On Blogging – Part 5: Go for It?

blowing off the dustFor the past few days, I’ve discussed my experience with blogging, so have RAFrenzy and Servetus. So the question remains Dear Reader – should you blog? Some would say no; there genre is already too crowded with inane chatter and poor writing.

To that I say, so what? Every blogging experience is both deeply personal and unique. It’s a form of expression like any other media. It can be good, as well as bad. I think if you have a need to find your voice, to express your opinions and interests, to tap into your creativity in a relatively safe setting, then blogging is one of the ways to do it. Of course some unwanted commenters may find their way to you but the joy of it is you have total control over your blog; you can moderate, including and excluding as you see fit. You have license to speak and do whatever you want within legal reason; it’s your space.

That’s not to say that blogging doesn’t have its downside. As I said at the beginning of this series, blogging is much harder than it looks. It takes determination to start up and keep going. Even if you blog long enough to acquire readers and hits, sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. It’s important to set a schedule of posting daily or every other day or weekly so that readers will return expecting to see a post. Set your mind to it and stick with it.

Also be sure to have a specific purpose in mind. Is it about a crush, an interest, a hobby, a goal? It’s best to keep a focus so that you don’t chatter inanely and eventually peter out, resulting in the blog going defunct. It’s also the best way to keep the interest of your readers and become a good blogger. Do you have to be a talented writer? I would say you need to be grammatically competent in the language of your intended audience and to think logically, but you certainly don’t have to be a Stephen King.

After you decide your purpose, you need to find your own voice and style. Look at other bloggers. While it’s okay to borrow ideas when you’re first starting out, continuing to copy others is a bad idea. Readers want to discover something about *you,* not something rehashed from another blog. Hence it’s important to evolve your own voice. How do you do that? Experiment, mix it up. Does it work? Don’t be afraid to try and discard different ideas. If it feels right and clicks with you, it will do the same with your audience. You will also be able to maintain your voice if you plan your posts ahead, at least a day or two. If the post reads rushed, tired and unoriginal, it is.

writingprocessRemember you’re writing for yourself. Even if the subject isn’t personal, the insights, experiences and opinions are yours. Is it something you want to explore and share? Then, that is what you need to discuss. You may ask “what about the audience? They have to read it.” Well, does the topic interest you? Is it something you would want to read? Then more likely than not, it will interest your audience. It’s natural to worry, but don’t place too much concern on how many viewers you’re getting when starting out. Once you’ve found your voice and focus, interested readers will come. Really.

Also, take pride in your blog. It’s a representation of you. Make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing with an appealing format. Use pictures and video to break up long text. Keep posts relatively short unless the subject warrants otherwise. Proofread, proofread, proofread even after you’ve published. (I’ve caught more mistakes after going live.) Nothing ruins a good post more than bad grammar, poor spelling and typos. Would you be proud to be given a bound copy of your blog? Then you’re doing a good job.

Of the thousands and thousands of bloggers on the internet, can you be a good blogger, even a great one? It’s hard to say unless you try. Don’t be in awe of your favorite bloggers too much; they had to start somewhere, usually with an goal and the will to write. You may succeed, you might not. But as the saying goes, if you don’t try, you’re guaranteed to fail.

On Blogging – Part 4: Servetus II

Continuing on my series On Blogging, I’ve talked to experienced bloggers, Frenz and Servetus.  You can read parts 1, 2, and 3.  Last week, I posted the first half of Servetus’s interview.  Here is the conclusion.

*****

J:  For whom are you writing on this blog?

S:  In case that’s not clear by now: while I’m grateful for every reader, lurker, and commentator, I’m writing for me. I make no apologies for this decision. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about potential audiences when I write — it is impossible to write except to someone — but I am the real priority here. Every now and then the question of Richard Armitage comes up. That’s a big can of worms to open, here, and I’m not really interested in discussing it, but I can say: Richard Armitage does not enter into my blog as a reader or audience member — only as motivation.

J:  If you had to do it all over again, would you blog?

I think so. I get emotional fulfillment from the writing. I enjoy having written a well-crafted piece (and learning from reader response about how to improve). I like understanding myself better. I enjoy reader contact even if I can’t always keep up with comments. I’ve loved making friends with people I’d never have met otherwise (like you!). I’m grateful if I’ve been able to do even just a little to make the world a marginally better place through a few charity appeals. I hope that what I write (whether serious or silly) brightens people’s days or makes them think — and it’s always rewarding when someone lets me know that’s the case, whether publicly or privately. So on the whole, the balance is positive.

