Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Life's Milestones are the Markers for Success: An Interview with Melissa Soldani-Lemon

When did you start your blog, Stories for Invisible Friends?

I officially started in Summer 2005 when I was moving from South Florida to take a faculty position as a history professor in Tallahassee.  Before that I had a website where I published the articles I wrote for parenting magazines.

Why did you start your blog?

The first time I heard the word "blog" and became aware of their existence was in Summer 2005 when I read about a New York Beauty editor/blogger losing her job for writing about work while at work.

Minutes after I read that article I followed a few links and had my own blog up.  I had no specific intentions, no desired audience. It felt very much like buying a new leather journal - exciting, inspiring, fresh and new.

What is the significance of turning 40 and posting your 1000th blog entry on the same day for you?

About two months ago when I logged on to Blogger,  I saw that I was at post 950, and decided to pace myself to hit 1,000 on my 40th birthday.

Honestly, I'm amazed at how effortlessly the stories have come, and how they show how my perspective and voice have evolved over the past three years.  One thousand sounds like a huge number, but really, it works out to less than a story a day, reflecting only a tiny corner of my life.

At first I thought I would write about turning 40, but I have a bigger story to write --  one that doesn't involve me at all. It's called "Hearts: Broken and Hopeful."

Does blogging satisfy a "need to write" for you?

I believe that people very much become the stories they tell about themselves, so over the past three years this blog hasn't been as much about writing as about thinking. I'm more present, more aware of things unfolding, looking for moments of laughter, hope, generosity and faith to write about.

Take today, for example.  This morning my 7-year-old daughter, Zoe, dressed in her favorite silky dancing frog pajamas  for "Polar Express Day" at school. As we waited in line with the rest of the cars rolling slowly past the playground to the drop-off zone, I heard her mutter, "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no, this can't be happening."

I followed her gaze out the window to the playground and saw what she saw.  Not a single other kid was dressed in pajamas.  She reached into her bookbag and pulled out the class calendar to make sure she hadn't lost her mind.

As Zoe got out of the car, she hugged the teacher who opened the car door for her, squared her shoulders and shuffled off bravely in her pink fuzzy slippers.

I turned to face 4-year-old Zachary and said, "Wow, I'm going to write about that!"

He snapped his fingers, gave me a big thumbs up, and said,  "Do it Mom!"

Now that I've written that story I don't feel "satisfied" because my attention moves on to waiting for the next story to unfold.

Also, blogging only represents about a quarter of my writing - I also have a series of three novels that I've been writing since 1999. The story begins in 1878 Spain, then moves to Cuba, New Orleans and South Florida through the 20th century. Imagine Valley of the Dolls with a drop of Scarface; then add a yoga teacher, a fallen nun, a diet coach, war, 38 credit cards and an adjustable rate mortgage.

What comes next?

Two things, simultaneously. In 2009 I will be publishing a book of re-edited and never-published non-fiction stories. Meanwhile, I am going to blog 100 scenes from my novels which read like stand alone short stories.

After that, I will publish those three novels and readers will get to find out how those 100 scenes fit into a bigger story like puzzle pieces.

You don't allow comments on your blog. Why not?

Because I'm a control freak!

No actually, I'm very zen about my stories. When I publish I story, I read it one time, then send it as an email link to my mother and a few extra-close friends, then I move on to find the next story. I also used to have a "hit counter" but I took it down because it would make me nervous seeing the number spike up on certain days.

You do have a feature for readers to email your posts to friends (yay). Do you know when someone uses that feature?

No, I like to write the stories  and then step back and just let people read them, share them or ignore them. If I was attached to tracking how many people were reading the stories, I don't think I'd feel as free to write my blog or work on the novels.

How come you don't include a way for people to subscribe to the blog like FeedBlitz?

I've added links on the sidebar to subscribe through a couple of different ways, but you'll have to teach me about FeedBlitz!

Send me a short bio blurb and photo.

Melissa Soldani-Lemon is a writer on a journey!

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