A Fresh Start

54A2797E-55A8-4820-97C7-2C5889B1E610Jim was nervous as he walked into Stephen’s office. “Sit, Jim,” his boss said taking a seat on his office sofa and pointing to a chair next to it.

Jim sat down. “You want to talk to me about my report?”

“Yes, Jim, I do,” Stephen said. “Your research was excellent. Very detailed and in-depth, very well annotated. Unfortunately, your written report was problematic.”

Jim was confused. “Problematic?” he said. “I don’t understand.”

“You’re way too deep into the weeds,” his boss said. “It’s sixty pages long, for crissake. No one is going to take the time to read it all. What you need to do is put an abstract of your research at the beginning and a summary at the end. That way, people can read the abstract, get the gist of the report, skip to the summary, and voila, they’re done. Sort of like a pebble skimming the surface.”

“I feel like I’ve just entered the Twilight Zone,” Jim said. “I’m a research scientist and you want me to just skim the surface in my written reports. That’s nonsense. That’s not what I spent my time getting a PhD to do. I don’t think we have a match, Stephen. I quit.” Jim got up and started to leave Stephen’s office, when Stephen reached out and grabbed Jim by his right wrist.

“Jim, wait,” Stephen said. “Listen, the holidays are coming up. Take some time, think things over, and when you come back, we’ll get off to a fresh start. We need people like you with your work ethic. I’ve got my eye on you for bigger things, son.”

Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt (weeds) and for these daily prompts: Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (written), Your Daily Word Prompt (problematic), Ragtag Daily Prompt (pebble), Word of the Day Challenge (Zone), Daily Addictions (wrist), and The Daily Spur (holidays).

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

img_1370I read a post yesterday in which a blogger I recently started to follow, The Haunted Wordsmith, quoted a so-called blogging expert who wrote, “In my opinion, no beginning blogger should be publishing anything under 1,000 words. And really, 2,000 words should be your goal.”

I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Well, speaking for myself, anyway, I don’t have the time to read posts that are between 1,000 to 2,000 words, much less to compose posts of that length. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading long posts. I do. But I’m more likely than not to skip such posts because I just don’t have the bandwidth.

Wait. If you tend to write longer posts, let me explain before you get pissed at me.

My full-time job is not blogging. Well, truth be told, I’m retired now, so I don’t have a job at all — full-time or even part-time. And I’m not a professional blogger. I don’t make a single, solitary cent from my blog. Blogging is just something I enjoy doing and I do it in my spare time.

I probably spend three, maybe four, hours a day on WordPress. A third to a half of that time is spent writing, proofreading, editing, fixing, and posting my own posts. The rest is spent reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts.

Three or four hours a day may sound like a lot of hours, but it’s really not. I do have a life and I try very hard to ensure that my life is not consumed by writing or reading blog posts. So, in order to publish my own posts — usually two to four posts a day — plus read those of others who I follow or who comment on my posts, I have to manage my WordPress time effectively.

That means that I can’t spend a whole lot of time reading longer posts. And by “longer posts,” I generally mean posts longer than 500 words. Okay, 600 words if posted by some of my favorite bloggers (and you know who you are).

Yes, some of you might have noticed that sometimes I will write a post that exceeds 500 words. This post, for example, has 549 words. It’s rare, but it happens. And I will certainly understand and accept that there are those who, like me, can’t invest the time it takes to read longer posts.

I admit that by skipping posts that go much beyond 500 words, I am missing some great posts from some great bloggers. But if I can read three or four 300 to 500 word posts in the time it takes me to read one 1,500 word post, I can read more posts and get to experience more bloggers.

Besides, there’s something to be said for brevity. The late Al Neuharth, founder of, and columnist for, USA Today, wrote that “long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners and readers.” He quoted FDR, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain, all of whom made comments about how difficult it is to be concise in one’s writing. Twain, for example, said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

Again, I’m not saying that I won’t read your posts if I follow your blog. But I just might skim (or skip) the longer ones. It’s not you. It’s me.

Because as Sweet Brown famously said: