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Monday, February 05, 2007

Mother Blogger Interview #1 - Scribbit

I have the great pleasure of posting the first of my Mother Blogger interviews. I enjoy Scribbit (Michelle's) writing for many reasons: it's balanced, clean, thoughtful text. She always covers a multitude of subjects from families to recipes to blogging tips. Basically, what I wish I was!

I have not edited her responses in any way. I was only going to put in a sample, but she answered all the questions so thoroughly, I thought why deny you all the pleasure of reading it!All I have done is remove a few of my basic questions that aren't needed right here, or edited them for length because as you will probably see I am not the master of simplistic form. But I am working on it.

Thank you for your help Michelle. Enjoy, everybody. I am interested to see what kind of discussion her answers - and others which will be upcoming - generate.

When did you first begin blogging?

I started in June of 2005, posting once a week off and on. It wasn’t until September 2006 that I got serious about blogging and began posting at least once a day.

What interested you in beginning your Blog? Why a Blog over other methods of 'traditional' journaling (like a private diary)?

Well I still keep a private diary, my blog doesn’t supersede that, it’s just a different medium for my writing. My journal was, however, the precursor to my blog. I write in my journal every week and I used to print it off, having cut out the parts that were too personal, and to send to family as a way to keep in touch. Soon I was hearing reports that my letters were making a circuit through the rest homes of Idaho. It was then my husband, who is very technology-minded, suggested I start a blog.

Does writing a Blog give you a voice that you otherwise feel you don't have? If yes, what factors contribute to this lack of voice that you felt you had?

I don’t think my blog gives me a voice that I didn’t have, it just gives me a means of publishing that voice. There used to be gatekeepers in the world of print: editors that decided what was worthwhile and what was not. Now with the advent of self-publishing anyone with even a small knowledge of computers can produce a blog and distribute his or her ideas to the world. I think it allows good writers that may not be typical of what you would see in the mainstream print media find a way to be successful but it also means there is even more junk available to read. It puts more responsibility on readers to pick and chose where they spend their time wisely.

What you are writing, if you let it, becomes public knowledge. Truthfully, does writing for a wider audience matter? Why/why not?

It matters if you are publishing sensitive material. It matters if think you’re writing for Americans only. But if, as a writer, you’re unaware of your audience and the connection between your audience and your words then there is little chance that you’ll keep your audience for any amount of time.

What inspires you to keep blogging?

What keeps me blogging is the same thing that got me started: the need for creativity. The need to create or produce something is what drives me to write either online or offline but with a blog I get a much neater, tighter, self-contained, packaged product rather than a bunch of loose manuscripts in a drawer somewhere.

As mothers, how do you address the issue of internet security on your blog? What rules have you self-imposed about what you say about your family/children?

Generally I think the frantic worry about privacy on the internet is overblown. Unfortunately there is enough graphic, filthy content available for the taking on the internet that it’s unlikely someone would bother with the clean stuff I publish. However, I do use fake names—or if you like pseudonyms—instead of our real names, I don’t have my phone number, name or address in any way connected electronically to my blog, I don’t publish information about birthdays or other material that could be used for identify theft and I’m very careful not to use certain “dirty” words in my posts that could allow the search engines to traffic unwanted visitors to my site.

If you could estimate a percentage, how much of your blog is unembellished, straight recount of what's been happening in your life? (Or, to rephrase the question, do you ever doctor your tales to seem more 'dramatic' or 'funny')? Why/why not?

Everything that I say happens, happens. I don’t make stories up. I do, however, generously use hyperbole, sarcasm, satire, and other comedic tools that exaggerate for effect but never in a misleading way. I would hope my writing is good enough that readers are aware of these literary devices and won’t take everything I say literally but they should also be assured that every scene I relate did occur, true to detail.

Do you think that blogging – at all – insinuates a certain social standing on behalf of the blogger herself? For example, many poorer women, who themselves may want to express themselves, may not have computer or internet access. Do you feel that as a consequence many important stories are 'lost'?

Not any more than how illiteracy effects people’s ability express themselves—which it does, and greatly. I don’t see that the socio-economic barriers to blogging are any greater than the barriers to education in general. However, the circles I blog in are quite homogeneous. Most bloggers that comment on my blog are white—a few Asian--middle-class, educated, professionals and mothers. But is this because my subject matter attracts this kind of reader or because other readers are barred from joining in the dialogue? Probably more of the former than of the latter.

How important has blogging become to you?

Important enough to treat it as a part-to-full time job. I have every intention of continuing to blog until I feel otherwise. Whenever that may be.

How important are the trappings (or decoration/design) of your blog? For example, if you have heavily modified an existing wordpress/blogger/typepad template – or done your own – how would you feel if suddenly you were reverted back to a basic one? Would it matter?

Yes! Besides a custom template setting you apart from the rest of the blogging world and therefore making you more memorable to visitors it’s a reflection of your tone, content and personality. Visiting someone’s blog is not that different from visiting their home, they have decorated it and defined the space in ways specific to them, their needs and their personality.

Plus, I’ve made many revisions to my blog that increase its readability and organization—changes that aren’t merely aesthetic. To lose those finely-tuned points would be bad. Very bad. Do you hear me Blogger? Don’t get any ideas.

If your family is aware of your blogging and are regular readers themselves, how do you censor any personal or 'delicate' topics they may have a problem with? Or do you? (To paraphrase – do you compromise your writer's voice?) If so, how does this make you feel?

I don’t think keeping your content within the limits of decency “compromises” your literary voice any more than wearing clothes compromises your freedom of expression. It’s just good manners. As one blogger I know put it, saying bad things about another person on your blog is the cyber-equivalent to writing nasty things about them on the bathrooms walls in Junior High.

Besides, my blog—however much time I put into it—isn’t as important as my family relations. I’d never say something about a family member on my blog that I couldn’t say to their face. And I only say nice things to their face.

How important is the social networking aspect of blogging to you? (For example contributing to widely publicized memes like "Thursday Thirteen")

The things you describe are a major component of self-promotion and blogging is all about self-promotion--not in an egotistical way, but as a blogger YOU are the product and if you want your product to sell you’ve got to make it visible. That means being involved in the blogging community.

Which other bloggers do you admire? For any particular reason(s)?

I like the way Julie at Mental Tesserae writes—and she’s a great conversationalist. And likewise for Planet Nomad. Her stories are fascinating. I like the photographs and recipes of food bloggers like Food Blogger, The Traveler’s Lunchbox and Lucullian Delights though I don’t know them personally. I read Problogger (Darren Rowse) religiously and hungrily gobble up every link he throws my way.

And there are lots more—I’ve got them on my sidebar.

Comments on "Mother Blogger Interview #1 - Scribbit"


Blogger scribbit said ... (9:12 am) : 

Thanks for the chance to talk about one of my favorite subjects (blogging) Feel free to disagree with any of my assertions :) I tend to be rather opinionated I'm afraid, maybe that's the biggest reason why I like blogging, it's my own electronic soapbox!


Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (8:03 pm) : 

You're most welcome :) And you put your points so finely, it's so hard for me to find fault with any of them - not that I want to!


Blogger K T Cat said ... (1:14 am) : 

What a great idea for a series! I'm looking forward to reading more.


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