February 24, 2011 Come Sunday, Memphis native Heather Armstrong will have been blogging for ten years. In other words, Armstrong launched Dooce.com long before most Americans had ever heard the word blog, and long, long before the blogosphere upended American politics and recreated the news cycle. “In those days when you said you had a blog, people thought you had a venereal disease,” Armstrong tells Lisa Belkin in a lengthy The New York Times Magazine profile celebrating the anniversary.
At Dooce and in her memoir, It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita, Armstrong writes with what can sometimes be startling candor about her own family life, and Belkin’s profile examines the whole concept of a “personal” blog that attracts six million readers a month, brings in more than a million dollars in income each year, and gets its author named to the Forbes list of the thirty most influential women in media. How does a writer manage to maintain any privacy while living in a six-bedroom fishbowl in suburbia? As usual, Armstrong is a perfect case study:
“There was a hint of the changing balancing act in mid-February, when Jon landed in the hospital because he was experiencing shortness of breath. Heather chronicled it all on Twitter and Dooce. She shared her fears. She cracked a few jokes. But she told readers only that the diagnosis turned out to be ‘inconclusive.’ (She left it to Jon to point out on his blog that it might have been a side effect of new depression medication.) In other words, she will write about Leta . . . but not really. She will tell readers something is going on . . . but not what. She will let strangers feel as if they know what she is going through . . . but not completely. It’s a sleight of hand that seems a necessary part of this evolution from online diary to online business.”
Read Chapter 16‘s interview with Armstrong here.
For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16‘s News & Notes page, here.