations have made me just say “stuff it” – I’m doing what I want to do, and recreated my webspace to be just that. It’s a different set up from what I mostly see, and will it work? Well, it works for me and that’s a start. :)

  57. Carmela

    I often think that the blogosphere is so full of talent and different points of view that it can zap inspiration rather than inspire. It’s very easy to look around and see so many people doing great things and then get down on yourself and your work or your life.

    I’m kind of a dark sarcastic character…it takes a lot of work and energy to blow sunshine all the time. Usually I don’t. Sometimes I can find the funny in my dark and twisty soul, but it’s usually sarcastic funny. I’m not the shiny happy blogger. In fact, I have almost completely stopped adding words to my photo blog because I don’t think the blogosphere gets me.

    But if you’re feeling dark and twisty, it’s ok to put that out there. Go ahead. Watch Buffy and then write a rant about the rain.

  58. Boo Marshall

    I so agree with you. I’ve become quite frustrated with one in particular where everything is ‘skippy happy’ – despite the fact that when a very young family are involved, you know that the daily routine is usually far far less than ‘skippy, happy’!! On the other hand, I have to admit to keeping blog posts very short when I feel the whole world is caving in on me.. I’m not sure whether that’s pride, or a fear that I’ll depress anyone who stumbles along and never see them again! Boo x

  59. suzanne kalkman

    I totally agree with you about blogging as it hits you – life, that is!! I read you a lot, and it heartens me that you tell it as it is; I try to do the same on my little corner of the blogsphere. Stick with it – your authentic self is the only one that matters.
    Suzanne xx

  60. Carol

    Ooh good post. There’s always been a lot about the blog world that has pissed me off.

    1. The mutual ass kissing
    2. The feeling that people are only worthy if they are part of the ‘club’
    3. The notion that to be considered successful, then one must be making money by living their dream and have a large network of close friendships/bonds.

    My blog reading list has reduced drastically over the years. And I only keep those in my bookmarks who inspire me now. And I find that these blogs are the most simple in format. No sponsorship links, nothing to sell. Just words and images that are a reflection of their life.

  61. susannah

    absolutely — i read all sorts of blogs, and i love the mix too. i think today i just stumbled upon a few too many sunshine reads that triggered me :)

  62. susannah

    there ain’t nothin’ wrong with a bit of sarcastic funny ;)

  63. angharad

    for years my blog has been a cheery look at what life has thrown at us, which has often not felt very cheery. now i find i am unable to write it at all; even though life is relatively calm and safe i am lost for words. maybe i am the opposite of a fairweather blogger?

  64. Jo

    Over the years I’ve got pretty good at not comparing myself to other people. I have phases where it sneaks up on me via the backdoor and I have to have a shake-up but mostly I’m good at separating myself from others (that’ll be the introvert’s superpower then :) ). The reason I get tired of all the Lovely Posts is that it’s BORING. I like a little salt alongside my sugar.
    I love pretty things and stories of revelation and joy and gratitude and love, I really do. I write many myself and I’d be stuffed without the inspiration I find online. But dear god show us the massive pile of dirty dishes sometimes. Tell us about the flaming row you had and what utterly stupid things you said.
    Great comments on this by the way – what brilliant readers you have Sus :) x

  65. christine

    I found this post quite interesting. I’ve always been incredibly honest in my posts. I’m not always negative but I’m been very truthful in how I’m feeling some days. Well, no one has stuck around. I’ve been blogging for 6 years and I have 90 readers. I only started using Blogher ads…not for the money but for the fact more people were reading me than without it. It depressing to see other blogs because I see how amazing it seems other people’s lives always are and my life isn’t always rainbows and bunnies and I think what the heck is wrong with me? I noticed I hardly post any feelings as much as I used to because I felt like people were leaving more when I did. I know I’ve got to stay true to myself but I still want to make friends. I feel like the internet is this one big exercise in escapism…so many people write all this happy happy stuff because maybe people have enough problems on their own and don’t want to hear about other people’s hard days. Pioneer Woman is an example of escapist…I rarely hear her talking about having any hard day ever…but she’s as popular as heck? So I’m confused…I guess I’m just going to stick to my own truth and if no one else reads it at least I can have the knowledge that I’m trying to be authentic for me.

