In the last seven days, I’ve told complete strangers the following seven things:
- I’m nursing a celebrity crush on Michael Bublé
- I hate flying American Airlines
- I watched Shahrukh Khan’s interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
- I have Facebook friends in common with Salman Rushdie and Hanif Kureishi
- I eat a lot of pizza
- Where I was on Saturday morning
- Did I mention the crush on Michael Bublé?
These things are all pretty general and inane, I’m sure you’ll agree, but go back a bit further and you’ll see that I’ve also told strangers about the bitter consequences of having an arranged marriage, the utter naiveté with which I entered my second marriage, my less-than-perfect relationship with my mother, and, the most affecting of all, my father’s death in 2007 and what I felt in the years after.
I guess that kind of explains why a few people I’ve been introduced to in the past have said “I feel like I know you.” Some of them will have read my first book, others will have developed an idea from my blog and articles. This is flattering on one hand, but disconcerting on the other. Invariably, people will probe further, using my candour as some sort of license to demand an explanation as to why a “bright, modern, intelligent girl like [me] would ever agree to an arranged marriage”. (That one was at a dinner party a few months ago.)
I always take it in good humour. At the end of the day, if you’re sending personal information out into the ether, you can expect a little curiosity in return. However, a recent post by the wonderful Nathan Bransford got me thinking about the line between an author’s personal and professional online presences. I wondered if I was oversharing, but, having thought about it, I realised that this blog has always been a personal thing. It was never set up to sell books or gain exposure (especially since I was giving books away for free at the start); it was a way for me to share my thoughts, experiences and frustrations – just a tiny piece of the internet that belonged to me. I don’t deny that I’ve used it occasionally to push the books, but overall, I leave the commercial stuff to the main parts of the site.
So, for me, the blog isn’t a question of “How much personal information should this author share here?” but “How much professional information should this person share here?” I like my blog the way it is. Yes, I share personal information, but, for me, that’s kinda the whole point.