A few words about WordPress

This is my third post in four days, wow! Unfortunately, the first two said nothing about writing, so here’s a token on-topic comment. The day before I left on my trip, the dam burst and I added 2,900 words to a chapter in progress, then managed to write a couple hundred more and start editing while I was gone. I hope I can restart that flow of words this next week.

Moving on to WordPress stuff.

When I came home from vacation, I noticed WordPress now adds a “Like” button at the end of our posts (on the actual post page, not the home page) … perfect for when you like a post, but have nothing to add in comment. So, if you read and like my posts, you have three choices: Like, Comment, and ReTweet. Why not go hog-wild and do all three?

WordPress blogs have a built-in spam catcher, which I check regularly. Most days I have no spam, others one or two, but occasionally I have thirty or more instances in a single day … and that usually goes on for days. Some of these leave a generic comment with a link to a website selling something. But most are spammers leaving a comment that is just a string of random English or foreign language words, or most irritating of all—sexually related words. All those spam comments link to either commercial sites (real or scam) or porno sites. I presume not every blog has a spam catcher activated and these comments actually appear on those blogs for readers to see. Do enough readers click through on these type comments to make it worth these scammers’ efforts?

When I signed up for this blog, I read that WordPress occasionally runs advertising on their members’ blogs, but I have never seen one. A few weeks ago, someone who doesn’t come to my blog very often, ask me about an ad she saw on my post. Have any of you seen an ad on my blog? On any other WordPress blog?

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Dear blog readers, you are being used!

Confession of the day—I’m a vampire. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably figured out I write many of my posts ad hoc—in essence they’re Tweets with no character limit. Often, not always, I write these posts because I need your help. I need you to help me sort out what I think.

We’ve all heard the purported Flannery O’Connor quote: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I’ll paraphrase that to say, “I post because I’m not sure what I think until I read what you say.” That’s why your comments are so important to me.

Whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve written, you help me refine my thinking. Sometimes you give me affirmation. Sometimes you point out that I apparently have a screw loose. Sometimes you take my thoughts in an unexpected direction, inspiring and challenging me.

I’m not a teacher. I’m not an essayist. I don’t blog to give you something. I’m selfish. Oh sure, occasionally I share something I’ve learned by writing, or reading … or gardening, shopping, or cooking. Often I point you to another blogger who writes the lovely posts I wish I could write. But mostly I just blather on some topic or another and hope you’ll help me make some sense of it.

My husband doesn’t understand the point of social networking. He converses only face to face or by telephone. Then again, he’s not a writer. What comes out of my mouth is rarely what I spend most of my time thinking. My written words run far deeper than my spoken ones—blog posts excluded. I even find it hard to voice record notes to myself—my mind tends to go blank when I open my mouth. I express myself much easier in written word. Blogging is a natural for me.

Unfortunately, I mostly blog my half-formed thoughts, my questions, my theories, and expect your comments to complete the equation. Sometimes, even when I felt I’d formed a complete thought, your comments reveal another aspect I hadn’t considered.

So, yes, my friends, you’re being used … but I hope you don’t mind.

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All ye, all ye outs in free!

And if you grew up saying, “Ollie, Ollie outs in free!” that works too. Yesterday, Rebecca came out of lurking to let me know she reads my blog through Google Reader, but never comes here to leave a comment. Her first ever comment was like a surprise gift. (Not that I lead a pathetic life or anything.) Now, I’m wondering if there are more of you silent readers out there. Hence, my little poll today. Don’t worry lurkers, it’s completely anonymous, so you won’t be outed, and only I will see the results.

In other blog news, I was perturbed to discover that comments on at least three old posts, in a row, have vanished. I have no clue how that happened. I didn’t realize they were gone until I shared a link to my post titled Here Be Heaven. Any of you other WP bloggers ever have comments disappear?

And finally, I’ve been pondering the seeming connection between water and writing. I’ve noticed many times on this blog and yours how often we mention that an idea came to us in the shower … or even while washing dishes. It occurred to me that water is an archetypal symbol of the unconscious. Could it be that being in or near water stirs up the unconscious allowing thoughts, feelings, and emotions to float up to our conscious mind? Anyone? Anyone?

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Pickles and Googles and Blogs, oh my …

Okay, so I bought this huge (5-pint) jar of dill pickles and, of course, there’s not enough room for it in my refrigerator. The jar says REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING –in all caps, so you know they’re serious, but in typical rebel fashion, I questioned why.

As I do with all my important questions, I googled it. Using the search phrase “do pickles have to be refrigerated” and I got “about” 1,790,000 hits! No, I didn’t check them all; the first one was good enough for me. As a bonus, I found out, I’m not the only one who doesn’t refrigerate ketchup, mustard, and jam. If you’re interested, I store my butter at room temperature too, one stick at a time. (And I’ve yet to sicken anyone with my daring ways.)

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. I can’t imagine doing writing research without it. In my last novel, I needed help with some Farsi phrases and lo and behold, there are forums for that sort of thing.

Just because I try to tie all my posts into writing: I pondered penning a perky pickle poem, but pity prevailed.

On another note: I’m trying something new in the comments section. Because I think it’s only polite to respond to every comment, my reply count is always artificially inflated. Though it’s nice for my morale to delude myself that 38 people had something to add to a post, in truth that would be 19 besides me. And sometimes those are really only 10 people because some return to add a second comment. So … as a test, I will reply to you, in bold, within your comment. If you have chosen to be notified of a reply, I don’t know if you’ll receive that notice. Let me know, will you? Otherwise, just assume that I’ve responded and come back later to see.

I wish you a lovely, productive weekend.

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What do I have to lose?

I entered two contests this week. One is where you enter your first 250 words for a Secret Agent to see if they’re hooked enough to ask for a partial. The other is where you enter just your first paragraph for the same prize. I don’t expect to win.

I entered because I’m not comfortable with my novel opening. In the first contest, I will get a comment from the secret agent and also comments from other writers. Maybe something said in those will spark an idea for revision.

The second one won’t garner me any comments, and I know the agent who’s sponsoring the contest won’t be interested, but you never know what other agents might peruse the entries. One of those agents just might find enough intrigue in my opening paragraph to contact me. It’s all about getting your work out there, right?

I’ve had my doubts, my “what if it’s garbage” moments while writing this novel, but not now. I know it’s good. I know a good portion of readers would enjoy it. I’m just having trouble selling it in my query letter. But I’ll get there. Until then, free contests can’t hurt.

It’s too late to enter the Secret Agent contest, but Nathan Bransford is taking entries until Thursday at 4pm Pacific Time. What do you have to lose?