Tag Archives: Blogging

Real-Time Reports from On the Road: Day One

Hanks Vista signYesterday we traveled from our home in the Bay Area to Sun River in central Oregon, and here is my real-time (okay, so I’m a day late) report on our doings:

Highlights: In Dorris, California (pop. 886, on Highway 97), near the border of Oregon, we saw the world’s tallest flagpole, 200 feet high. Dorris also has two bars, one gas station and one public toilet, behind the City Hall building.

More highlights: A semi truck hit a sheriff’s car, stranding the car in the middle of the highway. Then, a second semi carrying a load of lumber crashed on the highway and caught fire, burning its trailer up. We saw its charred remains as we drove past. Just after this, we saw yet another semi-truck tipped over completely on its side by the side of the highway.
On the radio in Oregon: Country, country, Christian and more country.
In eight-plus hours of travel time, this is what four human beings—two adults, two children—consumed: two Squirt lemon drinks, two Snapple ice teas, three Odwalla mango smoothies, one Starbucks hot tea, one bran muffin, six English muffins (two with cream cheese and jelly, four with peanut butter and jelly), two cinammon rolls, four pickles, ten apricots, four cookies, one banana, ½ bag taco chips, four sandwiches (two turkey and cheese, one roast beef and cheese, one peanut butter and jelly), and several sticks of gum.

We turned off  Highway 97 around noon and found a dirt road on a ridge overlooking Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon. The road is called Hanks Marsh Vista, and we threw a sleeping bag on the ground and had picnic lunch.

On Hanks Vista

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Priceless Writing Tips for Free: Observe Hemingway’s Dictum

Hemingway as a young manHemingway’s dictum for better writing was simple: Run it through the typewriter one more time. We no longer have typewriters but the advice is still sound.

Almost without fail a second draft is better than a first: shorter, smoother and less of a burden on your reader’s attention. What, you don’t have the time to write well? For this item I went through three drafts. 1) I wrote my thoughts down on a legal pad. 2) I typed up the piece on my Powerbook. 3) I left it for a moment, came back and made a few last edits, and I was done.  The whole process took twenty minutes.
Your next paper or report or article can be better than the last one you wrote. Just send it through the word processor one more time.

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Interesting World, I’ll Say!

After reading my recent post how Japanese novelist-turned-agent Yukari Watanabe Scott is using blogging and other new media to sell Operation Bullpen to Japanese publishers, magazine editor Kimberly Cole writes,

“I enjoyed your recent post, ‘Bullpen Going Japanese?’ My daughter is a novelist finishing up her MFA in Creative Writing at University of Virginia. She wrote a novel two years ago that has generated some interest among agents, but no takers. It’s a little on the short side, and a little on the “hard to market” side, in that the protagonist is an adolescent, but the subject matter is a little too rough for most YA publishers.

“Anyway, she just got a contract from an Australian imprint of Simon & Schuster that is publishing books in a serialized format. Each month, the author “blogs” about the upcoming chapter and readers can send in questions, suggestions, etc.  At the end of the novel, they publish the hardback using the web site traffic/commentary as a preliminary marketing push. Interesting world for writers these days.”

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Stating My Brief

Let the trumpets blare: This is my first blog on my brand new deluxe author’s website. Tra la la!

Never having blogged before, I am naturally reading lots of stuff online and getting to know the work of fellow travelers in the blogosphere. I have even looked at a few self-help articles for bloggers.

One of the imperatives of blogging, they say, is to be brief. Net surfers hop from site to site and do not have the time or inclination to tarry for long. One should therefore write bite-sized nuggets in the traditional pyramid style of the old, nearly obsolete medium of newspapers, with the most important information contained in a catchy lead and the less important stuff following after, according to its priority.

I am sure this is good advice and I plan to follow it. But writing short, and doing it well, is not as easy as one might be led to believe. As Mark Twain said (or was reputed to have said; Twain is sort of like Yogi Berra, always getting credit for things he probably never said), “I don’t have the time to be brief.” Writing short and well can take a long time. Anyone can be sketchy and shallow and formulaic. The trick is to be brief—and interesting. Boring your readers is a far greater sin than taking their time.

Two vows: I promise never to overstay my welcome in this blog. And, to the best of my abilities, I promise to be interesting, stimulating, entertaining and compelling (and when I am not, I encourage you to let me know about it in the comments section. But for heaven’s sake, please be brief!)

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