Truthful Tuesday — Odd Enjoyment

Frank, aka PCGuy, has published another one of his Truthful Tuesday posts, and this week Frank points out that it has been theorized that we are actually living in a computer simulation, and that nothing we experience is real. Hence, he wants to know…

What’s something that you thoroughly enjoy doing that others might find a bit odd? What makes it so enjoyable?

This is probably not a good audience to say this to, but my answer is blogging. My wife knows that I enjoy writing and she actually thinks I’m pretty good at it. But she believes that if I devoted the same amount of time I do to blogging to writing a novel, I’d be better off. She may be right, were it not for the fact that I have the attention span of a goldfish.

My kids think blogging is a total waste of time and that I should find something else to do with my time in retirement. “Like what?” I ask them. “Whatever,” they say.

Only a handful of friends — real world friends, that is — know about my blog and even fewer read it. None of them are bloggers and I’m sure they think it odd that I feel compelled to spend my days writing multiple posts.

Yet I will continue to blog, odd as that may seem to some.

Blogging Insights — I’ve Got a Secret

Dr. Tanya has decided to change things up a bit for her weekly Blogging Insights prompt. Instead of using the Q&A format, she’s going to provide us with a quote about blogging or writing and ask us to express our opinion about said quote.

Here’s this week’s quote. It’s from Ralph Fletcher, an American writer of children’s picture books, young adult fiction, and poetry.

“Here is the secret of writing: there is no secret.”

Well that’s probably true. Anyone with a pen or pencil and some paper or a computer and a keyboard can write. But I notice that in Mr. Fletcher’s quote, he didn’t say anything about the secret of good writing.

I think there are definitely rules for good writing and there’s nothing secret about what they are, although it’s hard to get any two writers to agree on which rules are most important for good writing. So all I can do is to discuss what I think is good writing.

First and foremost to me is that a writer needs to be proficient when it comes to grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling. Those are the fundamental building blocks of writing and without them, good writing is impossible.

Assuming proficiency in those fundamental tools of writing, the secret of good writing — especially when it comes to writing blog posts — is that the writer knows how to engage and entertain the reader. Readers want to be entertained. If they’re not entertained, they’ll lose interest and stop reading. Thus, even if the goal of the writing is to inform or educate the reader, a good writer will do so in an engaging, entertaining way.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

My First Time

The ever inquisitive Rory has asked us about our first time. Our first time doing what, you ask? Well, to give us focus, he said that his question is about our early days as a writer online, or a gamer online.

He wants to know:

When did you first get an internet connection? Was it dial-up or broadband? When was your first ever blog or forum?

I got my first personal computer in 1982. It was the original IBM PC, with a blazingly fast 4.77 MHz chip and two 5 1/4” floppy disks (i.e., no hard drive), and with a Princeton Graphics monochrome monitor. Shortly after I got it, I added a 10 MB hard card, figuring that would suffice for the rest of my life. My next addition was a Hayes 300 baud dial-up “Smartmodem.”

My initial connectivity experience was with so-called bulletin boards that, if I recall correctly, I accessed through CompuServe. It was all text-based and rudimentary. Eventually I upgraded to a faster computer with a larger hard drive and a 1200 baud dial-up modem. Woo hoo.

At some point I discovered Prodigy, the first of the early-generation dial-up services to offer full access to the World Wide Web and to offer a graphical user interface. Then America Online (AOL) began giving away floppy disks and soon, with its email, instant messaging, and chat rooms, it displaced Prodigy as the internet access point of choice. It, too, was primarily dial-up.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s when broadband internet connections supplanted dial-up and most cable companies became internet service providers (ISPs).

But I don’t think Rory’s question was about the history of my personal computing. I started my first blog in 2005. It was on Blogger. I had no idea what to blog about and a friend of mine suggested writing about what interested me and what I cared about. So on October 10, 2005, I published my first post, which was about the Boston Red Sox. So was my second post. And here was my third post, which was published on October 12, 2005:

If a tree falls…

…in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I’m new to this blogging thing. My initial impression of blogging is that it’s an egocentric exercise and that all who blog have this self-centered belief that they have something worthwhile, interesting, and noteworthy to say and can do so in an articulate, intelligent, and entertaining manner. Even more amazing is that they seem to think that others, besides themselves, will have some desire to read what, based upon a small sampling of blogs I have read, appear to me to be idle…and often boring…personal ramblings.

