Lately I’ve been participating in this blog contest, Blogger Idol.
In order to enter the contest we needed to submit an audition, explaining our blogs and inviting the judges to take a look at them. Somehow I managed to make the finals, over the course of which I am tasked with a new assignment every week that is meant to stretch my writing abilities. Our assignments are rated by a selection of judges, whose scores are then combined with at-large votes from the online community.
I am still alive, but none of the assignments so far has exactly been in my wheelhouse, and several of the judges have professed reservations about some of my drinking-related and/or fatherhood-griping-related content. Which has confused me a little, since I auditioned and all. But it’s not their fault if they don’t like my blog or my sense of humor. It’s the luck of the draw.
But now I am faced with a bit of a dilemma. Because I want to win the contest. But not by changing my style.
I’ve been writing this blog for just over two years now. It started out as a way to both document the impending arrival – and subsequent existence – of my son, and also to track the changes in lifestyle that my son brought with him – or, as is the thrust of the blog, the attempts to stave those changes off.
Most of the content is meant to be funny, and, as such, is often over-the-top. Occasionally I get serious, and I think there’s room for both, but getting serious is not really the point of this blog. I like to make jokes; sometimes those jokes are absurd and maybe even borderline offensive, other times they are intended to make a point. But there will always be jokes. You either get them – and, by extension, get me – or you don’t.
A lot of jokesters struggle with the dilemma of whether they should explain when they’re joking or dial things back should they offend someone who doesn’t get it. I’ve had issues with that my whole life, thanks to my sarcastic personality, and I see the arguments for both sides. As a human being I certainly try to temper the sharper edges of my personality in order to more comfortably interact with society. I mean, being Andrew Dice Clay in real life is a lot different than being Andrew Dice Clay on stage. And at the risk of being (more) pretentious, this blog is my stage. I write it in character. And it’s not for everyone.
When you’re writing a blog about your family, and most of the blog involves you mocking it – if not the individual people specifically, than at least the idea of them – the members of that family that are cognizant of said mockery might occasionally have their feathers ruffled. To be fair, when my wife comments on my blog, it’s rarely to call out anything I’ve said about her, or about her alter-ego “Mom and Buried,” but is instead usually to gently let me know if I’m going to far. After all, she’s seen me in action for enough time, both online as a writer and offline as a raconteur and bon vivant, to know that not everyone always gets the joke that is her husband. And often, when the joke is about my son or our parenting techniques, a little more sensitivity is called for. I can say whatever I want about myself but I need to take a little more responsibility when talking about them. And I do. But I don’t let it effect my general approach. And my wife understands. Why should I care if strangers don’t?
The larger question is, as a writer, should I be worried about limiting my audience? I’m a firm believer in the idea that creativity is not borne from a desire or attempt to appeal to everyone. That never works. Ask Jay Leno. So no, being universally appealing isn’t really my thing. Which, if you’ve ever met me, you already knew.
Which brings me back to the contest. Yes I want to win it, and yes I want new people who visit my blog to like it and to stick around. But smoothing the edges won’t do anybody any good – I won’t write it as well, the people who like it as it stands now won’t recognize it, and any new followers I get will only get offended somewhere down the line, after I’ve abandoned the whole Jay Leno thing and gone back to being myself.
That settles it.
So I may not survive Blogger Idol, but it certainly won’t be because I’ve changed my style. It will probably because I swear too much. Because that ain’t stopping any time soon either, motherfuckers!