There's More to Foster Girl Than Foster Care
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
This is the fifth and final installment of “Confessions of a Non-Essential,” a limited series on my being a non-essential worker. I am currently under a government order to stay-at-home. I’ll be using this time during our global pandemic to be introspective about what I’m doing with my life.
I just got off the phone with my longtime friend, Dee. She has been a faithful reader of my “Confessions of a Non-Essential” series and she knew me way before I published, “Foster Girl, a Memoir.” As we were catching up, I had a confession to make:
“So I wanna continue to write about foster care issues, and writing, for sure, but not only that.”
I don’t want to limit myself when it comes to writing. I told my gal pal I wanted to write about offbeat traveling (once the shutdown is over). Wild recipes like how to make Spanish Octopus. How I suck at landscaping and gardening. God that’s maddening! What I do when I feel lazy but manage to work out anyway. How, even though I have a lot of Irish blood in me and I come from a tainted bloodline of alcoholics, I don’t think I could ever be one because I’m too vain. I want to examine how I got from being financially independent to dependent and find out how to be independent again. How trauma affects me to this day — it creeps up on you out of nowhere but overall, it’s less oppressive than it used to be. I also want to interview all walks of life, share book, and film suggestions. I want to respond to the latest in the news and pop culture. I told my patient friend the following:
“I think I’ve boxed myself in as a writer. I’m currently known as a writer about foster care and my horrible childhood. I don’t regret writing about those things but I know I have more to share, particularly on self-improvement and the arts. I want to write about my life now. My quirky, little life after Foster Girl.”
My friend was encouraging as I was wrestling with this self-imposed dilemma. I know who my readers are at this point. Most know me through my first book and I have a follow-up on the way. I can imagine it would be hard for some of them to shift gears but that’s where I feel I’m heading.
When I started this Confessions series, I stated I had two problems. One was to figure out the “failure” of Foster Girl, which it turns out wasn’t a failure, and two, I wanted to find a way to make a living writing about my life. I didn’t know what shape that would take but I think I finally discovered how to make that dream happen. I’ve been testing the waters with this series and doing research on a particular genre of online writing and I’ve made a decision:
I am going to write an eclectic personal blog. A life continuum.
I’ll still talk about foster care on my blog, particularly the long term effects. That’s important, especially since I have yet to find an online community of former foster youth beyond the age of 24. If it exists, it’s hard to find. I’d like to change that. I’ll also tackle what’s going on currently with foster kids, share foster care centric content as well as continue to produce books about the darker aspects of my life — Foster Girl did not cover it all — but my blog will not only be about foster care, childhood trauma, and healing. I want to expand the space I’ve already created.
Okay so, what’s stopping me?
Me. There’s a Greek Chorus in my head that’s wailing, “Stop! No one cares! Stop thinking about yourself! People are suffering! Foster kids, think of them!!!”
I do feel some guilt about writing a personal blog not only because of my past but because of what’s going on in the world. I just read more than half of LA is now unemployed and it’s going to take a significant time to recover. But I have a lot to say, some are on important issues, others more frivolous but the goal is to make readers think, have them learn something new or at least be entertained for a few minutes. I know I seek such escapism content out daily and it helps me cope as well as enjoy life more.
I also want to show people who have had bad childhoods that it's possible to have a good adulthood. I'll share in my blog how I did it.
I do have this fear that I’ll lose half of my established readers with this new direction I’m taking. Some of my readers (website subscribers) have just been introduced to me. This shift in topics may be a bit too jarring. I don’t want to lose any reader but I have to write what’s not only in my heart but in my head, gut, and groin.
Speaking of, here’s a good article from Vox on quarantine sex and how it’s normal to have an increased sex drive or not wanting to have sex at all. In the article, a sex researcher talks about Terror Management Theory. Here’s a pulled quote: “The idea behind it is that when we face the prospect of our own mortality, it leads us to…behaviors in a way that it’s designed to cope with that existential threat.” The researcher then talks about how all that plays out in our sexual behaviors.
I think I can bring more value, information, and amusing entertainment to readers if I don’t limit myself on topics to write about. I’ll enjoy the process of writing more and produce more content if I write a personal blog about whatever I want. I want to also meld what I’ve been doing offline too. Privately, I’m always sending video clips, articles, and interesting advice and information to my friends. A lot of that content has nothing to do with foster care. I’d like to start sharing with my readers what I’ve been sharing with my friends. I want to write to my readers as if they’re my friends. Like for example, I just discovered Yoyoka. Here she is, 8-years-old, playing Led Zeppelin’s Good Times, Bad Times. Watching her play will bring automatic joy to your heart. And here’s the world’s most famous burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese, showing us her English Tudor home in Los Angeles in one of my favorite series, “Open Door” by Architectural Digest.
Getting back to my conversation with Dee, I ended the self-involved portion of our phone call by asking her opinion on this new direction of my public writing.
“Do you think I should do this?” I asked Dee. Before she could answer, I interrupted her by justifying my thinking. I told her I’ve studied other personal blogs and whenever I read someone’s book, and like it, I automatically seek out other books from that author or personality and see if that person has a blog.
“Also,” I added, “I’ve done a disservice to my readers. I haven’t produced any substantial work since Foster Girl. That was published seven years ago. I need to get crackin’ on creating that place for readers to land after reading Foster Girl.”
Dee agreed. She also said, “People are voyeurs, they want to know what other people are doing. Especially now, during these times. Now, go…give me something exciting to read. Go write.”
Okay, I will! I hope you all will join me in this new chapter.