“I think if there’s one gift I could give to moms it would be to help them calm the f*** down and be okay. Do your best. That’s good enough. I’m not saying lower our standards, but we should increase our tolerance for ourselves.” - Nicole Knepper
Writer. Clinical Professional Counselor. Self-proclaimed, “Queen of Cussin”.
You can’t judge a writer by her moniker...
If you are like me, it’s possible that even if you have never heard of Nicole “Nikki” Knepper that you are familiar with her work. With nearly a million Facebook followers of her blog, Moms Who Drink And Swear (MWDAS) is considered to be a “mommy- movement” by her devout fan base whose scope is beginning to rival that of a British boy band. As the blog nears its five year anniversary and as Nikki celebrates the success of her best-selling book with the same name, Moms Who Drink And Swear has done what most blogs fail to do: Prove that author-driven platforms can have stamina, sustained readership and widespread commercial appeal.
As a fan of her work, I have always been curious about the woman (and potty mouth) behind the phenomena. What I found through our interview is that like her writings, Nikki is everything that you expect her to be but also much, muchhhhh more.
I expected her to be funny, witty and smart as these are all attributes that anyone can easily pick up on by reading her blog or book.
I also expected that I would have plenty of inappropriate laughs, provoked by what was sure to be some profanity-laced reference about kids, celebrities or both.
Yet, I didn’t expect for Nikki to bring such a large amount of depth and insight to the questions that I asked her for our Q&A session. To put it plain: It didn’t take long to realize that this girl has soul.
And when I say “soul”, please don’t assume that Nikki likes R&B music, chicken and waffles or that she listens to BB King on hot summer nights. Though this could all be true, the “soul” that I am referring to is a depth of character that seeks to find the best in most of life’s occurrences (the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly) and a willingness to fight in order to help others do the same.
We chatted about everything from the evolution of her writing to the battle of good and evil that comes with Facebook.
On Moms Who Drink and Swear…
Kay S: Do you consider yourself a mommy blogger?
Nikki: Nope. I used to think I fit in that category, but nope. I don’t focus primarily on parenting issues or motherhood. The title of my blog is such a fluke, but my blog evolved from a Facebook group I created by the same name, so at first, I did write mostly about parenting. However, my writing has always been about what I learn through this experience, so my blog is really just profanity laced brain droppings about life. It’s a terrible blog title, but at least it speaks to the tone and mood, which is why I’m still surprised when new readers go all pearl clutch after reading it. Um…did you READ the title? Dumbfuckery is commonplace.
Has the goal of your writing changed since you first started in 2009?
Nope. My goal is to comfort, provoke, inform, entertain, and gently offend people into deeper thought and information seeking. Not necessarily in that order.
Have you ever regretted writing about a particular topic/publishing a particular post?
Not a one-time evah.
On being Nikki Knepper…
Describe yourself in one word.
What are people most surprised to find out once they get to know you?
How little I actually drink and how much I actually swear. Naw, I can tell you that people are almost always saying, in some form or another, something like this, “Wow, you are a really articulate and intelligent person. I was expecting you to be a gravely voiced, bitter lush.” Something along those lines.
About the Queen of Cussin’ title….where did you develop your special talent of cussin’?
My dad cursed a lot. I loved the way he wove foul language into intelligent conversation and random activities. I have always been enamored of people who are very much themselves across the board. My dad was one of those people. I don’t think he even gave his proclivity toward profanity a second thought.
Favorite cuss word? [F*ckery, right?]
Is there a dream-celebrity who you wish you could counsel?
Ricky fucking Gervais. But only because I want to act out a very specific scene from the movie, ‘Armageddon’ with him. You know the one where Bruce Willis’s character tricks Ben Affleck’s character and ends up taking the bomb into the asteroid? Oh shit. That gets me every time. I wonder what part Ricky would want to play? I keep thinking I would be a better Ben, because I can cry on demand, but I can also be stoic and heroic. I’d just let Ricky decide. Or we could flip a coin after we enjoy some fish and chips and talk about his mother’s terrible boundaries and why he has a reoccurring dream where he pulls 100 marshmallows out of his belly button.
On social media and branding…
Facebook and Twitter: Are they tools to unite the world or weapons of mass destruction?
Both. But isn’t that how it is with everything powerful? Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s some profound shit right there, right? This, and the concept of The X-men is why I prefer Marvel to DC, but we were talking about the end of the world, right? Yeah, both.
Now that you have almost one million Facebook followers, you are famous! How does the public version of you differ from the real Nikki?
A fraction of the Facebook “fans” actually interact with my social media platform – blog, book, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook – on a regular basis, therefore, I think that real “fans” are actually just like-minded people who see me quite clearly. I am much like my father in the sense that I’m consistently me in every situation. I adjust my tone and language and manners if formality is expected, but that’s about it. I’m me. Take it or leave it. I’m grateful for the people who take it as it is, but I realize that this grand number doesn’t really mean much more than the fact that a person clicked a button. They can unclick it at any time and they do.
What’s the most important aspect of being a successful writer? Talent, luck or timing?
Soul. Writing is all soul. Writing that lacks authenticity is so obvious. But I guess the answer to your question, if I had to pick one thing, is talent. There is a talent to being genuine and honest in one’s writing and readers have a talent to detecting this genuine honesty.
Who is your dream book reviewer? (You can name anyone who you would want to validate your work.)
My mom – always my mom. She’s always been positive and supportive, but there’s a glow I see when she’s proud and excited about something I do, and that glow is there when she reads my stuff. She always gets it. Always. My mom sees the devil in the details and understands exactly why I write the way I do and why I won’t change it for anyone or anything.
Any advice to up-and-coming writers?
Write. Write all the time. Let go and write your soul. The time and place for edits and critique is not during the release of consciousness. Let go. Write your soul.
If you could go back to 2009 when you first started writing, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Ask for help and then accept the help. I have to tell myself this today. This is the most difficult thing for me with regard to everything but the writing itself. The actual writing comes easy to me. It’s everything else that comes with getting the words seen that has been difficult.
If you could travel ahead in time to 2024, what would you ask?
Do you guys have gluten free Nutty Bars?
Kay S is a freelance writer and blogger for Chicagonow.com. She is the creator of Pimps, Preachers and Politicians - a blog that discusses race, politics and urban culture. Find her on Twitter @kaywillsmith.
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