Nonetheless, being a sort of techno-junky, I thought I’d give it a shot. Even BusinessWeek devoted considerable space in a recent issue to the blogging phenomenon and how blogs are changing the whole nature of the internet. I don’t want to be left behind if everyone else is busy blogging. So here I am, feeding my very own ego.

Of course, I have no expectation that anyone, other than me and my ego, will ever read anything I post to my blog. And I really don’t care.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I must care a little. You see, I gave my blog URL to that friend of mine. Other than my wife, he’s the only person, besides me, who knows about my blog.

My first two posts on my brand new, experimental blog were related to something that was recently, as a loyal member of Red Sox Nation, at the forefront of my consciousness. They were frustrated musings about the Red Sox feeble post-season effort in the American League Divisional Series against the Chicago White Sox.

Anyway, after I gave my friend my blog URL, he said he’d go check it out when he had a chance. The fact is that this friend is not a sports fan. In fact, I think he has almost no interest in baseball. Perhaps, in hindsight, he was not the best choice to be the first person with whom I shared my blog address, given the subject matter of the postings.

With this in mind, coupled with my stated expectation that no one (besides me) will be interested in reading what I have to say in my blog, I was surprised that I was actually disappointed that the one person who does know about my blog had no reaction to it. In fact, several days have passed since he said he would read it, yet I’ve heard not a word from him about the blog.

I am now more convinced than before that, with a few notable exceptions, most blogs matter only to the blogger and serve no purpose other than to feed the blogger’s ego. And yet, here I am, about to publish my third post on my new, experimental blog.

So I have to ask this: If a post is published on a blog site and nobody reads it, does it matter?

Blogging Insights — Not Rocket Science

Dr. Tanya has decided to change things up a bit for her weekly Blogging Insights prompt. Instead of using the Q&A format, she’s going to provide us with a quote about blogging or writing and ask us to express our opinion about said quote.

Here’s the first one:

“Blogging is not rocket science. It’s about being yourself and putting what you have into it.”

I agree that blogging is not rocket science. That said, I do think blogging does require proficiency at brain surgery.

Think about that for a moment. 🤔

Blogging Insights — Edit, Edit, Edit

For this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know about our blog post editing habits. She asks…

Do you edit your work before posting it?

I edit the shit out of my posts. I draft them, I proofread them, I make changes, I make more edits, I proofread them with all the changes and edits, and I do that as many times as it takes to make my posts perfect. And yet, despite all of that editing and effort, I still find posts that I’ve published with typos, misspellings, grammatical, punctuation, and usage errors. If any of you who reads this post is interested in a job as a proofreader/editor, let me know. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to pay you. Sorry about that.

Apart from correcting typos and spellings, how much (if any) of a post do you change before you send it out in the world?

For my flash fiction posts, I don’t really do a lot of planning before I start drafting. I may have in my head a basic idea of what I want to write, but once I start writing, the posts seem to flow the way they want to, as if they have a life of their own and I’m just a vessel from which the words pour out. In fact, sometimes even I, the author of the post, am surprised by where it took me.

I try to read my drafts for clarity and for a logical or natural flow, and I often find myself moving around whole paragraphs, which I have to admit is easier to do using the block editor than it was using the classic editor (at least on the iPhone), in order to improve the flow. In some cases I’ll practically rewrite a whole post because, as I’m writing it, some other idea will occur to me that might result in taking what I was writing in a completely different direction.

So I guess my answer to Tanya’s question about how much I change of a post before finally publishing it is “a lot.”

Do you think that re-drafting a piece can “rob” it of its spontaneity?

Other than for Linda G. Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, I think, when it comes to blogging, spontaneity is far less important than a well-written, engaging, quality post. If you want spontaneity, go to your local improv venue.