OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: Storytelling, Memoir and Poetic License

BlogHer Original Post

Welcome to the liveblog of the BlogHer '10 panel: Personal: Where's the Line or the Lie - Storytelling, Memoir and Poetic License.

Where is the line between telling a good story and telling a lie? Can “authenticity” and “great writing” both be watchwords? What exactly do you owe your audience? Are we going to start having a badge system for disclosure about how much and which parts of our stories are true, mostly true, or greatly exaggerated for dramatic (or comedic) effect? BlogHer co-founder Jory Des Jardins moderates this revealing session with Jenny Lawson and Julie Marsh. All three women deal with this on a personal level every time they blog about marriage, life, family, work and more.

Julie [JM]: I am more comfortable writing about personal stuff than business.
Some of us are known for being out there. We still have our careers and helping us understand. I started writing in 2005, it was very traditional mommy blog. I came to realize that I like to write about issues; moms are expected to write about. I also write at The Stir at

Jenny [JL]: All the questions on my blog are legitimate. I write a sex column, I have been writing over a year. I have never written about my sex life in any way.

Jory: Where do you place the line? When I write about personal blog, I take on their characteristics. I will humiliate myself before I humiliate others.

JM: Writing about social issues, that’s where others people lines. But for blogging. I don't like to write about vulnerable issues. I have friends who write heartfelt posts but I can’t do it.

Jory: We did a survey at BlogHer. Women are more comfortable talking about sex than money.

JM: Audience interaction on political issues will not hurt me personally but it will hurt my feelings about a conversation with my family.

JL: I try not to tell a story that a person doesn't want to be told. I never write when I am mad, or real arguments.

Jory: Is Victor funny?

JL: Victor is so smooch and funnier than me.

Jory: How do you train readers? Readers don't always get it.

JL: My audience gets it. I write satire and about myself.

Jory: Help you understand your readers? I was exaggerating and I got a comment, "you need a therapist."

JM: On my previous mother blog, my daughter had a friend who lived across the street. Her family was Christian. I wrote about "Is it okay to take a child and give them all this religious paraphernalia?" My neighbors found it. My readers took it the next level. They wrote their side of story. Then the others found about it. Needless to say I am more cautious when it comes to these issues.

ATTENDEE Question: I am very cautious about I write about because I have 3 children and I live in a small town. Can you speak to the safety issue?

JM: I am very open online, using real names. You can literally find me, I have grown comfortable with that. I think people are good. If I were in your situation, I would probably think differently.

Jl: I will say that Victor but that is his real name. I will flip the cameras so it doesn’t look at my house.

JM: I wrote about something my daughter had done but like Jenny, that will haunt her when she is 12-13. It’s non-negotiable.

ATTENDEE Question: I have one child; he is senior in high school. I wonder if you thought about blogging when they older. Do you think they will be okay with it when they are teenagers?

Jl: I think it’s like the cell phone everyone has it. Blogging is like everyone is listening, who cares.

Jory: I do think about the openness. The next generation is much more open than we are. We need to establish a new sensitivity. My mom is an elder blogger, she writes about me and I am embarrassed. It’s a skill we have to develop.

Jory: there are limits. The past is over. Issues that might have had in the past. I will change names, genders, I will say "I heard about"... I don't consider it lying, but protecting.

JM: I will comment on others posts. I will talk about it on my blog.

JL: I hold back but there are times, I will write entire post but not publish it. I have so many people who came to me in tears, who read my post and said it changed their lives, and they saw a therapist.

Jory: Since you are working on a memoir, its their life.

ATTENDEE Question : How do you deal with creative license?

JM: I do think you can use creative license. Using a disclaimer. I mentioned that I tweeted out something I overheard but it was me. We all admitted that we did it.

JL: I wrote about feeling guilty because something good that happened to me.

Jory: You have established relationships with publishers. Do you feel responsibility to working with another brand rather your own personal brand?

JM: I only have one brand relationship. When I am on the Stir, I prefer to be provocative and piss people off. I wrote about Johnson camp baby, two weeks after my son was born. Initially, I said no. I changed my mind I did it. They told me I couldn’t bring my baby. I wrote the post and my readers wrote comments, and it went viral on twitter. Johnson tried to make it right but although I written an even handed post but I could have been better at moderating comments

ATTENDEE Question: what do you do when people write bad things about you on other sites?

JL: if you acknowledge it gives them more power.

ATTENDEE Question: What about critical email comments?

JL: I will respond to rational comments but if someone is picking a fight, I will ignore it.

Question: is there any one issue you don't write about it?

Jory I don't talk about the company [BlogHer].

JL: The personal, good things can make you vulnerable. What if I put it out there and no one commented?