Tanisha Porath became a writer shortly after her husband died in 2013. Initially, she journaled but started a blog after several people encouraged her to share her work. Porath writes at
www.lifeinthewidowhood.com and is also working on a memoir about being a young widow. Prior to becoming a writer, Porath was a photographer for publications like Willamette Week, The Oregonian and the Tualatin Times.
Porath lives with her two children and serves on the board for Estacada Together, as well as committees for Estacada High School classes of 2018 and 2021. She describes herself as sarcastic, goofy and easy to talk to.
The Estacada News spoke to Porath about writing, dating and the community in Estacada.
ESTACADA NEWS: What kind of topics do you write about?
TANISHA PORATH: I write about my life — being a single mom, dating and things that are funny or sad about my life. I'm working on a memoir, as well as my blog.
EN: Tell me more about the memoir.
PORATH: I started writing a book about how-to be a young widow because I couldn't find anything like that. Every book I read was like, you're 65 and your husband died. I had no concept of that. I was 39 when my husband died. So I started writing a how to for being a young widow. My editor friend said, you need to write the whole memoir and then make the how-to book your second book. The goal is to get an agent by October.
EN: Are there specific entrees on your blog that really stand out to you?
PORATH: There are two that do. The first one is called "I hate Beyonce," and it's about the first time I was in a grocery store after my husband died. He used to do all of the grocery shopping and made dinner and lunch and planned all the meals. So I had to go grocery shopping and I had a panic attack in the middle of the store. I ended up looking at Beyonce on some US Weekly cover and I'm like, "I hate you." I wrote that, and that was the first real blog post where I felt like a writer.
The second one is about dating and how weird it is. When I started dating again after my husband died, I kept getting all of these unsolicited indecent pictures. I would say, "this guy says all the right things on his dating profile." And I'm like, "cool, let's text," and two minutes into the texting, there it pops. And I'm thinking, I don't even know you. I was telling my friend, and we made it into a game. That's what the blog post is about — how quickly I could get them to send those photos. And it was pretty quick. That's the blog post where I got the most comments saying "this is so funny, and so sad and so relevant." That's when I thought, "Oh, other people see me as a writer."
EN: How did you become interested in photography?
PORATH: I've always done photography. I loved it and took my camera everywhere. The difference between photography and writing is I'm not a trained writer, so I have a lot more doubt. I'm not as vulnerable in my photography.
EN: What's your favorite part of Estacada?
PORATH: I love the strong sense of community Estacada has. I've met so many people here, and it's almost like you don't understand the strong sense of community until you're a part of the community. So many people are so proud to live here, which is different. Normally people in smaller towns are like, "Oh, we're stuck here," but people come back to this town. They want to live here.
EN: In what ways do you think living in a small town has affected you as a writer?
PORATH: I definitely feel more connected and supported. My son and I joke that whenever we go into Portland, every person in every coffee shop has their Mac open and they're writing a book. You just don't get the same support in the big city that you do in a small town. I just feel more supported and encouraged here.
EN: What's the best part about being a writer?
PORATH: It enables me to tell the truth in a way that I'm not really able to speak. I can articulate my words better when I'm writing them. I grew up with undiagnosed dyslexia. Some of my teachers were like, "How are you so smart but so dumb?" Writing makes me feel smarter, freer and not so dumb.
EN: What's something people might be surprised to know about you?
PORATH: Even though I write this blog and I'm writing this memoir, there are aspects of me that are very private. I write about sex and dating, and my best friend thinks it's hilarious that I write about all of this stuff, but I won't put pictures of myself and the guy I'm seeing on any social media, because that's private. There are just aspects of my life that are very private.