  66. kerin rose

    oh right on Sistah!…so many blogs I used to love to read have grown to become part of a competition of who can take the most enigmatic photos and write the most romantic/angsty/happy ending sping on things…almost to the point that they feel like fabrications for dramatic effect….I am not judging, folks can create and write what they want, but it is a ‘style’ that I have simply lost interest in…and to be honest, I myself was ‘trying to keep up’ so much so that I have pretty much interest in working writing for my own blog, as it was starting to feel more like short-story-writing-to-keep-my-audience and this is not what is in my heart….so, the blog is sitting, somewhat idle for a while until, hopefully, my mojo ( and a new direction that feels right) returns…

  67. leoniewise

    Yep. I’m bored of happy, skippy and stopped reading a lot of them a while ago. Its all so drav and one-dinensional.

    Give me the grit as well as the glamour baby.

    Love you.

  68. saradafney

    Hello Susannah,
    Your honesty and the way you speak to us with such true words is the reason why your blog is one of my favorite. That’s why I’m moved when I read your posts. Inspired of course, but also truely, deeply moved.
    I know it’s a strange thing to say and I’ll try to express it in a non-stalker way, but it’s like in an intimate relationship, if you only talk about fun things and never get deeper, chances are the relationship won’t last long.
    Keep letting us know when you feel down, when your periods are a pain in the a** and when you are sick. That’s what friends do ;)

  69. Fabeku Fatunmise

    I’m a pretty happy dude, generally speaking.

    But the constant stream of saccharine sweetness gets kind of nauseating, doesn’t it?

    I mean, I like sweet. But if I ate candy all day, my belly would hurt.

    Plus I have a hard time relating to people who are always up + happy + shiny.

    Either I’m missing something. Or they’re hiding something. (And, really, I totally understand why they would.)

    I love how twisty + complex + messy + gorgeous life is. My favorite people reflect that same delicious complexity.

    Thanks for not being scared of complexity. It’s one (of a million) reason why you’re firmly rooted on my favorites list.

  70. Charlane Killough Griffith

    i try to keep it real…i write in my own voice. lately though i’ve been zapped of energy with my job that i don’t have a lot to write about. but i do appreciate how you keep it honest and authentic and all that realness that attracts people to you.

  71. Nona

    Couldn’t agree more Sylvia.

  72. Nona

    Hey Susannah,

    I love the honesty of this post and am also all for “keeping it real” so let me say that I think the issue here might be:

    1. your own self-esteem …

    2. your culture (I’ve noticed since I’ve lived in England, that the English love to wallow in self-deprecation as though it were a virtue)

    3. the kind of blogs you read. If, and this is a big IF, the blogs you read are all by white (or the “token westernised other”), middle class, 20s -middle aged women with the “token male from the same category” thrown in, then what do you expect my dear??? We represent the 3 or so percent of the world’s population that have the most access to all the best the world has to offer, so even though there will be the occasional human emotional upheaval, inconvenience and tragedy, we’re coming up roses.

    Maybe after your detox, you could start actively seeking out the scattering of blogs in English from the 80 or so % of the world’s population that falls outside the aforementioned demographic, then anytime you want to halt the “feeling less than blues” you can bypass false self-deprecation and instead stare genuine human suffering dead in the eye … oh dear, unless that would be too much reality,

    As for blogging/speaking from the heart, this is a luxury again that only a few … usually from the aforementioned demographic … can afford.

  73. Celina Wyss

    I appreciate you keeping it real and sharing your most inner frustrations and joys alike. I try to blog from the heart but I agree most of the time we don’t share the grit.

  74. Aboodi Shabi

    Good for you for writing this – Fiona pointed me to it via Facebook.

    You might like this piece I wrote a while ago (which provoked a lot of reaction, both positive and negative):

  75. Helene

    My blog is my happy place. A place where I don’t want to talk about the things that trouble me. I have been pretty open about loss and death there and got flack for it. I have been open about being happy, grateful and yes, wide open vulnerable with my thankfulness for what I have and got flack for it. So ultimately? I just write and make sure I count my blessings out loud for all readers who join me only on that space and not on Twitter on Facebook, for my family and friends who only read me there once or twice a week.
    You will see me be honest and vulnerable but you won’t read me go into details about all the rough things going on in my life.
    I don’t wish to post about foreclosure, financial troubles or work issues because there is enough of that on the table when I look away from the computer. The screen, my page, the blog is where I want to focus on the positive. I don’t think that makes me a all lovey-dovey kind of blogger. I believe it makes me one who is honest about what she wishes to post and acknowledge.
    I think it’s our own decision to talk about what we want to talk about on our site and stay the course and be authentic with it.
    I read your blog for all the messages and nuances you offer the world. I read happy blogs and I read sad blogs. I read blogs who are authentic and real, no matter how sweet or gritty. They move me. In all directions. That matters to me.
    I get aggravated when people keep misrepresenting themselves and what they do on thier blog but I believe inside my heart that integrity will prevail.

