We are back from a two-week vacation in Europe! I have not had time to work on my blog since we got back. But as soon as I came to my blog, I looked for Melanie’s Share Your World!
Here are her questions for this week, some of which, I must say, require some pondering!
Do you become discouraged by the annual “Blogging Ennui” phenomenon that comes around every year? (it’s early this year IMO) (blogging ennui means (to me) a distinct slow down in writing and participation, which lasts an indefinite period of time). I’ve had blog ennui for many months now, actually. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s worth writing, and I’m often busy with other things. There are a few challenges that I like to do, and wish I did on a more regular basis. I have gotten to the point that I mostly ONLY do challenges, because the posts I do on my own get few readers. I wish I could say (as I used to) that I only do it for myself, but I have an ego and like to be recognized, so that is why I stick to challenges that get a lot of readers, some of whom will read my posts.
If you were in a room filled with you and your doppelganger (someone who looks exactly like you do. Supposedly everyone has at least one out there in the world) and 2 billion dollars, what would you do? What do you think your doppelganger would do?
I’d invite my other me to take a trip around the world with me. Then I’d keep enough to have a comfortable life and give the rest away to friends, charities, or political candidates (since there is no limit to what I can donate to get my candidate elected – I would fill the Congress with solid Democratic majorities, as well as the presidency!) The charities I would donate to would include those that help those suffering from poverty, war, and climate change. And organizations working on climate change and saving environments around the world! As for my look-alike, I can’t say what she’d do with the money, since we only look alike but don’t necessarily think alike. Maybe after we’ve traveled the world together…
A building is burning. You have time to either save a child trapped inside or a valuable painting which you would then sell, using the money to save 20 children from starvation. What would you do and why?
I have a terrible phobia of fire – I can’t even light a regular-sized match! – so I would not go into a burning building under any circumstances (or if I were in the building, I’d save myself and get as far away from the fire as possible). I’d rather save starving children with some of the 2 billion dollars I am getting to share with my doppelganger!
What’s your opinion of yams or sweet potatoes? I love them, and they are a healthier option than regular potatoes. I especially like mashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries!
Please feel free to share an image of something that makes you smile!
What’s the worst commercial you’ve recently seen (or heard)? Why was it so bad? This is a hard one because so many are terrible! Most annoying are the Liberty Mutual ads. I would not recommend this company to anyone due to their ubiquitous, stupid ads! Everyone I talk to hates their commercials as much as I do. Also ads for intimate products, like tampons or sanitary pads.
Since you crossed off “recently”, the ads for Folgers Coffee were awful. In one ad, a person says, “Is your coffee grounds for divorce?’ I mean, how tacky!! Another really old Folgers commercial bragged about the “crystals” in its coffee. Who wants crystals in coffee?? Just give me pure, finely ground coffee, please! No additives!
What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it? My hubby says, “love.” Awwww!
So I will say something else: the creative process of seeing a project through to the end. I spend long hours and weeks completing photo albums but I love doing it. I can say that a lot of my blog posts fall into this category as well. They’re time consuming, but fun to do. I’m in an art workshop – same thing. The camaraderie of other people who love art is part of it, but also dedicating 90 minutes a week to painting or drawing something is calming and fun, even if it takes weeks to finish it or to come back to. I’m in a writing group – same thing again. I have written a lot of things, and some of them are quite good, others not so much, but it’s worth the time because it is the creative process that is totally worthwhile, especially when producing a finished product I can be proud of!
Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not? Yes, but only because the stranger stared straight ahead and made no attempt to smile back. So rude. Fortunately, where I live now, everyone – whether we know them or not – smiles and says hello!
It’s good to be able to see smiles again after over a year of wearing masks!
What do you think is the nastiest tasting food? (This one might be a recycled question. It’s familiar to me anyhow) Olives. They’re so bitter.
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)
Are you at peace with yourself? Your world? Please share, whether you said “yay” or “nay”! Yes, pretty much. Most of the horrors of my life – the failures, dissatisfying experiences, vindictive people – are behind me. In the senior community where I live, we are all retired and we do pretty much what we want and like to do. Most people are friendly and pleasant to be with.
