I am one of those people who can’t remember a time when I didn’t write or dream of being a writer. In preschool, when other kids were into staying in the lines in their coloring books, I used to cut up construction paper into little squares, staple it together to make my version of a paperback, and then print my toddler gibberish in them. I also made my own neighborhood newspaper out of wrapping paper and called it “The Stephanie Scribbler” which I left on the entire block’s front porch weekly. And then I went through a phase where I would cover up the famous author names on the classic novels I was assigned to read in English class, and substitute my own name instead. There I would be, walking around, proudly carrying a book that proclaimed, “Aesop’s Fables” or “Grimm’s Fairytales” by Stephanie Lewis. But now I’m (much) older and I haven’t plagiarized anyone else’s work recently! Oh and the other mundane details about myself – – I am divorced, a mother of six, and reside in San Diego, California where I work as a freelance writer.
2. Why do you blog?
I blog as a means to an end. That is not to say that I don’t think of blogging as a respectable art form in and of itself, (it absolutely is!) but for me it has always represented a vehicle that I can easily hop into and drive to “Writingdom.” That’s the symbolic place where happily-ever-after exists for people who want to publish novels, collections of short stories, and get screenplays made into movies. So far blogging has led to several regular monthly humor columns in print magazines and being invited to become a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. I guess you could say my blog has been a wonderful hybrid car that’s gotten great mileage, but I may need a more precise map to travel safely to “Writingdom.” My motto is “Dream big or . . . just go to sleep forever.”
3. What inspires you?
An interesting word or a unique turn of a phrase inspires me. As do the people speaking them. Yes, I am a professional eavesdropper. It never fails that overhearing a lover’s dialogue, a teenager’s phone call, or arguments between a customer and a shopkeeper sends me racing home with endless new material. You might say I am an adult version of “Harriet the Spy” for anyone who remembers her.
4. What makes good writing good?
For me it’s all about leaving enough spaces, gaps and voids in the narrative so that the reader has the freedom to insert their own personal experience and backstory into it. If done effectively, not only does the reader come away with a new realization about the specific tale that YOU the author, wanted to convey — but now you’ve imparted something newly significant and meaningful that applies to their own life as well. So when it comes to “reading between the lines” I am a big fan of giving people ample opportunity to do that.
5. Do you think there’s a secret formula to being a popular blogger?
If there is some sort of formula, all of us tenacious types (who want to be “popular”) would have cracked the code and emulated it by now! But I do think that blogging is about interacting in the blogosphere just as much as the physical act of writing and clicking “publish.” Therefore, shy wallflower types who are not particularly outgoing and naturally sociable might be at a disadvantage. It’s lucky that not everybody desires to be a “popular” blogger though.
6. Quality or quantity?
Definitely quality.You shouldn’t put anything out there you are not proud of. What’s the point? “Read my blog. It’s a bunch of junk, but hey there’s a whole lot of it!”
7. What would you like to tell someone who’s just starting a blog?
Be patient. Don’t do what I did. I took my short pieces that I’d previously written (before I knew what WordPress even was) and posted them all in one day. All in one hour — before I had any followers. That was how eager I was to “have a completed blog.” It kind of harkens back to what I said above where I just crossed out the famous author’s name on a famous novel and printed my own. Bingo – – add water, instant blog. It doesn’t work that way. There are no shortcuts or cutting corners.
8 You have this insane skill of coming up with crazy titles for your blog posts. Do you consider the title to be an important element of a blog post?
Personally, I will bake a cake and get immense joy from frosting it. That’s what the title is — the icing. I do like to play around in the WordPress title space, because you only get one chance to catch people’s eyes and make an intriguing impression. As I’m composing the post, sometimes a perfect title comes to me, but often times I start with just one word and then fool around with rhyming, puns, alliteration, and onamonapia. But I write humor. If I blogged politics or specialized in eating disorders, I wouldn’t gravitate toward those kinds of techniques for titles!
9. Is life stranger than fiction? Or is it the other way around?
Actually the answer doesn’t matter because the best part is the asking of this very question! It’s the interplay from real life INTO fiction and back the other way around that completes the circle and makes both so interesting and satisfying. I love blurring the edges/boundaries and provoking people to ask “Did that really happen?” (The best way to answer that by the way, is a mischievous, “Maybe!”) Can you tell I am a big fan of the Twilight Zone? Just enough real life and fiction poured in and stirred together to heat up a fascinating pot (plot!) of Friction! (Fiction + Reality)
10. Why funny? Why make others laugh?
I always wanted to be a stand-up comic. But I was too scared of public speaking. I couldn’t even sit-down and make people laugh if it meant speaking aloud. But I did notice that when I left people notes or wrote formal letters, the response I would get back was, “That made my day. You’re quite comical.” I blossomed in the 90’s when email first came out. Everything I clicked “Send” on came back with a “LOL” reply. My formal humor writing just sort of grew organically from there. As to why make others laugh? Life is serious and sometimes it’s sad. You do a good deed by making someone smile or chuckle. Shouldn’t we all make that our public service?
Oh, and yes, then there’s the book, which is definitely worth checking out. Here.