Monday, November 9, 2009

Subtext and an invitation

By Carol Burnside

In writing, the story unfolds with the progression of scenes. We embed subtext as a means of enriching our writing, often without consciously thinking about it. But did you know there’s also subtext on this blog? Some bits of it you (our readers) can see, other bits remain behind the scenes. At this point you might wonder what the heck I’m talking about. Well, let me explain...

As with a lot of group blogs, we PFHT sisters have a loop on which we conduct business regarding the blog, vote via polls, take gentle umbrage with each other and let down our hair a little. Some of us were good friends before joining the PFHT blog. Others we’re only nodding acquaintances with.

As we get to know each other, we compartmentalize our personal lives from business less and less. Some are more cautious than others, but eventually we expose tiny bits of ourselves. I knew this would happen, even expected it. Recently I needed to reference something we talked about early on and went to the group home page to search for keywords in the messages. Even in the post titles, a story unfolded of 19 women coming together in cyber space, forming a bond which has enriched our lives.

At first the post titles contained phrases such as ‘target audience’, ‘pictures for banner’, ‘voting particulars’ , ‘name poll’, and others concerned posts and scheduling and themes. Business, business, business. Then a post appeared proclaiming, ‘Blog is Live.’ Soon after, I noticed the more personal items creeping in with ‘good news’, ‘This is not official business’, ‘Crazy, crazy day’, ‘licking my wounds’, ‘ragin’ rejection’, ‘Susan’s Nick & surgery’, ‘Susan’s update’ (lots of heartfelt messages along here as Susan’s son recovered from heart surgery), ‘I got a review – finally!’ followed by many congrats, ‘A little squee!’ and several Happy Birthday! posts. Embedded in the business of forming and running and promoting Petit Fours and Hot Tamales were tidbits of our lives. Sick kids, vacation envy, horrendous weekly schedules, and pleas for prayers. Details will remain within the private pages of our loop.

Oh, sure, there are a few tense moments (refer back to the ‘gentle umbrage’ comment) because we don’t all agree on everything, but we’re RWA chapter mates, authors banding together with a common professional goal, forming a bond, becoming friends...behind the scenes. Subtext.

While writing this, I realized the same thing is happening within the posts and comments of the blog, though it wasn’t a conscious objective. In contributing to the various topics and in the comments, we share personal tidbits about our individual love stories, our relationships with our kids and families, moments when we weren’t stellar parents or found ourselves in embarrassing situations: tiny snapshots of our lives for you to see.

We’ve noticed a lot of returning visitors in the blog statistics. When we’re really lucky, one of you comments, sharing with us a tiny snapshot of you or just letting us know we’ve struck a chord in your world. We LOVE that and wish more of you would talk with us. Sometimes we feel as if we have friends out there who are too timid to show their faces. Honestly? We won’t bite. So, as we used to say to our friends in childhood, “Come on out and play!” Show us your faces and let’s create new subtext, that of a cyber community finding common ground.


Sandy Elzie said...

Good morning Carol,

You're right on. A year ago (having been in GRW almost 2 years), I knew you, but I didn't really know you. You were a person I said hi to once in a while at meetings.

Then we became sister bloggers. I've read snippets of your work, followed you as you had to leave us to move north, saw pictures of your lovely new home and the list goes on. I feel a know you a little better now and it has been a fun ride.

I agree also that we'd love to hear from all our followers who drop by to read but don't leave a message. Hey, guys, once in a while just take a moment to say "Hi"! Sandy

Dianna Love said...

It has been great getting to know some of you better through this blog. I've enjoyed being introduced to your writing voices. Anyone who lurks should consider posting a hello here because this blog is a safe and positive place to put your comments. You will always be welcomed with open arms.

Chicki said...

I have been reading this blog EVERY day since someone put a flyer on the table at GRW, but I must confess that I rarely comment. Will do better. I promise ...

Cyrano said...

glad to see you're reading and seem to be liking our posts. Hope they've been helpful and inspirational.
I'm one of the PFHT blog sisters and we LOVE our visitors. We especially like a little shout out now and then. So if you have the time, once in a while, give us a word or two to let us know you're there. Like Carol said, "We promise, we won't bite."
Carol, it's great that you let the readers know about the behind the scenes goings on. I take for granted that my sisters will always be there, chattering happily back and forth, making plans, giving praise, cyber hugs and kisses. I'm glad you pointed that aspect of our PFHT world out.
Thanks for the post.
I've loved working with you all and hope to continue on for years to come!
Happy Monday,

Cyrano said...

I have to change my pic. Blonde is sooo not me.

