"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."~Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1816

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Blog?

I’ve been late to the technological revolution. I finally got a cell phone in 2006 before my first child was born because it seemed like a safety necessity. I don’t have an iPod (I’ve never been a much of a music person) and we still don’t have a flat-screen TV, as much as hubby would like one.

But email was a different story. I took right to it in 1994 when I was a freshman in college and quickly discovered how convenient email was as an alternate to letter writing. I had always enjoyed letter writing and was an avid pen pal growing up, with my best girlfriend from first grade who moved away to Alaska, with my next-door neighbor as her father’s government job took them from country to country, with the girls I met at summer camp who lived in various romantic-sounding Southern cities. Letter writing allowed the chance to compose myself before speaking, the chance to make a mark that, hopefully, would last. Like blogging.

I’m definitely late to blogging. I should confess that I just started reading blogs this year. The similarities of blogging with journaling interested me. I have frequently turned to journaling as a way of sorting my thoughts out when I’ve felt lost or searching, or as an emotional release when I’ve been upset by something. I’ve spent many a late afternoon in a coffee shop with my journal, gulping down a nice warm liquid and writing to a place where I felt whole again.

In her book I Could Tell You Stories, a collection of essays on the process of writing memoir, Patricia Hampl discusses the paradox that is chronicling a personal life: “The journal teeters on the edge of literature. It plays the game of having its cake and eating it too; writing which is not meant to be read.” My writing teacher this spring, Kate Hopper, recommended the book to me. I recently finished Kate’s Mother Words class, where I was introduced to “creative nonfiction” or memoir.

Unlike a journal, a blog is meant to be read. Kate and some of the other women in my class have attested to how blogging has helped them keep up their writing habit. I have had designs on being a writer from the day my high school English teacher said I had writing talent and encouraged me to major in English. After graduating from college, and miraculously getting hired for a paid full-time job, I tried waking up early to make time for writing, thinking somehow a novel would pour out of me. But it didn’t happen. I chalked it up to not having enough life experience. I figured if I was meant to be a writer I would feel that compulsion to write one day.

I started feeling that compulsion to write about a year a half ago after my second child was born. I was driven to write. I needed to find myself again, separate my pre-mommy self from the mommy self. I started several different essays on my experience of motherhood. That’s what drew me to find Kate’s class.

I have struggled with the idea of blogging. Firstly, I just don’t like the word “blog.” It’s too close to “glob,” the last way I would want my writing described. Secondly, I couldn’t come up with a good focus for my blog, some interesting hook. Naming a blog seems a lot like naming a race horse. I wanted something catchy that would honor my writing heritage, descriptive of my point of view as a writer. I came up with “Diaper Dispatch” long before I thought about starting it as a blog. I thought I would create a ‘zine for stay-at-home mommies like me, something I could pass around to the women in my daughter’s playgroup.

Actually “Diaper Dispatch” is a bit of misnomer. I don’t intend for my posts to be mainly about mothering. In this blog I’m mostly trying to hone ideas not having to deal with my role as mother. But I am, essentially, a mother now and my posts may keep coming back to that. We’ll see.


  1. I can relate so well, from the technophobia (or aversion) to the doubts about blogging (I also hate the word!) and having a good "hook." I love the Jane Austen quote that you have at the top and I think that is your hook - your posts will reflect the varied thoughts that you have, including but not limited to mothering and running a home. I am glad you took the plunge!

  2. Thanks so much for all your encouragement Cecilia! I'm still finding my comfort zone with this thing that is blogging. I'm not sure that it's quite me, but it is getting me writing, which is great. I'm hoping I can come up with some interesting material for readers.

  3. I'm so glad you're blogging, Laura, and I can't wait to read more as you venture into this next phase of motherhood!

    Thank you, also for your kind words today over at Mother Words! I'm humbled and honored.


  4. Mother Words is a fabulous resource and community. You are doing wonderful, meaningful work!

    You are so encouraging, Kate. Thank you. I saw that you became a follower of my blog! Very cool.