The Writing Life: Nikki Moustaki
When did you begin blogging and why?
I began blogging to help a dog shelter that I support in South Florida. Then I started a pet product review blog, and a Lyme Disease blog (I had Lyme Disease and it was -- and still is -- quite a journey). Since I work in the pet industry, I try to keep a neutral position on sensitive topics, as anyone would have to do in any industry, so I don't have a personal blog where I explore my own ideas -- I save that for my poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
What has been the highlight of your career as a blogger?
I think the highlights are yet to come. I've had so many successes as a blogger, but those can't be measured by every-day standards or awards. I feel that my blog is a success when it helps someone.
Should aspiring writers blog?
Blogging helps you exercise your "writing chops" and engages your critical thinking. I believe that the act of blogging is more helpful for the blogger than for the reader, even if the reader is gaining important knowledge. Remember, however, to save the best stuff for your "real" writing.
Has blogging been an extension or compliment to your writing career?
Blogging, so far, has been a compliment to my "other" career in the pet industry. But I find that working with animals and my literary life have merged in my creative writing. WH Auden said something to the effect that if you want your children to be writers, teach them a trade. Being a "writer" is no use to anyone if you don't have avocations and adventures, unless you're Emily Dickinson of course, and there was only one of her.
What advice would you give to would-be bloggers?
Blog about what you know, not about what's popular. Blog about your passions. Don't hurt anyone's feelings unless the person is a politician, a pedophile, or an animal abuser. (Not that I'm comparing politicians to these other two, but politicians receive a lot of criticism and have thicker skins than most.)
Don't blog just to blog -- have something to say, share, or teach.
What are the advantages of blogging? Disadvantages?
One advantage to blogging is the deep exploration of one subject, which can make you an expert in that topic. One disadvantage for writers is that the more words they apply to something that isn't their own writing, the fewer words are applied there. The hour that I blog can be used to write a poem. But you can't write creatively all day -- the brain isn't set up for that -- so blogging is a way to "let loose.
About Nikki Moustaki
Nikki Moustaki holds an MA in poetry from New York University and an MFA in poetry from Indiana University. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in poetry, along with many other national writing awards; her poetry and essays have been anthologized in college and high school textbooks, and her numerous how-to books, on topics from choosing a college to training dogs to how to care for your parakeet, have been translated into five languages. She is a volunteer mentor at Power Poetry, helping kids ages 13 to 21 fulfill their dreams of writing poems. Her memoir, The Bird Market of Paris, is forthcoming from Henry Holt in early 2014. She works as a freelance writer, primarily in the pet and health industries, and in her spare time rescues and fosters shelter dogs.
Nikki blogs @ http://betterwords.typepad.com/nikki_moustaki/