Monthly Archives: September 2013

WordPress Groupie No More

[I’m going to cross-post this on Don’t We Look Alike? because the same holds true on that blog.]

Since I began blogging in July 2012, I’ve been a devoted fan of WordPress.com. The organization of the system and the ease of use hooked me from the first day.

What have I liked?

  • I don’t know very much about computers or the internet, but I was able to set up my first blog without any help from anyone, other than glancing through WordPress for Dummies.
  • The look of my first blog was just what I wanted. It was a snap to blend my taste and that of my daughter (the first one was our adoption blog Don’t We Look Alike?) with the theme WordPress had to offer.
  • One of the best parts of WordPress blogging has been the sense of community. I participated in blog awards for many months, although I have decided more recently not to do so any longer. It was fun getting to know about other blogs through the award posts when bloggers would list their ten or twelve favorites.
  • It felt as if I quickly caught on to blogging and, within five or six weeks, one of my posts was Freshly Pressed. I hadn’t even been blogging long enough to know what Freshly Pressed was! Then I realized I could access all the other Freshly Pressed posts as one way to find other blogs I wanted to read.
  • I learned how to read some of the stats. The part that I found of particular interest was that I could see the list of followers of my blog—and I could use that list to check out followers’ blogs and decide if I wanted to read and follow.
  • My favorite part of WordPress has been the list of blogs I follow and my “reader.”  Under the edit function for the blogs I follow I could set up email notifications for new posts. I could decide if a blog warranted a daily or weekly notification or if I needed to know instantly when a new post hit the internet.

My experience with WordPress has been so rewarding that I have been sad when I’ve lost blogs I follow to Blogger or to WordPress.org or some other platform. I like to keep it all in the family.

NEVERTHELESS, I CAN NO LONGER CONSIDER MYSELF A FAN OF WORDPRESS.COM.

I am so disappointed.

First, the easy access to emailing support for troubleshooting disappeared.

Then, I started getting lots of spam followers. Once you get too many spam followers, it’s not smart to keep checking out who your new followers are, so you stop looking. It’s hard to believe WordPress doesn’t have a way to keep out the majority of these fake followers.

Most recently and most disturbingly, I no longer get email notifications of blogs I follows.  That is, I only get a couple.  I used to look forward to a long line of emails every Monday morning and a shorter line-up on the other days. If I felt overwhelmed I deleted some without looking, but I was pretty faithful.

Without those notifications, I have to go through my reader to find posts, and honestly, the same bloggers show up over and over. This is great for me to keep reading their blogs, but what about the others? A lot of my regulars are not showing up—at least not at the times that I scan my reader. If you haven’t been getting all the love from me I’ve shown in the past, this is why!

I’ve been faithful to blogging on WordPress, but WordPress has let me down.

Where do I go from here?

29 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Nonfiction, WordPress

EIGHT MORE DAYS TO SEND US YOUR STORY!

THE DEADLINE TO SEND US UP TO 1000 WORDS TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD IS A WEEK FROM TOMORROW!!!!

WE CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR STORIES!!!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.  We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.  We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description.  Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.  Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.  The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

What’s the Place of Capitalism in Book Publishing?

This past weekend we had house guests. A friend I hadn’t seen in a long time visited with her new husband. I hadn’t met him yet, but I knew he was a scientist who has been writing a children’s fantasy chapter book.

We ended up discussing writing over breakfast. The scientist-writer said that at a writing conference he attended writers were asked if they wanted to write timeless novels or if they wanted to be marketable.

The idea is that, as a writer, you can aim for the highest quality writing or you can focus on writing what will sell. The implication is that these two goals rarely, if ever, overlap.

My friend’s husband thought a lot of writers want to be marketable because they need to make money from their writing. He argued that this goal is a manifestation of capitalism (which he favors), and that the market should determine which are the best books, the most deserving of being read. I would add he is also talking about democracy (although he didn’t say that) and that the vote of the reader will shape what will be read and published.

But should the number of readers be the main or only consideration for which books ultimately succeed?

Maybe if I look at the subject through visual art, I can see the issue more clearly. I love the old and new masters at the Metropolitan, the Louvre, the Uffizi, and the Courtauld. To be able to see a piece anew every time one sees it (or a representation of it) truly reveals the depth of the artistry.

But I admit that I love cels of Disney cartoon art. I love them for their imagination and because they resonate with the popular culture I grew up in. No way do I think they are art of the quality of a Renoir or a Picasso. And I don’t want to live in a world with only Disney cels. Or pictures of babies with angel wings (as cute as they are).

Autobiography for children and adults of one of Disney's great illustrators, Bill Peet

Autobiography for children and adults of one of Disney’s great illustrators, Bill Peet

So I think the idea of capitalism determining the books that are published and that we read can be carried too far because we still need deeper, more complex, and finely crafted literature, not just books that sell well.

Do you agree that capitalism should or will determine which books are published or do you think that high quality writing should be nurtured in other ways?

One of my favorite paintings at the Chicago Art Institute: Gustave Caillebotte - Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877

One of my favorite paintings at the Chicago Art Institute: Gustave Caillebotte – Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877

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Filed under Books, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing goals

Who’s Talking My Language?

What is it about the books we read as teens that makes them some of the most memorable stories? The other day, as I stood in a ridiculously long line at the grocery store, I tried to figure out if it’s because of the way our minds work when we’re kids teetering on adulthood or if it’s the books themselves.

In my past life as a college instructor, I taught English. My favorite subject to teach wasn’t poetry or memoir, although poetry was a close second. The course that made me jump up and down when I saw it on my upcoming course schedule was “Literature for Adolescents and Young Adults.”

The minute I saw the course number (327) and name, books would start throwing themselves at me–figuratively, of course.

Those are just a few of my favorites. But why?

As I was thinking, I was probably scowling at the cashier. Then, as I tossed my lettuce onto the conveyor belt, I had my epiphany.

It’s the narrator, silly!!!!!!!!

  • Esperanza
  • Anne
  • June and the other six narrators
  • Holden
  • Scout
  • Charlie

I love all of them. They are all me, and I am them.  Maybe that’s why I love writing memoir. The first person point of view and the narrator with my voice.  Like Scout, like Anne, and even like Charlie.

If you haven’t read these books, what are you waiting for?  Go! to the bookstore, the library, or GULP if you have to, your Kindle.

What is the most memorable book you read as a teen?

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction