At some point in venturing into the social media and blogging world, I realized I have a much easier time writing about my cats than writing about myself. The cats are funny; I’m funny, too, but I seem to get at the humor much faster with the cats. The cats have a distinct “voice.” I have no trouble conjuring snappy and insane dialogue among my cats. And it’s fun!
Though I am an author of books (and a few very personal books at that, including the memoir Driving with Cats), I have a harder time exposing myself in the online world. I am a pretty private person. I find it interesting that my cats inadvertently make it easier for me to express myself online in general. I wondered whether other cat writers have similar experiences, so I spoke with five of my cat blogging friends.
The talented Debbie Glovatsky (designer at Glogirly Design and blogger with her cats Waffles and Katie) admits that readers do “appreciate a glimpse into my true persona. It’s true, I hide behind the voices of my cats, but ultimately they are my voice.” Debbie says that Waffles and Katie “have a lot of me in them,” even though they have their own distinct personalities. And Debbie nailed how I also am, when she said, “I’m extremely shy and don’t like writing about myself. But when I do, my cats provide a protective shield of sorts.”
Debbie does social media writing for many brands and has found that these varied companies are all interested in creating a more personal voice in their social media channels and blogs. “I find myself using the word “we” quite often.”
Deb Barnes, author of the blog The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey, was also intensely shy growing up. “Books and cats were my safe place and it was through them that I could comfortably be myself.” Her blog came into being after the publication of her first book (The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary). Initially she thought she would just “share cute stories about my cats, but as time went on and my readership grew, I realized I had a talent for engaging people with my honest and insightful writing style.”
Deb points out that this wasn’t so much about baring her soul, but a realization that she could help people and her cats were the vehicle to doing it. Her second book Purr Prints of the Heart was inspired by a desire “to help others who had lost a pet and were having difficulty with the grieving process. If I can help someone feel better in even the smallest of ways, then I’m okay with being that outlet.”
Deb writes “from the heart – it’s who I am – sometimes it’s flawed, it’s never perfect, but it’s always real.”
I came to know Janiss Garza through her work on (and my inclusion in) the anthology Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes. Janiss has done so many things in her life that it’s pretty amazing, and she is the creator of the blog SparkleCat: Featuring Summer, Therapy Cat in Training! Janiss calls herself “transparent in real life – what you see is what you get and I’ll spout off my opinion at will. I can be socially awkward, but I’m Not.Shy.At.All.”
Janiss draws a boundary when it comes to her day by day emotions — which are her own, and “nobody’s business.” Her overall approach is reflected in her writing and blogging. She says that the death of Sparkle was one of the hardest things she ever had to deal with, especially balancing the private stuff with everybody’s sympathy. “Usually when stuff like that happens, I just go hide and that’s my way of taking care of myself – I couldn’t do that in this case. I’m still not sure how I managed to navigate that, but I did.”
I talked with Catster writer Angie Bailey, blogger at Catladyland and also the author of Whiskerslist: The Kitty Classifieds and Texts from Mittens. Angie thinks people appreciate transparency. “To me, writing is a powerful form of therapy. It’s also helped me develop a thicker skin when I receive not-so-nice comments from readers.”
Angie doesn’t consider herself particularly private, and has sometimes been called an over-sharer. She says, “I love my goofy, sappy, silly self.”
Catster writer and cat blogger JaneA Kelley is the creator of Paws and Effect: A Blog By Cats, For Cat and Their People. She uses the voices of her cats in her blog because “it’s a fun and entertaining way to provide advice. I don’t talk about myself in my blog because it’s all about the cats. They’re my funny side.” JaneA pictures the cats as children playing “teacher” (while giving good advice, of course).
JaneA talks about herself “more seriously” in her writing for Catster: she’s shared her struggles with mental illness and growing up gay in rural America. JaneA believes that “when you have the privilege of being able to be out of the closet, it’s incredibly important to use it to remind people dealing with the same issues that they’re not alone.”
JaneA adds that she’s “not a fully open book. There are actually quite a few things that I don’t talk about in any public venue because they’re too personal to share in a format like a blog or an opinion post — and frankly, I just don’t think I can deal with trolls commenting on subjects that close and raw.” She calls herself a fiction writer and a storyteller at heart, and processes a lot through that medium.
What do you think? Do you feel that you’re exposing yourself to the world through your blogging, or is that not a concern? And readers, what kinds of cat writing and blogging do you like? Do you want to know the people, or the cats, or both, behind the writing?
More by Catherine Holm:
About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, and a contributor to Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes. She’s also a yoga instructor. Cat love living in nature and being outside every day, even in winter. She is mom to six adorable cats, all of them rescues.