REASONS I STOPPED FOLLOWING OR DON’T COMMENT

The Daily Prompt wants a list. I did a version of this a couple of weeks ago, but it has changed. It’s half a rerun, half a rewrite.

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I’ve had to be away from the computer a lot in the past month. My email — the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally messages from friends — is overwhelming me. I thought I’d cut back a bit. Write fewer posts. Read a bit less.

It don’t like deleting notifications without reading them, but necessity triumphed. Nonetheless, I decided to try hosting a twice a week prompt. I think maybe I underestimated how much time it would involve. I may have erred on the side of “you’re kidding, right?”

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All of this got me thinking about why I follow and comment some sites, but not others. Following are the top reasons I don’t comment and/or follow your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you won’t miss me, especially if all I was going to say was “Great post!”

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. I can love your pictures, but not have anything to say about them.

3) I liked your post, but I’m late to the dance. Everyone has already said everything there is to say. If I have nothing new to add, I’m won’t say anything. If you allow “Likes,” I’ll leave one.

4) I hated your post, but I like you. If I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything. I try not to be over-critical. And anyway, I don’t have to agree or like everything you write.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider putting out two posts with six pictures each. I get buried by notifications, and comments. If you post that often, you become spam. Beloved, but spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. It’s insulting. You don’t need to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you will lose me. I have recently unfollowed half a dozen (more?) worthy bloggers who never felt compelled to find out what I’m doing. Respect means showing interest in other people’s work.

7) You write about one topic only. All the time. It is your passion, but there are other things which matter to me. I can’t read on the same subject every day, even if I agree.

8) You’ve got a problem. Your blog is where you let your feelings be known. First, I will be sympathetic. Then I’ll try to help. Eventually, I’ll give up. You are free to complain. I’m free to not listen. At some point, you have to move on. See number 7.

9) You’ve had a “sense-of-humorectomy.” You used to be funny. Now you’re a ranter. I have a limited capacity for rage, even my own. I get mad, but I get over it. After I stop being angry, I find my drama funny. If you can’t get past your rage, I’ll get over you.

10) More than half your posts are re-blogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if re-blogs are your primary material, I’ll pass.

11) I don’t have time. Today, I can’t make your party. I apologize. The clock ran out.

12) You write about stuff in which I have no interest. A sport I never follow. Books I’ll never read. Movies I won’t watch. I’ll wait for a while to see if you will move on, but after a while, I’ll give up. Our interests have diverged.

13) Your posts are too long. You love your words and I sympathize. I love mine, too, but I have learned to cut and cut some more. I run out of steam after 1000 words. Sometimes less.

14) You don’t respond to my comments. First, I’ll stop commenting. Then, I’ll stop reading. When I remember, I’ll stop following.

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LET ME LIKE YOU

I love dialogue, but it’s a mistake to demand comments from every visitor. I think we should take our “Likes” and be glad. It means people are visiting. I don’t expect everyone to comment, though I appreciate an occasional word so I know you are there.

That’s it for today. I am going to take some Excedrin and have a second cuppa coffee.

TEN REASONS I DON’T COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG

Recently, I’ve had to be away from the computer more than usual. Winter is over. Stuff needs doing and frankly, I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever. Thus my email, the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally actual messages from friends, doth overflow. To the point of finding it necessary to delete a lot of notifications from fellow bloggers of new posts.

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It was hard for me to do it. I’m compulsive about reading and commenting, or at the least “Liking” the blogs I follow. It went against the grain to delete so many notifications.

I tried to catch up with myself, but kept falling farther behind until I had no choice. Unless I’m going to spend all day everyday in front of the computer, I can’t handle the traffic.

72-Computer-in-use_01It got me thinking about why I comment on some blogs and not others. Following are the top ten reasons I don’t comment on your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments and put the oldest ones on top. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you don’t need me.

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. I feel comfortable pointing out I can love your pictures, but not have anything to say about them.

3) I liked your post, but I’m late to the dance. Everyone has already said it. If I have nothing to add, I’m won’t comment. If you allow “Likes,” I’ll leave one.

