Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

WordPress is great for blogging, but it has limited visibility

Let’s be honest: blogging—even on WordPress—is a labor of love. Many of us pour out our hearts and souls only to receive comments that far too often are actually adds for products. It’s a rare day when I receive helpful comments.

Not so on Medium

I’m doing more and more of my serious writing on Medium. Don’t know what it is? Here’s how Medium bills itself:

Ideas and perspectives you won’t find anywhere else.
Medium taps into the brains of the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers to bring you the smartest takes on topics that matter. So whatever your interest, you can always find fresh thinking and unique perspectives.

The stories—that’s what Medium calls whatever you publish there—that I’ve written have received positive responses and replies. This is truly a supportive community by, of, and for writers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned pro: you’re welcome here.

It’s free to join

Basic membership is free, but there’s also a premium membership level for $5 a month. The basic membership allows you complete access to stories, but restricts the number of stories marked “members-only” each month.

In addition, paid membership allows you to join the Medium Partners program, which gives you a chance to earn money on your stories. Oh, I’m not getting rich, but at least my stories earn enough to pay my membership fees.

There are also major commercial publications on Medium, and I’ve known authors whose stories have been picked up by the New York Times, and who have been paid the proverbial Big Buck$ for them.

So give it a try

Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t. But what self-respecting writer would ever turn down an opportunity to put her stories in front of a larger audience?

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” And so begins Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel which was turned into a brilliant movie by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. It starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

But that’s neither here nor there. And I apologize for the title, which is the uniquely American bad habit of turning verbs—in this case, journal—into verbs. And vice-versa.

I like to record my dreams…when I remember to. It’s a simple process, really: I just jot down a few notes on my iPad and save them for later. Later, when I go back and read through them, I can see trends in my dreams and therefore, in my life.

There are places I’ll remember all my life.

I would love to have written that line, but John Lennon beat me to it.

Dreams are elusive creatures

They don’t like being seen in the light of day; that’s why they fade so quickly when you wake up. Until very recently, I’ve always been able to remember my dreams. I’ve also been able to remember if they were in color, or black and white. But lately, while I remember the basic subject of my dreams, I’m still hazy on the details.

And for the past few weeks, all of my dreams have been centered around Juneau, Alaska, as well as New York City.

New York City

The New York City dreams always begin the same way: I’m driving in my car down US Highway 101, about to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, when the bridge turns into the George Washington Bridge. I’m in New Jersey about to head into Manhattan.

The next thing I know I’m in downtown Manhattan, usually in one or two places: standing outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or underground waiting for a subway at the Christopher Street station, in Greenwich Village. But regardless of where I am, I always take out my cell phone to call my cousin, who lives in Brooklyn, to make arrangements to meet her.

At which point I wake up.

Juneau, Alaska

The thing about Juneau is that I lived there for 15 years. My then-wife and I moved there shortly after the birth of our first daughter in Petersburg, AK. Our second was born in Juneau 4 years later.

15 years is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place.

Stef-Zanne

My daughters at Eagle Beach, Juneau

Believe it or not, we did a lot of camping in Juneau. The summers were so short we took advantage of every bit of nice weather we could. And while the season was short, the days were long. I still have pictures of a sunset I took at 10 p.m. one night. It’s the complement to a sunrise I shot later that same year at 10 in the morning.

In the Juneau dreams, I’m usually driving down Old Glacier Highway, heading towards our house on Taku Boulevard. Just as I turn into the driveway, I wake up.

Sometimes I’m shopping in downtown Juneau. Not current-day Juneau, of course, but the way it was when we left in 1989. My friend Suzanne owned a kayak that she would lend me so my daughter Suzzanne and I could paddle among the whales. Naturally, thee two of them became Big Suzanne and Little Suzzanne. She also owned a health food store I frequented.

Usually, the shopping dreams ended when I entered Suzanne’s store. I’d wake up, feeling disappointed.

And I’m still not sure

What my dreams mean. But I’m not losing any sleep over it. They do, after all, give me things to write about.

Thanks for reading.

Or is it just an excuse?

Last night my friends Rick and Kirk from Syracuse came to visit, and we stayed up far too late watching Dr. Phil analyze a young man who is, to put it in psychiatric terms, batshit crazy. Nutty as a fruitcake. As crazy as a shithouse rat.

I rarely watch television. In fact, the few times I have was when Rick and Kirk were visiting. Anyway, by the time I got to bed it was 2:30 in the morning. I woke up at 9 to take my morning meds, and lay back down and managed to sleep until 10:30 or so. After a leisurely breakfast (leisurely because I was so tired it took me a couple of hours to get around to it), I went back to bed around 2:00…

…and immediately had so many ideas and topics running around my brain that I had to get up and start writing. As I write this, it’s 4:00 pm and I’ve already posted on two of my other blogs.

This, I believe, is the hallmark of a true writer, as opposed to a hack: when you have to write something that it keeps you from doing anything else until you get it down, whether on paper or as pixels on the screen. The need—not just the desire, but the raw, urgent need—to say what you have to say before you can finally feel able to turn to other pursuits.

Writers on Writing

My Pinterest board has over 200 quotes from writers about writing. From the simplest statement (A writer writes) to the most esoteric (Don’t just write—BE a writer), some of the biggest names in literature have shared their insights on just how to write.

After reading and studying them, hoping for some magic, become-a-writer-overnight scheme, this is what I have come away with:

Nobody else can tell you how to write.

