Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The OSI Interview: Sara Pemberton

Sara Pemberton is the owner of On Simplicity, a blog focused on having less and enjoying more. Her pieces have been featured on Get Rich Slowly, Dumb Little Man, and Simple Mom. In her non-blogging life, Sara is a library programming director, heading up services for adults and children (and on occasion, pets). In between writing and finding new ways for kids to make fantastic messes, Sara enjoys fluffy slippers and a good gin and tonic [and thus is obviously awesome.--ED.].

1. In the context of your work, which bits of minutiae matter most?
With the micro-audiences that blogging caters to, it all feels a bit like minutiae at times, doesn't it? Of course, that's also the beauty of it. Even the tiniest idea or event can become an essay that reaches thousands of readers. Small comments also matter deeply to me. Having someone contribute an idea, an opinion, or a word of thanks changes the dynamic of a blog dramatically.

Of course, when I'm working with kids, that dynamic is completely flipped. In writing, the end result is what matters, regardless of how much I enjoyed creating it. With kids, the end result is how much you enjoy creating a project. That's the whole point: having fun in the process. It helps me keep things in perspective beautifully.

2. Which bits matter least?
Without a doubt, the unwritten "rules" of any job or task. In the end, there are no rules. Trying to follow someone else's guidelines or standards can be maddening. As long as you're doing your best to provide what people need, the details can usually slide.

3. In the context of your life, what types of minutiae once seemed important, but have since fallen by the wayside? Why?
Collecting things, having them for posterity, used to seem extremely important. From music to books to vintage Barbies, I wanted it all. Now, I try to get rid of as much as possible while still keeping what I really appreciate. The ethic of "the perfect is the enemy of the good" has really changed my outlook. Sure, I could have every single song I've ever heard, stored in alphabetical order on an external drive, or I could focus on the twenty percent of songs I love and not have to sort through a bunch of crap to get to them. The culture of access has helped, too. I don't have to own every rare bootleg cut as long I know where to access them.

4. What types of minutiae, if any, have you had to train yourself to pay closer attention to?
People, if people can be called minutiae. I used to expect everyone to wear their hearts on their sleeves. (I know, it seems pretty silly now.) Now I try to make an effort to see what's beneath the surface instead of expecting people to tell me what they need.

5. Just for kicks -- what are your favorite bits of minutiae (personal, from a book, a piece of music, moment in a movie, etc.)?
I'm totally obsessed with the back stories of songs and artists. Like in "Let's Get It On," there's a line at the end about being sanctified. That one throwaway line encompasses all of Marvin Gaye's duality, his lifelong struggle with sex and spirituality. I thrive on minutiae like that, the easter eggs of life that add depth and meaning to everyday experiences.

Thank you, Sara!


positively present said...

Great questions and excellent and interesting answers, Sara! :)


Tess said...

I just visited Hitsville USA, a museum where Barry Gordy began Motown Records in Detroit. Marvin Gaye started as a janitor and then answered phone to get his foot in the door. Nice interview.

Emma said...

Positively--thanks for your comments!

Tess--I love that detail. It says everything about passion.

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Emma!
I just read Sara's blog--there is simple wisdom, and a sort of purity about her, which is beautiful to see.
(And, if she wants to declutter and simplify her life even further, may I suggest that she unload that gorgeous torquoise necklace and hand it immediately over to me!)

Emma said...

Clementina! You hit the nail right on the head--"a sort of purity" is exactly what goes through my mind when I read Sara's blog. (And hey, lady, you'll have to fight me for that necklace. After I talk her into "simplifying" it to me.)