4) I hated your post, but I like you. If I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything. I try not to be over-critical because it is in my nature to be over-critical. I consider it a character flaw.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider two posts with six pictures each. It’s not personal. I get buried by notifications, and comments. I follow as many blogs as I can, but if you post that often, you become spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. Eventually. It’s insulting. I don’t expect you to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you are going to lose me.

7) You write about one topic. Only one. All the time. It is your passion, but there are other things which matter to me. I can’t read on the same subject every day, even if I agree.

8) You’ve got a problem. Your blog is where you let your feelings be known. First, I will be sympathetic. Then I’ll try to help. Eventually, I’ll give up. You are free to complain. I’m free to not listen. At some point, you have to move on. See number 7.

9) You’ve had a “sense-of-humorectomy.” You used to be funny, but now you’re an angry ranter. I have a limited capacity for rage. Even my own. I get mad, but I get over it. After I stop being angry, I find my drama funny. If you can’t get past your rage, I’ll get over you. Sorry.

10) More than half your posts are reblogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if that’s your primary material, you won’t hear from me.

I love comments and dialogue, but I think it’s a mistake to demand comments from every visitor. Personally, I think we should take our “Likes” and be grateful. It means people are reading and visiting. I don’t expect everyone to comment on everything, though I appreciate an occasional word so I know someone is there.

Now you know. In case you were wondering.

WAITING FOR THE STORY TO CONTINUE

When Words Lost Meaning, Rich Paschall

If there was anything Harry did not need, it was more disappointment.  He’d had a lifetime of disappointments, but it seemed he was in for more.  Mistreated and mislabeled, he was now also abandoned.  Unintentionally abandoned, but for Harry, alone was alone.

Harry came into the world with great hope.  His mother picked out the name of the most famous boy in the world for her new-born.  She named him after the famous boy wizard, Harry Potter.  She thought he looked a bit like the drawings of Harry on the book covers.

As he grew, little Harry had trouble learning.  He never developed good reading skills.  He baffled his mother, telling her the letters moved, and words did not make sense when put together.  Eventually, his mother told him he was stupid, accused him of not trying.  Just to confuse the issue, she followed that by telling him he was bright (which was true) and could read if he wanted to. Which was not true. The further behind he fell in school, the more labels he acquired. But no one gave him the right label: “Dyslexic.”

The lad withdrew. He began hiding in the last place anyone would look for him. The library.

Thus a boy who could not read, looked at books in the library and waited. Maybe someone would come and read to him. Someone who would explain the stories.  It was awfully hard to find anybody to do this. Until he spotted Harold looking at the Harry Potter books.  Little Harry decided right then and there that Harold was his friend.

Library Road

Harold had been going to the library every Tuesday and Thursday to read books on engineering and machinery.  One day, Harold wandered over to look at the books about which he’d heard so much. The Harry Potter series.

When Harry, the boy with the reading problem spied Harold, in the “fantasy aisle,” he instantly knew he’d found someone to read to him. Harry had withdrawn in recent months, so he began the relationship by staring at Harold.

The librarian’s assistant misinterpreted Harold’s attempts to send little Harry away. She thought Harry and Harold were together. So she opened the usually shuttered reading room, making it possible for Harold to read aloud to the boy.

Harold read to the boy that day and it turned into a regular Tuesday and Thursday affair.

Harry knew old Harold was not a great storyteller.  He was obviously uncomfortable reading out loud.  Nonetheless, little Harry kind of liked big Harold’s awkward attempts at narration. And Harry was learning.

Sometimes the boy would be emboldened to ask questions.  Even though the boy with the little wizard face was not yet learning to read, he was building his vocabulary.

When Tuesday arrived and no Harold appeared at the library, Harry waited. His new friend never showed up. The boy roamed the lobby, then just stood there. It was a sad sight. Thursday brought the same scenario. When the little boy looked as if he was going to cry, the Librarian stepped in.

“What seems to be the problem, young man?” she asked Harry.

“He’s not here,” Harry said and tears rolled down his face.

“Shh.  This is a library.  Now, explain to me. Who is missing?”

