Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday's Free Moment

- before lunchbreak anyway.

NANO Writing: Going strong. I'm now just about at 28,000 words and aiming for 30,000 words before tomorrow. If I'm not too tired tonight, that is.

I was going to wait until Sunday to plop in my next post, but something occurred to me while reading Fiction Groupie's post yesterday (see bloglist on the right) about how to do a successful blog.

I've fallen off my blogreading this past month and a half while prepping for and now doing nano, but Roni's one of the handful of people I still regularly check, even though I don't always have time to leave a comment.

Roni's advice stands up, btw - I found her blog after she posted a comment on somebody else's blog. I snooped and immediately liked the way she knows her stuff but isn't overbearing about it. So I 'followed' her and began making a point to click on her blog every time it updates.

There are other people I follow regularly - some I have on my blog following list on this site, and some who I need to add to said blog following list - who are the same way. They don't always use their blog presence to lecture other aspiring writers on the finer arts of writing. There is this other blog I absolutely love which is done by two gals (sisters and coauthors). They blog on anything and everything, including celebrity critiques ala GFY (Go Fug Yourself where Fugly is the new Pretty). Love it. And there are other bloggers who supply info on the publishing industry as they themselves scope out possible agents and their likes and dislikes. And other bloggers who do book reviews and just post random comments on their life and writing progress.

There are many reasons to follow a blog... but it all comes down to maybe a couple rules:

1. Extend beyond your inner circle and acknowledge that your audience is a bunch of strangers who want to be entertained.

- Meaning, don't be tightly centered and assume you are talking to somebody who knows you well, is a relative or critting partner. Some people can pull this off if they have a theatrical sense of humor and can make cleaning house details sound like a RIOT. Like Maureen Johnson. I really haven't read any of her books (though I probably should, idiot me), but I'm this horrible stalker who is following her blog and twitter feed. I'd probably also follow her on Facebook, er... except I've made an eternal vow to pretend Facebook doesn't exist.

Treat your blog like a novel or a story and supply information if you think it is interesting and necessary. If it is just dull or mundane, infodumping, whatever, then edit it out.

2. Post regularly. If you slip on posting (as I have), you will lose the interest of new readers who will peep at your blog and think "Dead Blog" when they see the last posting date was a month ago.

*** Back to my original point. When I read Roni's post, I thought about myself and my blogging habits. I like people who post informative posts on the writing craft with all the howtos, bewaries, and inspiros, but I haven't really felt the tug to do such a blog myself. My excuse has always been: I'm an aspiring writer, I'd feel weird telling other people how to write. That's not going to change that much. If I've learnt something or have a little detail to share that might be helpful to other people, I'll post it, but in general, I'm shy about getting too bossy on a blog. :P

That said, the ironic thing is how I feel about dogs and training dogs. I'm training my young dog (that's him in my blog header) for AKC Obedience shows. We are in Novice B and getting ready for his shows (Novice B is the level you have to show at if you have already gotten an obedience show title on a previous dog, as I have). While I have met success at the training, that does not mean I'm expert or teach classes for a living.

Still, it was tickling at the back of my head to start writing an Obedience Training how-to blog to help people train their own dogs, or at least do all of the groundwork on their own before they get their dog to the first obedience class. Or even if they aren't going to do the obedience classes, there are still things they can and should do at home.

I'd post informative things on this other blog and be bossy about it, in other words.

I laughed at the contradiction... well, until I realized the wincing difference. Confidence

I guess I'm afraid of coming off like one of those people at dog class that you see sometimes.

There's a good example from a puppy class I went through this past spring -

I always show up to classes at least ten minutes early, to allow my dog to settle down and acclimate. I did so this one Saturday and did my usual quick warm up (basically walk around the room, mixed with quick sits and play comes), and then I sat down in my usual spot to let my dog relax while we waited for the teacher to arrive.

These other people showed up early and their method of warming up was completely different from mine. let their four mostly full grown poodles (think giant dogs about the size of a German Shepherd but 10X as hyper) loose to run around and play on the training floor.

OMG. I was in a state of shock - and not just because my puppy had jumped into my lap to get away from the four zoo animals whipping around the room at full speed in a four-way playfight.

The rule I've always stood by is teaching your dogs there is a time and a place for them to act all goofy and hyper - and that is never on the training floor.

Those people on the other hand thought they knew exactly what they were doing, and they were happy during class because their dogs were too tired out to behave badly during class.

When it comes to writing and writing advice, it could very well be the same thing. People who are a bit more rigid about writing rules (the outliners, for example) would probably die from shock if I started telling them how to succeed... my way.

Another example (and probably a more relevant one) that doesn't include dogs, I guess, is if you are a mom and a woman who isn't a mom starts telling you how to raise your child. <- Urk and ick, right?

Because I have a title (including two show wins) and years of training backing me up, I feel fairly confident offering dog training advice to people.

Writing though... even though I've published shorts.... I still feel somewhat unproven in my methods. Even if I had years of training and education behind me (which I do have), I still feel somewhat squeamish speaking up for fear of treading on uncertain ground and looking like an idiot.


How about you and your blogging habits? Do you feel somewhat embarrassed or second guess yourself when you give advice? Are there ever any points when you write this huge post on how to do something (like writing a query) and then feel like a total fraud?

Or is this lack of confidence the reason why you are mentally hiding under your bed when you think of all of the unpleasant sales work that comes after hooking an agent?


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