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.