January 17, 2010

The Great Interview Experiment

A month or two ago, I came across a posting by one of my favourite mommy bloggers, who had participated in Neil Kramer’s Great Interview Experiment. The gist of it is, a random population of bloggers who elect to participate get paired up in random order and interview each other, posting the results of their interviews on their own blogs, and Neil curates a master list on his.

I had the privilege of interviewing Julie from He Who Laughs Last Didn’t Get It. Below is the script from our interview together. Enjoy! It’s a great concept and hopefully introduces you to some new talent. Participate yourself if you have a blog.

Interview with Julie

S: You started writing early last year. Has your focus evolved since then or did you start with a pretty clear idea of what you wanted to share or achieve?

J: I don’t really think my focus has changed since I started blogging. Because my friends were always telling me that I had some good funny stories to tell about being suddenly shoved into the world of dating at the ripe old age of 33…I felt like blogging was my first step. I do have lots of “bad date” stories to share, but what I often find is that the lessons I learn from these horrible experiences are what is actually worth sharing. And it is through these experiences that I learned so much about myself.

The toughest lesson I learned last year as a newby to the blogging community is that the people I surrounded myself with weren’t always the people I should have surrounded myself with. I realized that I didn’t like who I was becoming while I was hanging around some particular friends…and I learned it through my blogging. It wasn’t until after I went back and read a lot of my older posts that I put two and two together that maybe some of my bad experiences were bad experiences because of the company I was keeping…

It was this “realization” that made me clean my “friendship house” at the end of last year and start fresh. This may make my life boring and not blogable anymore, but I sure do feel better internally since I have cleaned house.

You mention in your profile a number of internal conflicts that challenge you regularly. Has writing helped you work through some of those?

I absolutely use my blog as a form of therapy! I used to write things in my journal, but I am so anal in the way things look that I would be on day seven or eight of my new journal and have to bag it and start a new one. Why you might ask? For stupid reasons usually. Usually it’s things like, I didn’t like my handwriting that day or I got off on a tangent and the paragraph I was writing ended up being too long. And because I like the way things “look” I couldn’t cross it out and start over…so hand written journaling was making me more crazy than nothing at all. Hence one of the reasons why I started the blog…editing was much easier.

Now as I look back, I have a good feel for where I was, where I am and where I am going and it all looks pretty and neat.

But what I am really finding out is that just because I come to certain conclusions about my behavior or things I am doing doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to change my ways. I usually find that when I write, it’s the “good, logical person” in me putting my thoughts down on the paper. But it’s the “fun, go getter that doesn’t really care what the consequences are person” that lives in my brain day to day, and sometimes those two don’t get along and usually the fun (aka…bad stuff) is a lot easier to do than the good/right things.

You provide some pretty detailed recaps of current programming. My question is... Reality shows: entertaining train wrecks or pretty accurate commentary on current societal values?

The sad part is, I think they are both…pretty accurate commentary on our current societal values and entertaining train wrecks. I have said many times that we, as a society have no moral compass by which to live life and honestly this freaks me out. I have two little boys that are growing up in this world where it is currently ok to date 25 women at the same time, or propose to one woman only to break her heart, dump her and ask another woman out all in the same evening…all because it is “good” tv. And we as a(society) are ok with that because we just want the opportunity to bitch and moan and complain when these “reality stars” mess up in real life. We want the opportunity to say “I told you so” under our breaths…

As a single woman, the “reality” of reality television also frustrates me, why you may ask? Because shows like the Bachelor dupe us into thinking that all romances should be fairy tale helicopter rides, dinners under the stars, magazine shoots, and private concerts. It’s not real, but in the real world “reality” is boring and who would watch boring. The problem is… a lot of people can’t differentiate between the two. So in order to make up for the “boringness” of reality we settle for going to a fun club on dates and hanging with a group of people, never really getting the opportunity to know our dates and whether or not we want to get to know them more. So in a sense we “settle” early on… There is no courtship or romance anymore!

A topic that has been discussed at length recently revolves around the support that women, in particular, find in their online communities. Is this real? Does it rival real world friendship? Have you had occasion to test the strength of these online community relationships?