Harry tried to explain, but was so upset had couldn’t.  The librarian’s assistant rushed over to help.  She finished telling Harry’s story for him. Harry remained disconsolate.

At last, the assistant suggested, “Maybe your friend is ill and can’t come. I’m sure he’d be here if he could be.” Of course, she had no idea how accurate she was.

“But he’s supposed to read to me,” Harry whimpered.

“I know,” the assistant said, “but he can’t come if he’s sick.  You know how your mother makes you stay home if you’re not feeling well, right?”

The boy didn’t know. He mother ignored him when he was sick, figuring it was a ploy to stay home from school.  The boy looked at the Librarian and her assistant, his face full of sadness and mistrust.

“I’m sure your friend will be back to read with you very soon.” She had no way of knowing when, or if, Harold would be back, but maybe little Harry would find her words soothing.

At this same moment,  a doctor stood at the foot Harold’s bed in the hospital’s Intensive Care unit reading his chart.  This Thursday, Harold could not read, talk, or explain anything to anyone.

Note: The next “Harold story” appears in 3 weeks.

GETTING THE FORK FROM WORDPRESS

DAILY PROMPT:  Morton’s Fork

If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?


I wish this were about Morton’s salt rather than the fork. I could get my head behind the salt, that cute round container and logo with the little girl and her umbrella.

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A no-brainer for any writer, I should think. I need to write. Because I’m a writer. If I could not write, something in me would die. What’s with the questions to which there’s no reasonable answer? These prompts have gone from uninspiring to depressing.

When asked “what are you,” I never say I’m a wife, mother, grandmother — or even a woman. I automatically answer “I’m a writer.” Because I am. Being a writer is embedded in my concept of “self-hood,” if I am not that, then I’m not sure what else I am. Writing was my profession, but I was a writer before I earned a salary doing it. I will always be a writer, and it has nothing to do with whether or not a sell my words … or even whether or not anyone else reads them. Whether or not I am still a professional writer is a different question.

Unlike other professions … probably this is true of all the creative arts … what you do is more than how you make a living. It’s the way you synthesize your world and experiences. It stays with you as long as you breathe, long after paychecks stop coming and often, even if the paychecks never start arriving. Writing is so deeply embedded in who I am that I cannot imagine not needing to write.  I think only death will stop me … and depending on how that works out, maybe not even then.

If there’s an afterlife, I’ll be writing and blogging about it. But not on WordPress. By then, I’m sure there will be a platform which actually wants its customers to succeed and won’t keep making it harder and harder to get the job done. But that’s another post for a different day.

Reading blogs is fun. Often inspirational and it lets me connect with other people … which has become an essential part of life. But there are other ways to connect — email, telephone, letters, etc. As for reading, as long as there are books, life goes on.

Writing can’t be replaced. Accept no substitute.

ON NOT BEING A CULTURE SNOB

I read a post about how dreadful (yet gripping) romance novels can be. It’s true. They are the potato chips of the literary world. Bet you can’t consume just one! Even if you don’t like them (and mostly, I don’t, much), they grab you and won’t let you go, even though you know in advance exactly what is going to happen, pretty much from the opening page.

That’s not the point of these books. If as a girl, you read the back of cereal boxes, romance novels are the next step up. I’m not sure what the literary equivalent is for guys, but I’m sure there is one.

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As the former editor of the Doubleday Romance Library, I can tell you our research showed readers of romance novels to be far better educated than average readers. Many have advanced degrees in the sciences. They read romance novels exactly because they are mindless pulp. They aren’t looking to be informed or improved, to have their world expanded, reading-level or awareness raised. They want a book they can pick up, read, put down. If life gets in the way, they can just forget them without regret.

I read each 3-book volume, one per month. It contained three romances: 2 modern with a Gothic sandwiched between. Every novel had the same plot, the same outcome. They sold gangbusters.

Regardless of what we, as writers, would like, people don’t necessarily read books because they are good. Me? I often avoid “good” books. I don’t want to go where the book would take me. I’m not stupid or lacking in culture. I just don’t want to read it.

