Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Interviewed By A Pixie

Last year, Evil Pixie did an interview with me for her blog. I'm going to include all of the interview questions below, but to see more, click here for the original post.

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Tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Salena Lettera, I’m 43 years old and I’m a truck driver. Originally from NY but currently living in Arizona, I travel the country with my boyfriend of more than six years, Eddie; a born and bred Texan. I don’t hold it against him. Although I’ve always loved driving (I was the one who’s car everyone would pile into before heading out to the mall, the club, the beach), I never thought I’d become a truck driver. Then I met Ed, who had already been driving for almost ten years at that point. Since I wanted to be with him, I went on the road for two years as a passenger, and after that, went to trucking school to get my CDL. We now we drive as a team and I consider what I do to be the best job I’ve ever had!

Aside from blogging, what other creative outlets do you have?
I love to write, everything from short stories to poetry to resignation letters. If any of my friends need help with a writing project, they usually come to me. I have written website profiles, resumes, break-up letters, etc. I also like to take pictures and cook. In the truck, hobby time is limited. Before trucking, I used to sew, make cloth dolls, do crafts like Christmas ornaments and beaded jewelry. I love pretty things and I’m always wondering how to MAKE what I saw for sale in a store or catalog.

You definitely have an eye for photography. I love your work! What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I really like to do macro photography, close-ups of almost anything; the edge of a coin, a flower petal, objects. I’d rather take pictures of things, than people. I take pictures of whatever catches my eye as I travel around the country. My favorites can be seen on my Flickr page here.

What kind of camera(s) do you use? Do you have a favorite lens?
I take all my pictures with two very basic cameras. I use a Canon PowerShot S5 IS, which I call my “big camera” and a Canon PowerShot SX210 IS, which I call my “small camera”. My small camera is in my purse 24/7 just in case I see something I want to take a picture of. Also, many of my photos (quite a few on that Flickr page) have been taken as I was hanging out the window of a moving truck! (Not while I was driving, of course!) And since these cameras don’t accommodate them, I don’t have any favorite lenses.

On to blogging… Why did you decide to start blogging?
I decided to blog a few months after I went on the road with Ed. I didn’t drive right away; I was a passenger for two years before I got my CDL. But right away, I was so thrilled with everything I was seeing, all the places I was going and all the things I was doing, that I wanted to share it. Initially, I put together a “newsletter” to send to my family and friends to tell them what I was up to. Then I learned about blogging and decided that rather than me sending them the information, they could all come to one place at their leisure, and read about it themselves. Since then, I’ve not only shared my life with my friend and family, but also from readers in over 44 countries...and counting!

What inspires you to blog?
As I said, it was initially it was to tell my family and friends where I was and what I was doing. And it still serves that purpose. But now, I have other readers. And although I don’t have a lot of people who comment, I feel like there are people who are interested and I want to provide them with something when they come to my site – even if it’s just a picture. Sometimes, especially on runs across the country where not much happens, I don’t have much to write about. That’s when I’ll throw in a day (or two, or three) of pictures. And now that my blog has been written about in several trucking industry publications and I always make note of my website in the articles I write, I like to keep up for whoever may stumble across it. I’ve made quite a few friends through the blog and it’s provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Do you have a blogging philosophy?
Most importantly, I believe in staying true to myself by writing about things that interest me. I like for people to know my personality and I try to stay as close to that as I can. People who know me say they can “hear” me in my posts; that it sounds like me. That’s a great compliment. Now that I’ve gained readers and even some “fans”, I like when I get comments or emails from them telling me that something I wrote had an impact on them, or that they tried one of my recipes and loved it. And I think since I’m writing about a certain industry, it’s important to portray that industry and the lifestyle attached to it to my best ability. I guess my “philosophy” would be to make it personal. Make it ME.

When it comes to your blog, what do you worry about?
I guess I worry about being boring. I’d like to provide content that people are interested in, but sometimes I find coming up with continuous content challenging. I want to post something every day. And for almost six years, I have. Sometimes it’s just a picture. Sometimes it’s just a relevant quote. Sometimes it’s a wordy meme. But I want to have something for people who do come by every day to read me.

Do you do anything to let people know about your blog?
I tell anyone who will listen about it! I put my blog address in my email signature line. I tweet when the mood strikes. I announce posts on Facebook. I have my blog address printed every month in DriverHEALTH magazine and I’ve had a few profiles done on me where my blog was listed. I’d REALLY love to put my website on the back of the truck, but Ed is still resisting that one!

Do you blog surf? If so, is there anything particular that draws you to a blog?
I don’t blog surf very often. There are ones that I read regularly, others maybe a couple of times a month. Some people don’t post every day, so I go to their blogs less frequently to catch up. Good content is the thing that most draws me to a blog. I like people who write like as I imagine they talk; that I can picture myself sitting at their kitchen table talking to them. I like wit. Humor. Intelligence. Good spelling and grammar. I am drawn to blogs that don’t have a lot of adds or crap in their sidebars – too much advertising or too many widgets or “awards” are enough to make me not read them. I like clean lines on a blog and not a lot to distract my eye. I also get bored very easily, so they have to have a real knack at keeping people interested.