Only two things ever make me consider quitting. One is time: I frequently think that I should spend more time on academic publishing or writing for money as opposed to “frivolous” blogging. That need may become acute depending on future employment. Right now I’m not short-changing anyone by blogging, but the danger’s there, and I certainly have it within me to devote all my time to blogging and Armitageworld, even if I know that would not be a good idea.

The second is obvious: the occasional flames. I don’t mean people who disagree with what I say and say so, whether timidly or forcefully — I mean people who bother to tell me in detail exactly what they despise about the blog and me. It’s almost always first-time commenters, so those posts don’t make it through moderation, but what those messages express shocks me. You wouldn’t believe the level of personal cruelty in some of the mail I get. I often get these after I’ve written something that reveals my own struggles, flaws, or embarrassments. I’ve learned that I’m a target for emotions and reactions that people don’t really understand (just as Richard Armitage has probably had to learn in his own context), but it still hurts. Then there are messages that do not attack me personally, but nonetheless accuse me of moral transgression or of destroying the fandom for admitting to my sexual fantasies. You can tell when I’ve gotten one of these when you see another post about an incessant topic of the blog — why it’s ok for me to blog. I’ve been amazed since becoming a fangirl at the sort of matters that people think are worth judging others over. It’s been a good lesson to me about my own occasionally severe INFJ inclination to judgment, which was enhanced by the moralistic upbringing I experienced. Blogging’s taught me definitely that moral disapproval should be saved for really crucial questions. Fangirling is not among these. 

J:  Could you have a blog not about any crush?

Potentially — but it would have to be something I felt fairly strongly about. My academic blogs were about the end of my crush on the university world, I suppose. I need to be preoccupied with something heavily in order to want to write about it and to do so effectively. I think a lot about another Internet writing project that  would probably find a lot of consumers, but it wouldn’t be interactive in the same way as blogging. So I guess in order to blog about something I’d have to have a strong desire to speak with others about it. That’s been a big surprise for me from “me + richard armitage”: I didn’t initially start the blog with the intention of talking to other people about it — it was an analytical vent for an acute preoccupation — but, difficulties with some readers aside, that bit often keeps me going or inspires me to consider and write about things I wouldn’t otherwise.

Interestingly, a colleague suggested to me about a year ago that if it was easy to blog about Armitage, I should try blogging about my research in the same way. I did set up a blog but I never wrote a single post! Now, there’s absolutely no professional reward (promotions, salary increases) for blogging, but partially, I suspect, it’s because it doesn’t tap the same personal source that blogging stems from.

J:  What pointers would you give to new bloggers scared to start out? 

Hmm. There are a lot of “tips for beginning bloggers” out there that I’d agree with — comment frequently on others’ blogs to generate traffic, answer bloggers who comment on your blog, write short posts (a rule I don’t follow), write regularly, do lots of linking, put in pictures, don’t say anything you’re not willing to have associated with your real life identity in case you’re outed, etc. I agree with all of those things, obviously. My perception is that the biggest problem bloggers experience is not so much starting, but continuing at various points when excitement wanes and it would be easier to stop. It’s a bit frustrating to start a project full of enthusiasm for it, but to reach a point where you realize it is unsustainable. If this possibility is what bothers you, before you start, you should think a bit about a few things.

The first is whether blogging is really “your” genre. Do you want to write short, intensely personal bursts about your emotions and experiences that give insight into your life? Because that’s the primary reason that people read blogs: because they think they are getting a slice of someone’s “authentic” self or opinions. Blogging is really a very personal genre — but that’s not for everyone, and some people are uncomfortable with or at least unaccustomed to displaying that kind of transparency about their lives and feelings. If not blogging, what do you really want to do? Fanfic? Short stories? Art? Maybe embroidery is your medium, or photos, or fanvids, or something else that can also be exposed on the Internet and hook you up with creative people in that way. Don’t pick blogging just because it’s what everyone else you know is doing to express themselves. Do your creativity for YOU.

