Blogger Interview: Anne Jackson

March 12, 2010

Hey everyone. I’ve got an interview I’m really excited to share with you today. Long before most of us ever thought about blogging, Anne Jackson was practically inventing the blog. Today, she’s a speaker, author (Mad Church Disease and upcoming Permission to Speak Freely), and writer of uber-blog, Flower Dust.

As a blogger who I’ve admired for a long time for her honest and personal writing, I was excited, and a bit nervous, to ask her to answer a few questions. Luckily, thanks to the magic of email, I don’t have to actually ask for personal favors face to face anymore, and she’s super-cool and took the time to do an interview with me. I asked about being a writer, beauty secrets, and the perks of being a preacher’s kid. Here’s Anne.

You’ve been writing, blogging, and speaking for a long time. How did it all start? Technically I’ve been blogging since before blogging was a word. I kept an online journal (in addition to many hard copies) since 1996, when I fell in love with writing. I still have no idea what to do with my life, but I’ve learned to live the day in front of me. Sometimes that day meant having an office job I liked. Sometimes it meant having a job I couldn’t wait to leave.

I knew from the time I was in the fifth grade that I loved to write, but never planned on writing a book. Over the course of a few years, I saw things that broke my heart and how we are daily being rescued, and decided maybe I should write books about them. The speaking didn’t come so easily. I gave a speech in the 8th grade and vowed never to speak publicly again. When I was 24, I felt strongly that I needed to surrender that fear, even though I still had no plans or no doors open to speak. The doors began to open a year later, and haven’t slowed down since.

Will I be writing books and speaking forever? I hope to, but I’ve learned that life is not predictable. That’s the reason I take it one day at a time, simply focusing on the people and the things in front of me that day. Who knows what tomorrow can bring?

Perhaps you should credit yourself with inventing the blog. That would look good on a resume. Personally, I could never keep a journal. But blogging has been very rewarding.
If you weren’t writing or in the ministry, what would you be doing?

My “career” before ministry was in corporate communications, where I wrote. :) So, if I wasn’t writing, I’d be dead.

In the time you’ve been writing, you’ve covered a myriad of quite personal topics including (everyone’s favorites) sex and mental health. What’s been your favorite thing to write about?
I love sharing stories of other people — especially those who may have problems getting their voice heard in all of the mess of the American Dreams and technology and everyone else’s pursuit of happiness. I don’t regret writing anything, and there’s probably not anything I wouldn’t write about, given the time and circumstances were right and I felt God leading me to share.

What has blogging accomplished for the in your life and in the church – besides the legions of fans and piles of cash? Are we better off than we were 10 years ago – the pre-blogging age?
I love to write, so when I write, that’s when I feel my purpose being lived out. There isn’t much cash, or any legions of fans. It’s a fairly reclusive life (that I’ve chosen anyway) and I kind of like it. It will become what you make it to be, and I can only hope to walk in obedience. I do love the way technology has allowed us opportunities to respond to crisis and poverty in a much faster and informed way. The world is a better place for that.

It is good to see that for all the talking we do now, we actually accomplish something.
Outside of writing, what are you passionate about?
Outside of writing, what are you passionate about?  If you were going to open “The Anne Jackson Institute” and put a life-size bronze statue of yourself in the lobby, what would the institute do? Just as importantly, how would the statue be posed? Arms outstretched? Raising an American flag? Would it have light up eyes and a button to push that would activate a recording of you singing?
Ha!  I love good film, good music, and good food. So, cook me up some gourmet mac-and-cheese, pop in a french documentary (preferably historical) and call me happy.

This is a very important question. You get your photo taken a lot. The photo on your blog’s banner changes rather frequently. How long does it take to choose your clothing, jewelry and makeup to achieve the “Anne Jackson look” for the photos?
My hair color changes frequently (an addiction I’ve lost to for sixteen years) so depending on how accurate the pictures are (or aren’t) I’ll have them changed. Nashville is a great town with great talent. But quite honestly, I typically throw something in the dryer right before I leave to make sure it smells okay and do my make up in the car. I’m not exactly the epitome of class.

I never look like Anne when I do my makeup in the car.

By this time, you have lots of people who care about what you say, but writing probably absorbs a good deal of your time. You scaled back a bit by giving up Facebook. Does Flower Dust itself have a lifespan? Is there anything you can forsee that would cause you to give it up, difficult as that would be?
I would absolutely give it up if I felt I needed to. At this point, I don’t see what event would cause that to happen but life is unpredictable. I didn’t plan on giving up Facebook and that happened, so…nothing is out of the question.

I believe you’ve mentioned you enjoy coffee a little bit. Well, something’s been on my mind about that, and I have to ask a female coffee drinker about it. When you recieve a delicious cup of hot coffee from Starbucks, do you hold the cup in both hands, raising it to your face, not to drink it but to smell it, and give your shoulders a little shrug while closing your eyes? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coffee, tea, or TheraFlu commercial where the actress does not do that.
Um, I actually only drink tea. :) But I usually do it with two hands.

Now I feel like the lamest Anne Jackson fan ever…how could I think you like coffee?!
Preacher’s kids like to complain about what a hard life it was and how having Dad in the pulpit ruined our childhoods and that’s why we acted stupid as teenagers. From one preacher’s kid to another, what was one thing that was actually totally awesome about it?
Free, left over grape juice after communion. And knowing where the good spots in the church were to hide and make out with boys.

I turned twelve before I realized grape juice also came in boxes, and I didn’t have to chug it one tiny cup at a time.

If you haven’t commented on Flower Dust recently, say hi to Anne today.  Or buy her book.  Whose beauty secrets should I ask for next?