Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview with Tipper Pressley, Writer and Blogger

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.
Visit Tipper's blog to see the video she directed and edited starring her talented daughters.
Visit her here.


Jim Casada said...

Glenda--Thanks for interviewing Tipper, and let me assure your readers that she is the real deal. I first met her in person when she came to Bryson City to interview my 100-year-old father (who since passed away at the age of 101). My brother, Don, had found the Blind Pig blog and directed me to it. In short order both of us became regular posters as well as good friends of the whole Blind Pig gang.
As a full-time freelance writer and son of the Smokies, I am someone who shares Tipper's love of Appalachian ways. I'm urging her to turn some of her material into a book and have offered to help her through sharing my own background experiences as an author. Similarly, my brother prodded her to do the wonderful video of Little Cataloochee.
Tipper is the essence of modesty, but she deserves every bit of recognition she receives. I would urge any of your readers who cherish the lure and lore of the Appalachians to visit her blog. They won't be disappointed.
Jim Casada

Wanda Stricklin Robertson said...

This is a great interview! The Blind Pig and the Acorn is on my "read every day" list. Love it!

Glenda C. Beall said...

Hi Jim,
Thank you for your comments. I know that Tipper will publish a book one day and probably more than one. She is writing a book with each post on Blind Pig.
I have never known any person who worked as hard and as smart as Tipper.
She is a success already.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wanda, thank you for commenting on the interview with Tipper. She is a special person and an accomplished blogger. I subscribe to her blog and enjoy it every day.
Thanks for being a follower here at Writers Circle.

Lonnie Dockery said...

Great interview!
I was borned in the mountains a long time ago (a lot farther back than Tipper, but not nearly so far back as Jim Casada!)but it's amazing what I have learned from the Blind Pig. Sometimes I'm just a "lurker", but I read every post. It's good to know some of the "whys" and "hows".

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I "ran into" The Blind Pig but I'm glad I did, and I read it every day though I don't always comment (a lurker, am I?). I connect with everything Tipper writes about in one way or another and admire her for carrying on...and thank you for interviewing her. Celia Miles

Roland Leveille said...

Great interview with Tipper. It was great to learn more about her and her writings. I've been following her blog since she began it. I'm from Canada and it's interesting to learn about her heritage and daily lifestyle. Like you said in the interview, her writing stirs up memories of my life and it also inspires me to write about what I'm passionate about.

Great Tipper! and thanks again.

-Roland Leveille

Glenda Beall said...

Thanks, Roland, from Canada.
I appreciate your leaving your comments. Tipper has been a friend for several years and I have enjoyed watching her success on Blind Pig.
I love your country. I've been there three times and long to visit again.

colleen laquay urbaniuk said...

what a great post glenda. i'm heading over right now to check out her blog. i've never heard of it but it sounds so interesting. thanks for having the heart of writers on your mind all the time!

Glenda Beall said...

Colleen, Thank you for visiting Writers Circle and for leaving your comment.
Writing is not limited to the literary world. Writers come in all forms, and Tipper's writing has proven she has something special to offer.
I know you will enjoy reading her blog.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I adore Tipper's blog - and in fact, I sent a friend from Sweden who is setting part of his book here in Haywood County to read her blog. He's been peppering me with questions and finally I said, "Go here!" laughing!

And Pap's Gritted Bread made it into this novel I'm writing now -- just love these connections.


Vicki Lane said...

I do love Tipper's blog! Her voice is so genuine and friendly -- I feel I know her though we've never met in person.

glendabeall said...

Thank you Kat and Vicki for visiting and leaving a comment.
Both of you are Appalachian writers and Tipper's blog is a fount of Appalachian lore. Hope you'll come again.