There are many problems in this world, and a few in my life, but I am overall happy and without regrets.
“Blogging is a medium of words,” says Fandango to introduce this week’s Provocative Question. “All of us who blog are wordsmiths. We use words almost exclusively to express ourselves, to tell our stories, to weave our tales, to write our poems, to help others to understand and possibly even appreciate our perspectives.
In the real world, words can take on different meanings depending on context, inflection, facial expressions, body language, and other countless factors. But in blogging, such visual cues are, for the most part, absent. Thus, the challenge of conveying your intended tone and the underlying meaning of what you write can be daunting. It gets down to the age old writer’s dilemma. Is the content what matters, or how the content is portrayed or presented?
So, as we are all writers who use words to paint pictures, my provocative question is simply this:
In the context of blogging and writing, what do you think is more important: what you say or how you say it?”
First I want to say that I straddle two blogging worlds: writing and photography. Writing and photography (art in general) are two consuming interests of mine, so I do some of both on my blog. I always intersperse written posts with pictures (even if they’re not my own*), which I explain below.
I didn’t think this question was particularly controversial until I started formulating a response. To me, writing is a lot easier than speaking, because (even though I do talk a lot, I admit) when speaking, I tend to blurt out what I want to say without thinking about it too much first. I know that is correctable by thinking carefully before I speak, but then whatever my thoughts were, I’ve forgotten parts of them and I don’t end up sounding as brilliant when I voice them as they sounded in my mind! My husband says writing doesn’t allow for nuance (such as tone and inflection) but I think it does. My husband is not a writer, although he reads a lot.
I think WHAT one says is ultimately the most important thing, but if it is not conveyed properly in words, its proper meaning may be lost on some readers. And there is something to be said for beautifully written pieces. Fine literature certainly is enhanced by the author’s style and some readers will gravitate toward certain writers for that reason. On the other hand, a poorly written book will turn me off to that writer even if I enjoy the story. Lots of times that means using very standard phraseology and clichés, making the story sound simplistic. The worst thing to me is bad grammar. I have read books in which it appears no editing was done. There are lots of misplaced apostrophes, one of my pet peeves, or commonly misspelled words are misspelled. Or things like “I got used of it” is wrong – it should be used TO it, but this is a common mistake. I accept such things if the author is writing the dialogue of a character that speaks that way, but not in the general narrative. Bad grammar and wording can so detract from the text that one can lose track of what the author is trying to say.
However, the meaning IS most important. I don’t want to read the elegantly written screed of a right-wing fanatic. If I don’t like the message of a particular writer, I will ultimately stop reading his/her work. People inject their writing with all kinds of hidden messages and subtext. Good writers do this. But in daily life, the words one uses matter. Then there is the general written message of most people out there – the stuff we read on signs and instructions in our every day life.
Someone made a serious blunder when coining the phrase “Defund the police.” I don’t think that is what they really meant. Yes, it’s concise and fits well on a protester’s sign, but its message is a real turn-off. Because my political beliefs are slanted to the left, I have heard the entire dialogue of the meaning behind this phrase. It should be “Reform.” It is the idea of taking some of the money that is poured into police departments with the expectation that the police can and should respond to, and appropriately handle, every conflict that might arise, born out of any number of society’s ills. The idea is really about how to use state and local funds to alleviate poverty, homelessness, drug use, etc.
Other written slogans are imbued with a particular subtext that the slogan’s originators want us to believe. “Pro-life,” for example, is used by people who oppose legal abortion. They are more accurately called “anti-choice.” I say this with no political agenda – I respect and understand their position, but anti-choice is more accurate. What they want is for women who get pregnant not to have the choice to abort the unwanted fetus, or at least for no public funding to be used for abortion. If they are truly pro-life, do they care about what happens to unwanted children after they are born, who may suffer poverty, neglect or abuse? I am not convinced that they do, because their sole focus seems to be on abortion. Many of them are right wing politically, who want smaller government, which usual means fewer public social services. Would pro-life people support transferring a good chunk of the defense budget to public education? That would save lives on both sides of the equation. Does that pro-life protester support the death penalty? If so, how can (s)he claim to be pro-life?
