Blogging 101 | Post 4 – To Be a Writer – and a Reader

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First thing you should know is this. If I really tried, I could get caught up with the assignments for both Blogging 101 and Photo 101. I’m sure I could, but I’m not going to. Sure, I want to be a blogging “Zero to Hero” and a photography “Zero to Hero” in thirty days, but I honestly believe at this point, I am going to do it on my own, of my own accord, according to my own devices, knowing only one or two chords, without benefit of a harpsichord.

So this is my last official (or not) entry for Blogging and Photo 101. According to the assignment, I am to “publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.” I will try to accomplish this goal, but I might stray…which I am sometimes inclined to do – particularly when my real goal is to write something interesting or humorous – to write what my “voice” tells me to write.

There is an old saying – Home is where the heart is. I’m sure this is familiar to many of you. Let me modify it a bit and say – Home is where my wife is. Many years back, when I first started to take writing kinda-sorta seriously, she was my perfect reader. Why? Because I could count on her to read whatever I wrote and give me honest feedback…no matter how little or much it hurt. Criticism, no matter how good the intent, always stings a little bit.

What in the world makes a perfect reader now? Things were easy when my wife was the “perfect reader.” The internet didn’t exist as it does today. WordPress didn’t exist at all, at least not to my knowledge. This was 1984 for God’s sake! To get someone to read something of mine, I actually had to give them pieces of paper with actual writing on them; whether handwritten scrawl or dot-matrix printing (which some of us actually had).

So, the question of a “perfect reader” becomes a question of the writer, perfect or not. How does one define a writer…who is a writer? In today’s modern age of the internet, WordPress, Kindle publishing, on-demand publishing, and a host of other publishing platforms, a writer is anyone who chooses and takes the time to write something. Truth is, it doesn’t even have to be all that original…or all that good.. You no longer need to have an agent and a bunch of “clips” or a “deal” with a magazine or a book publisher. All you need to do is create an account on WordPress, pick a cool theme, and publish your first post…and…Wah Lah!…you are a writer.

But, it wasn’t always like that. Writers today, if they choose not to, no longer need to worry about rejection slips, query letters, the Writer’s Market, or how many words they can churn out to meet a deadline. They might not get paid for what they write, and if they do, it might not be much, but any Tom, Dick, Harry, Sue, Jill or Mary can call themselves, and actually, truly, genuinely be a bonafide writer.

They, (they being you, or me) just need a reader, or two, or ten, or ten thousand. If a writer is going to write, they need…they so desperately want and need someone, anyone, to read what they wrote. They need you…the person who is reading this, or that, or the other thing – to be the “Perfect Reader.”

Are you the “Perfect Reader” that every writer, including me, is looking for? We write to inform you, cajole you, convince you, entertain you, lie to you, and cry out to you. Read this, read me. Love me and need me. Believe me and feed me. Do this and you will be…

My Perfect Reader.

Blogging 101 | Post 3 – Howdy Neighbors

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Just after midnight, this past Sunday morning, I published my last post. In it, I stated that I was “an hour and a half into a twenty-eight hour Mellencamp marathon.” A little while after that, a very kind lady – her name is Sharon – posted a comment stating she didn’t think she “could stay awake long enough for a 28 hour marathon of anyone’s music.” She wished me good luck and asked me to “please let your readers know if you accomplished it.” I’ve already told her in a reply to her comment, but for the benefit of anyone else who is interested, I failed miserably in the Mellencamp marathon. I managed about three hours, then I had to get some food and spent the rest of the night re-watching “George Gently” episodes on Netflix.

Later, another kind blogger (or bloggers) – http://indamixworldwide.com/ – followed this blog, liked several items, commented on one and even replied to my comment! This blog hasn’t see this much action since last January when WordPress billed me for my Premium upgrade. Apparently, this blog allegedly contains some humorous material that prompted said activity by the kind blogger (or bloggers) from Indamixworldwide.

