Thursday, May 27, 2010

To blog or not to blog

by Rafael Figueroa

Hey, you know that guy that owns that hotdog shop who defies all food-handling etiquette by turning the hotdogs over on the grill with his bare hands? Anyone who has visited enough of these establishments knows that guy, even if you've never seen those that I have, there are enough of them out there that you have probably seen one. Also, do you know what they put in hotdogs? If you enjoy eating them you probably don't and it's probably better that way. Oh, and do you know about all the FDA regulations they keep writing into law that govern the manufacture, distribution, and preparation of hotdogs? Did you know that the size and shape of a hotdog is ideally suited to obstruct the airway of a child? Did you know that there is more written about hotdogs online than has ever been printed about them? Well, I kind of made that last factoid up, but it seems plausible.

Any or all of the questions posed above are suitable subjects for blog posts. I could go on for thousands of words on blog topics and never begin to scratch the surface of what is possible nevertheless what is actually out there. Blogging is, quite simply whatever the individual blogger wishes it to be.

Now, it may seem odd to blog about what to blog about, but we live in an age where a popular form of entertainment is entertainers presenting shows about what kind of entertainment is out there. We have news programs talking about what kind of news is being covered and by whom. So, why not blog about blogging… if only this once.

I know that not everyone reading this blog has a blog of their own. Some might think that they don't have anything to talk about while others may have time constraints or confidence issues. The great thing about blogging is that you make the rules. You can write a single sentence or paragraph on an irregular schedule and on a wide range of topics. You can write well or write sloppy. Whatever you do, it's your blog and you are the final authority on its merit.

A lot of people who I talked to who are resistant to the notion of starting a blog have concerns over who would read their blog. I have answered this concern in a variety of ways but it generally boils down to the insignificance of the question. Writing a blog is pure writing. There is no editor, no red pens, and no limitations. There's just you and the words. Writing while free of these restrictions is great practice in and of itself. It doesn't matter who or if anyone reads what you write, the act of writing on a regular basis can't help but improve your skills.

Now, you do run the danger of having people read your work, and dare I say respond to it. Another apprehension that folks have about blogging is the fear of negative or abusive feedback. All I can say to ally this fear is to proffer the notion that a small measure of maturity is required to receive this type of criticism. Maturity allows one to evaluate the source of a critique along side the critique itself.

There are all manner of jerks on the internet just as in life and the anonymity of they typed word frees these jerks to say things they wouldn't dare say in person. Just take it in stride and look at it as a social experiment. Anyone who has such little class as to make nasty comments to your work probably has little pride in himself let alone works of his own that he may be proud of.
To blog or not to blog, that is the question: whether it is nobler to have blogged and failed or never to have blogged at all? If it's good you'll gain followers. If it's bad you'll get practice and become good. Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Did and Did Not Do at the BDWN “Write It Right” Conference

by Priscilla Y. Huff

Following the Black Diamond Writers Network's first annual “Write It Right Conference held on April 17, 2010, at the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts, I reviewed what I did and did not do to maximize my attendance there:

What I did do: Asked other attendees why they were there and what writing or other creative genres they were interested in pursuing. It was fascinating to hear their backgrounds: one gentleman, retired from his career working with persons who were hearing impaired, was interested in publishing his poetry; and another young man was interested in publishing Schuylkill County photography. I also met a woman with a common interest in nature, who is also a photographer and creates unique bookmarks.

What I did NOT do: I should have asked MORE attendees this same question. People like to network and exchange ideas and love it when others show an interest in their goals.

What I did do: I exchanged business cards with numerous people.

What I did NOT do: I should have exchanged MORE cards; plus I should have made a notation on the back of these cards so I remembered what we discussed.

What I did do: Followed-up with e-mails with some of the attendees and the presenters with whom I spoke.

What I did NOT do: Followed-up with e-mails with ALL of the people I met. It is important to make a contacts with those people you met, ASAP, so you can both exchange more networking information.

What I did do: I took good notes at the two workshops I attended.

What I did NOT do: I did not transcribe all the notes. It is important for me to write out my notes when I attend workshops shortly after the conference is ended, so I can implement those new ideas and tips I learned into my writing.

What I DID do: I thanked the organizers and members of the BDWN and the presenters for the excellent job they did. If I did forget to thank anyone who was a part of this excellent conference, I apologize.

I am already looking forward to attending the April, 2011, BDWN Writer’s Conference, How about you? Are you going? You will be glad you did.