The Writer’s Dilemma and the Blogger’s Secret

Pen Writing

As I write this, I wonder what you might find worthwhile or entertaining, where you are, and how I might offer you a puzzle, a thought, a question, you find worth pursuing. It’s the writer’s dilemma. I remember it stated best in an interview in which Hunter S Thompson was asked, Would you rather research or write? He answered simply,

“Researching is much easier, because no one can help you write.”

That’s really the problem, isn’t it?

No matter how we look it. No matter how much we read and research it. At the end, at the start, it’s me alone with my thoughts and hopefully, something to say. Anyone can watch and critique. Some can offer direction or guidance, but no one can be my voice. No one can do my writing.

I come to this blog with a writer’s ego and a writer’s self-doubt. The ego is what makes me brave enough to put the words where folks can read them. The self-doubt is what makes me curious and more centered in the folks who read. The ego makes me reach for expression. The self-doubt makes me listen for sense and meaning.

I hate writing. I love having written. — Hugh Prather, Jr.

Quote after quote tells the story of writers who know that they have to go it alone. Every blogger worth his or her blogging salt knows the same thing.

Yet we do it. Why do we do it? We have a secret.
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Connectors and Mavens on the Tipping Point

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At first glance, it seems writing is a solitary thing. In many ways, it’s true the writer’s task is individual. No one can help me write. I am left alone to sort my thoughts, to find the words, to set them to text with structure and expression. It’s a private search to articulate meaning.

In another glance, it’s easy to see writing is socially dynamic. We record our lives. We announce our plans. We write sadness and sympathy. We spell out love and loneliness. We describe our achievements and failures in detail and drama. Most of all we talk to each other. We talk around the world without a sound.

The longer I am a blogger, the more I discover how much we’re connected to each other by relationships. All of the words I write link me closer to the readers who read them. As we discuss our responses to each other’s thoughts in the comment box, we get linked more closely. I found myself once this week, calling a blogger friend to remark on a post. Once more my words have connected me to another person and the people around him.

I met this man directly on my blog and got to know him. I have met most of the people who visit his blog one by one in a similar way. He’s met most of the people who visit my blog one by one that way too.

People who’ve read The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference call me a connector and a maven – one who links like-minded people and one who gathers and shares deep information.

One who links like-minded people and one who gathers and shares deep information, that sounds the definition of almost every relationship blogger I know. We are connectors and mavens at the tipping point of communication. [Read more…]

The Real Reason I Don’t Drop Everything to Visit Your Blog

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I met Alister Cameron when I saw his name in my stats . The URL www.alistercameron.com got my attention. I wanted to know who was so bold as to name a blog with a title that had A Lister right there. Naturally when I clicked through I found facts. Actually I found more than that. I found kindred spirit, a relationship blogger after my own heart.

The post where I landed was entitled, The real reason nobody reads your blog. Who could look without reading a post named that? Then he started right out with a question that has been problem in my life.

To those of you who have emailed me lately, asking if I have a moment to have a look over your blog and offer some suggestions for improvements, I have to sadly decline. Unless you’re happy to pull out the checkbook. I don’t want that to sound mean, I just want to keep my priorities in order.

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We Feel Fine in Virtual Reality

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When was the last time you used a phone book? How do you find where some place is in a new city? How do you check a fact quickly? Where is your dictionary? I spend a lot of time online doing things. I have for years. That’s so 1990s.

This week I talked to a man in Nairobi. He’s working to save the last 700 mountain gorillas. I spoke to a young man in New Jersey who made his first business cards about his is first ebook cover. I helped a woman in Singapore who’s becoming a healthcare professional.

I’ve realized something. [Read more…]

Who Are Your Blogging Heroes?

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This week I had to have a conversation with a vendor for SOBCon 07. Something wasn’t going quite right and it needed attention. One detail of the event wasn’t yet of the highest quality. . . . In my younger days, I would have approached the situation by being clever and right. This time I wanted to approach it by being reasonable and compelling.

I spoke to the folks on the steering committee about the problem, and Chris Cree, who writes on Successful Blog as well as his own SuccessCREEations gave me this advice.

Don’t call yourself a blogger. People don’t know what that is. Call yourself a web publisher.

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Splashpress Buys Blog Advance

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This afternoon it was announced that Splashpress Media, owner of Performancing, has purchased a small group of sites called Blog Advance, Blog Legion, and Top Blog Sites. The three sites formed during a time of discordance at BlogExplosion.

“Jack and Deb were sad to be leaving, but felt they could no longer keep up with the demands,” said Liz Strauss, who spoke with them this week. “Splashpress has ideas for adding value and expanding the offering to the community over time,” was all that Ms. Strauss added.

Blog Advance began as a click exchange program and later added a Blog Review and Directory, as well as Blog Legion, a blog hosting and free blog building center. The community boasts over 5,000 members.

Gaming the System with Comments

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It has often been argued that a blog without comments is not a blog. But what about blogs with comments that were paid for? I don’t mean spammers. I mean comments input by people who are being paid to leave a relevant remark. It’s a business of gaming the system. In some cases, it’s as harmless as a blogger who wants to feel good, It can be an organized effort to kill a cause. Just yesterday a friend pointed me to a blogger who for purposes of page rank and money bought reviews and comments.

Did you know that there are companies out there that are willing to pay you to leave comments in forums and on blogs? If commenting on what other people write, expressing your opinion and visiting different forums and blogs is what you already enjoy doing, you can get paid a little bit to do what you have already been doing.. . . . If you post a lot of comments on different blogs, there are companies that are interested in having you comment under their name and will pay you to do so. Paid to Comment

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Are Bloggers the Boomers of the Blogosphere?

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Let’s start with the fact. Boomers had the best music. Don’t take my word. Believe Jennifer Kalita of the Second 50 Years.

Turn on most radio stations and you’ll hear a variety of popular pop and rock. Dating woes and the struggles inherent to growing up are explored in excruciating detail by young songbirds, rhyming rappers, and electric guitar-wielding hard rock stars. And all of this is great…if you’re 22.

The baby boomer consumer, however, grew up a long time ago, and did so during a time of musical revolution. This fact is not lost on advertisers trying to reach boomers, who use the music of the 60s and 70s to encourage nostalgia and evoke memories of a time gone by in an effort to connect with their boomer prospects.

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Transparency, Trust, and Pretenders

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A man I know told me a story, “Someone on the Internet — someone who had been his friend for a year — wasn’t a friend, but an enemy who had taken on a new identity. The pretender said he had done it to get another chance at a friendship with the man who told me the story. The man asked me what my response would be.

The first word I said was “transparency.” I remember my frown before I went on. “No. That is the reason that authenticity and transparency are valued so highly on the Internet. They are our word. They are the bond. Without belief in authenticity and transparency, we couldn’t interact, because we couldn’t trust.”

I explained how the opposite happened to me.

When I was a new blogger, a friend of five years turned pretender. She visited my blog, day after day, with a new identity, making long conversations in the comment box. At day 8, familiar phrases crept into what she said, and I started to suspect. When I confronted her, she was simultaneously emailing me and commenting on my blog as her alter ego. Her excuse was that she wasn’t a blogger and that she didn’t know better.
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For Every Relationship Blogger a Different Style

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It’s still February, The Valentine’s roses have drooped and died. The relationship bloggers are plenty tired of cabin fever. One bunch of us got together and started planning an event in May, to chase away the blues of the February gray skies.

Phil Gerbyshak, Mike Sansone and I, Liz Strauss, — we’re all relationship bloggers. Yet, if you watch us interact, you’ll see that we each do several things differently. [Read more…]