Ten Questions For A Blogger
The Daily Post at WordPress posted a feature yesterday, Blogger Profile: Go Jules Go. It was based on Julie Davidoski of Go Jules Go, and was accompanied by Bloggy Love: Who Inspires You? The feature had ten questions for bloggers. PG is going to take the optimistic step of thinking that people are interested in his answers. If you get tired of reading, you can skip ahead to the pictures. These pictures, from The Library of Congress are Union Soldiers, from the War Between the States.
1- Where does your post inspiration come from? Maybe the best way to answer this is to look at the last few posts. The ideas for features come from everywhere. Topics include religion, politics, and race … subjects that are not acceptable for polite company.
Twitter Bumper Stickers and Why WMR Lost are about items in the news that made PG angry. Having a blog is a great outlet for those with inconvenient opinions. You can express yourself, and feel like you have contributed to the dialog. If you are later proven to be incorrect, you are just a blogger.
The Burning Of Atlanta is history. At this time 148 year ago, the union armies left on their march to the sea. Before leaving town, anything of value was destroyed. War is like that. This feature is a repost. The burning of Atlanta (there were actually two) is the hottest thing that ever happened here. It is also ignored by the media, both mainstream and shallow creek.
Turn Turn Turn is another repost. There is a list of posts from 2008-2011 that are worthy of a repeat appearance. On days with writer’s tackle, this is a good source of material. For TTT, a 1965 video of the Byrds on TV was included, complete with dancing girls behind the band. David Crosby is smiling. You should click on youtube thingies when doing a repost. Often, the video has been taken down.
Smedley Butler was a Marine who fought many battles. After his military career was over, he gave speeches about how the killing benefits business more than freedom. This was during the thirties, when America was horrified by the carnage of World War I. Smedley Butler died before World War II, when happy talk in the press was confused for patriotism. This was posted on the day after Armistice Day.
So It Goes was prompted by the 90th birthday of Kurt Vonnegut. Whenever his name is mentioned, someone is sure to say “and so it goes.” PG did a bit of research, and found that “and” was not a part of that saying. A man brings joy to millions with his stories, and the most famous thing he said is a misquote. So it goes.
2- What’s your typical process for developing and writing a post? Lets look at the Vonnegut post. PG saw a facebook note about the birthday, and got to thinking about the trademark saying. There is a method for checking the veracity of quotes. You find the alleged speaker’s page on wikiquotes, and copy the contents into an open office text document. A search is done for a key word in the quote. In this case, “and so it goes” was the first search item, and it turned up nothing. When “goes” was used, a few examples of the famous phrase came up.
You want to open a word document, and save it as something related to your subject. (You may be searching for this someday, so don’t be too cute.) PG likes wordpad, but any text program should do. You want to compose your text, add the appropriate code, and then copy the whole nasty thing into the WordPress window.
The next step is to write an opening paragraph. This can be tricky, as the perfect phrase is seldom the first thing to come to mind. Apply the formula for writing … ass plus chair … and turn the fingers loose.
Next, you add the research material. In this case, it is fairly limited. In other stories, there is a tsunami of information. If you are using twitter, every time you look down at the trending topic there are going to be more tweets. At some point, you have to decide what is important, and what will be fun to read. This is not a dissertation, this is a blog post.
The rest of the preparation is what might be called formatting. Chamblee54 does not use black fonts, or tiny letters. Medium sized text is easier to read, and using colors is fun. For this post, alternating shades of green are used. This is done using hand coded HTML. Follow the link for more information about blogging in colored fonts.
The next step is to insert the links. You should always show where you get your information. This serves both to give credit for this data, and allows the reader to learn more about the subject. Links are one great advantage of digital media to writing on dead trees. These links are inserted into the text using HTML. For more information on how to do this, see How To Blog. If your post has a lot of links, open another document, and compose your links there. This will save a lot of scrolling.
The theme of Chamblee54 is “Pretty pictures and ugly opinions”. For the Vonnegut post, these images came from The Library of Congress. The text is just something to put between the pictures.
When you paste the text into the window, the next step is to look at the post. Click “save post”, and open the preview in a separate window. Look over the post, and see if there are any horrible mistakes. If you see one word on a line by itself at the end of a paragraph, you need to edit. See if there is anything in the line above that be left out. This will give your post a better appearance, and usually improve your writing. This one word by itself is known as a widow.
When there are no more mistakes to correct, click publish. Copy the final code for the post in the word document you used to write the text.
There is a site called I Write Like. You paste the text in the box, and it tells you what writer your style reminds them of. Today’s post is written like William Shakespeare.
3- What are your five daily reads? There are so many places to go. Facebook, the fishwrapper , and twitter are no brainers, pun intended. Andrew Sullivan, Informed Comment, Palestinian Pundit, Peach Pundit, Pure Film Creative can be counted on to cause brain damage.
The word “reads” is misleading, since BloggingheadsTV is listened to. BHTV is the one podcast that is followed regularly, with a few thousand others available for visits. Likewise, not all content providers publish daily. Jesus and Mo only appears on Wednesday, but is cool enough to cover the other six days. As you might have noticed, the five limit is being ignored as well.
Last but probably least are the blogs that have banned PG from commenting. If you want to know the latest about racism in comic books, go by The Chronicle. If you think the Bible is the inerrant word of G-d, you might appreciate Pyromaniacs.
4- You have a vibrant and engaged community of readers and commenters. How did you create and sustain it? This must be a question for Jules. Chamblee54 gets 100 hits on a typical day, and very few comments. The readers are terrific, and appreciated.
5- What are your top three tips for new or struggling bloggers? Don’t spill your beverage, link to your sources, have fun.
6- Why did you choose WordPress.com? Chamblee54 started on blogspot. One day, a bit of code got into the machine, and google products were not accessible. PG started to look for a host. One day, a comment needed to be made at a blog where WordPress registration was required. PG looked at the opportunity, and decided to go with it.
7- What does your blogging setup look like (computer, surroundings, etc.)? The text today is written in the back yard. There is a stone circle, with a patio table in the middle. The wifi reaches this outdoor office, kinda sorta. The post will be put online inside. The computer is on a table, and is in front of a window. There is a mirror on the wall, which allows PG to watch TV from the desk. The chair is a combination of two office chairs known as the Frankenstein chair. It is typically in need of repair.
8- Which of your posts has had the most influence on your readers, and why? See question 4.
9- Are there topics you’ll never write about? Anything about PG, or his family, that one billion people don’t need to know about.
10- Tell us about how a commenter or reader had an impact on you. One sometimes reader said that he doesn’t like long posts. You can see today how much PG listens.