Mary Warner, September 2021.
Mary Warner, September 2021.

Hi, my name is Mary E. Warner and I am a writer, editor, artist and pragmatic historian.

Welcome to my blog, Without Obligation. That is a title that takes a little explanation.

If you’ve been following my blogging over the years, you’ll have caught on to my restless nature in terms of the form. I started blogging in 2006 under the blog title “Filter & Spice” using Blogger. I shifted over to WordPress under the title “The Woo Woo Teacup Journal” in 2007 and kept that blog until November 2014. I started this blog (the one you are now reading) under my name, also in November 2014. While blogging fairly continuously between The Woo Woo Teacup Journal and here, I have also kept a number of different project blogs, the most recent being The Pragmatic Historian. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I rolled The Pragmatic Historian into this blog. (You can find those posts by typing ‘pragmatic historian’ into the search box.)

Part of the reason I start short-term project blogs is that they give me an opportunity to design a new blog by picking a new theme and figuring out how I’m going to visually illustrate it. (For example, I used clocks as my visual theme for The Pragmatic Historian.) The other reason I start project blogs is that I tend to get sucked into the notion, sold to us by blog marketers, that I have to stick to one subject in order to build an audience. It’s not enough to simply be myself.

Inevitably, after operating project blogs for a while, I get tired of the monotony and want to return to blogging about whatever I want in my free-for-all way, whether I want to talk about funny product packaging, the practical use of history, my Doggle Woggle, the writing process, or a piece of art I am working on. It is at those moments that I need to remind myself about blogging without obligation, a concept introduced to me through a comment on The Woo Woo Teacup Journal back in 2008, relatively early in my blogging life. The basic concept of blogging without obligation is to blog without feeling you have to stick to some magical rules about how often to post or a particular length of post or always posting on a specific day. I extend this to not feeling obligated to stick to one topic ad nauseum.

That’s where my blog title, “Without Obligation,” comes from.

Why did I feel the need to name it at all? Why not just keep my name as the name of the blog? I could, and I did for 5+ years, but it’s been vaguely unsettling to me. I’m not a celebrity with major name recognition, so what’s the draw? Aside from a fairly small circle of people, I’m relatively unknown, merely puddling around on my tiny corner of the internet. Why not use the title spot in a creative way, in a way that might be slightly more revealing than slapping my name on it? The tagline (or subtitle, if you prefer) is a less intrusive way of introducing myself.

If you want to know more about my work, read below. If you want to get to know me and what goes through my head, follow my blog posts. Feel free to lurk without obligation.

For some context on my general life values, read this post.

Writer/Editor Mary

When it comes to writing, I focus on observational commentaries and history. My favorite forms are blogging and short- to medium-length articles, although I have also authored a few books.

I co-wrote “A Big Hearted Paleface Man: Nathan Richardson and the History of Morrison County, Minnesota” with a man who has been dead since 1908 (that would be Uncle Nate, the subject of the book).

I co-wrote “Little Falls on the Big River: A History of Little Falls, Minnesota, for Kids” with Ann Marie Johnson and Jan Warner.

I also wrote a series of connected short stories called “Greenville: Where Longing Meets Loss.” It is available on Amazon in three editions, Keeping, Sharing and Unfinished.

While writing and editing are often paired, editing is its own beast and one that I’ve done quite a lot of. Need an editor? Let me know.

Artist Mary

Coming from an artistic family, I have been an artist since I was a kid. My Grandpa Jens was a landscape painter and had a sign painting business. My Grandma Bea did all sorts of artsy things, like creating dollhouse furniture and crocheting and drawing. My mother is a master at crocheting complex afghans.

My art forms include fiber arts of all types (sewing, crocheting, knitting, embroidery, bead art, etc.), drawing, photography and graphic design. My favorite software is Adobe Indesign, which I use to design various publications, brochures, forms, & etc. My love of books and creating publications has also drawn me to bookbinding, though I am a novice at it.

Check out my work online to see examples of my art.

Pragmatic Historian Mary

Through my writing and my work at the Morrison County Historical Society, I became a public historian. Not only do I love to research history topics that are little known or not well-remembered and present them to the public, I am keen to persuade people of the importance of learning how to think like a historian.

Need a writer, editor, artist or historian for a project? Drop me a line on my Contact page.

Note that the views on my blog are my own, not those of my employer.


2 thoughts on “About”

  1. While conducting some research on a book I’m writing, I came across an article you wrote and published in 2004 on the website of the Morrison County Historical Society entitled “Who gets Credit? Naming the Source of the Mississippi River.” I was and remain impressed. It’s well-researched and well-written.

    1. Thanks, John! I enjoy researching and writing history and particularly loved this work while working for the Morrison County Historical Society. There is so much to know about the history of the county and I barely scratched the surface. The current staff continue delving into the history with their articles in the MCHS newsletter and on the website.

Thoughtful comments welcome.