Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blog Entry #1000

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. ― Dorothy Parker

For some bloggers, 1000 blog posts is nothing but a walk in the park. For me, it's a major milestone.  I estimate I've coughed up about 600,000 words on this blog which is the length of three good sized novels. But blogging is nisn 't really writing...a novel is infinitely more difficult than just blabbing away as we bloggers do.

My blog is more a diary than anything else and in "The New Diary," the blog is described as a cultural phenomenon rather than a system of writing. I learned in this book that diaries were originally kept by "witches" attempting to preserve pagan wisdom which probably accounts for the taboo of silence and secrecy associated with them in Western tradition. It explains why they were and continue to be locked and why it was considered a terrible breach of decency to read someone else's. If a witch's diary was discovered, not only might the book be burned, but it's writer might be burned as well. Blogs are the polar opposite of diaries in this respect. Bloggers are not seeking anonymity - no, no, no! Nothing pleases a blogger more than a high number of views and best of all, a comment or two.

Sometimes There areAt times I can sit and write pages effortlessly; most of the time, I struggle. I began Guacamole Gulch in 2007 after my sister died when there was a hole in my heart and in my life. As I began writing family stories, and sharing them with friendswhich I formerly discussed with Eilleen, and eventually scanned and added our old family pictures, I enjoyed working on the blog more and more. Blogs come "alive" in a way when you develop  acquire an audience. Once breathing, they have a way of making make you feel guilty if you leave them unattended for too long ignore them - like the plant, Audrey2, in "Little Shop of Horrors." Mine sobs, "Feed me" if I neglect it for too long.

I try to feed wholesome  material to the blog which I find interesting, but at times it wants to be fed junk. I indulge it once in a while. By junk, I mean contrived stuff to write written just for the sake of sustaining momentum. not something I'm really interested in.  The worst one I wrote was on the subject of Morph Suits and it turned out to be my most viewed entry. As H. L. Mencken said brilliantly, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the bad taste of the American public."

I've learned something about writing every day. I cannot resist buying writer's guides and references. because even though I'm long in the tooth, you're never too old to learn something. From most, I've learned at least one useful thing. The best of all the guidesis still remains, "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White - 90 pages of the essentials. I have the third edition.

I'm trying my best to omit needless words and to express myself concisely. After all, Vigorous writing is concise. Strunk and White advises the writer to avoid fancy words. That means I have to stop using words like somnifacient (soporific), nesiote (living on a island), grobian (lout), scobiform (like sawdust). It means I have to pack up my father's copy of Jarrold's Dictionary of Difficult Words. It is a pleasure nevertheless to browse through these marvelous words that are all but extinct in today's language.

Blogs tend to breezy by nature, but I feel like a phony when I try using this style. Sorry, I'll never be authentically breezy. Whenever I try this, I actually blush. From Strunk and White: "Do not write in a breezy manner. The breezy style is often the style of an egocentric, the person who imagines that everything that pops into his or her head is of general interest..." From another guide I realized how cliche-ridden my writing was and my speech. Believe it or not, I can hardly get through a conversation without saying, "gilding the lily" at least once.  Let's face it, with blogging, the temptation to use the "easy expression" is great. 

Some of my writing has lost some spontaneity at times since I began, because I'm now inhibited super-sensitive toby grammar and other details. Although I recently purchased a subscription to Grammerly which is quite helpful - although Strunk and White, my Bible disagrees with Grammerly in many instances. SW alleges, "Only the writer whose ear is reliable is in a position to use bad grammar deliberately; only she knows for sure when a colloquialism is better than formal phrasing; only she is able to sustain her work at the level of good taste. So, cock your ear." Strunk and White are all for splitting infinitives when it sounds good; for ending sentences with a preposition when it works.

The "Said" book is useful. I don't write conversation often, but when I do, I can usually improve the sound and flow by incorporating something from this little handbook. The phrases themselves are stimulating and bring to mind many scenes: "Go to Hell," she said with furious hauteur flouncing out the door. Maybe I'll try to write a short story incorporating all this anger.......

After reading the below advice, I routinely attempt a 50% cut. 

Sometimes my blog has been 100% unnecessary material and the triage is ugly. 

I've enjoyed reading fellow bloggers and have learned plenty from my friends Nancy and Barbara and Robert (on the verge of 1,000,000 hits) and the Sepians and the other handful of bloggers I read regularly. If I had all the time and money available in the world, I'd attend one of the many a blogger convention and hopefully pick up more tips. and have some fun. 
Here's the pitch material from the 2015 New Media convention in Las Vegas. On second thought, I'm not doing this to "stand out" (in a field of 181 million competitors - what folly would that be?) or to monetize so I might not benefit from such an event. What I'd like to achieve is a blog that consistently interests me and the people I like and want to interest. 

Did you know there are more than 181 million blogs around the world?* So, how do you stand out when there’s so much competition out there? Well, to succeed in any industry, you have to know the latest information, tools, and resources so you can make your mark. We’ve assembled experts from the blogging community who are prepared to share their best tips for creating better content, growing your audience and distribution, and monetizing your blog. Whether you’re just starting out, looking to take your blog to the next level, or are in search of some quality networking, joining the blogging community at NMX will offer the solutions you need.
The writing that has most inspired me lately has been M.K. Fisher (my infatuation with her has continued for some forty years), Stephen King whose book "On writing: A Memoir of the Craft" I've found incredibly useful and Anne Patchett's advice in "This is the story of a Happy Marriage." Last but not least, "Granta - the magazine of new writing." My husband introduced me to this quarterly and when it arrives, we fight over it. Back I go to the "Said" book to assist in writing about our Granta fights..."Did I see you hiding the new Granta?" she asked in a hoarse and furious voice. "Yes," he snapped with savage impatience.  

Granta - latest issue
Malcolm Gladwell opines you have to must do something 10,000 times before you get good at it. If I apply this guide to my blog, and increase my blogging at the writing rate of 150 entries per year, I'll be good at blogging by 2075. I'll also be 132 years old. The numbers ain't aren't in my favor. 

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”


  1. Wonderful post, as always.

  2. So, are you counting your "cross-outs" in the amount of words you write?
    I love your blogs. They're always interesting and well-written. I look forward to them.
    BTW- did I ask you if you read Gladwell's "Blink"? I think I did but don't remember an answer. Do you have it or want to borrow it?
    Congratulations on 1000. Only_____? to go before you catch up to Robert.