My Filco Keyboard
So today’s daily prompt is another exhortation to write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.
Our weekly free-write is back: take ten minutes — no pauses! — to write about anything, unfiltered and unedited. You can then publish the post as-is, or edit a bit first — your call.
(I’m not going to do an edit. Just fix spelling and egregious grammatical errors.)
Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was just reading an incredibly interesting web page about a new sort of guitar cable – an analogue optical guitar cable.
The company that has developed it is getting ready for the NAMM show – the biggest music industry trade show of the year. I’d say they are looking for a company to manufacture the cable under license.
They have certainly spent some money on developing the product they even have patents pending so they probably hired a patent attorney. They spent some money on a promotional video. They have a well designed logo and the product looks well designed.
I also assume that even a small booth at NAMM costs a fair bit. The two original inventors have also expanded the team.
The one thing they haven’t spent money on is a technical writer for their web page. The errors in grammar and sentence construction are one thing but I suspect that the person who wrote it may not have English as their first language – there is some strange word misuse such as “resolve” for “resolution” or “solution”.
Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express. What do you think the barrier was?”
This happens to me almost every time I sit down and try and write about depression, particularly my own depression. Just a few days ago I tried to write a blog post about the feeling of loneliness and isolation that sometimes overcomes me.
The words came out but they came out haltingly and didn’t ever feel right.
What are the barriers?
Bill Clinton talking at TED conference 2007. He won TED Prize 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today’s Daily Prompt: “If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?”
The heart of today’s question is what is the one life change I’d like at the moment. I have a whole list of them but the chances of this blog triggering most of them is slim at best.
Falling in love would probably be at the top of my list, I’m a romantic and always enjoy being in love, not to mention that when you’re suffering depression one of the nicest things to get is a good cuddle – makes you feel much better.
A full time job would be nice. At the moment I’m making do with short jobs for old colleagues and past customers but something more stable and lucrative would be nice.
I don’t think either is a likely result of my writing here.
I write here because I enjoy it, I find writing a relaxing pursuit. I also find it helps with my depression to let some of the thoughts inside my head out and onto the screen. So I don’t do it to change anything or gain a life experience.
That said if someone from TED was to read my posts about depression and invite me to talk I wouldn’t say no. That would be an amazing life experience, giving a TED talk.
Of course everyone who writes would love a book contract so I would be over the moon if some publisher reading this blog was to decide to offer me one.
But let’s inject some more reality. Neither of those is likely to happen. How about a more likely outcome?
The life experience that I’d like from writing this blog is to strike up a conversation with my readers. I really enjoy every comment I get here and would love to hear more from you. If you are prompted by one of my posts to write a few sentences I’d enjoy reading them. If you don’t want to make a public comment then feel free to drop me a note at tonyw at honestpuck dot com.
Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
I recently saw an activity on Soul Pancake: Write a love story in 140 characters. So here it is:
Eyes across a restaurant table. Hearts interconnecting. Souls together. Life together, shared moments. Bodies intertwined. Forever Yours.
137 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This Weekly Writing Challenge asks “Go back through your blog archives and find a bloated, nasty, air-filled paragraph. Copy it in all it’s former glory into a new post. Paste it a second time so that you can edit it until it cries for mercy and we can see the strong, shiny, new version below. Strip out the adverbs, replace weak verbs with strong verbs, axe the bloated phrasery that takes up space and yet says nothing.”
It adds “Editing takes practice. Self-editing can be especially difficult because it’s often hard to see the problems with our own writing. Perseverance pays off — keep at it — the lean and mean prose you produce will be worth the effort.”
That’s true. Editing does take practice. Truth is that this exercise isn’t going to be easy for me as I’ve had practice. I spent several years as a magazine editor with some hard teachers. The two copy editors I worked with had both previously worked at a good newspaper and were patient teachers.
When I finished I could write tight prose and had little problem cutting a magazine contribution by a quarter. When I post something on this blog it’s already had a tight edit.
That said lets give it a try. First the original.
From “My Baby Pillow And Meditation”
The first baby pillow caused a huge rumpus; when my mother was at the University studying one weekend my father had to call the doctor and he mentioned how dirty my baby pillow was. My Dad took it upon himself to get rid of it. After he had thrown it into the incinerator my mother came home to discover a four year old frantic and screaming so the sewing machine came out and with an old throw pillow contributing the filling and a tablecloth contributing the black and white check cotton a new one (with one of the old baby pillowcases on it) was rushed into service. Mum said she first spent ten minutes telling my father exactly what she thought of his intelligence and thinking then not talking to him for two days.
