Writing is a meditation. It is the communication, from one mind to another, that which lives entirely within the imagination. It is an act of creation. It is art. It is part of what it means to be human. But as they say, “If a tree falls in the woods, and there is no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Why keep a diary, only to burn it? Why write a book, only to shove it in a trunk and bury it in a landfill? Writing is the attempt of one mind to touch another – perhaps only with the lightest breeze of a passing thought by an open window, or maybe with the spark of an idea that could ignite the soul.
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
John Donne, Meditation XVII
English clergyman & poet (1572 – 1631)
I have recently joined a few small(ish) groups of bloggers – not great huge groups devoted to the frenzied and frenetic promotion of their online moneymaking ventures, but mostly old-school writers who enjoy blogging as the medium for sharing their thoughts. One of these groups is called Write Tribe, and this morning, I read a post called, “5 things I’ve learnt from blogging #FridayReflections.” It occurred to me that maybe I knew more about blogging in my first ten years than I forgot in my second decade of it.
This post is now ten years old (originally posted on Windows Live Spaces) – can you believe it? I found it, and wondered if it was still true, today. My reflections, ten years later, are italicized.
31) Spread office gossip. Really – don’t we all get enough of this at the water cooler? Okay, just don’t name names. Unless you have a subconscious desire to watch your career go down in flames.
Or you could ignore this bit of advice and rise to become a media empire; you could go down in the annals of blogging history as the mother of all mommy bloggers. In the end, it’s a sort of Pyrrhic victory that could drive you away from blogging, altogether.
I do, sometimes, wonder if my colleagues are secretly hurt that I don’t blog about them. We live in a different age, now, don’t we? Do they secretly yearn to be characters in a Dilbertesque world, to lift them from their real-life, Dilbertesque adventures? I have followed my own advice, here, but broken – a hundred times over! – the rule about not Facebook-Friending co-workers, and have had no cause to regret that (yet), despite contentious election year political discourse and free discussion of other hot-button issues on my page. I credit my own cardinal rule for that: NO personal attacks allowed; debate the issues vigorously, if you like, but be respectful of your fellow humans.
30) Talk about your sex life (unless it’s so interesting it brings out the voyeur in your uptight, grandmotherly church secretary).
Nobody’s sex life is that entertaining to anyone but the participants. But I could still be suckered in by a good fountain pen fetish written in purple prose.
29) Discuss bodily functions and fluids – particularly their odor, color, texture, and frequency. As my teenaged daughter would say, “Eww. Overshare.”
I realize I may be out of step and out of touch on this one, judging by the longevity of sites like “Rate My Poo” and “Rotten.” Carry on…
28) Call your ex a “whore,” a “slut,” a “tool,” a “jerk-off,” a “@#$%” – oh, you fill in the blank. It’s been done; the shock value’s all wrung out of it by now. Besides, wouldn’t it be more fun to let the ex’s current lover find this out for himself or herself?
As true today as ever. “Revenge porn” only makes the sender look like an asshole. Unless the original sender of anatomically correct selfies is a politician, then we can 3D print it and market it as an adult doughnut toss game.
27) Keep a daily journal of your food intake, household cleaning chores, and other mundane items on your to-do list. Unless you’re competing with Ambien CR and Lunesta for “Best Sleep Aid.”
Obviously, I wrote this before the advent of decent digital photography and did not foresee the meteoric rise in popularity of creative non-fiction as a genre. Remember to share the experience with your readers – don’t just show them the steak, make their mouths water as they smell the perfect char and listen to it sizzle.
26) Post quotes from Uncle Al or Aunt Mildred. Unless they’re particularly pithy quotes from particularly eccentric old relatives, in which case, do entertain and enlighten us. It’s about time we came up with a line of fortune cookies that’d give ol’ Confucious a run for his money.
Better yet, try writing quoteworthy original material. You’ll know you’ve made it to the big leagues if someone lifts your words and sticks them on a photo of fluffy clouds, a double rainbow, or a sunrise.
25) Post a list of your enemies. I mean, why tip ’em off?
Nowadays, they’re likely to form a Reddit subgroup, or anonymously send a link to the FBI and claim you made terroristic threats, or plot your demise on the Dark Web. Really – keep the list under your bed, kill them off in your novel (making sure to change all the names three times prior to publication), and remember that “the best revenge is living well.”
24) Post pictures of the dust bunnies under your bed. Unless you mount them on colored paper, immortalize them on digital media, Photoshop them, and call them “art.”
Besides, if it worked for Marcel Duchamp, it could work for you and your dust bunnies. Forget I mentioned it.
23) Describe a recent sexual adventure. On second thought… Well, see #30. Only if it’s really interesting. Alternatively, make stuff up.
Why does the word “titillate” make my inner 13-year-old boy chuckle maniacally?
22) Compliment your dog. It’s not as if your dog can read. I guarantee you’ll have more success with a large box of Milk-Bone doggie treats.
Woof! Dogs agree it’s better than dog-shaming. Then again…humans are much more amused by dog-shaming.
21) Compliment your cat. See #22. On the other hand… maybe that’s who’s been going through my mail at night. @#$%! “Fluffy!!”
Cats don’t have any concept of shame, despite years of humans trying to humiliate them on the Internet. Cute cats are still hot – probably always will be – but there’s always room for the antics of your pet gecko or African Grey.
20) List 100 things you don’t want anybody to know about you. You know, like, your deepest, darkest secrets and fears. Lay it all out there.
Because who doesn’t want to become a scary urban legend?
19) Post your Top 10 Laws I Want to Break Before I Die, then work your way through the list. Your blog will likely become…evidence.
