Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Interview with Ann Kroeker!

I first discovered Ann Kroeker through Shannon's blog Rock in my Dryer, and her weekly community blog carnival, Works for Me Wednesday. I was immediately drawn in by her writing, and I wasn't surprised when I discovered that she is a professional author. She has the book The Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship with God in the Midst of Motherhood and many magazine articles. In addition to her freelance career Ann gives speeches, and is the mother of three children. She's brilliant, beautiful and creative.

:: Why did you start a blog?
I started a blog back in 2003 because my editor highly recommended that his authors use them to build name recognition. I’d never heard of a blog and faked it when he suggested it. “Oh, sure…a blog. Okay.” Then I quickly turned to Google in search of a definition. At that time, early in the history of blogdom, blogs had just barely evolved from techies sharing cool links with each other to diarists pouring out their intimate life details. Each group kind of looked down on the other. I took inspiration from the original intent of the techies and tried to provide interesting links, but found myself wanting to tell stories like the diarists, so I’d mix it up a bit. My main goals were to:
1. Gain regular writing practice.
2. Experiment with metaphor, tone, pace, humor.
3. Write posts that in some way complement or enhance off-line writing projects.
4. Download wide-ranging ideas that flit through my mind on any given day. The blog became a wonderful repository for these thoughts that are prompted by daily curiosity.
5. Be helpful in some way to a broader audience than my family.
6. As my editor suggested, build some name recognition. That’s why I chose to use Ann Kroeker for the name of my blog. It’s not cute or clever, but hopefully you’ll recognize my name when you see it floating around on the Internet.

:: What has blogging brought to your life?
After years of blogging, I’ve been able to gain from all of those goals that I listed, experimenting and hopefully improving my writing skills through regular practice. I’ve had the pleasure of reading comments that something I’ve written is helpful, thought-provoking or encouraging to someone—that’s always a wonderful thrill. Plus, I’ve met like-minded people who seem to share some of my interests. I’ve come to appreciate the power of communication and learned about all the technology that’s available, even though I don’t really utilize much of it. I’ve been inspired by the knowledge, creativity, and talent of other bloggers I’ve gotten to know. It’s a connection, I guess; albeit virtual. I guess that’s what I love most about it—all the connections with people.

:: What advice do you have for new bloggers?
· Don’t worry if nobody comes to visit other than a best friend and your mom; it’s a great time to experiment. As you find your voice and define your purpose, you can set more goals and be more intentional and proactive about the whole thing.
· Learn everything you can about available technology (surveys, link gadgets like WFMW’s Mr. Linky, podcasts, etc.) and try out anything of interest.
· Unless it’s part of your job, don’t let it take over your days. And don’t substitute it for real life. Spend time with and nurture the people whose eyes you can look into and want to meet you for coffee.
· Everything you write has a consequence, so be careful what you publish. Read what others say about being careful with personal information. You can always say more, but you can’t take back what you’ve already published to the World Wide Web. Think, also, of how your words might affect a key person in your life—if you’re married, will something you write affect your husband’s reputation and negatively impact his career? Or your own? Or your children’s future careers? My mother-in-law warned me to be careful what stories I include in any of my writing projects (to avoid embarrassment later in life), so I discussed with the children about what they were and were not comfortable with, and I often wait for their approval before clicking publish. Even though I don’t name the protagonist of some funny incident, her grandparents can certainly figure out which one I’m talking about. I want them to feel okay about it being out there. I guess it’s summed up with this: respect people’s privacy, and think about the consequences of your words.

:: What are your favorite blogs?
·Visit my site and check out my blogroll!

:: Being a mom is…..
· …so complex, it can’t possibly be reduced to one paragraph or statement. I don’t even know where to start. This feels like the start of a twelve-part series moms should attempt on their blogs. Then again, maybe that’s what moms are attempting to capture, day after day as they post.

:: What keeps you going?
· As a blogger, or a mom?

:: Name an artist, photographer, musician, or author that you like or admire.
Just one? I find that I take away such different treasures from so many writers, it’s impossible to narrow down to one. Or even two. One person might dazzle me with her skill, though I wouldn’t want to use the same language. Another guy impresses me with his insight, though maybe his writing skills aren’t anything to showcase at a writer’s conference. Someone else might make me laugh, and another makes me think, and a third makes me weep. As a result, almost every book I come into contact with offers me something useful.

:: What inspires you?
As a working writer, I can’t wait around to be struck by inspiration. I have to turn out materials whether or not I feel inspired. Practically speaking, I collect articles (see my recent WFMW post) with content that generates an internal response in me that I want to explore in the blog. My kids inspire posts for the blog quite often, as do conversations with friends that get me thinking. Inspiration and ideas could come from anywhere; I just try to be receptive. I try to live slowly and deliberately enough to pay attention. When I’m running too fast, I miss it. When I slow down, I notice much more.

:: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?
· I’ve never been to some tropical paradise in the Caribbean. I’d go with The Belgian Wonder, walk along the beaches and in the water. Swim. Maybe try snorkeling. Lounge in a hammock and read. Eat fresh fruit. Get my hair braided.
· Or I’d go to New Zealand and Australia. I’d hike and enjoy the coast and sightsee and talk with people.
· Or I’d travel to California and see some Redwoods. I fear I’ll live my whole life and never admire a California Redwood up close and in person. Runner’s World magazine has a page in every issue that shows a runner passing through some spectacular setting—a “Rave Run.” One of those photographs showed a guy running through a Redwood Forest, and I stared at it for a while. The pull was powerful; I really wanted to be in his shoes, dwarfed while running amidst those giant, ancient sequoias.

:: What's your favorite gift to give?
I’m not a big gift giver in a traditional sense—my gifts are usually in the form of time together listening and talking. I love having a good friend over and making a pot of tea, setting out some treats, and then sitting down to get to know each other better. I’m very practical, so in terms of tangible gifts, I used to enjoy putting together themed gift baskets, but I’ve gotten away from that. Perhaps your question is inspiring me! I recently noted some great gift basket ideas over at Meredith’s (Like Merchant Ships).

:: In 2008 …
Lord willing…
· By the end of the year, I will have completed a book project that will be nearing its release date.
· I’ll be reasonably fit from training for a half-marathon in the spring.
· I’ll try out some new blog technology.
· Travel with my family (but, sadly, not to the Caribbean, New Zealand, or the California Redwood Forests).
· Laugh a lot with my kids.
· And I’ll make a bunch of new blog-friends, like you!


tootie said...

Great interview! I'm a somewhat new blogger, so it's always great to hear advice from a veteran. Thanks!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

That was fun!

:: Suzanne :: said...

I'm confused. Are Ann and Nicole the same person? sisters? The pics are the same person.