Second, I would suggest that the prospective blogger ask herself what her “mission” is and figure out what her voice is going to be. The point of the blog genre is that it’s *your* personal perspective, so the point doesn’t have to be incredibly original content (I almost never scoop any other fangirl on my blog in terms of information or even critical response) but the process is about becoming better and better at expressing your own insights in ways that seem real to you and speak to others. Inevitably, this involves some imitation — just as beginning writers imitate Hemingway, beginning bloggers imitate other bloggers they have read. But if it’s to be useful to you, eventually it will have to involve figuring out your voice and differentiating it from others. One way to do this is to make a list ahead of time about topics you’d like to write about, so you remember at a sticky point in writing that at one point there were all these things you wanted to comment on. But on the whole: write for YOU.

Third (and this is hard): Try to let go of your fears about being wrong or that people will disagree with you. Some of the best posts I’ve written in terms of discussion have been ideas that weren’t so well thought-out. In contrast, when a post is air-tight and sealed up at all the corners, people think they’ve got nothing to say. Be courageous for YOU.

Finally, I would say: work hard to make friends, especially at the beginning. Develop a support circle. There are some Armitage bloggers who’s support has meant a tremendous amount to me, and it helps to be able to bounce ideas around privately with someone you really trust before you go live on the blog. In the end, when blogging ends (as it seems to do inevitably), you’ll still have those friends to talk to. Make friends for YOU.

J:  Thanks Servetus for participating.  As you can see, these are wildly easy questions.  😀

In the interest of fair disclosure, Servetus had already formulated many of the questions in preparation of a FAQ for her blog when I had the idea to do a blogging series.  It became pure serendipity.

*****

NEXT:  Blogging:  Go For It?

 

Creativity! Guy Drawing 2

I’m celebrating Columbus Probably Did Not Discover America Day with more drawing.  I’m working very slowly through a lesson book.  I was sketching last night and people in chat teased it wasn’t Richard Armitage. So I make up for it today with a nice close up of him.

Richard Armitage as Guy, simple outline trace lesson; pencil.  If you can’t see Flash, it’s here.

 

Serene Sunday: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

According to Wikipedia,  “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, a old African American spiritual was first written by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory, sometime before 1862. He purportedly was inspired by the Red River, which reminded him of the Jordan River and of the Prophet Elijah’s being taken to heaven by a chariot (2 Kings 2:11). Many sources allege that the lyrics also referred to the Underground Railroad, the resistance movement that helped slaves escape from the South to the North and Canada.

Alexander Reid, a minister at a Choctaw boarding school, heard Willis singing these two songs and transcribed the words and melodies. He sent the music to the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Jubilee Singers popularized the songs during a tour of the United States and Europe.”

The song enjoyed a resurgence during the 1960s Civil Rights struggle and the folk revival. Perhaps the most famous performance was that by Joan Baez during the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival.”

Creativity! – A Drawing

Well I did it.  It’s my first drawing in over 15 years.  Strangely I started playing with my new Wacom tablet, had problems, became impatient, and switched to pencil and sketchbook.  What started as a doodle turned into a portrait.  Hmm, I wonder who it could be…    I’m still having a lot of trouble with the eyes and some proportion problems but this is a first effort.

To keep me honest and stop from overdoing and then trashing it (that’s what I tend to do), I’ll post it here. (Sorry about the image quality.  The scan washed out the midtones, so I took a snap with my iPhone.)  If you can’t see the image, the link is here.

I want to thank Zelda Thornton for inspiring me to draw again.  Well, and also a certain RA.

ETA:  This is my final version with scanner.

 

Foolish Friday: Put Your Head on My Shoulder

Since you all liked last week’s objectifying Foolish Friday with Richard Armitage, I’ve decided to extend the fun (or outrage as your case may be).  This week: shoulders.  Not the obvious frontal but the width and breadth from the back.  Let’s find some examples for our study.

 

Here’s Guy looking quite capable with Marion.  I love the way the light and shadows play across his shoulders, emphasizing them.  The belt also accentuates his narrow waist.

shoulders series1-39

"Mmm Marion. What's that aroma? Toilet de Chicken?" Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

Guy’s shoulders dominate this scene.  That’s all him. I do love a man with broad shoulders, scientifically speaking of course.  Don’t you?

shoulders series1-47

"Marion, what do mean I need to bathe first? I washed when I was made knight!" Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

 

But wait, other chaRActers caught my eye.  Let’s take a look at John Porter’s shoulders.  Hmm, the shirt could stand being a bit tighter. We can’t accurately assess the underlying musculature.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

shouldersep3hd_002

John Porter helps Guy plot his wedding night with Marion. Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

Let’s try another picture of John Porter.  Ahhh, much much better.  Much.

shouldersep4_091

The Good Sister wonders when the Hail Marys will start working. Courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

 

Oops, don’t know how this got in here –   Erm, well you can see his shoulders if you imagine hard.  Sort of.

ep6hd_003

 

This photo of RA at the2010 BAFTAs also highlights the shoulders.  Again, note the trim waist.

