Writing, be it a blog, journalism or books, inevitably draws on your own life and experiences. For this blog in particular, without the constraints of editors, I write about what I am interested in and this is sparked by what is happening in my own life. Which means I have an ongoing dilemma about what to share. This is not because I mind sharing personal things - anything that appears on here or published by me elsewhere I have thought through and decided I am fine for readers to know - but because many things that happen to me are not just mine to share.
Stories about my family life aren't just about me. They are about my husband, my daughter, my parents, my friends, my colleagues and others. So every time I write a post I have to ask myself the question 'is this mine to share?' Sometimes I probably get this wrong. But I am trying hard to ensure that while this blog is about me, and about parenting, and about my thoughts on parenting (with some books and products thrown in), it is not about my child in particular.
This means I have to censor some posts before I write them. Because it is not for strangers to know personal details about my daughter, be it her health, her name or what she had for breakfast. Occasionally I persuade myself that she won't mind, but then I delete the post before it is published. And whenever I almost slip up, I remind myself of the journalist who many years ago wrote an article in a national paper about a rare health problem his children have. Some years later I saw this journalist and his children out and about, and found myself scrutinising them for any signs of this health problem, which was of course absolutely none of my business.
Where do you draw the line though? If you write about problems bonding, or depression, or breastfeeding issues, might your child one day read your back catalogue of work (yeah right, as if they will take an interest in what you do!) and feel it reflects on their ability as a lovable child, as a source of happiness, as a competent feeder?
I remember the journalist Jon Ronson, whose funny column in The Guardian frequently featured his son, explained his decision to stop writing it as something he had always promised to do when his son asked him to stop, which he did. And Julie Myerson has made a career out of exploiting her children, which ended in tears when they found out they were the subject of her column and when she wrote a book about one son's drug addiction.
The publishing industry is to blame for some of this. My daughter sparks many ideas for articles I would like to write without giving her story, but parenting magazines do not want an article about an issue without a personal touch and preferably a picture of the two of us hugging. And journalists are to blame too of course - I don't want strangers to know about my child but it is my job to persuade other people to tall readers about their stories and the stories of their loved ones.
What it comes down to I suppose is that we all have our own line we will not cross. I do not think I will mind if one day my daughter says to me "I've read the cache of your blog mum and apparently parenthood is like, totally brilliant but totally terrible too." Perhaps it will spark a discussion about my love for her and how this trumps absolutely everything, even bitten nipples. But I don't want her to ever turn to me and say she saw a stranger looking at her oddly in the street, as if, you know, they were wondering about her health.