Friday, January 8, 2010

Self Portrait

The following are my answers to interview questions posed by Jake from the Jake Silver Show:

1. When do you first recall wanting to be a writer and what inspired that? I began writing Bob Dylan-inspired poetry as a teenager in my bedroom and then “letters to the editor” for local newspapers. As a young full-time mother I read an article in one of my favorite magazines, “Mothering,” and thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I knew I had something to say, but I had to teach myself sentence structure and punctuation by studying how it was done in books and magazines. The first article I submitted to “Mothering” was accepted for publication….and they paid me! (There’s a writer’s biography on my website that goes into more detail on my writing background and my genetic tendencies towards it.)

2. What made you want to start a Web Log? I was writing lots of political commentary for The Roanoke Times, The New River Free Press, and online publications. I got burned out because it was painstaking work to reference everything I wrote and because after the presidential election on 2004 I felt defeated and lost faith in the system. I wanted to do something completely different and have some fun with writing. For me, I understand life by translating it into words. I needed a container for all my writing and a way to organize and cross-reference it. I also think of my blog as a memoir writing project, a time capsule into my life and the time and setting I’m living in.

3. How did you come up with the name and theme of your Web Log? I wanted green. I wanted to let my hair down and draw on my Irish heritage (you know what good talkers and writers the Irish are). I purposely chose the bio-photo I did because it was taken in Ireland and because I have a shamrock pinned to my sweater. Besides being a nice sounding alliteration, “Loose Leaf” conjures up images of notebook paper and tea, both of which describe me pretty well. I recognized the multi-purpose a blog could fulfill. I knew it would be a natural extension to my Silver and Gold webpage and figured that it would have a re-occurring grief and loss thread. Like my webpage, I wanted my blog to offer a model of encouragement to other self-taught writers with stories of their own to tell. I wanted a forum to write about writing, post occasional poems, and feature snapshots of the country lifestyle I live. Some of the other themes, which I particularly enjoy, like the “S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E” category and “Featured Artist,” evolved over time. My Asheville potter son who loves the Red Sox and my Scrabble partner and poet friend, Mara, are regular re-occurring characters that are always fun to write about.

4. Have you ever had an embarrassing situation occur because of Blogging? The possibility to be embarrassed exists everyday when you put yourself out there (and use your real name like I do). I still swing from feeling really positive to vulnerable about blogging. I’m sometimes embarrassed that I have so little tech-no-logic sense about computers and that I have to rely on other people to help me. The worst thing that has happened thus far is this: A local city paper, which features links to regional blogs on its online front page, featured a blog post of mine entitled “Have You Seen Me Lately?” but the editor changed the title to read “America is Evil!” I thought it was a mistake or a cruel joke, but it wasn’t. I was mortified and felt exposed, misunderstood, and even libeled. By the time I got the editorial editor on the phone, I was in tears. They took it down, but for 4 hours that day people were clicking on my site looking for “America is Evil,” a black and white simplistic misrepresentation of what I actually wrote.

5. What is the best aspect of keeping a Blog? I like the interactive aspect of blogging and that it’s done without the obvious visual cues that can, sadly, sometimes cause us to judge people by how they present physically (age, size, culture, etc). I’m a social scientist at heart, and I’ve always been curious about people. I like that I can connect with those who I have something in common with, and I especially like that blogging creates a format that allows me to connect with others who live and think differently than I do. My book, about losing my brothers, my webpage, and my blog have all expanded me as a writer and a person, and have shown me that my writing can touch others, which has been very rewarding. But the best part of that equation is something I didn’t expect…the people I have touched with my writing have reached right back and touched me.

6. Is there anything that you'd love to be asked that I didn't ask you? This is like getting a blank in a Scrabble game. I know it’s an opportunity that should be welcomed. Most people like getting a blank, but I usually have a hard time visualizing it as anything other than a blank. I’m drawing a blank here, but I’m going to think about this question some more and maybe do a whole post on it someday.

Originally posted on on February 18, 2006.

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