Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blogging Success

The new NEW YORKER contains a long article on one of the most successful blogs on the Internet, with millions of followers: Ree Drummond's, found on her site Drummond is the best-selling author of HIGH HEELS TO TRACTOR WHEELS, which describes how a suburban woman fell in love with a "laconic rancher," married him, and now happily lives life on a ranch, home-schooling their four kids, rounding up cattle, cooking from scratch, and loving every photo-shopped moment. I have not visited her site, but what the article did was bring home to me how important it is to know yourself.

Because when I was young, Drummond's life was what I thought I wanted: rural, domestic, fecund, close to the land, married to a gorgeous strong-silent, Gary Cooper type. Since I had a powerful imagination and considerable will, I pursued this dream, cloaking in imaginative fantasy everything that didn't quite fit, or that fit but made me uneasy. It took decades for me to learn enough about myself to recognize:
  • I like nature to look at but not interact with all that much.
  • Home-schooling kids mean you never have time alone to do things alone, like write. Yes, Drummond does it, but she writes in short fifteen-minute bursts (doesn't work for me for fiction) and appears to need no sleep. I adore my sons, but I needed them to be at school during the day so I could be at the keyboard.
  • I don't enjoy laconic, outdoorsy men. I like men who talk, read books, talk about those books, and would rather go to a play than a rodeo.
  • I am afraid of horses.
This knowledge did not come easy. I learned it by living ten years in an isolated rural area, teaching fourth grade for four years, falling off a horse and hitting my head enough to become unconscious, writing novels, divorcing, moving to a big city, and attending a lot of plays (not in that order). I wish Ree Drummond nothing but the best as she describes her western version of Arcadia -- but no thanks. Listen to Polonius instead.


Bryan H. Bell said...

I like nature to look at but not interact with all that much.

Heh. This is just how I feel. No nature hikes for me. I prefer to view my nature through the glass of a car window.

When I do have to interact with nature, my reaction is similar to that of Melman the Giraffe in Madagascar:

"Nature! It's all over me! Get it off!"

This attitude used to infuriate a friend of mine. He'd say: "You can't dislike nature. You're made of nature!"

EA Hirsch said...

I think honesty to oneself is the baseline for living a happy life. Without that, you don't stand a chance.

Also, Ree has some of the best recipes on her site, full of butter and cream and ranchy goodness. You know, food you can eat in your city kitchen while watching a movie about cowboys. If you squint, you can almost pretend that you're there, without the smell of cow dung or the flies in your face.

Unknown said...

I love the literary allusion to Polonius (I teach Hamlet every year), but I wonder how many others will get it. I will say it does my heart good to see such a wide range in your reading. I read your blog regularly and have even used some of your writing wisdom on my students.