Daughter Number Three is responsible for the Daughter Number Three blog. Of course, right? Well, this writer maintains her blog incognito and has asked for her name to not be revealed, which is alright by us at the Twin Cities Spark! Not surprisingly, she is the third of four daughters. Raised in a rural area outside of a small town in upstate New York, she is now living in the Twin Cities area, making media and immersed in other people’s media. Her blog is her method of creative self-expression, often taking the form of stunning cultural observations and poking fun at other people’s bad writing mistakes.
What specifically drew you to blogging?
I’m one of those failed creative writers who thought she would be a novelist, but somehow never got started. Job, kid, life all happened in the meantime. In 2007 I took six months off work and promised myself writing would be a goal for that time, including setting up a blog. But when the leave ended, I hadn’t written much.
I should say I love newspapers and magazines, but I have the bad habit of talking back to them, and I’d been keeping a clip file for years that contained what I considered great examples of writing and argument, or really terrible mistakes and oddities. Finally, in December of 2007 I reached my tipping point on blog procrastination: it was inspired by a recipe in Parade magazine that included a photo of a raw, stuffed turkey breast that looked like an insect larva. Somehow, that was enough to finally get me to start my blog.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating new content? How do you overcome it?
Overcoming mental fatigue from having a job, a family and a significant amount of volunteer work. More often than not, though, working on my blog helps me deal with the stresses of everything else because it’s different from the rest. It’s a chance to say what I think about things without having to berate my family. I get to make connections among the ideas in books I’ve been reading, which was my favorite part of being in college. It’s a place to share the things that amuse or outrage me about the world… and there are a lot of both!
Sometimes when I’m stuck, I look through the categories I use on the blog and think, I haven’t written anything for this one in a while. What can I add? Other times, I admit to looking through my photos and putting up something easy. Just once I posted a photo of my cat because I was too tired to do anything else.
I try to balance the long with the short; the thoughtful with the light-hearted. It’s a struggle sometimes. I think of these two types of posts as stock and flow and use that idea as a spur to work a little harder to create a piece of stock as often as I can.
I kicked caffeine about a year before I started the blog. I’ve recently discovered that just a small amount of that evil drug once in a while makes it much easier to write.
What do you hope readers take away from reading Daughter Number Three?
I don’t explore a single topic the way some blogs do. In fact, I have a hard time saying what my blog is about, except it doesn’t cover what I had for breakfast or my family’s life. I don’t review products. There’s a lot of media commentary (much of it local), examples of good and bad technology, and funny language usage. I have a lingering love of young adult fiction, so those types of books crop up pretty often, along which a lot of nonfiction.
I hope my readers feel as though they’re part of a conversation. I hope they realize I challenge myself intellectually. I try to push myself over the edge of cognitive dissonance as much as I can stand it. We all should.
How has blogging changed your life?
Writing every day is a discipline that’s been good for me. I fear I’ll be one of the unlucky ones who are susceptible to Alzheimer’s, so I try to keep my mind moving.
It has put me in touch with some other local and nonlocal writers, which is fun. It has made me read more nonfiction than I probably would have.
New media theorist Clay Shirky talks about the “cognitive surplus” – the mental capacity we all have left over when we work only an eight-hour day. From the 1950s on, most of it was poured into watching television. I watch a lot less television now, because I’m using up most of my surplus on the blog.
Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?
Some of my local favorites don’t write very often, but here goes:
Maggie Koerth-Baker, excellent science writer at Boing Boing – she’s local!
Across the Great Divide (Charlie hasn’t been writing much lately, but his archives are great!)
The Same Rowdy Crowd (although many of their commenters drive me crazy)
MinnPost, especially Susan Perry on health issues
What do you love the most about living in the Twin Cities / Minnesota and why?
I’m a transplant from upstate New York who knew just about nothing of Minnesota before I moved here in the 1980s, but I’ve found it great living along the boundary between the Big Woods and the tall grass prairie. I love our huge number of food co-ops, the active nonprofit community, and our excellent theaters and museums. And book stores. I support my habit at stores like Micawber’s, Uncle Hugo’s, Red Balloon, The Book House, and Common Good Books.