Blogger: Neal Call
It came to me in a dream. Also, when I had a kid, I realized that I was going to have to let a lot of my juvenile inclinations and excuses go. Have I let them all go? Eh… But do I realize I need to? Yes. She keeps my head pointed in the right direction, you know?
It allows instant feedback. I love writing; I love crafting something and finding out how people feel about it. Blogging is a natural next step for anyone who has ever taken a creative writing class and and who got really jazzed about peer feedback.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. It takes me a LOT of time to edit a post down to something I feel good about. Which means I have to neglect my daughter and force her to watch TV all day in order to blog about how much I love her and all the activities we do together. “But Daddy, I don’t want to watch TV anymore…” “You get back in front of the TV right now, young lady. You can stop when I SAY you can stop.” Just kidding. She never says she wants to stop watching TV.
First, it’s because I think that what I write will be meaningful to my daughter as she grows older. I wish my own parents had written more about the experiences that made them who they were, both the trials and the joys. But more generally, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and the advice “they” always give is simple: Write. As much as possible. What really sets blogging apart from writing for literary journals or traditional publishers, though, is that it offers a great avenue for feedback and discussion.
Blogging, to me, is a way to value process as much as product. A dissertation or novel is only really seen in its final, completed form. But a blog post can be more presently connected to the everyday experience of your life. And in the business of parenting, process is a pretty big deal.
My wife edits almost everything I post. Partly because she’s a really amazing (and brutal) editor. I usually weep for a few minutes after reading her corrections, but they always make my stuff better. Here’s the piece she helped me to edit the most: On holding hands
It’s also the piece I usually share with family, since it’s not about poo. Almost everyone in my family tells me to stop writing about poo, but look, we’re potty training right now. It’s on my mind a lot.
You know Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird? I’m probably the Boo Radley of blogging. Beyond bringing my daughter to the playground or grocery store, I don’t get out much. So, “no” to the first question, and “it probably would be” to the second. As we speak, I’m actually drafting a proposal to my wife for us to move from Orange County to a small town (population < 3000) in the mountains. Fortress of Solitude, here I come.
Cormac McCarthy. Or maybe…Kazuo Ishiguro. Both dudes have written novels that evoked powerful emotion in me as a father. McCarthy’s The Road is like a vicious punch right in your kidneys, a horror story that stabs right at a dad’s worst fears. Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go offers a quieter but equally heartbreaking story of love and abandonment. Hmm. Maybe Herman Melville? Here’s something I wrote channeling Moby Dick into an experience with my daughter wrestling tree roots from the ground: On getting filthy and hunting whales.
There’s no doubt that the whole dad blogging thing has yet to really hit the big leagues. I’m okay with that. Partly because a lot of the dads and dad blogs are still too new to be jaded by the experience. There are a lot of mom blogs I enjoy, but there are some out there that start to sound like the same old sarcastic take on parenting with a required punchline about chugging wine to make it through a day. Most of the dad bloggers I encounter have a refreshing sincerity forming the backbone of their work, even the ones that are trying to be funny or irreverent. Like this one, for instance: On attending church.
I’d intended for the piece to just be a comic look into my wandering mind, but something more complicated and meaningful kinda snuck in at the end, despite my best intentions. I don’t want to avoid substantial introspection, because then where is the benefit to my children when they want to go back and learn something about me? I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone, but I really respect someone who can also periodically write about the things that make them think, or that make them cry.
I’m old school. And cheap. I use Microsoft Paint, essentially the same program that was available on our first 386 desktop computer. If I were a tech genius you’d figure I’d at least use Photoshop…but I am no tech genius. I’d actually love to get a drawing tablet of some kind – WACOM puts out a bunch of ’em, and as I understand it, youngsters these days even have drawing apps for their smart phones and ipads. But until the public starts clamoring to buy poorly drawn cartoons of stick figures, my wife says I can can just keep using a mouse and Microsoft Paint.
You know the web comic xkcd? I love that stuff. What I do isn’t in the same league (and I’m pretty sure Randall Munroe uses a drawing tablet…hint hint, honey), but I figured there was an audience to produce something similar from a parenting perspective. Also, I think it’d be kind of funny for my daughter to grow up thinking that “work” means laboring over drawing stick figures.
My wife was the original blogger in our family. It was a way for her to reach out to friends and relatives, and also to offer personal perspectives into her graduate research. She’s a great writer, and people responded well to her output. Not that I was jealous, but it’s possible that one of the big reasons I wanted to start a blog was to try and beat all of her stats. Now that I’ve done so, I sometimes feel like Inigo after the death of Count Rugen. What’s next?
My wife recently took on a job as an online university instructor, which has drastically reduced her blogging time. But when she finds the time to blog, she produces stuff that frankly makes me really proud to be her husband, like this entry about her work with incarcerated men.
I suppose, since you twist my arm.
Visit Raised By My Daughter
And be sure to tell Neal that Andrew from Mommy’s Busy, Go Ask Daddy sent ya!
12 thoughts on “Blog Spotlight: Neal from Raised By My Daughter”
I enjoyed reading your interview. Love the illustrations.
I love the fact that you’re a Blogger Dad and inspired by your Daughter. What a precious sentiment to treasure to leave behind. I wish you well in all your ventures here, and life in general. #phillylove
Love the name of the blog. It’s all too true….our children do raise us – not the other way around.
I respect the fact that even though a bunch of blogs are written by women you guys put your feelings out there for us all to read!!
Kids can definitely put a handful. What is there not to love 🙂
I was reading this in Google Reader (bah) and saw the little Captain America cartoon and was about to send it to Andrew until I realized I was reading it on his blog already.
Neal is a real up-and-comer. He is honest, fresh and incredibly readable. Oh, and obviously smart and clever. May you never become jaded, Neal.
Toaster, takes one to know one. But thanks!
Nice cartooning. My first online writing was with a 386 back in 1992. Have you read Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day? A father-son book; really good.
David, it’s on my shelf. I haven’t gotten to it yet, though I liked Never Let Me Go so much I’m pretty sure I’m gonna make it a goal to read through everything else he’s written.