Last week, I had the pleasure of guest-lecturing with my buddy Josh Shenk, now a teacher at Washington College (and director of the Rose O’Neil Literary House) for a class he’s doing this semester on blogs and the act of blogging. While I would have loved to venture down to Maryland to show up in person, I did it via iChat, thus dispensing my charming bon mots while weathering a snowstorm in upstate NY:
The class seems awesome, passionate, in sharp contrast to… well, what I would have been. I should stop being amazed at 19 and 20-year-olds who actually care about things, since it’s really just a reflection of my own past, riddled with entitlement, ADD, girl-obsession, and a deep-seated belief that neither me nor my friends were able to change anything about the world. Thank god that passed, eh? HEE HEE!
Ahem. Anyway, we all had a good discussion about why people write these things, what inspires them, and how much any of us depend on feedback to keep going. My advice usually skirts a few major areas. You keep a blog because:
1) No matter what, it’s writing. Even if you’re in a cover band, you’re still playing the guitar.
2) They say that the cure for writer’s block is research. I say the effortlessness of the internet (and Wikipedia) has made research a distraction – now the only REAL cure is forcing yourself to have a blog.
3) There is a sense in accomplishment. If you keep your blog going longer than three months, you’re doing better than 93% of all others who tried.
4) You may accidentally write something that gets forwarded 3.7 million times around the world and wind up with a book deal. Hell, that’s almost happened twice right here, my compatriots!
Smartly, Josh had his own students keep blogs for the semester, and they offer daily breadth; some are personal, some are topical, and they’re all wonderfully different. Here are seven you should check out:
– Meghan’s Not Even Past is one to get lost in. I especially like the list of players at right, allowing access into the dreamscapes and languid descriptions of her childhood.
– I dig Emma’s tagline: “Remember when publishing was complicated?” From there, we get to do one of my favorite things: dork out over something very specific. For her, it’s archaic typeface and bookbinding, which, of course, leads to all kinds of other thoughts in The Composing Stick.
– I told Olivia there was a book to be written for her blog idea: recipes that could be made in the dorm. Taking food down to its simplest level and making it yumbly, that’s the word in Anything But Spaghetti.
– And if you want to right some wrongs, check out Rory’s PowerTrip blog, where Hugo Chavez gets it in the kneecaps.
In all, it was great to meet the class, and I hope I didn’t come off as too bizarre – after all, I was talking to a pair of drapes and imagining being in Chestertown, MD. Ain’t that what technology’s for?