Starting Again

This blog has been abandoned for far too long. There was the turmoil of the election and the never-ending pandemic, and for some time my little writing endeavors felt so unimportant. I reached the decision to self-publish my first novel, FEAR UNLEASHED, and kept meaning to blog about that, but never did. I hired an editor and delved back into the book that had been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years.

And just as I neared the end of the editing process, my landlord sent me a text telling me someone had offered him money for the house, and he was going to take it. I ended up having about 45 days to find a new place to live. I abandoned editing and publishing in order to deal with the immediate crisis.

As in so many cities and towns, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, with investors who have more money than sense, buying up every house available for more than it’s worth, driving up prices and rents. With a great deal of luck, and the blessing of being so well connected in this town, I secured financing and got a house before it went on the market, so no bidding war ensued. It’s an old house, so it will require a lot of upkeep and there are some pretty major projects in my future, but it feels like home, and I look forward to years and years spent here.

Now that I’m settled, it’s time to get back to the work of writing. There was a summer writing contest, and despite all the uproar in my life, I worked on a story. However, it was not up to my standards, and I could never get it where I wanted, so that was abandoned. It was still a worthwhile project to get me back into the writing frame of mind. And if I ever finish it, I will add it to my short story site. Today I returned to editing my novel and working towards self-publishing it.

So, after a long fallow period where I began to wonder if I would ever get back to writing, I am starting again… again.

Get With it, Grandma

Let me start by saying,┬ájust so I don’t worry her, the title isn’t about you, mom. I’m saying this to myself.

Right now, I am my own worst enemy. I know I’m a good writer. I know I’m reasonably intellgent. With just those two traits, I could be making money writing on the internet, and yet, in the past year, I have┬ánot even attempted this feat.


Because I don’t want to write the way I need to write if I’m going to write for the internet. In other words, I’m being stubborn.

Here’s the problem. With dating and writing, you get two conflicting sets of advice. The most common advice the single person and writer gets is: Be yourself. However, this is then followed with a hundred gazillion rules you should follow if you want to be successful. So what is it? Follow these rules, or be myself?

A couple of years ago I entered a flash fiction contest. We had 750 words to tell a story, The excercise was inspiring, and I felt I turned in a very creative and fun story. Then I read the winner’s entries. It was so confusing. They didn’t tell a coherent story. They didn’t even really follow some of the rules of the contest. It was like they picked the one with the most bizarre content. I didn’t enter another one, because I figured I was completely out of step with current trends.

It’s true for internet writing as well. The current trend is to fill your writing with SEO (Searh Engine Optimization) words. In other words, fill your page with words that will be found when someone is searching the internet. That’s how you get hits. That’s how you get readers.

It’s also necessary to keep it short for today’s short-attention-span reader. I wrote an article about meditation and gave it to a friend who is big in social media to read. Her response, “That might be the best article I’ve ever read on meditation, now cut it in half and put in a list.”

Aaaaaaahhhhhh! I do not want to be a part of the dumbing down of America.

So what do I do? If I write with my voice and if I’m myself, I will continue to write blogs like this one – not optimized for searching, not filled with cute lists that people can scan quickly, and probably getting very few readers.

The Yahoo Style guide sits on my shelf – a book that would teach me all I probably need to know about writing for the internet. I read it once, and despite a 4.0 in college, I didn’t grasp it, probably because I didn’t want to grasp it. I want to write how I write.

Is that so wrong? I mean, writers spend years finding their voice? Why bother when we’re just going to have to write in another voice?

Would it make more sense for me to continue to write in my style, perhaps drawing other readers who are sick of the style the internet has imposed on us, but likely drawing none because they never find me? I don’t know. Probably I just need to “get with it, grandma,” and learn to write like the kids these days want to read.

Tell me your thoughts. Are you a skimming list reader? Or do you prefer to put in a little effort and read some well-constructed prose from time to time?

I guess I will face my stubborness and pull out the style guide. Hopefully this old dog can learn a new trick.