Why? Too depressing, too intense, too serious, too ugly, too educational. Too real. I read for the same reasons I watch TV and movies. To be entertained. I am not seeking enlightenment. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I am no longer seeking enlightenment. If I ain’t enlightened by now, I’m pretty sure it won’t happen in this lifetime.

The wondrous thing about the world of books is there are so many books. Enough genres, themes, and styles for anyone. Everyone. An infinity of literature so no matter what your taste –low-brow, high-brow, middle-brow, no-brow — there are thousands of books waiting for you. That’s good. I’d rather see someone reading a bad book than no book.

I’m not a culture snob. I think reading crappy novels is fine if you like them. Watching bad TV is fine too. Snobs take the fun out of reading. While I’m not a fan of romance novels, if you are, that’s fine. Since I love reading about vampires and witches, I’d be a hypocrite to act like your taste is somehow inferior to mine.

These days, I’m rarely in the mood for serious literature. Tastes change with the years. Mine has changed more than most. Life has been a very serious business for me. When I read, watch TV, or see a movie, I am happy to escape from reality.

Finally, my favorite professor at university — a man I believe was profound and wise in every way that counted — was a big fan of Mickey Spillane. He said there was a much truth in his books. I believe for him, there was.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION

A friend asked me why I do this, why I blog. So I asked her why she plays golf.

We do what we do because we love it, need it. Or both. Because, despite the fact the many bloggers pretend they “write for themselves,” it’s untrue. We blog because we want other people to read our words, to connect with our ideas. If we wanted to write “for ourselves,” we’d keep a diary.Garry - Writer Christmas Day

Why are bloggers so coy about wanting an audience? Is it because they aren’t getting a good response, so instead of trying to figure how to bring in more readers and followers, they say they don’t care whether or not anyone reads them?

And then when one of us is moderately successful and popular, they get all squinchy-eyed and moralistic, as if  we’ve ruined the purity of the blogging experience.

Really? Seriously? When did we achieve that lofty spiritual level where we are above worldly concerns … like popularity and success? The hypocrisy of it takes my breath away. If that is how you really feel, you shouldn’t be blogging.

We all care. Anyone who says otherwise is lying — probably to themselves and definitely to us. We all want to be read, to be seen, to have an audience. If we take pictures, we want people to look at our images and say “Wow, that’s amazing.” Because we want to be amazing.

Writing is like breathing. If I don’t write, I suffocate. My friend?  She needs to compete. To play golf. Or she will suffocate.

TELL ME HOW TO WRITE

I can’t begin to count the number of people who tell me they want to be writers, but don’t know how to start.

That they ask the question suggests they will never be writers. Writers write. No one has to tell you how or when. You write and will keep doing it because it’s not what you do, it’s what you are. You may not write brilliantly, but you will write. You’ll get it right eventually. Doing is learning.

I started writing as soon as I could read. Putting words on paper was the same as speaking, but took longer. I didn’t mind the extra time because I could go back and fix written words. Being able to change the words and keep changing them until they said precisely what I wanted them to say was the prize.

I was socially awkward and my youthful verbal skills not well-suited to my age and stage in life. I wasn’t good at sports. No one wanted me on the team. In retrospect, I can understand it, but when I was a kid, it hurt.

Games and other social activities let you become popular, make friends, and do those other things which matter to kids. I couldn’t do that stuff, but I could write. And read. I might be a klutz, but words let me build worlds.

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If you are going to be a writer, you know it. Practice will make you better, help you understand how to build plots,  produce books publishers will buy. But writing itself is a gift. If you have it, you know it.

Writers have words waiting to be written, lining up for the opportunity to be set on paper or in the computer. It may take a while for you to find what you want to write about. But you will write.

Talent comes in an endless number of flavors. If you are a musician, you’ll find a way to make music. The same with painting, photography, drawing, running, hitting a baseball or throwing one so that it just skims that outer corner of the plate at 96 miles per hour. Mathematics, engineering, architecture … creativity and talent are as varied as the people who use it.

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ADVICE FOR THE BEWILDERED 

My advice to hopeful writers is simple. Write.

