Posted in MOSTLY OPINION

THIS BLOGSTER’S PLEDGE

blogging

All of us are writers under the world-wide dome of the blogosphere. I don’t care if your only interest is selling mattresses. You write the copy, you’re a writer.

You can make your bed on it!

Some blog-writers—and I daresay that’s most of us—are also writers of novels, of short stories, of poems, of any other classes of the language arts.

And most of those write to be published.

With those who do “write to be published”, their blogs are extensions of their livelihood, or what they hope with all their heart will soon be their livelihood. So their blog serves a utilitarian purpose. Taken to its furthest margin, such a blog becomes a website, and their periodic posts are designed to angle toward this or that product.

I hope no one attributes any negativity in my saying that. I think owning a blog or website is a grand pursuit and should be integral to every writer’s marketing plan.

Internet marketing

I’m merely trying to carve out distinctions between those two broad categories:

BLOGGERS OF THE FIRST DISTINCTION would be writers whose success depends, to varying degrees, on how well (or how poorly), their blogs “perform”. The name of one writer of our generation comes to mind. John Locke, whose seminal book on marketing deserves to be partying in every writer’s book-bag, speaks out in a strong voice of advocacy for self-publishing. His book, How I Sold 5 Million eBooks in 5 months, offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to use your website to write those short, punchy posts whose purpose is to sell your books.

THE SECOND DISTINCTION is for the bloggers among us who blog … well, just because …. I BLOG, THEREFORE I AM. God bless them, one and all, for simply B-E-I-N-G.

ONE BLOGGER OF THIS ILK might proffer a family recipe (an aside: My dear Aunt Dorothy called recipes “receipts”, or pronounced it such, which I never understood) for sweet potato pie. And given a scintilla of encouragement, that blogger will include a primer on when and where to find the sweet potatoes that will yield the creamiest filling.Sweet potato pie

ANOTHER BLOGGER might share the humor, the challenges, and the rewards of raising a pair of toddlers while struggling to maintain the structure and time restraints inherent in being a “writing” Mom … or Dad. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, let me introduce you to Biff and Bash. The creator of their lovable antics might raise the corners of your mouth in a grin, one time, or render you hysterical … or in tears, the next. Sometimes, though, I’m sure Jean Lee might want a simple word of encouragement, maybe a hug, from the reader who can see beyond the hilarity.

I’ve dropped a couple of hints in the last several paragraphs about what the theme of this post is. Let me offer just one more:

Suppose you are a brand-new parent, your first child. You and your spouse are home from the hospital with the new joy of your lives. I don’t need to tell you how … beneath golden, coils of hair, her emerald-green eyes dart here and there with intelligent curiosity such as you’d ever seen in any other new-born.first born

Then throughout the day, the relatives and friends queue past your marvel of genetics. Each smiles, and produces a half nod and goes on. Of course, your parents are more ebullient than the rest, but you expect as much from them. They are reliving their own firstborn. Your neighbor, and best friend, smiles, shakes his head and announces, “I hope you don’t plan on sleeping any time soon.”

What’s going on here? Not all babies can be beautiful—though of course yours is. My wife, who always prided herself on her honesty, had a phrase she used whenever she confronted a less-than-pleasant-faced child. “Oh,” she would coo. “How precious she is.”

But that’s not your case. Yours IS pleasant-faced! What-the-blue-blazes is going on here?

As tired as you were, you prepared her for your visitors. A fresh diaper, a pat or two of baby powder, her hair brushed to a tee. Still, all you get is a polite nod, a smile. There is so much they should love about little Daphne.

Love? All they can muster is a like. Their smiles, their nods—those are likes.

 

I can see I’m beginning to strain the metaphor at the seams.

Let me just ask my question directly.

How do you feel Mister Blogger, Ms. Blogger when you’ve spent the better part of a day, or a week, scrubbing up your baby, dressing her as pleasantly as you can, and in all ways, preparing her for the waiting eyes of friends and strangers?

You take a deep breath and push the publish button. And you wait. And wait. In a few hours you check your inbox. Five people have read it. Five people have liked it. You click on the first one. “Wily Reader liked your post. They thought ‘The coronation of an Angel’ was pretty awesome. You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours!” I remember, years ago, my naïve reaction the very first time I read those words. “Well, at least they thought it was awesome,” I thought. And I probably clicked on one of their blogs.

