Capacious Hold-All: Can you talk about the ways in which your blog has affected your creative process?
Marita Dachsel: Before I had a writing blog, I had a mommy blog. I started it when my eldest was just a few weeks old and other than the odd poem it was the only writing I did for the first few (many) months of his life. When my first book, All Things Said & Done, was published, I started what I had hoped to be a book blog. I posted the occasional bit of news--readings, reviews--but mostly it was ignored. Not long after my second child was born, I found I simply didn't have time to enjoy life with my children, be a mother, keep up my blog(s), and work on my own "real" writing. It was a no-brainer that blogging had to go.
I still read blogs, both the parenting and writing kinds. I've never been terribly active, more a lurking wallflower, but I missed being part of the community. In the fall of 2008, over a year since going on blogging-hiatus, I developed a reason to blog again. Merging my mothering-world and my writing-world, I began laying plans for my Motherhood and Writing Project--a series of interviews with writing-mamas.
I find this series invigorating. I'm constantly inspired by the women I interview. I'm connecting with people I wouldn't have had the chance to if it weren't for this project. I'm working on a brand-new top-secret project with Ariel Gordon, a fabulous poet and someone who is transforming from an online friend to a real friend. This would never have happened if it hadn't been for blogging. And because of the Motherhood and Writing project I've been asked to sit on a panel for a screening of the film Who Does She Think She Is?, a film about motherhood and creativity.
I don't think blogging itself has directly changed my creative process, but it has opened up opportunities for me. It has also made be reachable to strangers. For example, this past year my poem Mrs. Torrance was part of Vancouver's poetry-in-transit program. I've had people email via the blog to comment on the poem. This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been so accessible.
C: Has blogging suggested ideas that you might not otherwise have pursued?
M: I suppose I wouldn't have attempted my Motherhood and Writing Project if I hadn't had an existing blog begging to be filled. My guess is that blogging is like anything in life, you never know from where inspiration is going to come or to where ideas will go.
C: One of the things I’m very interested in is the relationship between word and picture, image and text, and those tensions that occur between them. How do you see this playing out on your blog?
M: The only pictures I have on mine are ones the interviewees send along to illustrate their interviews. Ideally they'll be representative of what mothering and writing looks like in their lives, but sometimes it's simply a headshot. I rarely post photos of my own. My mommy blog was all about photos of my life, they didn't need to seep into the writing one, too.
C: The blog enriches the creative process in many ways, but would you say that there are any dangers or risks to blogging? Have you ever felt that maybe you revealed too much, or worked with certain elements too early in the creative process?
M: I think there are many dangers. The first is, obviously, that any time spent on the blog could (and should?) be used creating. I would much rather write poetry than blog posts.
Another hazard is that if you're google-able, you will be found. My first book of poetry didn't get many reviews (whose does?), but in one of the few reviews I did get, the writer had obviously googled me, found my family blog, and spent a good portion of the review reviewing my life. Let me quote the opening paragraph: "Literary couples are odd couples, or so it's said. Vancouver's Marita Dachsel, author of this volume, may disprove the rule, given how exceptionally normal her marriage to Kevin Kerr appears. Their family website depicts costumed toddlers, grandma's Prince George backyard videos, and two married writers--serious, talented ones--acting halfway normal. Heartening odd, that. It's also cheering that said spouses are a poet and playwright, respectively; it shows mixed marriages can work."
Not surprisingly, it was soon after a receiving a copy of this review from my publisher that I slowed down on writing about my family.
My Motherhood and Writing Project is ideal for me because it's a finite time (2009), I don't spend much time on it (the interviewees do most of the work!), and it's on a set subject. I'm not sure what I'll do for 2010. I have a couple of ideas simmering, but I may simply do nothing.