Now for an edit.
My first baby pillow caused a real rumpus. Mum was out Saturday. My father had to call the doctor for me. He called my pillow “dirty”. Dad got rid of it in the incinerator and Mum arrived to a four year old frantic and screaming. The sewing machine came out, a throw pillow gave up the filling and a black and white check tablecloth the cover. The new one, with an old pillowcase on it, was rushed into service. Mum gave Dad her thoughts on his intelligence for ten minutes then the cold shoulder for two days.
134 words to 97. Not bad, I think I’ll take that. I’m not sure that the second version is better but it is tighter. The Weekly Writing Challenge named Ernest Hemingway as known for his “unadorned, sparse prose style” and so before attempting this edit I dragged ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ off the shelves and read a few pages. To me my edited version feels more like Papa Hemingway’s style than my own and I think I was subconsciously going for that when I did my edit.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today’s Daily Prompt asks “When you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?”
What a question? I’ve had a blog for many years.
If you go back to my first blog then it was really just a pace on the ‘net I could call my own. It had some non-fiction, some fiction and a couple of tech articles.
My second blog was built when I bought my domain name, honestpuck.com, which I decided I needed since the name Tony Williams is far too common and I needed an alias less common. It was both a place for me to collect all my book reviews, and back then I was writing a lot of reviews of technical books, and a place for me to play with blogging software.
After several different blogging systems I spent a lot of time hacking on blosxom as at that time I was really enjoying Perl but at about the same time the rate at which I was writing book reviews was slipping I was becoming tired of Perl and switched to a self-hosted WordPress blog.
After that the aim of my blog was to develop an audience for some more technical posts and it wasn’t really successful. Developing an audience for a tech blog is hard and slow. That incarnation of my blog slowly died through inattention and a lack of an audience.
About two years ago my anxiety and depression started to develop some strength. I’ve suffered from both to some degree for many years and back then they started gaining strength again. My work and my relationship suffered. Then a little over a year ago my relationship collapsed and I went through some extremely hard times with my ex-partner. Severe major depression was one result.
Paragraph-(capitulum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today Lorelle (if you blog you should be reading ‘Lorelle on WordPress’) had a post giving excellent advice on paragraph length.
To distill the post to it’s essence:
Most people find the shorter length paragraphs easier to read on the web.
In traditional writing, paragraphs could go on for pages without breaking, as could run-on sentences, taking the reader on a journey across many words and pages, turning the page as the eye scans the story, gobbling up every word.
Few writers on the web can get away with that form on their sites.
In Colorado, I found a newspaper with an editorial policy that every sentence must be a paragraph.
All the news was reported in one sentence per paragraph.
Not a single paragraph featured more than one sentence.
It was painful to read.
I felt choppy, distracting, and quite uncomfortable.
You are probably feeling that way after reading the above example sentences, one per paragraph.
While I agree with the conclusion that we should write short paragraphs I disagree that traditional writing tends to have longer sentences and paragraphs.
Writing on the gate Verse written over the lych gate.
Today’s Daily Prompt asks “To what extent is your blog a place for your own self-expression and creativity vs. a site designed to attract readers? How do you balance that? If sticking to certain topics and types of posts meant your readership would triple, would you do it?”
An interesting question. The truth is that this site is almost entirely written for myself. It’s the act of writing that I love and this blog provides an excellent venue.
I write because I enjoy writing. In a previous post I wrote:
I blog because you provide me an audience for some of my writing and I can’t not write. Words to me are just like breathing – I read them in and I write them out.
That’s the core of this blog, it’s not written explicitly for you but instead because I am a writer. At the same time you, my reader, are essential as every art requires an audience.
In a perfect world I’d get more feedback, a little constructive criticism in the comments perhaps. At the same time the growing number of visitors and followers tells me I must be doing something right.
Is it designed to attract readers? No, it’s not really designed to attract readers. It doesn’t have a common thread to all the writing though I guess my reviews of the plays I see and the books I read would be the core. I also have a tendency to answer the daily prompt and the weekly writing challenge so that also gives this blog a certain feel.
Would I alter the blog to triple readership? I don’t think I’d change for increased readership but I might consider it for increased feedback. I really enjoy getting comments, even those that disagree with me, and I’d appreciate finding a way to increase feedback.
This weeks Weekly Writing Challenge asks us to write a poem so here is one I dashed off quickly.
the right words
in the right order,
takes all my skill
and strife with
language and theme.
I slowly grind
out a draft
and play and play
till from the chaos
art emerges with
the muses gift.