Writing the threads of my reality

How do you connect to people?

I tend to write a lot of drivel on this blog. Part of it is therapy, of a sort, in that it lets me talk about things that bother me. But really, the rest is a large chunk of drivel with a healthy dose of procrastination.

I should be writing the Novel now instead of this.

Anyway - blogs are usually used to connect with people. This got me thinking today - I follow a lot of blogs, and I enjoy reading all of them, but my participation is largely absent. I don't get involved with other bloggers.

I had to seriously think about why this is, and I can only think it must be shyness. Yes, it's an enormous cliche, but nonetheless true - I'm still struggling with self-esteem as a writer, and it's caused me to be hesitant about reaching out to other writers, agents, publishers, whatever.

Who reads this blog, anyway? I'm not even sure I'm writing it for anyone but me. How do you find out if anyone is reading or subscribed anyway?


I just had to look that up. I think I need to have Google Analytics or something.


Apparently not! But it still says I have no subscribers, so I guess I don't need to worry about who's reading my drivel just yet.

Themes and subtexts

I was reading Nathan Bransford's post about themes in writing, and it got me thinking as to whether my own writing has themes or overall meaning or whatnot.

Like many young individuals, I was traumatised by the method of teaching English as if it were an autopsy. I've disliked much of Shakespeare for years because I was forced to pick apart his words and phrases, and forced to look for meaning and theme and metaphor instead of appreciating the work itself. It's like trying to cut a Monet painting to pieces in order to understand why it is beautiful.

I've always set out to write stories. Theme and hidden meaning are irrelevant if there is no story, no hook to draw in the reader and hold their attention. This is part of the reason I dislike modern art as well; so much of it seems to concentrate on being... highbrow, inscrutable, pretentious even, and it forgets that art needs to connect with people on some emotional level.

So it goes. Maybe my writing does have hidden meaning, but I dread to think about what it is.

Blogging from an iPod

I've had an iPod Touch for a while, and I've debated getting an iPhone. So far, the hope of seeing a decent Android phone is holding me back.

This is still pretty odd, though. I can essentially blog wherever I have a wireless connection now, and I can type just as fast on the little screen as I would on a normal keyboard. If I had an iPhone, I'd be able to blog anywhere I had a mobile connection.

The question therefore remains: do I have anything to say that needs to go online immediately?It's a bit like Twitter, in a way - or like the entire Internet. You've said it, you can't unsay it - and in the immediate nature of the web, something said (or tweeted) in the heat of the moment will not go away.

People sometimes say that you shouldn't put anything online unless you'd be comfortable shouting it from a street corner. I like to think of it more as having your own personal TV studio, where everything is recorded and you sure as hell don't have access to the tapes.

- Posted using BlogPress. From an iPod too.

The FTC and the new blogger regulations

I follow a great deal of news from America, being as I am highly interested in the American culture and psyche. Being a blogger, the new American FTC rules for blogger endorsements was particularly interesting.

The relevant article from the FTC is here.

Obviously the American blogosphere has began to kick up a fuss about it, which you can find through any simple Google search. From my reading of it, much of the new guidelines are sensible and intended to better protect the public from misleading advertising - but considering the nature of the Internet, I have to wonder whether some legislators didn't really think the whole thing through.

The Internet is a medium of communication, and bloggers in particular are for the most part simply communicating with each other and with their readers. They are not paid endorsers. They talk about their lives and the products in their lives, and it's entirely natural that they will be enthusiastic about the products they really like. Companies obviously know this, and send out their products to certain bloggers in the hope that they will like them and talk about them - but there is no guarantee that they will. Janet Reid sums it up very well in this post: bloggers do not guarantee airtime, as it were, for freebies that companies send them. So it seems that the guidelines in this case become less sensible and more like regulations on the natural communication between people.

The fear I have here is that this may be open to abuse. Consider this - a company sends a free product to a blogger. That blogger discloses the source of the free product, but makes a number of fraudulent claims about it with the intention of having the company slapped with a fine. Another author, Courtney Milan, summarises this problem here. When every violation could possibly carry a fine, what is that company to do? Stop sending out free products, and potentially lose sales as a result?

Intention should mean something in this case. If a blogger makes a malicious fraudulent claim, and that blogger has no connection to the company other than the fact that the company sends them free products with no expectation of airtime, then the FTC should consider that the company is not at fault. Likewise, if a blogger talks about a product in a positive way that they received for free, the FTC should not automatically consider it an endorsement that needs to be regulated.

I hope that the FTC make it clear that they do not intend to chase bloggers for simply communicating, nor allow companies to be held responsible for the actions of others.