The pledge

It’s late at night, and I oughtn’t be writing.  I ought to be sleeping.  But I have something I need to say.  Please forgive a post written in haste and not in the least polished.

I was leaving the YMCA parking lot a few months ago, and I put my little token into the machine that lifts the barrier to let me out.  To my surprise, the machine returned my token AND lifted the barrier.  Score – one dollar saved.

But, then, I started to think about it, and I realized that I had taken a dollar from the coffers of the YMCA, and there is probably a special circle of hell reserved for those who do such things.  So, the next time I was in the Y, I gave the guy at the front desk a buck and explained the situation.  “Wow,” he said, “thanks for being honest.”

“Dude, when I sell out my integrity, it is going to be for a lot more than a dollar,” I replied.

Of course, I don’t really have a lot of offers to sell out for more cash.  I am sort of a nobody.  I am not a government official, a celebrity, or even particularly good-looking.  No one particularly wants my honor.

And, so, when someone commented on my last post, “Have you really taken the pledge? Because you are exactly and clearly the kind of person who doesn’t even need it,” I am forced to admit that she is right.  I would like to take it as a compliment, along the lines of: “You are so darned honorable that you don’t need to pledge to remain so.”  But the fact is, no one is offering me much to compromise my integrity in the first place.

I have, what, a few hundred readers?  Considerably fewer if you subtract my husband’s nine gazillion relatives who so supportively read my blog.  I am not the chick the marketers really care to get their hands on.  And, yes, that makes me sad, because I like to think my writing is good and people want to read it.  But the fact is that only so many people have found me, and most of those are people I read in return.

We are a community, and that part I do like.  But, I am wistful and wish that I could be one of those people who folks read just because they like my work.  I do wish I were reaching thousands, not hundreds.  I wish those thousands were flocking here because they like what they get.

And what they get is honesty.

Now and then, I am contacted to attend an event or get something free.  The problem is, when I go to an event, I feel obligated to write something positive about it.  I feel like it is part of the bargain, and I feel terrible about letting my side down.  But then, I also feel like a shit for selling something that I might not myself have purchased.

OK, so part of my problem is clearly that I have Jewish guilt.  My grandmothers would be proud.

The other part of my problem is that I want you all to know, as my kids know, that what you are getting here is pure honesty.  I am more or less a failed writer and a SAHM.  I have little to offer the world: I am not helping pay the bills, I am not feeding starving children, I am not solving the healthcare crisis.  I’m not even entertaining a large audience.  All I have to offer up to the world is my honesty and my honor.

And, so, yes, I did take the pledge.  Because yesterday’s post was hard for me to write.  I was grateful for the invitation to the event and I felt terrible being in any way negative.  But, the minute I start glossing over my thoughts and reactions, then this blog loses the only thing it has going for it.

That badge is there because, despite the fact that few people are approaching me with free stuff, I want to make it clear where I stand.  If I go to an event, if I accept something free, there is no commitment on my part to try to sell something to my friends and readers.  This may be why, by the way, I get so few offers…

When the time comes to sell out my integrity, I am going to ask a hell of a higher price than a free DVD or tickets to the circus.

21 responses to “The pledge

  1. Emily, I don’t think yesterday’s post was hard on them, at all. It didn’t make me think negatively about the situation – just that it something that you and Zach weren’t prepared for. OK, I may have been a little judgmental when I filled in the blanks about the other people who were there trying to get their kids started in a television career, but that was not you, it was all me… (Although lately we’ve been watching a lot of Popular Mechanics for Kids DVDs which star Elisha Cuthbert as a teen – so cute!)

    One thing I will say, as someone who has been reading you for a long time and I feel I have come to know your voice, is that you’re being hard on yourself during a time of transition (big move, new baby) that won’t last forever. You haven’t failed at anything yet – you’ve got a lot ahead of you.

  2. Emily, I am one of those readers who reads here because I like what you have to say and the way that you say it. I’ve been reading for about 18 months or so and rarely comment (for a couple of reasons: one, as a non-blogger I’m a rather peripheral part of the community, and two, because your other commenters often say what I’m thinking far more eloquently than I could hope to), but check the site daily and eagerly digest each post. You may not be solving the health care crisis or fixing the economy, but you are making people think and if only a few of those people are more tolerant and open minded as a result, I think that’s a success.

    Even without the badge, I think those of us who visit regularly trust your words and believe in your integrity.

