Mondays with Monika – 2

If you’re new to these Monday posts, pull up a pew. I’m chatting with Monika Spykerman, about the things that matter to her as a writer, mum (or mom, if you prefer), wife and writer. Here, Monika talks candidly about her own blog – Motheroad – and about the ways in which she uses her writing.

Previous posts will be located here: Part 1 Monday 22nd Oct.

So your writing is a way of making better sense of your internal world and what is going on around you. Are you conscious on thinking about the reader when you put the posts together – does it make you feel vulnerable in any way? Also, is there conscious choice about what you express and where you draw the line because you know that someone will probably be reading your words?

Are you therefore writing for yourself or do you want the reader to understand, to feel and to engage with you? 

Yes, I suppose I am thinking about the Phantom Reader. Most of the time I imagine my best friend, Michele, reading my entries, mostly because she’s one of about three people who do. Sometimes I imagine a complete stranger, someone I don’t know at all, and the point of my writing is that I’m trying to persuade him or her that I’m not a completely shitty person. Or at least, if I behave in shitty ways sometimes, I HAVE MY REASONS. AND HERE ARE ALL 512 OF THEM.

I don’t feel even slightly vulnerable. I feel . . . powerful. I feel like I don’t have to be trapped inside my own head. I’m not a prisoner in the dungeon of my thoughts. I’m not alone. All I have to do is throw the words out there, and make a connection. 

The only, only person that (whom? who?) I ever worried about reading my blog entries was my mother, and now she’s dead, so that’s convenient. I was always going to tell her about my blog – I really, really was – but I kept thinking that I might tell her sort of closer to the end, when I was sure she was going to die. That way, if she read something that upset her, she’d have the prospect of her impending mortality as the impetus to forgive me. (Ha! I’ve never even confessed that to myself!)

But I never did tell her, for a couple of reasons. First, we didn’t know she was for sure going to die until a few days before she DID die, and by that time she was pretty much out of the whole “conscious interaction” thing. (I know, I know – she had terminal cancer, but no one ever used the word “terminal,” and even after it was clear to every nurse in the hospital that Mom was on the way out, her doctor and oncologist were still saying stuff like, “Well, you never know . . . “) 

Second, actually telling her proved to be so much more difficult than I ever imagined. There were times in my blog where I was not very flattering to her, because I wanted to represent what our relationship was ACTUALLY like, and ACTUALLY it was, for most of my life, hard and painful. And for Mom to be hurt by words that I had written . . . I just couldn’t bear it. Even if the words were true from my perspective. (See? Even now, I can’t just say “true” – I have to add “from my perspective.” In case Mom is listening.)

Sometimes I regret not telling her, because maybe Mom never really did know the genuine ME that lives in my blog. And maybe that goes against my vow, made to myself and to her after she was diagnosed with cancer, not to hide myself from her anymore, not to edit myself around her. Maybe I chickened out from 100%, full-on honesty.

And sometimes I’m glad I never told her. Because who wants to read that her double chin is like “a spring peeper in full croak”?*

So basically Mom was the entire reason that I wrote using made-up names for a couple years. And now, honestly, I sometimes still worry that Dad might read my stuff, and be hurt by the things I say about Mom. Or his farting dogs. But no, he thinks that dog farts are funny. And I think that even if Dad read something that bothered him, he’d understand that an artist has to be faithful to his or her vision of the world. For example, Monet – sorry to choose such an overrepresented artist here – painted things AS HE SAW THEM – all blurry and in pastels – not, HERE IS A TREE. SO IT MUST BE GREEN. If it looked purple to him, he painted it purple.

So, okay, I guess truth is subjective. And also objective at the same time. (“Deep stuff, man,” as one of my college friends used to say.)

But the whole point of the blog is to show, as faithfully as possible, what goes on inside my head. If I say “Fuck!” inside my head, I try to be brave and put “Fuck!” on the page. If I have selfish motives for doing or not doing something, I try to just say so. Although, frankly, it’s less scary to show myself being selfish or stupid than to write “Fuck!” So sometimes I wimp out and write “Fluck!” BUT YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT I AM THINKING ABOUT FUCKING.

Wait, that came out wrong.

But at least you understand why.

* I’ll ask her to translate.

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