  76. bella

    My sister (who doesn’t blog) gives me the same critique after every post I share. “Your blog is boring, Bella – you should write about s.e.x. which what you love talking about in real life”.
    ha to the ha ha…
    I agree that there is a lot of sunshine & fluff, and I’ve done good amount of deleting in my blog reader. But there are also some fantastic, real, down to earth bloggers that share themselves & there stories in a way that feels like we’re sitting at a table in a cafe, just shooting the shiz like friends in real time.
    Filter it out girl, and stay on the lookout for who you feel in tune with xo

  77. bella

    no grammar & spell checking my comment before submitting = totally real :\

  78. susannah

    oh absolutely — some blogs i’ve been reading for years and i love that they feel like friends :)

  79. susannah

    “I read blogs who are authentic and real, no matter how sweet or gritty. They move me. In all directions. That matters to me.” – absolutely, Helene, i feel the same. Authentic and real is where it’s at

  80. susannah

    thank you for sharing that link, Aboodi — i especially loved this bit:

    “When I accept that life isn’t necessarily going to bring me what I long for (of course it might, but it equally might not), then I have the possibility to ask different questions about life, and to navigate with what is, rather than the striving for, and pain of disappointment if I don’t get, what I yearn for.”


  81. Heather

    Such good timing for this post. As far as blogs that i read, I have cut them down recently, if I find myself not getting inspired in some way or another ( not always by the pretty stuff) or I get really annoyed when I read a blog, repeatedly then I stop reading it. Life’s to short for that!
    For myself, I am at a place of transition in so many places not all so happily! I am sorta burned out on my own blog, so I do post a few things a week but not as much as I used to. The feeling of being sort of disenchanted with it all at the moment. Thats when I know i need to really re-evaluate what my motivation and vision is. Also to be somewhat gentle with myself and not beat myself up about it!

  82. Meghan @ Life Refocused

    Thank you for this post, Sus. I totally resonate with what you shared here. I can start to get really down on myself when it seems like everyone’s blogs I read are showing their perfect lives. I can also get super down on my photography from looking at Flickr, blogs, and the like. Let’s be together in good times AND bad. xoxo

  83. Nina

    Susannah you are so completely wonderful – I feel just the same as you and especially liked your comment about the rain/wellies when really it just sucks sometimes! I want to read the truth and grit behind people’s lives, see what it is that makes them tick. I hope I share some of that truth in my blog. I’m not Miss Mary Sunshine by any stretch of the imagination and I would actually like to keep it that way. Love your blog!

  84. Kennedy

    The study of others surrender and defeat is important to me as long as the growth and joy are revealed along with it. Is it a snapshot, or a process? Balance.

  85. Rebekah

    I think we should save the therapy sessions for those we’ve met in real life. Or who ask for them.

  86. vivienne

    i wholeheartedly agree with you sylvia.

  87. Yeti

    Hi, I love what you say in this post and the huge amount of comments it’s sparked! I don’t blog in the normal way, I just write poetry and post it – sometimes they’re nice and sometimes they’re dark and sometimes they’re just about nothing in the real world – but they are all there as part of a ‘whole’, how boring it would be to edit out the dark. I’ve had some ‘enquiries’ on my mental state at times from family and friends that don’t get it, I’ve had the ‘is that about me?’ questions, argh and eek! But I still write what I want and post it and I refuse to censor myself as for me it would not be real, but I have respect for those that choose to censor as their space is their space, but maybe not a space I would visit as I need some darkness too. Sheesh, I’m waffling on now and probably not making any sense…good job I don’t blog the normal way lol!