I know that I have deviated from the topic and injected even more controversy into it, but though I am using public slogans as an example to talk about meaning and subtext in writing, inaccuracies – deliberate or accidental – in writing are important. If one is writing a persuasive essay, it is necessary to provide reasons with as little bias as possible, if the writer is to convince readers of their point.
Sometimes the topic is good but the author rambles and repeats. No one is going to want to read past the first few paragraphs. I took a writing class once that was about writing for an online audience. The instructor advised us to break up our essays with photos because otherwise we will lose an audience that is used to a quick read, especially online. I myself am guilty of that, but if the writing is absorbing enough, I will continue reading. And to do that, the writer must draw me in and keep me interested – so although meaning is important, how one writes about it is important also because if you lose your readers, you will never convey your meaning.
So, bloggers (note to self)…
Be concise. Write what you mean. Mean what you write. Use visual images. Don’t ramble.** Show off your writing skills. Remember, writing is a balance between WHAT and HOW.
*All images in this post were downloaded from Google.
Fandango’s Provocative Question this week: As a blogger, when it comes to your blog, what makes you tick?
As a preface to this, Fandango wrote that he had gone to another blog which asked a similar question, and asked several of his own in the comments: In my post in response to Dr. Tanya’s post, I wrote that I am curious about what purpose blogging achieves or fulfills. What internal needs does blogging meet? What part does it play in their daily lives? How important is it to them? If they weren’t blogging, how else would they spend their time? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being blogging is their entire reason for being, and one being that, meh, they have nothing better to do, how does blogging rate?
I will use these additional questions to guide me in my response.
What is the purpose of my blog? Originally, it was a forum to write my travel journals, but it has expanded into much more than that, although I use my travel photos very often in my responses to photo challenges. I like to write and keep a journal in addition to my blog, although I write in my blog far more often than in my journal these days. Originally, I wanted my blog to be a place where my descendants could read about me and my thoughts – leaving something behind for posterity. But I don’t think of that much anymore. I thought I could post some of my best writing and putting it on a blog is like publishing it in a way. I always wanted to be a writer but never wanted to jump through the hoops one much jump through to be a published writer these days. Self-publishing is another way to go, so I am working on a book about my ancestors, which I will have a printer put into book form.
With my blog, I soon discovered that I was unable to generate the kind of audience I desired with my writing. I think a lot of people don’t have the patience to read a long piece online, and it seems to help to break it up with photographs every couple of paragraphs. Doing some of the things people on WordPress suggested to expand my audience worked on a limited scale. I was disappointed that it didn’t do more, so around that time I started writing my blog for myself. It gives me satisfaction to blog – after all, I’ve been writing all my life and never had a single thing published (except a couple of letters to the editor), but that didn’t stop me because it has satisfied some internal need. I just like to do it. I like reading and am influenced by writers to write better myself. Also, I enjoy photography so getting compliments on some of my photos also satisfies my ego.
I blog every day or almost every day, unless I am on vacation and don’t have a computer with me. I know when all the photo and writing challenges I like are, so I try to participate in them as often as possible. I get more “likes” for these because people find my post through the challenge host’s link. Sometimes I take a lot of time composing a blog and even doing several small posts takes time. The challenges give me a way of organizing my photos and writing. When I get on my computer, I often have a specific task to do – such as pay bills or do spread sheets – but first I check my email, where the responses to my blog come in. Then I am lost! The bills are completely forgotten when I am absorbed in my blog and reading other bloggers. If I haven’t blogged all day, then I will go on at night, and it’s usually after midnight when I stop.
If I weren’t blogging, maybe I would spend more time on one of my long-term projects, such as working on my ancestors’ book, making photo albums on Shutterfly, transcribing my dad’s World War II letters, or doing some kind of artwork.
