Melanie Jean Juneau is a fellow Catholic mom blogger whom I’ve only met via email. She’s one of the contributors of Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood. Among the five of us who wrote the anthology, she has the most kids and also the oldest kids. I’ve appreciated her wisdom and advice, as a “veteran mom,” both in Love Rebel and on her blog. Today, Melanie is sharing more about how she started blogging.
TKM: First, tell us a bit about Melanie Jean Juneau.
Melanie: It took me years to finally decide to start writing again. I had taken a 30-year sabbatical after leaving university to raise nine children. I just couldn’t seem to start writing, probably because the computer still intimidated me before I started blogging. No wonder—I had written all my university papers on a MANUAL typewriter.
However, realistically, there was simply too much work running a household for eleven people and helping with the farm animals and our large vegetable garden.
Instead of writing, I told stories. I entertained family and friends with the latest exploits of my kids and the farm animals. Their escapades really were legendary because some situations can only occur with the combination of nine kids on a hobby farm.
As an oral story-teller, I discovered tales rose up from deep within me. I did not know ahead of time exactly what I would say—I did not memorize a script with my logical left brain. No, the very act of speaking words aloud was part of a creative process. The stories were alive, full of joy and humour and that spirit was infectious.
TKM: When and why did you start blogging?
Melanie: My adult offspring encouraged me to start writing again. For years, my children badgered me, “When are you going to start putting our stories down on paper?”
Acquaintances tentatively suggested, “I really think you should start writing.”
Strangers at conferences challenged me, “You are very articulate, you can think on your feet, have you ever considered writing?”
Once four people approached me at a Christian conference to say, “You’re a natural. You are called to write. What is holding you back?”
Well, I froze inside when I sat down in front of a computer and closeted myself in a room to write. I considered writing to be a solitary craft but looking at a blank screen or talking into thin air was a sterile exercise in futility for me. I could not translate the same creative energy I experienced telling a story verbally to the keyboard. My intuitive, imaginative side stayed buried and my logical intellect wrote boring drivel.
Somehow I heard about blogs, blogging sites and blogging directories and I snapped to attention. Suddenly, I was thinking up a username, a title for a blog, looking at templates and design and layout. All these activities loosened up my creativity while I sat typing.
It was like an invisible barrier slowly melted, allowing my imagination to bubble up in a stream of written words that felt just as exhilarating as my oral tradition.
TKM: How did you come up with your blog name?
Melanie: My Catholic blog is called joy of nine9 and my mothering blog is called mother of nine9 because I am the mother of nine adult children. Kids taught me how to live in the present moment and delight in the simplest things.
God also used the stress of mothering a large family to teach me how to let go of control and surrender to the joy of the Lord. God constantly surprised me with His joy and it was my sustaining grace.
TKM: Do you have a blog schedule or do you post when you feel like it?
Melanie: I blog when the inspiration strikes AND every Wednesday to link with other Catholic bloggers who are part of a group which posts re-runs called Worth Revisiting on Theology is a Verb.
TKM: What is your favourite part of blogging? your least favourite part?
Melanie: When I first started blogging, I was excited to start sharing written stories with other people, people who would read them, respond, comment and give me feedback on what I had written. Within weeks, I was no longer an island but part of a community of other writers who had the very same insecurities and problems as I did.
Now that I write columns and am the Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Stand and moderate ACWB, I find it difficult to find time to keep in touch with other bloggers by reading their blogs or commenting.
TKM: What advice would you offer other bloggers?
Melanie: When I first stepped into the computer age, I felt like I had just stepped off a spaceship into an alien world. I did not know how to do anything. Reading directions online was useless; I couldn’t understand half the words they used, never mind how to follow their directions. I still struggle with uploading, downloading, back linking…
One thing about blogging, there are always mentors lurking on the sidelines, waiting to help patch up your messes and teach you new tricks. Early on I read that bloggers are supportive and unselfishly helpful, rejoicing in each others success and offering free guidance. Well, I discovered this statement is true. So if you are tentatively wondering if you will fit in, fear not. If a computer illiterate, web dummy can learn while having loads of fun, you can too. Trust me.
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Thank you for shining this spotlight on your friend! I really took to heart the advice she would give us “newbies” and it was good to hear I am not alone in getting overwhelmed by the amount of keeping in touch with other bloggers. I get so bogged down trying to reach out to everyone!
Thank you for sharing this insight! You are both an inspiration to me!
A wise woman once helped me deal with unnecessary guilt hen she told we that God only gives us enough grace to do what He wants, not want we think we should do