  88. Alisha

    Susannah, hi. I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented here, but I have in my google reader. I was having these same thoughts just this morning actually. I posted something about it on facebook…about how I’ve thought about writing “mom-blog” of sorts, but every time I read through my list of them, I feel like crap…when you’d think they’d be uplifting. I thought “well, maybe I shouldn’t do that blog, I don’t want to make other people feel like crap.” Most of the comments I got on facebook were that they’d love to read a mom blog that was actually real. …to know they’re not the only one with no clean silverware in the house…etc. So maybe I just will. Your post has definitely given me something the think about.

  89. Alisha

    Kristin, I’ve been having those thoughts too. Separating it up…or just making one “Me” blog. Let me know what you end up doing.

  90. Alisha

    I think it would.

  91. Alisha

    Haha, that made me smile. (your twitter feed description) I totally get that.

  92. Anna

    THis post was so poignant and honest…I find myself not posting unless I have something to share….or something to engage the reader that has nothing to do with my words…I have so many rolls of film to develop and rather then be excited at the result, I get impatient so I’ll have ‘something’…I think you’re SO right when you say so much is the ‘best of’ rather then the process. I’m a guilty perfectionist, I admit…but this was so, so true – thank you so much for sharing.

  93. Alisha

    headcases for sure. Yeah, I wish my in-laws didn’t know about my blog.

  94. Alisha

    Yeah it looks weird for me to…in chrome.

  95. Lalove

    I am afraid that I am guilty of a rain/wellies/hot chocolate post (who knew this was a common theme) but it was more about me having a bad attitude to begin with than thinking my life is so wonderful… I fully have my depressed—don’t get out of my PJ’s days—but I’m only inspired to blog when I am in a good mood, or have something funny/happy to share. I also have a hard time writing about depression in any way that’s not downright depressing. My sister told me she keeps a blog to remember all of the good moments, and I’ve subscribed to that mantra. But I love your blog, and the grit, and I’ve also unsubscribed from a number of overly “my-life-is-so-awesome-i-am-so-grateful” blogs, so maybe it’s time to reevaluate… Maybe I could keep it a bit more real. Thanks for the insightful post. You have such an eloquent way of writing about depressing grey rain.

  96. Catherine

    When I’m really feeling under the weather I probably curl up in bed under a blanket rather than blogging about it…
    Most of my blogging lately has been about what life is like in an earthquake-hit city – so my thinking has been a little the opposite of yours, that I have been presenting a picture that is more depressing and more gritty than the actuality, and that I need to include a few more of the good things. (But yes, the consistently happy blogs can get a bit much at times!)

  97. elizabeth

    You are so right. When people are really honest it makes you feel less alone.

    I have been going through a serious case of post adoption depression since my husband and I completed the adoption of two children from Rwanda last year. I wasn’t able to find much out in the blog world on post adoption depression. Every adoption blog shows gorgeous pictures of happy adoptive families.

    I finally started blogging about it and women have been writing me to tell me they have gone through it too but were afraid to tell people out of fear of people thinking they were not good mothers.

    It’s just crazy to me that so many people are suffering in silence. We need to tell the truth. Life is beautiful. But true beauty is complicated and multi dimensional.

    Thanks for inspiring me tonight.
    Elizabeth (

    p.s. I just adore the word you chose, ‘unravelling,’ for your ecourse, btw. I feel like my whole depression was an unravelling of sorts. When you use that word, it doesn’t sound quite so depressing!

  98. deb schwedhelm

    i absolutely couldn’t agree more with every word you said. when i first started blogging, i said i was going to do it for me. sure i do a bit of business work here and there, via my blog. but all in all, i figure when people are hiring me to photograph their children or families, they’re hiring me!! as a photographer and person b/c ultimately who i am as a person is reflected in my photography.

    anyway, i’m not afraid to share on my blog. i am me and i definitely have shitty days. i also have days where i remind myself how grateful i should be (leading to words of ‘oh-so-grateful- on my blog).

    wish there were more people like you in this blogosphere. thanks for sharing.


    i hope that you would find my blog honest. and real.

  99. Suki

    I share my heart on my blog, probably more than with family, since they live quite far away.
    But yes, posts that are too happy and upbeat like cut out of a magazine tire me and leaves me thinking. Why is it that some people only have good to share?

  100. Kristal

    I agree. It is exhausting to read blogs that only share the good stuff. Of course, I haven’t written in awhile because I’ve been in a bad place, lately. I just didn’t have the energy to write and didn’t have the right words. Maybe others feel the same so that’s why they only write the good stuff. ???

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