Wow! I can't believe January is over already! Today's guest blog is by one of my all-time favorite writers, Stephanie Kuehnert. Both of her books, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, are AMAZING. (If you follow my on Twitter, you know how much I love Ballads.)
I’ve been keeping a diary since I was seven and my mom got me the Beezus and Ramona diary since the Ramona books were some of my favorites. Back then my entries were pretty much limited to talking about the books and movies I’d gotten out of the library. I wrote stuff like, “I read Black Beauty. It was great!!! I love horses! I’m checking out the movie today.”
Of course as I got older my entries changed. I wrote about my problems with friends, my unrequited crushes, and all sort of confused feelings. When I had a hard time writing directly about my feelings, I wrote poems or short stories that expressed them. I also started making ‘zines. I was in high school in the early nineties when people were only starting to get email addresses and my internet usage was limited to AOL forums and chat rooms where I discussed punk bands and feminism. When I talk to teens about my ‘zines now, I compare them to an early form of blogging because that was what my ‘zines were at least—basically a journal that I distributed to the public. Sometimes I wrote reviews of books or music, but I’m not that great of a reviewer. To this day when I’m asked to write a blurb for a book or I love a book so much that I feel I have to blog about it, I anguish over the task because honestly my reviewing skills have not progressed that much past that Black Beauty review I wrote when I was seven. I admire all the book bloggers out there in a huge way because for some reason it is really hard for me to put that emotional response I have to a book or a song into words.
And yet, for some reason, I can rant for pages about emotional events that stir me. That is what I did a lot of in my ‘zines. I did it to the point that I made people uncomfortable and even lost some friends. I was brutally honest. I wrote about things that a lot of people didn’t want to talk about, things like abuse and self-injury and rape. Sometimes I felt like maybe I was oversharing, getting to personal, being too truthful, but I couldn’t help it. It was my firm belief that bad things continued to happen in our world because we didn’t talk about them, face them, and take action.
My early blogs were like my zines. I had a Diaryland site and I treated it like a diary. I purged my feelings in there and posted the writing I was working on. If you followed me back then, around 2000/2001 you would have been reading a very early version of my novel BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, except it was more like thinly veiled autobiography. I felt like it was anonymous. Only my closest friends and strangers read it. Then someone I knew in high school stumbled upon it and said some nasty things, so I shied away from blogging for awhile.
I started blogging again regular when I sold my first novel, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I knew I was going to be published, knew fans of my writing would seek me out, and my blog would be public, so I wondered if I should tone things down. Maybe I should just write about my writing process or my books or benign things like my pets and the vacations I take. And if you visit my blog (stephaniekuehnert.blogspot.com), you will find some of these things. But you’ll also find my brutally honest truths. When one of my dear friends died, I wrote about him, raw and grieving and unfiltered. When I was overwhelmed by bad memories of it, I blogged about the abusive relationship I was in during my sophomore year of high school. When BALLADS OF SUBURBIA came out, my book that deals with self-injury, I wrote about my own battle with cutting. Sometimes I wonder if it is TMI, if I should censor myself, but I can’t. If you are familiar with my books, you know that I don’t hold back. I let my characters be raw and real. They swear, they do things they shouldn’t do, they get hurt, and they fight to survive. I believe in honesty. That’s what I wanted to read as a teen. I’ve always hated feeling lied to or feeling like things are being sugarcoated. So I can’t do it. Not in my fiction or in my blog. So maybe my blog is different from other YA authors’ blogs, maybe it gets a little too heavy at times (though I do try to balance it out with fun pictures), but I guess that’s just who I am and my blog reflects it.
What about you guys? Do you get personal in your blogs? Do you like blogs that get personal?
And again, three cheers for Harmony Book Reviews and all of the book blogs out there. Believe me, we need you, those of you who are better at describing books than “It was great! I love horses!”