Jun 11, 2005

Boyz at the Pool

Husband and sons at the pool and I just got home early from the Philadelphia Writers' Conference.

Yesterday: two sessions were fantastic. Jane Eisner was the keynote. She writes the syndicated column American Rhythms. Another very interesting session was on publishing nonfiction books, which was given by Foster Winans. Winans was writing for the Wall Street Journal in the early 1980s, when he got busted for insider trading. After 8 1/2 months in prison, he dusted himself off and wrote a best-selling, well reviewed book on . . . insider trading (Trading Secrets). A few years later he wrote fictionalized sequels to The Little House on the Prairie. Next? A memoir called From the Big House to the Little House. Har. I made that up.

Then an abysmal, condescending session on memoir that I want to forget as soon as possible, and a useless, sleep-inducing one on magazine writing. Thank goodness I came back, because all of today's sessions were great. Jonathan Maberry, who heads up The Writer's Room in Bucks county, and who has unpredictably become an expert on vampires, talked about how to get editors to read your magazine queries and book proposals. He's pragmatic, efficient, ruthless, and persistent. Whereas I've been dreamy, inefficient, tentative, and sporadic. Also attended a session on literary short stories, in order to avoid another memoir droning session, and attended one on writing for children in order to avoid the magazine writing zombie.

Ah, Dear Readers (as Charlotte Bronte would say), when I said I would keep writing, I meant for publication. The blog remains occasional. Yes, Jo(e) and Scrivener, I've thought quite a bit about whether or not to read more blogs. I do read yours every few days or so, and, as you know, hardly ever comment. I guess I feel divided about the blogging and how much I should do it. I'm afraid I'll be distracted by blog-reading, commenting, and linking when I should really be doing my own writing for publication. On the other hand, blogging certainly counts as something that can be valuable. A great way to network, to "publish" in a way, to get exposure, and contribute to an online community. Guess I'm trying to define my boundaries and that's why I come across as fickle or inconsistent.

But here's another thought. Since blogging is actually a great way to hash out ideas that may go into print, I've considered just writing one entry a week and structuring it more. Readers could expect to read a new entry, say, every Wednesday, and that would be stated up in the description. Other days I could focus on reading and commenting on other blogs, or other writing. Any thoughts? Thanks for reading, everyone. Maybe someday I will write my Blogging Manifesto. Blogifesto?

We're having a pastoral candidate preach at church tomorrow and meet with the congregation. People will bring their show-off dishes to the potluck. I'm bringing a spinach salad with strawberries, mainly because we get a giant bag of spinach every week in the CSA and it's a little hard to know what to do with it all. But not as difficult as the virtuous and prolific "Asian greens," whose season is thankfully over.

Oh, hey! Here's a joke from Jack.

"What did the turtle say when the truck drove away?"

"There goes a butt."

That's it. That's the joke. Because the word "butt" is funny in any context, apparently. When I was reading Prince Caspian to him (of the Narnia series), it mentions a "water butt." Have no idea what that is, some kind of rock formation? It was funny, though, you betcha. And when butts become cliche you can always say "fart," also funny. Once John told a bedtime story about a farting leaf, very very funny.


Scrivener said...

I think I prefer "dreamy, inefficient, tentative, and sporadic," even if I acknowledge that it's less productive.

OK, keep writing for publication, huh? Well, then, you'll need to link to publication that's available online or post citations for your stuff, or how am I supposed to make sure you keep at it? ;)

I do understand that skepticism about blogging, though I don't fully share it. I began blogging, as much as anything, as a strategy for dealing with writer's block, and it's certainly helped me to feel more comfortablle again writing, but then again, it hasn't translated into successful academic writing as well as I'd hoped it would.

I think the idea of using this space to work out ideas is a good one. I've been hoping to set up a dissertation blog and do something similar, though with only minimal success thus far. My only reservation is that I wouldn't want to miss out entirely on the parenting commentaries and poop jokes and that side of what you use this space for. Maybe you could still post some of those occasionally too?

One thing I like about blog spaces is that there is no need to have a consistent voice, tone, or argument running through them--you can do some serious, intellectual post followed immediately by a post about poop or fart jokes followed by an observation of quotidian details followed by one of those dumb quizzes that go around or a meme.

Scrivener said...

Oh, and butt jokes are big fun in our household too. Also "bum-bum"s and fannies. Ella thinks "wanna see my butt?" is a funny response to almost any question or comment.