On October 2 this year, I published an article entitled Blog Followers: Good and Bad. In it, I wrote “So, I think that is what makes a good blog follower, one that actively engages the author and the readership by becoming involved in the blog with comments or by using an article as inspiration for their own article – by working to build a community.” That is exactly what the blogger at Indamixworldwide did. With two simple comments, he (or she) engaged and encouraged me as a writer and started the simple process of engaging a community. That is powerful enough by itself, but if you think about the power this idea has to engage people of different ages, genders, races, cultures, religions, and everything else that makes us each unique, it seems to me, as most of us already know, that words – on this blog, in books, the press, or in simple conversations have remarkable power to change the world. In just a few hours, this simple little blog of mine, with some words I wrote and some words from people I have never met started a process that can change lives.

Now I will get down off on my soapbox for now so I can finish and publish this, but be forewarned, I intend to get on my soapbox again soon to pontificate about blog “posts.”

I failed again this past weekend to get caught up on the daily assignments for Blogging 101, and I haven’t even started with those for Photo 101. If I am honest with myself, which usually I am not, I have to say that it is highly doubtful that I am going to complete either one of this courses. I am still going to try, though.

The assignment for this post is to follow five new topics in the (WordPress) Reader and five new blogs. I will start with the blogs, since two are mentioned earlier in this post. In no particular order, they are:

4 Times and Counting – A remarkable site from a Four Time Breast Cancer Survivor

Indamixworldwide – Stunning and musical. Just look at it

A Writer’s Path – A very informative, appealing, and easy to read blog for all aspiring writers

OK…between dogs, cats, family and hunger, I’ve run out of gas for the night. Sorry, only three blogs here, but I am going to publish this anyway. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Blogging 101 | Post 2 – A Name, A Tagline, and Some Mellencamp

Blogging 101 LogoAs I said in my last post, I am woefully behind in the daily assignments for Blogging 101. I am trying very hard to get caught up this weekend, but again I am failing miserably. I intended to spend most of today writing posts and taking photos for Photo 101, which I am also participating in. I say participating, but what I really mean is I may have signed up for the course and I may have had every intention to publish photos daily and I may have taken some pictures, BUT they still languish in their digital solitude waiting for me to do something with them. But, I am getting off track here – this article isn’t about the photos I’ve taken and not published – it’s about writing and blogging; specifically this Blogging 101 course.

In this post, I am supposed to choose a name and tagline for my blog. Well, that is already done. As I explained in yesterday’s post, this blog is over two years old, so it is already well established. Given that, I am not interested in changing the name or tagline. They might not be the best in the WordPress World, but there is already name recognition for them. Just as important, though, they are already indexed in the search engines. So, I’ll leave my current blog name and tag line alone.

Since I covered the basics of this assignment I’m going to take a minute here to talk about something else – rock music – specifically John Mellencamp’s music. I have been a huge fan of his music since his earliest “John Cougar” days. Over the last thirty plus years, his songs have just gotten better and better. He grew as an artist and songwriter from the hard rocking days of “Uh Huh!” to his most recent “Plain Spoken” which once again solidifies his place as the “poet” of my generation. He has written so many songs that touch every nerve and emotion in this tired old body of mine. I thought the Beatles were and would always be the greatest musicians of my time. I was wrong – very wrong. In my humble opinion, Mellencamp and his body of work surpass the “Fab Four” by leaps and bounds. He writes songs that reach inside me and strip every fiber of my being – he makes me feel good and bad and guilty and happy and blessed to be a human being.

Thanks to Spotify, I am now an hour and a half into a twenty-eight hour Mellencamp marathon. I doubt seriously that I will make it the full twenty-eight hours, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

Wish me well!

“My whole life I’ve done what I’m supposed to do. Now I’d like to maybe do something for myself, And just as soon as I figure out what that is
You can bet your life I’m gonna give it hell”~From “The Real Life”. Written by John Mellencamp. From the album “The Lonesome Jubilee”