I have only been blogging since June of last year and seriously blogging since about November so I am in no way an expert in the “support” that women get in the blogging community. But I will say that slowly but surely I have been making some friends that I never thought I would. It has been fun to connect with women that don’t even know me who support me through the day to day.

But most important it’s just good to realize, and I mean really realize that I am not crazy! The things I am feeling and talking about in my blogs are real things that other women feel and work through every day too.

I personally have not yet had the opportunity to “test” the strength of these communities. But there is one blogger whom I follow that is going through something in her personal life and she relies heavily on her blogging community for support. Every day I can see that the support she is getting is really helping her cope with her situation. It makes me smile!

Part b) to that previous question. Does blogging help you develop credibility in that community or are bloggers a dime a dozen?

I do think that bloggers are a dime a dozen and it is tough to gain credibility. But what I have also found is that if you are just honest with who you are and what you write about people will like you and follow you and value your opinions. I have read a million (ok, maybe not a million, but definitely hundreds) of blogs. And what I have found is that if your blog becomes sort of a narrative of your day to day life it can become boring and mundane and that is where you lose your credibility. But if you write in a “general” way and add your own personal stories and events, it gives you the credibility you need to be a blogger that everyone wants to read.

I try to think of things that happen to me in my world of dating as a single mom in my thirties and think about how it might affect everyone and then write about it. If I went on and on and on about the guy that insisted on giving me foot massages even though I told him over and over again that I didn’t like them you might get bored because perhaps that scenario hasn’t happened to you (count your lucky stars) but the fact that I actually learned a lesson from it and shared that lesson with everyone who probably knows someone that has gone through something like I did…that is where you gain and create your credibility from.

You're a single mom. I can only imagine this means you are forced to prioritize heavily. Where does your writing fall on that priority list and how do you motivate yourself to post regularly?

Writing falls towards the top of my priority list…God, family, friends, writing…everything else gets done when I get a chance. Writing has become a form of therapy for me that I NEED in my everyday life. For some it’s exercise or meditation, for me it’s writing. I don’t feel complete unless I write something every day.

Sure there are days when I get bogged down or can’t think of things to write about, but those are the days when I focus on things like organizing my thoughts for my book or researching things for my book…oh…by the way…did I tell you I am in the process of writing a book? I am devoting 2010 to really delving into it. I took 2009 to focus on my personal life (aka…partied way too much). That wasn’t working for me so I have adopted the motto: 2010 where the new going out is staying in. This way I can focus more on my writing and really get serious about it. I find when I focus more on my writing it puts more focus on me as a person and this is where my real growth comes. Sorry…I’m WAAAAAAYYYY off topic now. What was the question again?

Bonus question: If you were a judge on The Bachelor, how would you determine who is successful? Should America vote? :)

I absolutely DO NOT think America should have a say whatsoever in who the Bachelor/Bachelorette chooses. It’s bad enough that the production staff has a say…am I right people? Why else would Michelle have made it to at least the third week? I predicted she gets booted the third or fourth week. They always keep the psycho on long enough to boost ratings! But I digress yet again…

Back on topic. The way I look at it…my friends can’t seem to pick good men for me. As I think this story is a great example of why I think that. Don’t get me wrong. I love my friends and they love me, but sometimes I just have to wonder. I guess I shouldn’t complain about this either. Since adopting my new motto of staying in in 2010, two of my friends have already called me about setting me up on blind dates. And because I am a cool girl I said yes…I will keep you posted on how they turn out. Last tangent…I promise, back on track.

I think determining success when it comes to the Bachelor/Bachelorette is a battle that will never be won. What is success when it comes to Hollywood and dating anyway? I mean if Susan Sarandon and Tim Robins can’t make it then who can. It doesn’t matter what people think success is in a relationship, there will always be people out there that say, “I told you it wouldn’t work out”….even if they make it over the twenty year mark. I don’t know…there are just so many cynics out there. I think anyone that can manage to stay out of the gossip columns has a pretty good chance…Hugh Jackson and his wife, and Dr. McDreamy and his wife are couples that I think are in it for the long haul and not for the attention.


He Who Laughs Last said...

Yeah! It's me! Thanks for posting my interview...

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