In which I am not The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I had a pounding headache and a bit of a neural spin, so I retreated to the couch with this week's New Yorker.  The article "O Pioneer Woman: The Creation of a Domestic Idyll," Amanda Fortini's story about Ree Drummond, the blogger, found me. I read.

It's not as if I hadn't previously heard about this millionaire blogging phenom. I was just insufficiently informed about the size of Drummond's empire—the numbers of books and their rapid succession, the appearances, the 23.3 million page views per month and the 4.4 million unique visitors (according to the article), the million-dollars-plus revenue Drummond received in 2010 for her blog alone. She's a pretty lady with a big camera, a Marlboro Man husband, four kids, and a diesel-powered blog that offers photo tips, recipes, giveaways, and up-to-the-minute details of her life as it is on her Oklahoma farm (and, increasingly, in her celebrity haunts). It's all turned her into a mega-star—her stories about closet cleanings and book tours, dyed hair and laundry runs.

Who'd have thought it? She certainly originally didn't, so the story says. Indeed, Drummond started blogging because it seemed like a "fun, efficient method of keeping in touch with her mother" and her first posts were "... audio recordings of herself burping, and folksy, Reader's Digest-style anecdotes about country living, such as happening upon two dogs mating."

Is it my mood? Is it the weather? Is it any wonder that I wonder (don't we all wonder) how, of the reported 14% of online women who blog, a woman writing about burping and dog love rose so very quickly to the top? Can anyone ever, truly, predict stardom, Big Things, It?

We can't, I think. We can't prescribe it or force it; we cannot choose whose voice will smoke its way up and through, whose images and stories will dominate.

We can only watch and wonder.


Beth F said...

Yes! Who knows what randomness garners attention, but I can't imagine the number of hours Drummond puts into the blog and all its spinoffs.

Beth Kephart said...

Absolutely, Beth F. That is a huge undertaking, an absolutely full time job. I would never last a day of it.

It's the origins that intrigue me. What made the early musings so popular—before the giveaways, before the books, before she really mastered the camera.

Liz said...

I scanned this too quickly the first time, and read "vapid succession" instead of "rapid succession." Oddly enough, I first learned of this woman on Monday (gotta be the same gal), while waiting to get my car repaired — she had a piece in Guideposts. And, whatever I thought about the originality and depth of her writing, I kept reading ... until my car was fixed. At which point I completely forgot about her — until now. Insert your moral here ...

Melissa Sarno said...

I started reading Drummond's blog about 3.5 years ago, just before the take-off. For me, her appeal was not the content, but her 'voice', the way she observed the world and how she brought that to the page (or webpage). I truly thought she could be my best friend. Apparently, so did 4.4 million other women. I now have VERY complex feelings about her rise to in, I have had in-depth discussions with my real-life friends about my intense jealousy of her million dollar book deals ("one day I woke up and wrote a book!" "I had an idea for a picture and, golly!, there it was on the shelf one day!") And how I don't feel the intimacy I used to feel while reading her blog. (I'm dead serious and I realize how ridiculous this is.) Now, I will probably endure hours on a therapist's couch talking about the ways in which the Pioneer Woman has toyed with my emotions. lol.

Beth Kephart said...

Liz, you made me laugh out loud.

And Melissa, you and your shrink!! (Maybe you can borrow Bethenny Frankel's shrink.... :) )

It's a crazy world.

A very crazy world.

I think I should photo shop my pictures, though. Perhaps that would be a start.

Les said...

Coming out of lurkdom here to voice my opinion. I followed TPW a year or two ago (right about the time her cookbook was published). I was wowed by her photos and writing and looked forward to popping over to her blog to read the latest about her kids, MB and Charlie (who now has his own book!). I admit, she won me over with her humor and down-to-earth personality. But a few months ago, I started to feel like it was all too much. Too many sub-blogs. Too much celebrity. Too much detachment from her readers. Honestly, I don't know how one woman can publish such a complex blog, while raising (homeschooling, no less!) her kids and taking care of the household stuff. Maybe I'm a cynic, but I'd bet she has some "help" with her blogging. Final thoughts: I'd much rather visit your beautiful blog. Your photos are lovely and your writing is thought-provoking and lovely.

Happy Mother's Day!

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