Last Saturday I was a panelist on a BlogHer Food panel about voice and identity. Audience members were particularly interested in how personal they should be in their posts. It’s a good question, figuring out what to reveal, what only to imply, and what not to say.
Or at least that’s what I thought it was about. To process my thoughts, I looked at the writing of our panel’s biggest celebrity, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman Cooks. She has 13 million annual visitors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While on our panel, Ree said she writes “like I’m talking to my sister or my best friend.” Now, I don’t know about you, but you can be pretty personal with those kinds of people. But I couldn’t find much intimate content at all when I examined her cooking blog.
It’s her voice that’s intimate, not the content. It’s passionate, happy, loving, friendly, and self-deprecating. In her recipes, she projects the kind of best friend and sister we all wish we had. She’s intimate without revealing much detail about herself. Brilliant, eh?
On Cowboy Breakfast Sandwiches, for example, Ree jokes about her saddlebag thighs and defends Miracle Whip and processed American cheese. She ends with the oldest advice in the world, that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach: “Make this for breakfast this week! Any male within 50 square miles will go berserk. And for me, in this life I’ve been given, that’s always a measure of a recipe’s success.” In this last sentence she lets readers know she believes in God, she’s satisfied and happy. It inspires them. To date, that blog post alone garnered 343 comments.
Here’s more from today’s post about Baba Ghanoush: “I’m happy with the life I’ve been given. I love my family. I’m okay with the cow that thinks it’s a dog and sleeps on my porch. I can even make my peace with the flies. Maybe. And I embrace all of the country food I’ve had to learn to make in the last decade-plus of my life: fried chicken, chocolate sheet cake, chicken fried steak. So if I want to wig out one day and make a traditional Middle Eastern eggplant spread with a totally funky name, I give myself permission.”
You find out she’s spiritual, she’s happy, she’s funny, she accepts and embraces life, and she gives herself permission. What’s not to love? She inspires her readers to live life as well as she does. She leaves out the messy things we all obsess about: self-doubt and second guessing, family problems, bad decisions.
Perhaps that’s what people meant when they asked how much to reveal. Ree chooses not to reveal negativity. It works. The Baba Ganoush post has not been up for 24 hours and it already has 220 comments.
So maybe Ree’s blog is personal because of her voice. And maybe that’s a way to go, to omit the messy stuff but be intimate anyway, in the way you write to others.