On November 1, 2011, Imaginary WordPress Journalist (IWPJ) interviewed blogger Sylvie Fuller (SF). The purpose of the interview was to congratulate SF on following through on her post-a-day commitment for the month of October as well as to get to know her and find out what her plans are now.
IWPJ: Sylvie, thanks for joining me today. I wanted to start things off by congratulating you on following through on your post-a-day commitment for the month of October. How do you feel about things at this end of the challenge?
SF: Thanks so much for having me. Thanks also for acknowledging my progress. I didn’t completely make the post-a-day challenge. I posted 29 of the 31 days in October, but I’m counting that as success. It’s an interesting thing to do. Just holding myself to the idea of writing and posting each day, and not letting the goal get any bigger than that, I found my writing going in directions I had no idea they wanted to go. It’s been a worthwhile exercise for me.
IWPJ: Yes, I can see a change in style as you move through the month. A lot of your more recent writing seems very personal. Are these stories from your life?
SF: Well, they sort of happened to me. Really most of them are stories from the life of my alter ego. Of course I took some liberties here and there to simplify the narrative or to better communicate the idea or evoke the mood that I wanted.
IWPJ: Your alter ego? What do you mean?
SF: Sorry. I guess I should explain. I started out as a way for her to write without worrying about protecting the people in her life that might not want to have their stories told publicly. I actually came fully to life when she realized that through me she could begin to shed her inhibitions and just write. She’s me, but with a different name, and she prefers to keep the specifics private.
IWPJ: Wait, so who’s the real person? Sylvie or her alter ego? I’m not sure I understand? What are the differences? Can you share any of the details with us?
SF: Oh, we’re both real in our own way. “We” are a middle-aged, mid-career married woman living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. She would prefer not to get any more specific about age, name, her exact job (although I can tell you it is in research science), or exactly where she resides. I’ve told her I would respect that. In return, she let’s me write whatever I want and take the credit for the stories I see her live everyday.
IWPJ: Okay…do either of you need to seek medical attention? Also, did the squirrel story really happen?
SF: [Laughs] Yes, the squirrel story really happened. And no, neither of us needs to seek medical counsel. I don’t think it’s come to that. She knows that Sylvie is an invention. She thought is was to protect the privacy of her family and friends as well as her own, but she’s found me to be a valuable creative tool. Hey, if it’s good enough for Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, and George Eliot, well then…”
IWPJ: OK. Well, Sylvie, have you been writing long?
SF: Publicly, about a month. This is it. Like so many people, I wrote quite a bit when I was in school, and I write for work purposes, and I’ve kept journals, off and on, most of my life, but aside from some academic articles, none of my writing has ever been intended for public consumption.
IWPJ: Then why now? What is your purpose?
SF: I think the answer to that is already changing. The answer to the first question is a little easier. At this point in my life, things have evened out a bit, and I was sort of looking for a new challenge. A few good friends and family encouraged me in this direction. Thanks to the wild-and-wooly-web, we live in an age where you can go public with creative pursuits with no or minimal cost. So after a few months of establishing habits and mostly hemming and hawing until I worked up the courage, I decided that the post-a-day challenge was a good way to just dive in.
IWPJ: And the second question? What do you want to accomplish with your blogging? Or is this it for you?
SF: I certainly hope this isn’t it! This last month has proven far too interesting to walk away from. But I’m not exactly sure what I want to accomplish anymore. My original intent was to write well-researched expository pieces that I hoped would help, somehow, that would improve the world through highlighting the things I care about.
But then I started writing the narrative stuff. And that really seems to resonate. Not just with me. I started getting a lot of feedback after I started the narrative stuff. That’s where my energy seems to be taking me so I want to follow it, but I’m not sure where it’s leading anymore.
My “elevator speech” for why I’m writing is that I want to be a force for good in the world. Actually, that’s kind of my mantra in everyday life. I think if I take the time and effort to get better at it, maybe the narrative writing is another way for me to do that. We’ll see.
IWPJ: So what’s next? Are you going to keep doing what you’re doing or make some changes? Do you have a plan?
SF: While writing and posting every day has been a good creative experience for me, I think I’ll make some changes. First I think I’ll take a bit of break. Just for the rest of the week. The alter ego does work full-time, and this schedule of writing has required her to sacrifice a lot of her personal time to me. The husband has been very supportive and understanding, but the house really needs a cleaning blitz, and the laundry, dishes, etc. need cleaning up. And they really did go apple-picking. I think she wants to bake him a crisp to thank him for being so tolerant this month. But then I’ll get back to it but on a different schedule.
IWPJ: But the blog is called “fuller by the day”. What’s the plan if not to post every day?
SF: I’ll be moving over to my “fuller musings” blog starting next week. I’d originally intended to take “fuller by the day” down at the end of the month, but since this has been such a useful process for me, I think I’ll leave it up. I think I may return to it every six months or so to recharge the creative engine.
I’d like to post twice a week on fuller musings. Right now I’m thinking Mondays and Thursdays. That will give me more time to edit my posts. When I’ve re-read most of the things I posted this month, I’ve wanted to clean them up further. Either lengthen them and develop the story more fully, or shorten them and intensify the meaning. As I’ve said, I don’t really know what I’m doing yet, but I’m trying to learn, and I’m taking it seriously. I’m trying to be more thoughtful.
Posting less often will also allow me to take more time to learn more about WordPress. For instance, I’d like to learn how to properly place links in my text. With all of this concentrating on writing something to post every day, I’ve just put off learning all the technical aspects of blogging.
Next week I’ll cross post to this blog to give anyone who cares to a chance to transition over to the new blog.
IWPJ: Sylvie Fuller, thanks for talking to us today, and good luck with your new blog. Anything else you want to tell our readers?
SF: Yes! I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who’s bothered to stop by and stay a while this month. I’ve had a much bigger response to this exercise than I expected. For the most part, everyone has been incredibly supportive and positive, and I’ve really appreciated it. I know I have tons to learn, and I hope that the community here will be as helpful in nudging me in the right direction as they’ve been so far. As always, comments, corrections and queries are welcome. Truly.
I’d also like to wish good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo. I’ve proven I can handle somewhere between 500 and 1000 words a day on different subjects, but I think I have a lot more practicing to do before I even entertain 50,000 words that actually tell a story in a month. I salute you all.