Bafta2010-08

RA wonders how much closer he needs to be to the reporter. Courtesy Kool Kat and RichardArmitageNet.com

 

Anyway, Frenzy teased us with this pic of Lucas teasing us in a winter coat.  This picture proves that even completely covered, broad shoulders are very masculine and sexy.

shouldersf93adcef

Lucas gives the cold shoulder. Yeah baby, yeah. Courtesy RAFrenzy.com

 

Well, Dear Reader, what did we learn from our study?  Well, we learned that the width and breadth of this man’s shoulders are quite impressive.  I’m sure we’ve learned other things too but I need to find a fan.

Enjoy your weekend.

 

On Blogging – Part 3 – Servetus I

We continue with my series On Blogging.  Here are parts 1 and 2.  My guest today is Servetus.  You know her from her popular analytical blog Me + Richard Armitage.  This is how she describes herself:

Servetus: child of G-d, daughter, sibling, aunt, friend. Thinker, believer, reader, writer. After a decade of waiting to exhale, now exhaling. Searching (still!) for a livable life and trying to be less scared about the future. Needs desperately to feel that she is making the world better or at least not any worse. Likes: Richard Armitage, grapefruit, espresso, The Great Gatsby, complicated liturgies, Alsace-Lorraine, looking at the sea from a convenient sea-side terrace, complexity, long naps. Much less enthusiastic about: Michael Fassbender, fried beef liver, Guinness, The Deerslayer, car alarms, Tucson, actually putting her body in the sea, oversimplifications, staying up for more than 36 hours in a row. Over-educated. Under-prepared. Working hard at compassion for others and herself.

 

Servetus banner

*****

J:  Hello Servetus.  Thanks for joining me.

S: Glad to be here.

J: I think we know why you started blogging: to analyze your fascination with Richard Armitage. Do you think you’re any closer to your stated goal?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes not.

On the “do” side: I’m closer to understanding the specific things in his work that triggered my attention (even if I can’t always bring myself to publish what I’ve realized). I understand better now how my need to analyze things works — what triggers it and why it’s there and where it comes from — as well as the dangers it harbors for me. I think this recognition has developed because just before Armitagemania hit, I experienced a long period of creative death. So I’ve learned a lot through this fascination about how my creative processes work because I’ve been able to observe them revive after a long period of dormancy. I hope this knowledge will help me to help myself, should that ever occur again.

On the “not” side: I’m not any closer to understanding why Richard Armitage (as opposed to another actor) triggered this. I have a hard time accepting that it might have been coincidence. Also, although the writing has been therapeutic and enabling, I am no closer to knowing why the particular nerves he’s touched in me are issues in my life. And the main thing I really still don’t understand is where this unbelievable (and for me atypical) tidal wave of emotion that centers on Richard Armitage comes from. Intense preoccupation with something is part of my personality pattern, and it’s been cultivated by academic research, but intense positive emotion about a preoccupation is not like me and unique in my experience of myself. I have come to accept it, since it’s persisted, unabated, for over a year-and-a-half, but I still think it’s strange and often disturbing. But I’m not done blogging yet, and I’m changing, so that understanding may come eventually as well.

J: How long have you been blogging?