My Shutterfly photo album of Israel
projects to work on, in my closet!
Besides writing and photography, I love to draw and I am pretty good, which makes it gratifying.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate my blog somewhere between 7 and 8, (although if I had lots more readers, it would be 9 or 10). If I am not able to blog for a couple of days, I get very ornery and then prioritize it over all else. I have been known to publish 6 blog posts in one day, although my average is much lower. When I travel, I think about what I’m going to post on my blog. I love Norm’s Thursday Doors, and take photos of doors abroad specifically to post for his challenge when I get back. I also started doing more flower photography after participating in Cee’s Flower of the Day.
I like to read other people’s blogs and see their photos of where they’ve been, which might inspire me to want to travel to the same places. Or it’s just awesome photography. I talk to my husband and others about fellow bloggers and often use a particularly inspiring post in my own journal.
Another reason I like travel blogging is to review places I’ve been – I forget a lot of things I learn on trips, so when I get back, I do research on the places I’m blogging about. This helps me relive the trip and appreciate it more.
It’s Wednesday, which means Fandango asks his provocative question of the week!
Are you the same person on your blog as you are in real life? Do you like yourself more in the virtual world than you do in the real world?
I’m not much good at pretending and I am generally quite open about my life, in reality and on my blog. But I do hold back some details online because you never know who’s trolling out there in cyberspace. My blog name is not, of course, my real name, but it is related to it. Some people who follow me more diligently (ahem!) probably know my name, but usually on my blog, people just refer to me as “Amoralegria.” Anyone who speaks Spanish or Portuguese knows what this means, and its English equivalent is my maiden last name.
Although I enjoy answering the questions posts online, like this weekly provocative question or Share Your World, I tend to show my best self on my blog and I won’t finish them if I don’t like what I wrote. I have done a lot of writing, but I find that written posts don’t get as many hits, so if I do write a narrative about something, I add photos, either my own or from Google. I learned this in a summer weeklong seminar about writing online. I do in fact love to write, and most people who have read my stuff say it’s good. For most of my life, I wanted to become a writer, but realized it was too much trouble, so I just do it for me, or for this blog, or my writing group.
I tend to put my best foot forward on here – I do a lot of photo challenges, because I get more hits, and I usually search for the most appropriate photos from my vast collection of photos, so I make sure to feature the “best” ones. Anyone who has seen the photos I post would probably say I’m a decent or average photographer, which is how I see myself. I don’t have a fancy camera with lots of zoom lenses nor good photo software, and don’t know if I would take the time to really get good at using it if I did. Still, I love photography and have been doing it since I was a kid.
My first daffodils at our new house
I am a creative person, which other bloggers (hopefully) have noticed by now: my three best talents are writing, drawing and photography. Of the three, I’m probably best at drawing, but I rarely post the drawings I do. If I thought that working to perfect any of these things would earn me lots of followers and “hits,” I probably would work on it. However, because I have ADHD, I get gung-ho on projects but don’t finish the majority of them.
Disorganized hotel room
As a blogger, I thrive on comments and likes, and in general, I get the best response from “photo essays” – writing a narrative with more photos than writing, and the photos support the theme. I think this is true of me in real life, also – I thrive on positive comments from other people. This is primarily because I am insecure and don’t believe in my abilities, so I depend on others to boost my ego.
On my blog, I tend to give people what past feedback has told me they want. And that’s photography. Since I always have at least my cellphone with me, I’m happy to oblige. I take a LOT of photos.
I have occasionally written exceptionally good posts – ones that I’m proud of – after I’ve worked hard on putting them together, sometimes over several days, but if they are not in response to a writing or photo challenge, I seem to get few likes. So I’m discouraged from doing it more often. This is the same in real life – appreciation motivates me to continue. I also do it as a legacy for future generations in my family.
I enjoy blogging and that’s why I do it. Many likes or few likes, I keep doing it. Really and virtually.