Monday, May 19, 2014 • 10:18 AM Comments ()

I Hopped on a (Blog) Train

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Last Monday, Karen Rile, editor of Cleaver Magazine, posted about a blog train, which she—and Cleaver editors—hopped on. She invited me to hitch a ride.

The rules of the blog train are simple: on Monday, last week’s riders introduce three new bloggers and also answer a series of questions. That’s where I began, and today, I’m happy to introduce to you three more writers I think you’d like to know if you don’t already.

Carolyn Edgar blows me away. Besides her blog, she’s written some knockout essays this year on Salon. That’s along with an impressive work life: a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former law firm partner and current vice president at a Fortune 500 company, she’s also an involved, engaged community leader. In fact, when you learn more about her, including her dedication to her yoga practice and the ferocity and realism she brings to her parenting or her friendships, you understand even better why her writing is so compelling; it’s because she shows up completely for everything she ever does.

Gina DeMillo Wagner has been in the journalism world for 15 years, as writer and editor, specializing in parenting, fitness, and travel. Magazines she writes for include Self, Forbes Travel Guide, Backpacker, Outside, Wired, and Experience Life. Her personal essays have appeared in Philadelphia Stories, Role/Reboot, Elephant Journal, Mama Moderne, and more. One day she’s going to explain to me about BlogHer, which is where her parenting blog, The Daily B lives—and brings together words and images tenderly. While she’s got some big heart for Colorado’s mountains, she’s has rooted heart and soul and in dusty Arizona these past few years where she lives with her husband Kris and their two (completely adorable, emphasis mine) children. She’s at work on a memoir.

Carla Naumburg writes the Mindful Parenting blog for PsychCentral—something she’s qualified to do because she’s a clinical social worker, writer, and mother. A contributing editor for Kveller.com her work has appeared in academic journals and a number of online magazines, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Parents.com, and The Jewish Daily Forward. Carla's first book, Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Connected, Grounded, and Focused on What Really Matters, will be published by Parallax Press in October, 2014. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and two daughters. I love to read Carla’s work, because she reminds me that to stay present, you actually require a sense of humor about your moments.

Here are my answers (choo-choo):

1) What am I working on?

Recently, I’ve written some longer essays, many of which address adoption in some way. These longer pieces are a little more filled with breaths and contradictions or confusions—and take on a more sinewy approach to time. One of those is at Full Grown People; it’s about class notes and wrecked cakes.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others in its genre?

That’s almost a trick question. One answer: every voice is different. As a writer, and a person, I endeavor to be positive and avoid sentimentality or heavy-handedness. I think of my greatest strength as a writer (and an observer of life more generally) to let small moments rise up and regarded with a magnifier.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write nonfiction and especially essays that bend toward memoir because life is so compelling. I’m interested in how compelling we all are or can be. I think it's why even most of my favorite picture books—think, Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day as a classic example—deal in small moments’ taking center stage, like that snow falling plop or melting in the coat pocket.

4) How does my writing process work?

I am not precious about writing. I see it as a practice, a task rather than something driven by a muse. I roll my writer sleeves up and approach it more like exercise than apparition (yet, I surely think of writing as an art form). Although I am prolific, I’m a pretty dogged reviser.

Next week, I look forward to reading the answers to these questions on my three writer friends’ blogs. I hope you will, too.

PS: Yes, I know the difference between a train and a fire truck, but when I found the photo of two nephews with fire truck and realized I gave them the train tracks, this kind of made sense to me, in a Monday morning way.

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