Don’t talk about it. Do it. Write a lot, as often as you can, even if most of it is crap and you won’t show it to anyone. Sooner or later, you’ll find your way. If you don’t write, it’s your loss, but it may also be the world’s loss. You never know how good you can be if you don’t try.

This blog is my outlet for the millions of words stuffed in my head. Yes, I really want you to read it. It matters to me and I see no reason to pretend it doesn’t.

On the other hand, I hate golf. Can’t figure out why anyone would want to walk around an enormous lawn hitting a little white ball. I can’t think of anything more boring, but I know a lot of golfers. They live for it. The rest of the week is just a pause between tee times.

So, if you don’t get why I write, that’s okay. You don’t have to get it. That I get it and can do it and other people read it … that’s fine.

You do your thing, I’ll do mine. And we will all find happiness doing stuff we love.

WORLD-SHARING, WEEK 36

Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?

Aww, c’mon. I read everything, including the back of cereal boxes. I guess science fiction and fantasy are my top two this decade, but history is a very close runner-up. With thrillers and biographies hanging in there too.

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I read all the time, pretty much. If I’m not writing or shooting or processing, I’m reading.

What is your biggest fear or phobia? (no photos please)

Spiders.

I have a couple of really creepy photos, if you change your mind!

What is your favorite cheese?

You keep asking hard questions. Well my favorite changes. Bleu cheese is a favorite, but right now it’s sharp parmesan. Sometimes, it’s Jarlsberg. Sharp cheddar is a perennial and almost a staple. Cheese — kind of a moving target!

What is your favorite month of the year?

October.

The Canal, mid October 2012 - Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

 

CEE’S SHARE YOUR WORLD WEEK 36

TIME AND THE ASSASSINATION OF JFK: 11/22/63, STEPHEN KING

Don’t let the title fool you. This book is about a lot more than time travel, the Kennedy Assassination or any single thing. It’s about life, loss, change and human relationships. What makes it so brilliant is that all of these elements are bundled together into a book that will make you laugh, cry, and think. If you are of a certain age, it will also make you remember.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is so good it took my breath away. I’m not a Stephen King fan per se, though I have liked several of his books and stories. I never have a problem with his writing. He’s a great writer, but I don’t always like his subject matter. Horror is not among my favorite genres.

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This is not horror. Although small sections of the book touch on it, it merely grazes the outer edge of familiar King territory. 11/22/63 is science fiction. It is as good a book on time travel as I’ve ever read. Considering that I have read everything about time travel I could find, that’s a big statement.

Stephen King does the genre proud. Beyond that, this book is beautiful. It is not merely well-written. It is eloquent, poetic, lyrical. My husband, is not a King fan — except for his stories about baseball and the Red Sox — was dubious when I handed him the book and said “Read it. You’ll love it, I promise!”

Typically, he makes faces and argues with me, but this time, he read the book. Once he began, he couldn’t put it down. He read portions of it out loud because he felt they were perfect and like poetry, deserved to be read aloud.

The story is rich and complex in the telling. A writer determines to go back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His attempt and travels in time produce many repercussions both for him personally and for our world. The “Butterfly Effect” has never been better illustrated.

Whether or not you usually like Stephen King’s books, if you are a science fiction and/or time travel fan, you owe yourself a trip through this wonderful book. King’s version of time travel is history-centric, omitting the technical details. I’m fine with this approach. He uses the classical dodge via the tried-and-true “hole in the time-space continuum” ploy. It lets him move his characters without explaining how it works. King does it well and makes it an interesting part of the journey.

Many of us feel this is the best book King has written, bar none. Granted that this is a subjective statement, but I guarantee if you read this book, you will not be disappointed.

This is a master story-teller at the peak of his abilities. Stephen King gives us emotion, poetry, depth, beauty, intelligence and does it without taking any short cuts through the complexities he creates. It’s an amazing book.

If you like science fiction reader, history, or are just looking for an exceptionally well-written book, you should read 11/22/63. It’s too good to miss.

11/22/63 is available from Amazon right now for just $2.99. It includes a 13-minute film, written and narrated by Stephen King and enhanced with historic footage from CBS News, that will take you back—as King’s novel does—to Kennedy era America.