I started in March 2008. I had been reading blogs since 2005, when I became interested in conservative Christian women’s blogging, and I had discovered the world of academic blogs in 2006, but hadn’t contemplated writing anything myself. I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t think I had anything different to say. But in summer 2006, I was granted a two-year research leave, and the break from teaching meant I had more time for myself. Late in 2007 I began having a very specific, troubling problem in my workplace (one of the chain of troubles I refer to periodically in my current blog) and it eventually became unbearable. I had found an academic blog that inspired me a great deal with its unwillingness to look past injustice, and I started to wonder whether thinking about my problem in that way would help me confront it. So I started an academic blog to find people to talk to and to advise me. It was slow going, not least because my writing was so different from and so much less system-conforming than other academic blogs, but it was an anonymous outlet, and I had attracted a small readership of the like-minded and found an outlet for my anger, so it served its purpose.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2009, a post on that blog was linked to a national higher education publication, and reader numbers went off the charts — going from c. 70 readers per day to more than a thousand overnight. I had been sure up till then that no one on my campus had been reading, but that exposure made it impossible to guarantee continued anonymity. Back then I maintained a much stronger commitment to continuing in academia than I do now, and I’d been writing about a scandal. Not many people knew about it, but if it came out, the shit was clearly going to hit me as well. I made the decision to take the blog private two days later. (Now I think that might have been a mistake. One of the spheres I was trying to protect exploded anyway because someone else revealed the same information I had, two years later.) Anyway, I tried to restart a public blog again a few weeks after going private, but the joy had gone out of it, and my postings dwindled in number and length. I wrote the last post on that successor blog in May 2010 — about three months after I had started “me + richard armitage” — and made it private in September 2010. I haven’t deleted those texts as they record my life, but I doubt they’ll ever see the light of day again.

J:  Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day?

S:  My goal for the blog is to post at least once a day. I try to present a variety of stuff during a week so it’s not the same sort of thing over and over again. Other than that, the choice is usually entirely random. Sometimes there’s news to report or comment on, sometimes something in my own life is pressing that I need to talk about; sometimes a post turns out the way it does because I have a lot of time — or no time; sometimes, if I sit down to write and nothing occurs immediately to say, I look through my long list of things I’ve wanted to write about from time to time and pick one; and so on. Sometimes I want to write about something but don’t have time to cut the necessary video. I frequently write things that never see the light of day — what makes it into view is probably about a third of the wordage that gets drafted. I decided when I started this blog that a basic rule was going to be that I would never write here out of obligation, as that issue had dogged other writing experiences I’ve had to their detriment. (That doesn’t mean I feel no obligation about the blog, but that’s a different matter.) As a consequence I allow myself to do what I want.

J: Why do I link to some stuff and not to other stuff?

S:  It’s also almost entirely random. If I don’t see something, obviously I don’t link to it. I link to stuff I read and like, but not to everything I read and like. I probably read more stuff that gets pushed to me in email than stuff I have to seek out — which means I’m slightly more likely to link to a wordpress blog than a blogger blog, for example. I don’t link to many fanvids because I don’t watch all that many, so if I do link to a vid it’s probably because I’ve watched it at least ten or fifteen times. Then again, if I don’t link to a vid, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, either. If I link to a fic it’s because there’s something I liked about it, but if I don’t link to a fic it doesn’t mean that I disliked it, either. Sometimes I really like something but I can’t figure out how to write about it. So I guess what I’m saying is that no one should make any assumptions based on what I link or don’t link, or feel badly if I don’t link to them, and above all, no one should assume that I’ve seen or viewed everything and that what appears here in links involves my judgment about the best of Armitageworld. Another rule that I made when starting this blog was that I wasn’t going to attempt to be comprehensive or comment on or link to everything. (That’s another thing that I had to do for work, and since I do that there, I wasn’t going to force myself to do it here).

J: What priority does this blog get in your life?

S:  That’s easier to answer. Right now, my intellectual priorities are: (a) anything I have to do for my students; (b) morning pages; (c) Armitage writing of any kind — either this blog, or the therapeutic fic I am writing, or both; (d) academic writing. It’s a little complicated because every now and then (d) has to take priority, but (d) is never possible unless (b) has happened. Sometimes I can do (c) without (b), if (c) involves a direct confrontation with stuff that would normally be put down in (b). Anyway, the consequence of this priority means, for example, that right now I’m unlikely to say much on a Tuesday or Thursday unless it’s done well ahead of time, because on those days I am almost completely occupied with (a). And for anyone worried about the relatively low position of (d) — I’m not on a contract right now that requires academic publications as a condition of either current or continuing employment. So for this year, academic writing is just as inconsequential or consequential to me as any other kind of writing. Ultimately it will be important only if I continue on as a professor, whereas (b) and (c) are important for me to maintain my equilibrium as a human.

*****

NEXT TUESDAY: THE CONCLUSION OF A CUPPA WITH SERVETUS.

