The Cool House: Competing with Martha

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Competing with Martha


Once upon a time I had a subscription (paid with unusable airmiles) to a popular home decorating magazine. That magazine - let's call it Domino - used to delight, disappoint and drive me crazy in about equal proportions but I was glad to see it arrive in the mail every month.
Then the magazine suffered the fate of so much of the print media over the past year and folded. The publishers promised to send me another home decor magazine of equal value, which is how I came to have a subscription to Martha Stewart Living - not something I would normally pick up, even if it was free.
The problem is the adverse affect this has had on this blog. Every time I think about posting a recipe, on gazpacho for example, Martha's been there, done that with mouth-watering photographs, and with FOUR DIFFERENT VARIATIONS. I wanted to write about the horn soap dish in the guest bath but there's no point because Martha, or her minions, beat me to it. Not just a soap dish mind you, but vases and ornaments, everything made of horn was pictured in the magazine except perhaps an antelope and a rhino. There's no way I can post a photo of a dish with a bar of Savon de Marseille after that - It would look as if I were copying Martha Stewart, even if it's just a coincidence of timing. It's like being back at school and competing with the brainiac, cheerleader and prom queen all at the same time. It stifles my creativity; I don't want to go one better (I wouldn't know how), I just want to hide under the bed clothes with a pillow over my head.
I feel the same about some portal websites - Apartment Therapy, I'm looking at you. Seventy paid bloggers on staff means the press release has barely tripped off the server before they have a post up about modern housing, green building, cooking, design... You get the point? It's soul-destroying. Right now I'm in a state of flux regarding the blog. Do I continue? Who cares whether or not it's updated, anyway?
I'm off to Palm Springs today for a restorative trip to the heart of California Modernism where I hope to find something to interest the interwebs that hasn't already been covered by Martha during her recent "immersion" in the desert city...

17 comments:

susan said...

I care! Go out there and do your due diligence and find those important modernemama details which are left undiscovered by others. Inspiration for the master bath would be a plus for you, and if you come across any mod kitchens, lemme know. Have a good one and keep moisturized!

Nadine @ BDG said...

OK, now you've gone and done it-- you beat me to an entry I could have written! Seriously, what you said, so eloquently, was so on point that I was nodding in agreement with all of your assessments throughout. But I have two points to make. First off, we all now many magazines (I won't speak directly of blogs because I don't know for sure) promote many products so that it becomes more of a catalogue of what 'hot' rather than meaningful, philosophical ideas, which as your entry proves, is woven throughout your entries. Also, as writer Brenda Ueland says, we write not for the extrinsic reward, but for the internal satisfaction of seeing the world better. So the blogging helps frame snapshots of your life's experiences, encouraging you to pay attention to them. And that can't be bad. Meanwhile, we readers get to enjoy those moments with you. And I for one am looking forward to reading about Cali!

Nadine @ BDG said...

*know* (an English teacher!!!!) ack.

Renovation Therapy said...

Hang on, have to go put my boots on so I can give you a proper ass kicking...

OK...

1. The writers on AT are crap (it's true). Really. Read the posts. Bad...
2. The comments on AT are sooooo snotty.
3. Nothing is original. Stop trying, you'll make yourself insane. Just keep putting your spin, your spirit on what you do. That's what we love.
4. I haven't had caffeine yet so that's as far as I can get right now...

Charlie said...

I care!! I know exactly what you are talking about and it is infuriating. Having said that I prefer your posts, photos and writings to any of those e-magazines. They shouldn't even be referred to as a blog as they are not. I don't read any of them (unless a friend is being featured.) They have no originality. You are original an awesome writer with a natural flair for design and funny as hell! It would be a great loss if you shut this blog down:-( Please don't do it.

BTW- can I please see the the horn soap dish in the guest bath?

casaCARA said...

YES. Continue. Who cares what Martha or AT do? Ignore them. We all have our individual points of view and our devoted followers, and maybe one day, in some kind of new media development, the reason for all this effort will be revealed. As a fellow design/decor blogger, I know of what you speak. My motto: "Just keep going!"

Why S? said...

1 - I have no idea what Martha has been up to and I don't care. I want to know what you're up to.

2 - I am so envious of your trip to PS. I love Palm Springs! In fact, earlier today I was getting all aggravated by the fact that even though we haven't been there in years (thanks to working on the house) the husband will be taking his mother there next week on a little 2-day trip because she needs to get away.

OK, enough about me. Enjoy.

NV said...

You worry too much. Maybe I need to send you my "Martha doesn't live here" trivet.

And get this? MARTHA once copied off a friend of mine. She tried to look all cool using a drill to carve a jack-o-lantern. (At that point, my friend's nnual "Pumpkins and Powertools" party was in its fifth year. I nearly threw something at the TV.)

And besides, the day I saw this woman paint with a tree branch, I said, "ENOUGH."

So, I wouldn't worry about her anyway. :-)

Aimee "Roo" said...

Keep blogging if you want to, about what ever you want! :) Plus, I don't read Martha and I figure a lot of people don't either, so we love to see what you have on your mind.

You could always just throw the Martha mag in the recycle bin before opening. ;)

le banc moussu said...

That's obviously what I do often think writing a post but anyway even speaking about the same thing Martha is Martha and I'm Chris.
Have a nice day.
Hello from Paris.
christian

Maya said...

Me too, know what you're talking about. The challenge is I think to stay focused on what we love doing..., then it doesn't matter if it's been done before or how many others are doing it.

House things I like said...

Hey, hey! I want to see what YOU are up to and what YOU think. If I cared about Martha, well, I'd buy her magazine. So, please keep writing.

heidi said...

Martha can kiss my big spotty behind.
I come here to read YOU. And to check on the house & the cats & maybe even a dog or two. And the flagstone situation. And the beach.
xxooh

Nick said...

The consensus seem to be that it is your writing, your life, you emotions and your environment that has everyone coming back. You cannot compare your blog to a corporate info-mercial - that's apples and oranges. When would we read Martha blog "not sure if I should continue?". Never. Mind you with the profit involved that would makes sense. But that gets back on point - the blog is not a job. It's a part of your life that you choose to share and which we all enjoy being involved in.

Fliss said...

how can i follow every change that happens if you don't post it. post what you want, i read because i want to know what you're up to, not that daft bat Martha.

House things I like said...

And, furthermore, I can't see myself reading a book because of a book review that Martha published. Yet, I just read House and Home because your review of it had me so interested. Good book, by the way! (And, the author lives in my town.)

modernemama said...

Wow, thanks for all your supportive comments. I had a very restorative - in body and spirit - week away in California. There will be lots to share with you in the next few days, most of it mid-century modern and some of it may even be uniquely modern!