That was then. Now you are wiser, and know there’s no reason to go through the same verbiage with the other four likers.

I find it all very disheartening.

If they take the time to read my blog, why not take the thirty seconds longer to leave a three-or four-word comment. Or for heaven’s sake, take another minute from their hectic days to tell me what they found helpful, funny, or thoughtful. What’s holding back human connectionone human being from connecting, for that tiny moment, with another human being?

Wait! Could it be they have nothing to say? By that I mean, the five likers are voiceless because they didn’t read it in the first place?

No, that couldn’t be it. The like button is at the end of the post. How can one push the “like” button if he doesn’t know if he likes it or not? Isn’t that being disingenuous?

Okay, okay! Getting all that snarkiness out of the way, if I’m not mistaken, I think I hear someone asking, “Jay, you mean to tell us you’ve never ‘liked’ something you hadn’t read?”

To that I hold up my right hand and swear, “Hell, yes, I have.” That doesn’t mean I don’t feel crappy about it, especially after all the barbed accusations I’ve been hurling about—metaphorically.

I’ll add quickly, though, “I haven’t done it recently—within the last several months.”

And I’ll solidify that statement with a pledge:pledge

“From this day onward, any post I take the time to read, I shall leave a comment. I’ll do my best to keep the comment relevant to the post’s theme … and I shall push the “like” button only after I’ve commented.”

That’s my pledge to you members of my blogosphere family.

I don’t make it lightly.

That said, it would be impertinent to expect your pledge in return. Rather, I would ask you to give it serious thought, and tell me whether my arrow of logic shot far of the mark.

Have a lovely weekend.

Posted in MOSTLY OPINION, The Writer's Life

WARNING: CONTENT WITHIN IS POSSIBLY INFLAMMATORY

I am about to post something that has the potential to instantly polarize my followers, possibly to cause a goodly number of them to unsubscribe from SeptuagenarianJourney altogether.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  But, if it does …

So be it.

I didn’t approach the controversial nature of the subject-matter with the sense of adventure I might have shown as a younger man.  You won’t find any courageous nose-thumbing from this corner!  As a matter of fact, a thorough exegesis of both sides of the argument by an expert would have been welcome relief to me.  But, with no such balanced analysis forthcoming, it is apparently left up to me. 

I’m taking a risk that’s not easy.  I’m sorry if I insult any of you.  That is not my intent.  On the other hand, it is impossible for me not to take sides, so I can’t even protect myself from the wrath of some of you by pleading for you to please “not shoot the messenger.”

Indeed, I am the messenger, but to some of you the stand I will be taking may be considered a shootable offence.

Again … so be it!

Fire away! Continue reading “WARNING: CONTENT WITHIN IS POSSIBLY INFLAMMATORY”

Posted in MOSTLY OPINION

ALMOST CATCHING THE TOSSED GAUNTLET

M’ bud, Seumas Gallacher , tossed me the gauntlet.  wp.me/p2pTaK-rg   He actually tossed five gauntlets to five receivers.  I’m sure the other four caught theirs.  Congrats, but I missed mine!

Steel gauntlet and big toe do not a merry meeting make.

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But … not allowing a throbbing hallux to daunt this fisherman’s challenge, I cast the net of my memory out into the teeming sea of literature and snag my personal five favorite books.

These are the books whose special dog-eared pages can still tease out of me a smile or a tear after the third or thirtieth read.  They might not be the critic’s choices.  They may not be your favs.  But dare you say they are not worthy of inclusion on Jay’s Doggone good Reads bookshelf, I want to cordially invite you to my boat.  I have a dandy little plank I would like you to test out.  Arrrrrrrrg!

imagesCA9SF3RS

So, here goes, dear readers.  The selections are in no particular order.  And, you writers out there … I reserve the right to revise the list after I’ve read your masterpieces.  But, at this moment here are my choices:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales, By Dylan Thomas:  This little book (I’ve seen it under its own covers, but it’s so small it’s usually included with his poems.  But, it deserves its own sovereignty.)  is meant to be read aloud—and in a Welch accent, I might add!  Wanna know what a Welch accent sounds like?  Listen to Dylan Thomas reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales.  http://binged.it/ZbasXw  If you’re like me, after to hear it you’re gonna want to have your own copy.  Why?  So you can read it aloud.  Children especially love hearing it.  I said Thomas’s words are meant to be read aloud.  It’s truer to say they’re meant to be eaten!  Like fine cuisine.  Oh my!  I’ve said it and it feels so good!

 Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, By Tom Robbins:  In my opinion Robbins is a dangerous writer for a fledgling writer to read.  Just sayin’.  He breaks all the rules with his rendering of characters and plot and breaks them so seamlessly, so easily, so freely and with such astounding craftsmanship that an impressionable writer might easily come under his spell.  I know I did!  After reading this very book, I was a miniature Tom Robbins for my next 300,000, or so, words.  I say “miniature” advisedly.  I could never bring off the outrageous panache of the original.  Mine was always a diluted, “miniature” version.  But, to his favor, only greatness can bring about such an effect!

Look Homeward Angel, By Thomas Wolfe:  I need to remind some of my readers that there are two Thomas Wolfe’s.  There’s the one who wrote in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Then there’s the real Thomas Wolfe (he says with a wry smile).  The author I’m speaking of was contemporaneous with Hemmingway.  Anyway, I cut my newbie teeth on Thomas Wolfe.  He was a literary steamroller.  There is sheer power in his words and nowhere is that more representative than in Look Homeward Angel.  I’ve heard it said that Wolfe will never be found in the Pantheon of American writers because they lack a certain “finished” quality … and I tend to agree with that assessment.  But the emotional honesty and rawness that’s found in his prose is more a monument to me because of the lack of polish.  Sometimes the excitement in one’s writing can only be spontaneous and polishing dulls its fine edge.   And Besides, Wolfe stood over six-and-a-half feet tall and scrawled his mighty words on a tablet which was laid on top of the refrigerator.  While apocryphal, it’s been said he used to beat his head against the wall to slow the pace of words that bubbled & frothed out of his brain.  You just gotta love that!

 Tropic of Cancer, By Henry Miller:  Lawdy, how naughty I felt reading Tropic of Cancer in the 60s when it was declared to be “non-obscene” by the Supreme Court.  I was about 20 at the time.  Being “non-obscene” didn’t mean I wouldn’t be umbrella’d by a little old lady who watched me leering at the pages in the park, but at least I had no fear of being arrested.  By today’s standards the book would raise nary an eyebrow.  Both the Tropic books were important to me as a living document of life in the 30s and in Paris.  Important literary and art figures wandered in and out of the pages—with their literary and artistic idiosyncrasies.  Also, lest we forget, Henry Miller was not a shallow thinker.  He helped bring sexuality out of the closet and cast it in an almost spiritual light.

The William Saroyan Reader, By William Saroyan:  This is a compendium of some of William Saroyan’s best short stories along with a play, The Time of Your Life that won him the Pulitzer Prize.  He declined the Prize because he believed that “commerce should not judge the arts.”  I admire, so much, the integrity of the man behind the artist.  William Saroyan (I think I’ll call him Bill) lived just up the street from me—well, 70 miles up the street, in Fresno, California, from which his stories derive their inspiration as well as their energy.  Saroyan is sheer joy to read.  His rambling yet organically controlled sentences, his down-to-earth characters who strike such a chord of reality, his settings that scintillate and drag you into the present moment—this is what makes Saroyan one of the most seminal writers in the twentieth century.

And, now, I’m going to wish the following five bloggers better luck than I in gauntlet catching.  This is your assignment if you choose to take it (and, may I say you were chosen because of your high intelligence—to be sure—but also because you’ll do anything to take a day off your present project.  Also, you dread with a dread the world’s never dreaded before of being invited to my boat.)  When you’ve published your five favs make sure it includes at the bottom the five bloggers to whom you are going to toss your gauntlet, spear or grenade.

Without further ado, readers, put your gauntleted hands together for:

Clive Eaton  http://www.cliveeaton.com/

Sonia Medeiros  http://doingthewritething.wordpress.com/

John Betcher     http://www.johnbetcher.com/index.html

Teresa Cypher  http://dreamersloversandstarvoyagers.blogspot.com/

Hamilton C Burger  http://hamiltoncburger.com/Hamilton_s_Blog.php