This holds true of Facebook posts, too. Amazing how many times this one’s been proven since I first wrote it.
18) Insult your cat. See #21. It’s okay to insult your dog, though. He’s too busy licking his – well, and he can’t read, anyway, now can he?
Cats never forget an insult. Unless you’re holding tuna.
17) Post Webcam photos of yourself hunched over the computer at night. Look to the left…look to the right…make a funny face…stick out your tongue… It’s been done. They all look alike.
Oh, what the hell – consider this “a challenge.” Prove me wrong. Betcha can’t.
16) Review the manual that came with your computer or the training video from flight school.
Actually, technical writers don’t get enough feedback or promotion. I take this one back.
15) Describe a class you dropped, and the dead-end job you were not hired for.
In fiction, we have the anti-hero. I’m not sure the world is ready for the anti-résumé, just yet.
14) Describe your snoring.
I mean, why merely describe it when you can now record it and vlog it? WTF.
13) Rate a public bathroom. No, wait – there are actually some very entertaining Web sites built around this concept. Just make sure to “go” in some interesting places. No one cares what the inside of a port-a-potty looks like. More accurately…we know.
12) Excuse away your daily failures.
Once is enough. The fifth time (in as many months) that I read about your leaping back onto the diet wagon, I stop taking you seriously. Or, as Yoda would say, “There is no try. Do, or do not.” Talk about your struggles, but make a rule for yourself – and your blog: “NO EXCUSES.” Besides, we all have enough of our own.
11) Offer tips on topics you know absolutely nothing about. Like parenting, if you’re a single, upwardly-mobile, transgendered eunuch. Or a twelve year old who’s ticked off that Daddy won’t pay for a nose-ring. Just because you had parents doesn’t mean you’re qualified to razz the frazzled from the peanut gallery. Go out and get a kid of your own, then tell me how easy it is. (Note to twelve year old jonesing for the nose-ring: Wait on that. I certainly can. No need to prove me right in the next 10-12 years, really. I’m patient.)
Seriously. Maybe this should be #1.
10) Document the growth rate of grass on the front lawn by the number of beers consumed while watching it grow. Especially if you just want to gloat over the government grant you won to study this.
Or, at least, remember the Prime Directive of Elementary School: “Not unless you bring enough to share with the whole class.”
9) Create a Christmas card letter. C’mon, how tacky is it to send out postcards with Santa ho-ho-hoing and your URL printed on the other side? At least set your page to a holiday Theme.
I regret ever writing this.
8) Share a poem of yours. See, I disagree with MSN on this one. Don’t do it. It’s so…yesterday. Share your serialized NaNoNovel, instead. On second thought, that’s pretty yesterday, too.
DO IT. Everything retro is in…again.
7) Tell heartwarming pest stories. You know, like the time you caught that squirrel in the live trap, and had to argue with Uncle Ed over whether to drive 100 miles out to the country to set it free, or euthanize it in the bathtub. Or maybe that one about feeding the termites the old dining room table, resulting in a truce – they’d eat your old furniture and leave the house frame intact.
I’m rethinking this one after the recent infestation of something called “sod webworms.” Actually, they’re not half as cool as this Spiny Orb Weaver that likes to hang out in my back yard near Halloween (he’s the only spider I actually like, and will defend):
6) Describe a top-secret project you’re working on. Better yet, describe a top secret project someone else is working on.
Because unless you’re violating an NDA, breaking several federal regulations, or sharing your patentable ideas with ridiculous amounts of generosity – it’s “vagueblogging” at best.
5) Post a daily report of your diet failures and lack of progress.
4) You spent how much on soy lattes last month?
Save it for your accountant. This sort of thing is not only deadly dull for your readers, but shows a distinct lack of empathy for those who, for reasons they needn’t explain to you, choose to brew their Columbian beans in a Mr. Coffee at home. And some of us are soy-intolerant, tough-as-nails writers who simply prefer ours strong and black and frou-frou free. Though, on second thought, this sort of thing never gets old:
My friend Bruce: “Grande herbal chai and a banana, please.”
Barista: “Do you know that if you eat 1,000 bananas, the radiation from ionized potassium is equivalent to a chest X-Ray?”
Bruce: “Do you know that if you eat 500 bananas, you will explode and shower Starbucks with blood and entrails?”
Barista: “Ummm… I didn’t know that.”
3) Post a list of songs on your iPod. Or CDs in your CD collection. Or albums – those big, black vinyl discs? How about books on your bookshelf? Or cleaning supplies in your cupboard? Or number of fingernail clippings (with polish shades carefully documented) you’ve saved since 1972? Who cares?
Well… I care. But only if you include detailed instructions on how to make a Voodoo Doll out of those nail clippings.
2) Photos of your shoes. If your name’s not Imelda Marcos, your shoe fetish is just…smelly.
I am at war with shoes. And feet. And last time I posted a picture of my toes, I was a bit disturbed and perturbed to learn that there is such a thing as a “cast fetish.” WTF, people. Seriously, WTF?
1) Rant about politicians. Instead, why not rant about the lack of political activists and interested voters determined to make a difference?
It’s an election year. And a weird one. You’re excused. But the second part of this still applies – register to vote, encourage others, and get out the vote!
If you are new to Friday Reflections, here’s what it’s about. It’s the end of the week, you’re probably exhausted with work, and all you want to do is sit back, put your feet up, sip on some fancy cocktail or wine, and write away. Sanch and Write Tribe give you writing prompts and all you have to do is choose any one of those prompts to blog about and link up between Friday and Monday. After you link up, be sure to spread the love by visiting other bloggers who have linked up too.
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