  3. The pledge just articulates what you believe and practice already – but sometimes that’s a very, very useful thing.

  4. I read you because your voice is different than the gazillion other moms who blog (because I don’t really want to call you a “mommy blogger”) out there. There is none of the woe is me, none of the drama and exaggeration, none of the predictableness(is that a word??), none of the trying too hard to be funny. I think that in everything you say, you are demonstrating your integrity. You touch on issues that are bigger than poopy diapers and how many M & Ms you’ve eaten today. And while I love it when you talk about your kids, I also love it that this blog is about more than that. Those of us who are here, and are reading, love what you write and come back for more. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  5. There is so much hullaballoo about this pledge and what’s interesting is that anyone that I DO read here in BlogLand HAS integrity or I wouldn’t be read them.

    Like you, I wouldn’t consider selling out for $20. My soul is worth more than that. At least $30…

  6. I saw that comment yesterday and it kind of bothered me. Not enough to say anything, but it did sit wrong with me.

    You have put into words, why I do this and also, why I also signed that pledge and put the badge up on my blog. Maybe I am not the person who “needs” it either. But does that really matter? I signed it, because I believe in it. I believe in being honest and up-front and real. Why is that a bad thing?

    Am I a big name blogger? No. Will I ever be? No, probably not. I honestly don’t think I’d want to be. I do this for the community aspect. Also, because I love to write. I just can’t understand how pledging to blog with integrity is a negative thing at all.

  7. We enjoy reading your writing. We enjoy your lessons. You’re a kid ahead of me and I like to see what I might have coming to me if I decide to take the plunge and have another. Your voice is unique and I’ve never given a second thought about your honesty or integrity.

    Thanks for writing for us!

  8. “Dude, when I sell out my integrity, it is going to be for a lot more than a dollar,” I replied.

    This is brilliant.

    I love your writing, Emily, and that’s why I’m here.

    But I’m disappointed to learn that I probably can’t afford the price on your integrity.

  9. I think you’re a great writer. I couldn’t believe it, when I discovered your site, that you weren’t one of the top bloggers out there. Please keep going, I love your blog!

  10. “…you are exactly and clearly the kind of person who doesn’t even need (the pledge).” I hope I’m the same kind of person, and I have also taken it. I know that plenty of folks who “don’t need it” know they don’t, and they won’t take it, which is fine. And I know this will sound judgmental but I’ll say it anyway: chances are that some of the folks who NEED it probably won’t go near it – because they don’t realize, or don’t care.

    I’m not exactly rolling in the offers either, but if I get them, I know darn well that it’s because I have a blog, and they’re only offering because they want me to talk about what I get. When I do talk about it, I will say how it came my way, and I’ll be as honest and fair as I can be. That’s what matters.

    And for the record, I come here for the writing – and the integrity.

  11. It’s tough to find balance on this. On the one hand, I don’t want to be a review and giveaway blogger. It’s just not my style. So if I were being inundated with offers of free products I would likely not accept them anyway. But on the other hand I’d sort of like to get the offers. It’s like a little gold star or something, confirmation that someone else thinks you’re important.

    I think you’ve walked the line well, and with integrity. I’ve enjoyed reading about your experiences. And I will continue to come back, whether you visit my blog or not. Whether you have thousands of readers or ten, because I like your writing. That’s what I think it’s really about.

  12. “But, I am wistful and wish that I could be one of those people who folks read just because they like my work.”

    Emily, why do you think people including me are here?

  13. I thought I must have missed yesterday’s post in my post-flu fog until I saw the first comment referring to the one I read. I don’t see anything wrong in what you said. Go with the honesty. BS is too common.

  14. Don’t ask me. I’m just here for the writing.

  15. I don’t know you and don’t think I know anyone else you know. And I read your blog because it’s good. Because the writing is good and you’re interesting and passionate and have a great sense of humor. I wish there were a thousand of me so you’d have more readers.

  16. What Kristina said – exactly.

  17. I don’t understand the pledge stuff, but I’ll review later.

    Don’t think of yourself as a failed writer… it isn’t over until it’s over 🙂

  18. Cheeky Monkey

    Well now I feel like an ass. But I stand by what I said. And it was a compliment. Your integrity has never been a question for me. And my real problems with the pledge have to do with other things about it and not the idea of being a person who blogs with integrity.

    Or maybe it’s really that I shouldn’t put it up, because I would probably never have returned that $1 to the Y. (I’m pretty sure my special place in hell was reserved long before that admission.)

  19. Cheeky Monkey

    And De, by the way, is right. You are too hard on yourself. When I read your sentences about how you are contributing nothing, how you are a failed writer, I want to cry for you and also hug you, which is strange because I never hug anybody. Ever.

  20. I come here just because I like your writing.

  21. I think this is beautiful and honest and lovely and the blog world is lucky to have people like you in it.