So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much!

p.s. my mom now refers to me as the family "chronicler" - getting down all the family stories. How I love that title!! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interview with popular Applachian writer and blogger, Tipper Pressley

Your blog, Blind Pig and the Acorn is very popular. When did you begin the blog and how did you decide on your theme?

Tipper: Previously, I thought blogs were only about politics or news, but during the year of 2007 I discovered there are blogs about everything under the sun. After reading the Old Red Barn Blog for a few weeks, I decided I loved the format of sharing your thoughts with others via the web. My passion has always been my Appalachian Heritage, so it was a natural leap to want to blog about my life in
Appalachia. I started the Blind Pig and the Acorn in the early spring of 2008.
Your writing touches your readers and is almost poetic at times, almost spiritual at times.  Your voice is unpretentious and down-to-earth. I also notice a double negative here and there. Is that because you want your posts to sound like people talk?
Tipper: When I set out to celebrate and preserve my heritage through the Blind Pig, I really never thought of it as writing. It feels more like I'm talking to a group of friends who are sitting around my computer. I'm not a schooled or trained writer. I guess you could say I write straight from the heart.
3. Your readers come from all over the country. Why do you think your blog appeals to such a wide geographical area?
Tipper: Most of the folks who visit the Blind Pig on a regular basis fall into 3 categories. The first are people like me who live in Appalachia and want to see the culture preserved; the second are folks who lived in Appalachia at some point during their lives or who had family who lived in Appalachia; the third are folks who are curious about Appalachia and want to know what it's really like.
4. What subject brings you more readers?
Tipper: By far my most popular subject matter is the dialect of Appalachia. The monthly Appalachian Vocabulary Tests and Appalachian Grammar Lessons are my 2 most popular posts. Month after month folks seem to like them best.
5. Do you plan your posts ahead and have several on hand all the time?

Tipper:I have a variety of posts planned in my mind at all times. It's like I have a little circus juggler who lives in my brain and he's constantly rotating my choices for me. I'm never organized enough to actually write posts ahead. I keep those thoughts juggling until one feels right, then I write it on the fly the night before I publish it or sometimes a few minutes before I publish it.
6. I admire your photographs that fit each post so well. Do you take new photographs for each post or do you have some in stock?
Tipper: I'm constantly taking pictures so sometimes I have something in my stock pile that will work for a post, but most of the time I take pictures specifically for each post.
7. Your whole family, Chitter and Chatter, your twins, and your husband, the Deer Hunter, are involved in the activities you write about. Do they know ahead of time that you will be writing about a hike or a hunt for some unusual finds?

Tipper: My family plays a huge part in the Blind Pig and the Acorn. We don't do things just for me to blog about. We go about our days like we always have-but I do look at our activities as a possible blog post in the making. 
8. You occasionally have guests who post on Blind Pig. Do they contact you and submit their essays for your approval?
Tipper: I have some fabulous guest posters on the Blind Pig. All are much better writers than I am. Some I seek out--others seek me out.
9. What advice would you give someone who is beginning a blog? How often should they post? How can they find an audience?

Tipper: My advice for people who want to have a successful blog is: Are you really, really sure you want to do this? Blogging to gain a following or to make money is a tough row to hoe as Pap would say. It takes a lot of time and energy. If you're looking for a following you should post at least three times a week if not more.

One of the easiest, but most time consuming, ways to build an audience is to visit other blogs. Seek out blogs that are similar to yours and try to make a connection with them.

On the other hand,if you're just blogging for fun or for your family, do it however you want to and have fun. Blog platforms are a great, easy, and cheap way to share news with your family and friends.
Your viewers love you and your blog. It is read by acclaimed authors like Vicki Lane who says she learns about Appalachia from reading your blog, and she uses that information in her novels. Does that please you?
Tipper: The positive feedback I receive from readers makes me feel like the Queen of Appalachia or at least like the Angel of Brasstown. I am truly grateful for my readers because they are helping me achieve my goal of preserving and celebrating the culture and heritage of Appalachia.
11. Many bloggers think no one is reading their blog if they don't have a long list of comments every day as you have. Is that the way to tell if you are reaching an audience?
Tipper: Comments are proof that you are reaching and engaging your audience, however all blogs have lurkers. A lurker is a person who may read every post a blogger writes-but never leave a comment. So comments aren't the only measure of success for a blog.
12. Your blog spurs something in me almost every day that makes me want to write about my life or something that happened in my past. You bring the past into the present and stir the memories of your readers no matter where they live or have lived.
Many things I read on your blog take me back to my youth in southwest Georgia. I admire your using your father’s oral history, a valuable resource, on the Blind Pig. Did he have any part in your beginning this blog or centering on this theme?
Tipper: Anyone who reads the Blind Pig or who knows me personally-can easily tell I think Pap (my father) hung the moon. I have such a strong connection with Pap that it would be impossible for me to set out to achieve a goal in my life without taking him along for the journey-and lucky for me he's always happy to go along for the ride. Pap taught me to appreciate my culture, so it's only natural that he plays a significant role in the Blind Pig.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or the Blind Pig and the Acorn?
Tipper: When I first started the Blind Pig I set out to achieve a goal. I wanted to weave what went before into an appreciation for the present as well as a hope for the future. After blogging about Appalachia for the last three years, I've realized two amazing things:
First: our culture isn't totally fading away. There are folks who are still doing the things their parents or grandparents taught them to do.
Second: it is possible to incorporate many of those old time Appalachian ways into our modern day lives. And if we do, our lives will be all the richer for it. 

Thank you, Tipper, for sharing your story with my readers. Over the past three years, as I've shared your blog address with others, I have heard many writers and poets praise your writing on Blind Pig.  

Tipper Pressley will be teaching a class on Appalachian cooking at the John C. Campbell Folk School, May, 2012. carries Tipper's calendar on planting by the signs. Look for Blind Pig and the Acorn's Planting by the Signs. Her readers have grown better gardens following her advice.
Coming soon on Tipper's blog is a video she directed and edited starring her talented daughters.
Visit her here.

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Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Tipper has done such a fantastic job of preserving her heritage through her blog. Anyone that reads it feels as if they personally know Pap, the Deer Hunter, and her girls. She gives real insight into what life is like in rural American through her stories.

Great interview Glenda. I really enjoyed getting to know Tipper better through your questions.

Susie Swanson said...

I love Tipper's Blog and her posts. I know her family especially her Pap and a member of her family married into mine. I can relate to everything she posts because I'm from the Applachia. Great Interview..Susie

Nancy Simpson said...

Glenda, this is an excellent interview. Thanks.Tipper's blog is my favorite of all the Appalachian Blogs.It's the best.

I remember too and still appreciate how Tipper helped me get started with my own blog. I had such high hopes then. Blogging seemed to be an answer to my stay home situation. I thought it could be a way to communicate with other poets and writers. Others insisted Face Book was the way to go. That was bad mistake, a wrong turn in the road for me.

Congratulations to Tipper. If there were a prize, she would win it for sure.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. Just out of curiosity, did you conduct the interview by e-mail, phone, or in person? I have someone in mind I might interview for my own blog if he's willing.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Fantastic interview of Tipper. I love her blog and her writing. Glad you featured her, Glenda.

Glenda Beall said...

Thanks to all who commented and visited to read the interview with Tipper. She is a terrific young woman. I met her through one of her daughters who had entered the NC Poetry Council's poetry contest when I was on the Council.
You can find pictures of Tipper and the girls in an article I wrote, with photos, on
Search for Coffee With the Poets on the blog and you will find the post.