I am part of an Olympic blogging event. Yvonne Watterson has passed the baton and I will not fumble. When it comes to blogging, I have stamina, form and flow–it is truly my sport. Yvonne and I are blogging for Ireland on the World Blog Tour (also know as the Blog Hop, and the Writing Process Tour) and for all I know the Grand Départ began there. In Ireland, words are relished. Writers and storytellers are trained to craft first lines that could kick off at Landsdowne Road. Creative key strokes can win the applause of McIlroy golf strokes (although the purse size doesn’t compare). A short story’s finish will leave its reader spent, questioning and wanting more, the same way a fan might have felt when Norman Whiteside left United.
Anyhow, inspired by Michelle Smith, Sonia O’Sullivan and Mary Peters I am completing my leg of the World Blog Tour from Shady Side, Maryland, USA. My decision to train in America has schooled me in the business of blogging. It seems to me that this sporting challenge is a missed opportunity for both exposure and potential income. At the moment, the marathon journey meanders without record. I read the posts Yvonne referred to in her blog and so have four new writers to follow, but then the trail went cold. I did a Google search to see if I could find where the tour idea started. Writers, inevitably, have changed the title and continuously reinvented the purpose of the tour and so only by googling the questions themselves could I work out that the #WBT (World Blogging Tour–not Will Be There) has been in progress since at least January 2014 and that many hundreds of writers have contributed their words on the process of writing. Clicking through the uncurated list is frustrating and so I am hoping that the initiator of the event will create a blog site and invite us to paste our posts on the official tour site as well as our own. Imagine: a WritingWiki, one place for every blogger to post. I am sure not all the posts are worth perusing–but there’s a book in there somewhere.
What am I working on? Myself, of course. Writing is an outlet, a comfort, a pleasure, and a work out. A blog is an escape, a friend, and a mirror. Readers are welcome but the real reward lies in learning to see yourself. When I started blarneycrone.com in October 2008 I could only write in the torturous third person, so scared was I of revealing myself or owning my observations. I have come some way in more than 700 posts since then. Having my archives allows me not only to remember where I’ve been, but who I am becoming. I have begun to take classes at the Writers Center and will invite my teachers Dave Singleton and Amy Abrams to continue the Blog Tour, sharing their wordpower with the world. For me, writing is not about an end product but a process. I want to do it more and better. I want to do it truthfully, meaningfully and memorably. I have a way to go.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Oh dear. I work in marketing and know the value of differentiators, unique selling propositions and brand definition but when it comes to my own writing I don’t have a niche. Well I do, but there aren’t many people searching for insights from Overweight Irish American Women with Bad Knees, Sharp Tongues and Quick Wits. I’d like to be considered a humorist, so that’s what I’ll call myself. Unfortunately this is a bit like describing yourself as funny on a dating site: if you have to say it, it isn’t so.
Why do I write what I do?
I don’t know how not to. For me, blogging provides the relief and stimulation and centring that running or yoga seems to give to others. I notice something and I can’t wait to get home and write about it. I right myself by writing in my head. I record the essence of my life so I can remember it and for those who are part of it. I am delighted when I delight strangers who find my posts by chance. I love it when themes emerge from my fingertips when I didn’t know my brain had spotted them. I am glad I am good at this.
How does my writing process work?
I get an urge or I notice something and the itch to write about it begins. I can’t do it if I am at work or somewhere where my time is meant to be devoted to something else. I will contrive to get away so I can get started. When I am writing, I don’t like to be disturbed–my sister hates the time it takes. My kids used to take the opportunity to disappear, knowing it could be hours before I spotted they were gone. My dad used to encourage it–a productive kind of sitting around, he felt, not like watching TV or loafing on the sofa.
I usually write a first draft quickly and then go back and refine it. Simple things like shortening a sentence or replacing an over-used word. Then I will think about the structure and how to surprise a reader or illuminate an idea. I write the title last. I usually add my own photos but I don’t have any that fit today. I tag like a madwoman. I do want people to find what I’ve written. If I didn’t I would keep a locked diary under my lonely pillow.
When I am tired or down I shrug off writing, even though I know it will make me feel better. The more I write, the more alive I feel. I have developed a near-lifelong habit of writing to amuse. There is a great thrill in making others laugh or smile, and huge satisfaction in word play and in observations both original and wry. I am trying to get past the easy wins though, and to push myself to work out and express what I really think and what really matters. I dream of writing more and better.
It has taken me three hours to write this. Thanks for reading and good luck with your own work.
I am passing the baton to Andrew Lowrey in the hope it will get him back to blogging and to Jessica Lipnack who encouraged me to start the Blarney Crone. Katherine Buchholz, you need to do this too. I also plan to share it with all who write for DC Blogs. Don’t forget to tag your posts with #WBT. If you are the person who started the World Blog Tour please follow through on your great idea–let me know if I can help.