Writing Mothers: Allison Tait
One of the first bloggers I discovered as I was searching for writings on motherhood and rural life was Life in a Pink Fibro (see Top 5 Rural Blogs), Allison Tait’s wonderfully poetic look at family life. I fell in love with the design and her clarity of expression, and her ability to turn everyday moments into memorable prose. I learnt a lot about blogging from reading her carefully managed posts.
Allison also manages to write fiction (at night) with a novel to be published in 2013, and has co-authored the book Career Mums for Penguin. I chatted to her about balancing a busy writing career with raising children.
When did you start blogging? Was it before or after you had children?
I started my blog, Life in a Pink Fibro, in January 2010. My boys were six and three when I started.
What set you going on sharing your thoughts with the world?
AT: I began my blog on a dare. I have been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years, and had been writing fiction for about five years. A good friend who was working in the digital space kept telling me that I needed to ‘do my own thing’. I was not for the idea — I couldn’t work out why anyone would read my blog … let alone find it. But she dared me to have a go and so I did. And I soon became addicted!
How do you find time to blog around bringing up children? Do you plan it carefully? Or does it happen in bursts of creativity when you get the time?
AT: I always write my posts at night, about 15 minutes before I’m due to post (I post at around 10.30pm three nights a week, though it used to be six times a week!). I tried writing them in advance and scheduling them, but it didn’t work for me — it felt too much like work! When I first began, I probably spent way too much time commenting on other blogs, building my community and hanging out on Twitter, but I’m much more circumspect with all that now.
Do you think about your writing style much? Your voice? How do you stand out from the crowd?
AT: To be honest, I don’t think about it at all. I just start typing and it all pours out. I write like I talk — only better, I think. My writing on my blog is quite intimate in tone. All my thoughts just vomited on the screen. Even when I guest post on other blogs, there’s a change in that. I immediately switch to a more ‘broadcast’ voice, similar to the one I use in my day job for writing features. It’s not a conscious thing, it just happens.
At what point did you decide to blog about your children? Has there been a topic where you’ve thought, ‘no I can’t go there’? Where do you draw the line on the public/private?
AT: I have very strong ideas about this. I write about my boys only in esoteric ways. I write about things they say, phases they go through, but never in great detail. I never name them and never put images of them on my blog or anywhere else on social media. And I’d never write about anything I thought might embarrass them in any way. It’s not their choice to be on my blog and I try to be respectful of that. There are lots of topics about which I won’t write. You can be authentic without throwing yourself to the wolves. I can write about how I feel about things without being specific about people and places. I would never write about a specific incident with a mum from school, for instance, and you won’t ever see potty training posts on my blog. I write about aspects of my life, I don’t share my whole life. There’s an important difference there to me.
Who is your favourite mother-blogger? What kind of blog writing gets you excited?
AT: I look for blogs with a great voice. Karen Charlton at The Rhythm Method is one heck of a writer. Mrs Woog has a voice all her own. Eden Riley from Edenland writes from her toes and drags you along by the bootstraps. My sister writes at Maxabella Loves and I love her writing — she is so unafraid of offending people and her writing is so funny and brave and true that she gets away with it.
How has your blog influenced your other writing, your novels, your non-fiction?
AT: I think the effect of blogging can mostly be seen in my novels. There’s a subtle change in voice that just takes over with features and non-fiction — I’m very practised with that and all that experience just gets on with the job. With fiction, however, I think blogging has really helped me to define my voice. It’s also given me a place to develop thoughts and ideas, without even realising that I’m doing it half the time. One other thing it’s done, though, is to put me in touch with people who like to read my writing. I’ve never really had feedback like that before — and the blogging community is incredibly supportive. It’s an incredible boost when you’re slugging away in the midst of a redraft!
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS INTERVIEW YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: the ‘Writing Mothers’ series of interviews with Anna Funder, Debra Adelaide, Karen Andrews (Miscellaneous Mum blog), Fiona McGregor and Bianca Wordley (Big Words blog).
DO YOU READ MOTHER OR LITERARY BLOGGERS? WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITES AND WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THEIR WRITING STYLE? PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT…
Wild Colonial Girl now has her own page on Facebook. If you could LIKE I would really LOVE!