Rules, Read Them, Then Resist Them

Bridge To Nowhere
Find Peace Wherever You Can

“To get your ideas flowing, start by surfing around the writing blogosphere.”

A few days ago, I read that bit of advice on a writer’s web site. That writer writes about — on her “blog,” that is — about . . . yes, you guessed the answer . . . she writes about writing; or “blogging,” as so many people seem nowadays to name the practice.

Some people seem to think that “blogging” about what other “bloggers” are “blogging” makes for a captivating “blog.”

More power to them. No one needs me to point out the fact that there’s room for everyone here, nor to explain that here is not a place at all.

Just me, perhaps, but I find the type of “blog” that is in essence a series of links to other web sites, with a few blasted cartoons grabbed and copied from the ether, along with a few quotations from popular quotation sites, boring, derivative in the extreme, unoriginal and not worth the time required to read them.

If I want cartoons, I don’t need you to capture them for me. If I find myself in need of a quotation from a famous person, I know where Bartlett lives, so I don’t need you to provide a map to Bartlett’s castle.

But that’s just how I think.

And I’m not adverse to considering other people’s opinions on the subject. I’m just opinionated, as are you, no matter how much you deny it. Yes, Virgina, we’re all full of opinions. The pertinent secret is that a person oftentimes is best advised to keep a particular opinion private, at least long enough to allow for listening to what others say. After listening, then shoot away, but not the other way around.

Rules. Yep, there are many “blogospherical bloggers” who are not only willing, but who are as well just dying to give you a list of rules for effective “blogging.”

So I’ll give you mine. Why not?

1. Can the word “blog,” as in don’t use the word. The word writing is a fine word as it stands. Will the world heed my advice on this one? A definite nope. Still, as a writer, I can write whatever I want to write, so long as I do not intend to incite a hostile argument or even worse. And I promise you that today is the last day I’ll use the word “blog” on this web site. Silly word.

2. Write about whatever you want to write, and post it to your web site (and yes, the term “web site” obviates the need for using the word “blog”). Come on, repeat after me, “Blog; the word sounds much the way a person’s nose sounds when it’s gurgling goo.”

3. Include a famous quotation if it seems essential and therefore relevant to the subject about which you are writing, but please, spare your potential audience an article that features a string of remarks made by other people dead or alive. We want to read what you have to say, not what The Bard, or Burroughs, or C.S. Lewis had to say. Exception: If you’re writing about The Bard, or Burroughs, or C.S. Lewis, then quote away.

4. By all means include a cartoon or a photograph snapped or drawn by someone else, if it seems essential and therefore relevant to the subject about which you are writing. But please, spare your potential audience an article that features a string of other people’s cartoons and photographs, drawn or snapped by people other than yourself, dead or alive. Exception: If you’re writing about a cartoonist or a photographer, then copy and paste away.

5. Resist following the advice of other published writers, as to how you should write or what you should write, at all cost. Those who frame their stories around constructs invented by published authors are the people responsible for the flat sameness that haunts our twenty-first-century bookshelves, touchable and digital alike. Unless. Unless your goal is publication above all else. If it’s publication you want, and not much more, then by all means imitate, regurgitate, negotiate and dilute with gurgling goo.

6. If you read what someone else has written and posted to a web site, then please comment if you are of a mind to do so; writers crave response. BUT! Comment on the writing, or on the subject matter, NOT on the writer as a person.

7. If you post an article, story, essay or mere rumination to your web site, welcome comments about your writing and comments about the subject matter of your article, but refuse to accept comments that are aimed at you as a person. Matter of fact, DELETE the highly personal comments. Comments aimed at the writer are reflections of the intellectually poverty-stricken people who post such comments, and not a reflection of you or your writing.

8. Realize, as in admit, that your opinions are just that. Some readers find your writing interesting. Some readers find your writing drab and uninspired. Just refuse to allow those who are disinterested in your writing, or those who find your writing uninteresting, to stop you from writing the way you write. You want to write about angst? Write about angst. Chances are good that the reader who recoils at the subject hasn’t suffered angst the way you have; that reader simply equates his experience of sadness with yours, and thinks that his opinions are shared by most every other reader. Read William Styron. Or don’t.

9. If you want to propose the invention of a new word or phrase, then do so, but make it clear to your reader that you are applying for such a patent. For instance, there is, as yet, no such thing as a “literature-oriented” writer. If you mean to describe a writer who prefers what nowadays is commonly referred to as “literary” writing, then say so.

10. Resist proposing hatred in any form. No one is kidding anyone here. Each one of us hates something. But if it’s a particular political party that causes you extreme discomfort, then write about your reasons in a reasonable manner. If it’s organized religion that gets your chivo, then write about what yanks your goatee in a well-trimmed fashion. Please, though, understand that proposing the organization of a new political party comprising atheists, agnostics, and radical haters of organized-religion, or haters of Republicans, or haters of Democrats, or haters of vegans, or whatever, is proposing that we spread more hatred throughout the land. Recent events in Tucson, Arizona should suffice to convince any reasonable person that we’ve had our fill of hatred.

11. Never write a list that includes just ten items.

I welcome your comments regarding how I wrote this brief article. As well, I’d enjoy hearing what you have to say about the article’s subject matter. If, however, you write a comment that is aimed at me the man, I’ll delete your words.