What frustrates you about blogging?
Sometimes I have a hard time organizing my thoughts. Sometimes with my driving schedule, I can’t sit down and flesh out my thoughts or ideas in a way that will put forward a coherent post, so I wind up doing nothing. I’m very frustrated when I’m behind since I am The Daily Rant. I sort of made this deal with myself that I would post something every day and it’s frustrating when I can’t stick to that.

What do you hate to see in blogging?
I don’t really care what people blog about, but if they’re going to write on a regular basis, they should have some command of the English language. I can understand an overlooked typo once in a while because I have that happen when I’m writing when the truck is moving; sometimes when I proofread, the movement of the truck causes my eye to skip around and I miss something. But other than that…poor spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes and probably the thing that drives me crazy the most? The improper use of your/you’re – how do you NOT know the difference??

What are some of your favorite blogs?
I have favorites in spurts. But I typically read (unless she’s posting a lot about her kids, which doesn’t interest me and often, she does a lot of that) and Jen Lancaster’s She is me, only famous. Seriously, I think we were separated at birth. I’ve read all of her books and want to stalk her and convince her to become my new best friend.

When reading a blog (including your own blog), what makes you smile?
Wit. Real life humor. Writing about what people think, but never say. Exposing the inner person. Candor. Intelligence. Having an unpopular view and writing about it.

What advice do you have for newbie bloggers?
If you have something to say, write about it. If you are in an unusual career or have an unusual interest or hobby, write about it. If you want to write, start. It can be anything. But as is evidenced by Jersey Shore, people will watch (and read) anything. So why shouldn’t it be you?
And when you do all that writing….PROOFREAD. Watch your spelling and grammar. Look up words you don’t know how to spell. If you’re going to gain readers, you don’t want them to think to think you’re an idiot. There are train wreck blogs out there, you know.

Do you have any future plans for your blog?
I’d like to get more exposure and more readers. I’m doing what I can at this moment to do that and will continue to take advantage of whatever opportunities are presented to me, but I think in 2011 I’m going to go full force into something and try to make things happen a little BIGGER.

What would make you stop blogging?
I can’t think of anything that would stop me. Except writer’s block.

Have you ever thought about publishing a book about your many adventures traveling the roads with Ed?
Yes, a million times. And about as many people have suggested it to me. I have outlines written, chapters drawn up, ideas for titles and marketing. Now I just have to do it!

Women truck drivers are rare… Why do you suppose that is?
Of the three million truck drivers in the United States, only 4.5% of them are women. And I guess that’s because historically it's just been a male dominated industry; women just didn’t do it. But I like it. I think more women should get into the field. I have never driven as a solo driver, so I can't speak to that experience, but my personal experience out here has been pretty fantastic. I think my ability to talk to anyone and my charismatic nature allows me to get along with the men in the industry quite well. I have never felt discriminated against because of my gender. I actually happen to think it works in my favor.

What keeps you truckin’?
The travel. The change of work venue. The unstructured work day. The "office" window. There aren’t many jobs where you can be on sun drenched beaches and in snow capped mountains in the same day. Some, yes. But not many.

Tell us something about you that most people wouldn't know – including your blog followers...
I have a scar on my face from shaving when I was around four years old. I was standing at the sink, watching my father shave and picked up the razor to mimic his actions. I cut my face and to this day, have a small scar to remind me of the incident. And of my father.

The Fairy Godmother from “Cinderella” just appeared and said, “Guess what!! You can be anything you want to be – no strings attached.” What would you be?
Wealthy. OK, I'm sure that’s not what you meant, so I guess I'd have to go with a wildly successful makeup artist or in a business with my best friend in Nashville, which would also be…wildly successful.

You’ve just won 10 million from that lottery ticket you bought while on a rest stop during a long jog. What do you plan to do with the money?
I think about this all the time when I’m driving. I make mental lists of how I’ll distribute the funds! First, I’d pay the debts of my immediate family and then the debts of those in my extended family that I actually like. I’d give my best friend whatever money she needed to continue her culinary education and her desire to own a food related business. I’d set up college funds for my nephews and youngest cousins. I’d make sure my brother never had to work another day in his life (unless he wanted to). I’d buy my trucker friends big sleeper trucks like we have. I’d go on some sort of dream vacation. I’d invest some. Save the rest.

And finally, sum yourself up in 3 words.
Generous. Outgoing. Funny.

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So there you have it. Now that you've seen what a great interviewer she is (well, she did have an awesome subject), go over to check out
her personal blog . I'm pretty sure she has something that you'll find interesting - she's a true Renaissance woman!

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6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

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