Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In Which I'm a Writing Prompt

Write Nonfiction in November

I'm a sucker for Q&As, and when I found my name alongside 4 other dad bloggers, all serving as writing prompts, I couldn't help myself. Here are the questions I was asked by Amanda at the Write Nonfiction in November site. There are answers too:

(1) How fascinating that you wanted to feature other dad bloggers before featuring yourself. Why did you adopt such an unselfish, caring attitude towards other dads? What inspired you to create this community?

I had a very personal blog before my current one, and I just felt drained from writing about myself. I love talking about myself, don't get me wrong (I am writing this post, after all), but I just felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I still wanted to write about fatherhood, though, so writing about other dads, and including even just a small paragraph about the way their experiences mirrored my own was enough. At least at the beginning. I still write personal posts and some too-opinionated posts, but I feel like featuring others will always be at the heart of my blog.

(2) Can you describe your participation in the Good Men Project? Why is that website important? Why is it a good idea to write for that blog?

I think it's important to have a men's site that doesn't try to limit fatherhood to a bunch of stereotypes, but to extend the definition of masculinity. There are a lot of sites that talk to and about men and have nothing to do with me. Men who don't fit the norm (and most men, I believe fall outside the stereotypical norm) shouldn't feel like they're the problem. I try to expand the definition of masculinity on my blog and in my own life as well, so reading and writing for The Good Men Project makes a lot of sense to me.

(3) What inspired you to create a Facebook group just for dads? What are the benefits of joining? Have you learned unique things through that group?

The group is just for blogging dads, first of all (you can read more about the group here). There are a few groups for stay-at-home-dads, and a few for other dad-related issues, but there was no group for blogging dads to talk about fatherhood and to read and promote each other's blogs. There are very few blogging dads compared to blogging moms, and this group goes a long way in the direction of allowing the voices of fatherhood to be heard alongside the voices of motherhood. The more people read about the experience of dads, the sooner the concept of involved fatherhood will become the norm.

I learned a lot from the group, and I hope others have as well. Each blogger has a unique perspective about fatherhood and about his approach to blogging, and as long as we approach others with an open mind, the silliest joke thread in the group can become a lesson in writing, promoting, and parenting.

(4) Congratulations for being invited to a screening of a Disney movie! How often do you get invitations to do cool things? Do you think your reputation as a dad blogger is well known?

Ha, I don't know. My name got on a list, and now I get emails, and that's all I know. Maybe I would have been invited to more events if I had done a better job of looking at my emails less than two weeks after I get them. I've been getting the emails about special press screenings for a while, but only now had a chance to go with my kids. It was a great experience, even though the people sitting next to us in the press section were less fun than those in the regular seats. I've recently spent 3 days in Vegas, on a trip sponsored by Toyota. I wrote about it here. I'd love to go on more adventures, I'll be honest. I'm not sure why I haven't been invited to do a cameo on the new Star Wars trilogy yet.

(5) You equate the need for kids to learn another language with exposing the kids to other cultures. Do you feel lucky to have learned another language in order to be able to pass it down to your children? What is your opinion of people who know another language and choose to not teach their children?

My mom is French, and she tried to teach me French for a long time. But I was stubborn, and it never really got anywhere. I don't judge parents who can speak another language and choose not to teach it to their kids, because I know from my own experience that it's impossible to teach kids something they don't want to learn. I'm lucky that my boy is so naturally curious and open to learning. It's different with my younger girl, though. She might grow up understanding, but not speaking Hebrew, and there's probably nothing I can do about that.

(6) Can you describe your participation in the Dad 2.0 summit? Were you a panelist or just a participant? What is some of the best advice you learned during this summit?

I was just a participant. It was my first time there, and I had a great time meeting people I felt like I had known for a long time. I don't know about advice, but the most important thing I got from Dad 2.0 was to try harder. It's easy for me to fill up a blog with words, but by being around so many good writers who talked about the same things I did, I realized I had been neglecting the writing part of blogging. It's easy to talk about topical issues that get the Google gods to notice you, but if you let your writing deteriorate, your blog is useless.

(7) Your blog touches upon many personal things, including depression, that are a part of being a father. How do you feel about revealing such personal information on the Internet? Has it helped you to get through things?

Like I said, I don't do "personal" very often. The depression post came from a suggestion someone made in our dad bloggers group, and I was one of many people who followed through on the suggestion. Male depression seems like a taboo--something that "real men" don't have, or at least don't talk about, and we had hoped that by "coming out" with our stories, we could convince other men that there was nothing wrong with the way they felt, and that masculinity didn't necessarily mean overcoming emotions alone.

There's always a level of personal ego involved even in the less-personal posts, but even with my most personal posts, I often try to make my stories a reflection of others' experiences.

(8) You manage to break society’s definition of fatherhood and motherhood swiftly into smithereens, offering honest reflections of what it means to be a parent. Do you think society is ready to pay attention to your avant-garde thoughts?

Ha, I'm not sure what that means. I definitely don't parent (or write about parenting) the way I do because I want to change anything, but because that's what comes naturally to me. I feel like the concept of involved fatherhood in general, and of stay-at-home dads in particular, threatens some people. I'm not going to get through to them. I hope I get through to others, though.

(9) How political are you? How do your political viewpoints affect your parenting? Do you teach your children about politics in an unbiased way?

I'm very political, but I try to make sure my kids grow up questioning everything around them, including my own opinions. I hope my kids grow up with an open mind and zero judgement. My kids know I'm an atheist, but they've never heard any anti-religion word from me. The "Some people believe that..." seems to work well with religion, as well as with any political issue they may be curious about. There were a lot of pro- and anti-gay-marriage signs in Baltimore last year, before the referendum, and I think I did a good job with the "Some people believe" line. Sure, I'll be disappointed if my kids don't grow up with the exact same opinions I have about every single issue, but that's something that's probably true for every parent.

(10) You have written a lot of reviews about iPhone apps, movies, and books. Do you ever get paid to write reviews? If no, what can you do to get paid?

Well, I get a lot of emails about reviews since I'm on that super-secret list PR companies get, and I delete most emails, since they have nothing to do with me. But if see an email about something that interests me, I'll review it. The payment is usually a review copy (meaning, no payment, really). There is little money to be made from blogging, and it mostly comes from sponsored posts. Once you get paid to review stuff, you pretty much lose all credibility, though, so I don't do that, and I don't think anyone else does.

Thanks for reading and for asking these questions!

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