A lot can happen in one year. Family Footnote is celebrating its first birthday this week, and with that celebration comes a lot of reflection regarding the past twelve months. Personally, I have had a whirlwind year thanks to writing, blogging, and all of the tremendous support from friends and family.
The past 365 days have been full of laughter, affection, tears, parental struggles, print publications (yippee for bylines), toddler tantrums, preschool victories, classroom happy dances, adorable kid moments, great adult conversations, fun vacations, waves of grief, and opportunities to appreciate how nice life can be when you are doing what you love and are surrounded by great people.
Family Footnote provides Tessa and me with a wonderful outlet, especially when it comes to our daily lives. It is a lot of fun to see our words published regarding topics that vary from family to parenting to education to life in general. We talk about a lot of stuff on Family Footnote, but we rarely talk directly to each other, therefore for this week and in celebration of Family Footnote’s one year anniversary we took the opportunity to engage in some Q & A for our readers.
I have been fortunate to know Tessa for a little over fifteen years, but have never actually interviewed her for a writing piece. I enjoyed putting her in the hot seat and asking her about life, writing, and how in the world she is able to get it all done week after week. Read my questions and see her answers, as they show a different view of Family Footnote.
Why did you want to start a blog?
TESSA: When Kelly and I were getting serious and really talking about getting our writing out there, the idea of a partner blog was born. When it comes to goals, I may let myself down, but I would never let a friend down. If Kelly was counting on me to write, I would make sure to do it. The blog started as a sort of discipline. If I was going to get better at writing, I needed to practice like crazy. Kelly and I both agreed this sounded like a great idea. We were both immersed in parenting, and we knew we’d always be immersed in family, so a family-centered blog was born.
How do you balance being a mother, teacher, and writer?
TESSA: I’m not sure I balance it well. I take our deadlines as seriously as I take my deadlines at school. It’s very important to me, and I know my kids are patient with me splitting my time. They enjoy when I read them the funny articles, and they give me tips for some of my other pieces. My sons have shown an interest in writing, and I hope they continue. Their enthusiasm inspires me. My oldest son has been published twice. I hope he continues getting his ideas on paper.
I sneak writing time in at 5:40 am while I play frisbee with my dog before the school day begins. I try to write before I get too tired at night, at sports practices, and my husband is great about telling me to set up shop in the local library on some Saturdays.
Being a high school English teacher is as demanding as they promised it would be when I went to college, more so, really, but it’s an amazing profession for inspiration. They (the students) keep me young. They give me ideas about writing. If I wasn’t a creative writing teacher, I don’t think I would write as much as I do. I remember thinking I needed to practice what I preached. Some of the poems that I have had published are the ones I wrote from an assignment I gave my students. I’m learning so much more about publication, and I am able to pass that onto my students. I love it when they get published. They finally realize that I have been telling them the truth about their abilities. We have crazy talented youth in my high school. I learn from them every day.
**Tessa has had poetry published by Fine Lines Quarterly Journal.
Can you believe it has been one year since the blog launched? Are you surprised/satisfied with how it is doing?
TESSA: I really can’t believe it’s been a year. When we were talking about creating this blog, we never thought anyone would read it who wasn’t bound to us by blood or bribes. I am surprised that it has reached so many, only because our intent was to start this to practice for other writing endeavors. I think I speak for both of us when I say that we really fell in love with the blog format, and we have learned so much about this process. Our husbands are life savers, as we know absolutely zero about the maintenance of technology. Thank goodness for them.
I am very happy with our progress, but I’m not satisfied with standing still. I think we have the momentum to branch out in even more endeavors. The book reviews, product reviews, and interviews have been fun, and I know there are more things that we can do that we haven’t even realized yet. I think what I love the most from the blog is our partnership. I enjoy reading Kelly’s writing. Even if we weren’t working on the same project, I would seek out her writing. She is funny, intelligent, compassionate, and so, so organized. It’s so fun to be this open and available for new things and it’s not as scary with a partner.
What are your blog writing goals vs. your independent writing goals? Do they feed off each other, stay the same, or vary quite a bit?
TESSA: My goal for both the blog and other work is to write pieces that matter. I have so many goals for our blog. Because I never intended to write non-fiction, I am a fledgling in this endeavor. I’m starting to be attracted to pretty heavy topics. This coincides with the year we’re having politically and raising my first middle school boy. If I can intertwine some humor into these pieces, I will be happy. The nice part about our blog is that we can weave the heavy topics in with the lighthearted. I think we’ve accomplished writing to a family-centered audience. We always want to be truthful, but we never want to offend. So far that hasn’t been hard to balance. As for my independent writing goals, I have many non-fiction publications I am interested in trying, but I so desperately love fiction and poetry. Poetry was my first love in all of this, but fiction of any kind is fun. I want to write more short stories, and I am still slowly working on a novel. My attention span needs some work, but in all of these efforts, I just want it to matter to some reader, somewhere.
What is the best part of Family Footnote for you?
TESSA: I do love writing blog posts quite a bit, but the unexpected bonus of the blog is the connections and the community. With our blog, we’ve been able to connect with friends old, new, near, and far. Our readers give us ideas all of the time, and it is so fun to read comments from people to give us a different perspective on a topic. In addition, the online writing community is one of the most supportive places I’ve ever experienced. We have gotten so many opportunities based on our blog readership. The social networking is exciting, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Some of my favorite connections have been at Parent.co, Sammiches and Psych Meds, MockMom, my cookbook peeps at What A Good Eater!, and the Beyond Your Blog community. These writers cheer for each other; they provide leads to places that are seeking writers; and they offer support for each other when things don’t go great. I never expected to meet so many people this way. It’s a huge benefit to blogging.
Do you ever worry about running out of blog topics?
TESSA: I do become creatively blank at times, but I have tricks to break through those times. Otherwise, I haven’t had this worry yet. That’s the beauty of working with a partner. We feed off of each other. Plus, neither of us has finished raising even one kid yet; we’ve got topics for years.
Tessa has said it so well in all of her answers. The writing partnership between us is what makes Family Footnote a success. I liken it to my personal successes and parenting high-fives. If you have friends and family to rely on then almost anything is possible.
Happy Birthday Family Footnote! I can’t wait to blow out the candles again in the coming year, and here is wishing for more growth, more likes, more shares, and more great articles for our readers.