Linsey Lanier said...

Oh, Carol. Your post hits home. In that loop you're referring to, I said this would be a week of tears and laughter. I was right. Your words made me tear up.

I love that communion you're talking about. I've gone to GRW meetings for years and always wanted to get to know other members better. This blog has given me the chance to get closer to some wonderful ladies.

And yes, yes, yes! PF&HT hearts our visitors! We'd love to hear from all of you.

Thanks for a great start to my day, Carol.

Thanks for all of your support, Dianna. We love having you as a faithful reader.

Good to hear from you, Chicki. It's nice to know we have such loyal followers.

And Tamara - I love the blonde picture! Too cute. :)


Pam said...

Hi Ladies,

I have been a faithful reader ever since Ana shared your card with me at my first GRW meeting, although it took me a while to work up the courage to post a comment. Finally, I found myself so inspired by your writing and your personal stories that I finally felt it was my turn to contribute SOMETHING--even if it wasn't particularly clever or insightful. And these days NaNoWriMo is using up so much of my brain capacity that there isn't much clever or insightful left--if it was there in the first place! :)

I have a personal blog, too, so I know how much those comments mean. So, if you're reading this and you've never posted, I DARE YOU!! :)


Anna Steffl said...

Lovely post, Carol. I'm so honored that I was invited to participate in this group. The quality of these ladies' characters and writing is inspirational.

Carol Burnside said...

Sandy, Tamara, Linsey, & Anna:
You guys are making me all misty! This was a spare post that got pulled in at the last minute, so it slipped my mind to tie in the monthly theme. However, in reading all these comments, I'm struck by how much you've all come to mean to me and how thankful I am to have joined this group.

Though I miss out on the in-person meetings 'down South', I feel so much more connected to GRW and the writing community because of PF&HT sisters. Thank you for including me!!!

Carol Burnside said...

Chicki, that is SO great to hear, that you are a faithful reader. We appreciate that and every comment you've posted. Thanks for de-lurking!

Carol Burnside said...

Dianna, I miss seeing you at the GRW meetings. Every time I see or wear the beautiful necklace you gave me, I'm reminded of your fabulous smile and generous spirit. Thanks for being such a loyal follower of our blog.

Carol Burnside said...

Believe me when I say there are many days when we don't feel we've been particularly brilliant or insightful with our posts and comment either.

Congrats on being our Treasure Hunt winner!

Just popped over to your blog. Your new hairdo looks fabulous, BTW. :)

Linsey Lanier said...

Is there a url for Pam's blog? Please share. :)


Pam said...

It's Please stop by and visit! :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Great post, Carol. You hit the nail on the head describing our growing bond and still forming relationships.

Yes, comments take on their own subtexts and those who join not only become a part, but also form some of the subtext themselves.

I encourage some of you guys to comment, at least once so we can know who you are, what you like, etc.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Great post--fascinating as well as sentimental! Thanks for reminding us of how community really works.


Ana Aragón said...


Thanks for the lovely reminder that we've grown as friends as well as writers. I love reading the posts from everyone, and especially from new people to the blog.

This cyber-community is as real and personal as any in-person group to which I've belonged. You gals (and the occasional guy) are extra special!


Maxine Davis said...

Loved your post! You are so right. When I first joined GRW, I could tell I was with some wonderful people. I just wondered if I would ever know their names much less know anything about them.

PF&HT has been great. I know so many more people and actually feel that we are friends. I can even recall 'some' names - am working on that!

Can't say enough about the encouragement and wonderful feelings I get from all of you! I'm slow to pitch in, but I'm trying to get better at it.

Tami, I thank you and ladies, I love you all (see, I told you I'd get better about jumping in)

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Ladies (and gentlemen)!!!

This is a great post, Carol. Thank you for the reminder. I agree with everything everyone has said. I feel like I have grown closer to all of you, both PF&HTs and our wonderful readers.

In the very beginning, I sent out 80+ e-mails to GRW members asking if they would be interested in joining the group. Although I totally understand why the others couldn't join, I do believe they have missed out on a sisterhood that is unlike anything I could have dreamt of.

With my PF&HT sisters and our terrific readers, we are definitely creating a community that I am thrilled to be a part of! You all rock!


Carol Burnside said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. It's great to know that you're feeling the same things I am. Hugs to all!

Darcy Crowder said...

Carol - So sorry this is late, but I did talk to you on the phone for over an hour yesterday, so does that count??? LOL.

I'm so glad to be a part of this wonderful talented group of ladies and to call you my friends. It's been a blast this past year getting to know everyone a little bit better.