 

 

 

On Blogging: Part 2 – RAFrenzy

Continuing in the series on blogging, joining me today is RAFrenzy.  She is well known to you from her snarky, fun, irreverent blog at RAFrenzy.com.  When asked to provide a blurb she said, “Phew, what more can you say that I haven’t already?”  So, without more ado, here is RAFrenzy.

*****

J: Hello RAFrenzy.  Thanks for joining me. This is a casual informal interview.  Imagine us at Starbucks having a cuppa.  🙂
R: Just one?  😀

J: Why did you start blogging?
R: Obviously, I had something I wanted to say, and I chose this medium so I could say it where I was not emotionally involved with the readers; however, I’m finding that is not the case as I go on.  The potentially interactive nature of blogging makes it impossible for someone like me to remain detached from the readers. I love that aspect of blogging, but I also have to stand back from it at times as I know it might affect what I want to say.

J:  What is your stated goal in blogging?
R:  This blog is an attempt to do two things: understand the madness and revel in it!

J:  Do you think you’re any closer to your stated blog goal?
R:  My stated goal?  Yes, I’m much closer and have actually surpassed it in some respects, but my unstated goal is not met.

J:  How long have you been blogging?
R:  I started a blog in 2008, but I didn’t do much with it.  RAFrenzy began in early April, 2010.

J:  Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day? 
R:  It’s a miracle for me to write at all, so I’m trying to become as comfortable with writing my thoughts as I am with speaking them.   For so many years I thought I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t strictly technical, but now, most days I write to prove to myself that I can.

J:  Why do you link to some stuff and not other stuff?  Again if that’s personal or irrelevant, please skip. 

R:  I usually refrain because of legalities and/or privacy.  Legalities are very easy to observe.  With respect to privacy, I try to live by the Golden Rule.  Although nothing on the scale of Richard Armitage’s life, I have lived in the public eye for years and understand the need to keep something back as it were. Hopefully, when I speculate about him, readers know it’s just that — speculation.  I do not know the guy nor will ever know him, but I do share thoughts I’ve had about him, and I doubt I’m going to stop doing that.  There have been times when people think I’ve crossed a line with that, but I have not stood in his front yard to get a peek at him nor published pictures which I felt were out of bounds. 

J:  What priority does this blog have in your life?
R:  Taken over the course of the last year and a half, I would say it’s had a fairly high priority even if other priorities in my life have eclipsed it at times.

J:  For whom are you writing this blog?
R:  Mostly for myself.  I do this with my piano playing as well. I play for my ears first and that seems to produce something pleasing to others.  With writing I spent so many years writing for others that it inhibited me in a way that beat any life out of what I was trying to say.   Since I’ve been writing more for myself, I think I might actually say something interesting every now and then.

J:  If you had to do it all over again, would you blog?
R:  I keep asking myself why I didn’t do it sooner.

J:  Could you have a blog not about any crush?
R:  I have another blog which was started before RAFrenzy and is decidedly not about a crush — although I do mention him a couple of times. 😀  I’ve also got another blog I hope to start with no plans to mention Richard Armitage at all.

J:  What pointers would you give to new bloggers scared to start out? 
R:  Start off anonymously. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can scrap it and start over without baggage.  My first blog wasn’t anonymous, and I wish I had started it with another tone.  I’ve had to let it lie fallow for a while so I could in essence start over.

J:  Thanks Frenzy for participating.  As you can see, these are wildly easy questions.  😀
R:  Thanks for asking.   😀  

 

*****
NEXT: A cuppa with Servetus.

On Blogging: Part 1 -Ten Months In

MontmartreThese retrospective are usually done on the one year anniversary date but I don’t have an actual date.  Sure, WordPress.com says I created a blog on December 28, 2010 but that was accidental.  I made a few half-hearted posts in January and talked mostly about the blizzard in February.  I didn’t start formalizing a plan and sharing my thoughts until March.

What was my plan? My goal was to kick-start creativity which has been lying dormant for so long.  I didn’t aim to write about Richard Armitage.  Being part of a blog ring, I injected him in for fandom flavor as a way of talking about something else; the goal was to stop talking and start blogging about something – anything – to get used to the process of writing again.  The Fanstravaganza 2 experience in March was interesting.  It was difficult to write about one topic for eight straight days, but at least I had a topic from which to draw.  After the event concluded, the process became downright grueling even without breaks caused by Winston.