Whether it’s Ernest Hemingway, who is often miscredited with the “It’s easy to write; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” to Evelyn Waugh, who is reputed to have insisted on writing whilst wearing a three-piece suit, I’ve come to realize that when writers offer tips to other writers, they’re not spouting so deep, eternal truth; rather they’re describing what works for them! Nothing more, nothing less.

Pretty simple, yes? But here’s the catch: I’ve been writing off and on for the past 50 years, and it only took me until now, June of 2018, to understand this “simple” idea.

There’s No One Way to do It

Something else I’ve learned is that even for me there is no  one-size-fits-all approach. What works one day might not work the next. Sometimes I’ll sit down and dash off a few lines, paragraphs, or even pages without stopping, then go back and read and correct what I’ve just written. Other times I can’t move onto the next sentence until I’ve written and rewritten the current one until it is perfect.

Most days I know what I want to say. Other days I pull up a blank page and stare it it, chain smoking cigarette after cigarette (only figuratively—I switched to a vaper a long time ago) until I begin to get the ghost, the hazy idea of what I want to say.

The One True Thing

My own One True Thing is based on a quote from Hemingway:

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

This is what keeps me going when I don’t want to write. I write one true sentence, and it goes from there.

In Closing I’d Like to Say

This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary. Find what works for you, and stick to it.

And be sure to check out my Standard Disclaimer.

Thanks for reading.


Dear Readers

Posted: 25 May, 2018 in Blogging, Gratitude, Thank You
Tags: , ,

Thank you for making this blog so popular. When I first started it, I had no idea what it would become. I just needed a place where I could rant and rave and generally sort through my thoughts and feelings.

It originally started as a journal to help me with my therapy. When I finally summoned the courage to show it to my therapist, she said that some of my thoughts might be helpful to others, should I decide to share them.

That was in July of 2015. “What a long, strange trip it’s been” (Robert Hunter).

And so this blog was born. I even got my own domain, completely free of advertisements. Even better, I haven’t commercialized it. That means I don’t ask you for money, I don’t sell your email addresses, and I am not beholden to commercial interests. This is meant to be a safe place.

Gay-friendly, certainly. Trans-supportive? Well, DUH! How could it not be, considering that I myself am Trans?

Your responses and comments let me know I must be doing something right, and once again, thank you for the feedback.

Haters and Bigots and Racists, Oh My!

We don’t have any of them here, which is a Good Thing™. Interestingly enough, they just don’t seem to come here. Maybe we’ve just been lucky, or maybe they’re just too afraid to associate with crazies like us.

I can say that, can’t I? “Crazies”? On the one  hand, I can say, “Well, Robyn, it’s YOUR blog! You can say whatever you want. But on the other hand, I don’t want to inadvertently hurt someone. It’s difficult, sometimes, to find the balance. But what’s even weirder is that if anyone is hurt by my comments about haters, bigots, racists, homophobes, transphobes, etc., my attitude is “fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

Anyway, that’s not what I came to talk about.” (Arlo Guthrie, in Alice’s Restaurant)

A Brave New Pencil

Yesterday, Stacey and I drove the 15 or so miles to Eastview Mall, where the Apple store is located. We both had old iPads we wanted to turn in. We each got $95 for them, since they were in excellent shape. Stacey’s saving hers until she gets a new iPad Pro, but I used mine to buy an Apple Pencil to go with the new iPad I got last week.

Why the Pencil? Because they were all out of the keyboard & case combo I really wanted.

It’s a fun toy. I can use it to write notes, add drawings and pictures to stories, etc. I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with it exploring what it can do. Maybe it will even help my carpal tunnel issues. Oh, wait—never mind: that’s arthritis.

I’ll probably report back on it in some future post. Until then, thanks again for stopping by!

Are you writer? Do you spend hours alone in your room, staring at the walls until 3 a.m. when you finally are exhausted enough to sit down and let the words come without you getting in the way? Do you look at what few friends you have and think, “She’d make a great character for my book”?

I'm writing a novel

Is this you?

Becoming a Better Writer

One way to improve your writing is by joining a local writers’ group or workshop. But what if you’re a shut-in, or (like me) don’t have reliable transportation to get you there?

Another way is by reading a lot. At least, that’s what most of the successful big-name authors say—and who am I to argue with them? But getting to the library, for example, can be hampered by the two instances I listed above.

Another drawback to reading a lot can be money, or, more specifically, the lack thereof.

Enter Medium

Medium “is an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams, and launched in August 2012. It is owned by A Medium Corporation.[3] The platform is an example of social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers on Medium, and is regularly regarded as a blog host.” (Wikipedia)

In Plain English, Please

Think of Medium as a Facebook for writers—minus the trolls, divisiveness, and advertisements. But even that doesn’t to begin to cover what makes Medium such a great platform. Remember what I said about joining a local writers’ group? Medium is that very group on steroids: it’s an international writers’ group.

You can connect with other writers by interests, topics, location—either publicly or privately (which I still have to figure out).

For me, Medium is first and foremost a source of different writings (Medium calls them stories). They’re fresh, topical, and can include everything rom the latest abstruse scholarly article to fiction to poetry to you name it. But best of all—at least to me—is that I can post a story and know that people will respond on it politely and with thought.

Plus I get some great fiction, too!

Medium

If you don’t have it and consider yourself a writer, go get it! Right now!!!