For months I privately agonized over the slow going in conceiving, composing and polishing a post. It was a constant state of blogger’s block except the hurdle wasn’t that high; I just needed to get my leg up and over it.  This continued through the spring and summer, and then a funny thing happened.  While blogging the London travelogue, words came faster and poured more smoothly.  In an effort to be entertaining, I found that the longer the post, the more creative room I had.  That’s not to say the events aren’t true, they are; it’s that I was able to incorporate inventive ideas into the story such as Winston and the competing psyche elements, Jodi, Jada, and Quiet One  in order to help the reader understand how important the trip was on different levels.  The story elicited positive feedback which fed the process.

Oh, the positive feedback caused a problem of its own. Did you know you can develop a compulsion to research blog statistics on what search terms find your site (bad idea!) and the number of views you get a day?  Checking for comments to fulfill the proper netiquette of timely replies led to constantly checking for comments and mulling over the reasons for too few or too many.  (I eventually restricted myself to checking three time daily and gave up predicting what topic would prove popular.  Who knew people would have much to say about fish and chips, beer and mushy peas?)

But wait, there’s more!  It didn’t stop there.  Out of the blue, I made my first fan video. That same week I bought art supplies in preparation of drawing again.  I can’t begin to describe to you Dear Reader how miraculous that it is. It’s like waking and finding myself 20 pounds thinner- well, almost.  I’ve never made a fan video and haven’t touched a sketchbook in 20 years.  It’s as if the creative sap is rising. Some of it has surfaced in drips and drops.  If I could attach a spigot and let it flow freely I would, but things haven’t reached that point yet.

So the blogging experiment has been a success so far.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Maybe the enforced act of writing, even when I didn’t want to do so got the wheels turning and the brain chugging.  Writing comes easier because I’m used to the process now.  I haven’t returned to writing fiction (well, complete stories) again but that will come.  Things still squeak and sputter but I’ve come far from last December.  I owe it to you Dear Reader who has kept up the encouragement through both breaks and feverish posting.  I couldn’t have done this without you.

In the next two days I will interview two bloggers well known to almost all of you: RAFrenzy and Servetus.  They will discuss their experiences and views on blogging.  Stay tuned.

NEXT: An interview with RAFrenz

 

 

Fitzg’s Journeys: Fine Dining with Richard Armitage

It’s Monday again, so time for Fitzg’s Journeys.  Today’s installment: Fine Dining with Richard Armitage. (If you’re having problems viewing this post in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome.  IE does not play well with plugins. If you trouble loading in the small viewer, click the far right icon at the top with the black box in it and it will load in a new window and bigger viewer.  iPads don’t have the capability for scrolling needed here. iPhone and iPads should be able to view when switching from mobile to desktop view.)

GOOGLE DOC EMBEDDER IS MALFUNCTIONING.  TO READ PLEASE USE THE iFRAME BELOW OR CLICK HERE.

 

 

[gview file=”http://www.jagrant.com/FitzPosts/FineDiningWithRichardArmitage.doc”]

 

 

 

Serene Sunday: Kol Nidre

Because Yom Kippur begins this Friday, I’ve selected Kol Nidre for this installment.  I’ve been a fan of Johnny Mathis since childhood mainly because of his beautiful voice but partly because he enunciates so clearly.  (You will notice time and again I’ve gone back to the old time singers because of their elocution.)  I purchased a CD of his, Good Night, Dear Lord, containing religions songs and Kol Nidre was one of them. This song gives me chills every time I hear it. Servetus can probably give a better explanation, but Kol Nidre is the evening service that begins Yom Kippur and means “all vows.”  Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.  This holiday follows the week after Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s, which heralded in the year 5772 last week.

Happy belated New Year to Servetus and all who practice the faith.  Shalom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30HKyLhGCjk&feature=fvsr

Translation: “All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”

Surreal Saturday: Making A Cuppa

This video isn’t surreal but it’s a good day to introduce you to Geriatric1927.  As his name implies he’s a senior citizen born in 1927.  One day he was given a webcam and decided to make a video to encourage other seniors to do the same.  What happened is he turned into a YouTube sensation telling anecdotes from his colorful past and dispensing advice to his almost 56,000 subscribers.  He’s made over 300 videos and counting.

Recently he posted (being a Brit) about making the perfect cup of tea.  As an American and a sad Lipton teabag drinker, I found this video informative.   What do you tea drinkers out there think?  Did he get it right?