Monday, January 04, 2010

Anatomy of a blog post

Patty here…

Sometimes people ask us authors where we get our ideas. The answer is anywhere and everywhere. A newspaper account of a young boy searching for his mother inspired our very own Paul Levine to write Illegal. We may have family members who served in WWI, which stirred Jacqueline Winspear to pen the Maisie Dobbs series. Some authors write about personal experiences as did James O. Born in his modern day and futuristic law enforcement novels, the latest being The Human Disguise. In his spare time, I hope Ridley Pearson writes a book based on his experiences teaching writing in China.

When you’re working on a novel, the ideas have time to percolate and mature, but when you’re blogging once a week, there’s often very little time for even thinking. Sometime my head is full of ideas and sometimes it feels rather empty…like today when I’m supposed to post tomorrow morning and have not a single idea rolling around in my head.

I can’t speak for other bloggers, but coming up with a topic once a week is challenging. Sometimes I read a tidbit in the newspaper that I think will make for an interesting piece, like the woman and her screaming 2-year-old child who were thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight (Don’t worry. The airplane hadn’t taken off yet.) Afterward, mom Pamela Root threw a hissy fit and demand that the airline apologize and give her some hush money, which they did. If the unrelenting screams of your child are so loud that other passengers can’t hear the safely video, as happened in this case, I’m not sure who owes whom an apology. Most of us have been on an airplane with a screamer. It’s torture. After I read about the incident, I thought about asking you Naked Readers for your opinion, but never did.

Often I write about something I’ve done over the weekend but it was a lazy few days with the holidays and all, and I doubt anyone wants to read about my trip to the grocery store or my foray into the backyard to sweep leaves, even though I find herding leaves meditative. It’s a time away from computers and telephones, a time to think and breathe outside air. If it’s so meditative, you’d think it would help me come up with a blog topic but nope.

I thought I might complain about the voice recorder I got for Christmas that was supposed to be idiot proof but resists my every attempt to set the time even though I follow the instructions. Why do I even need digitally recorded time? I’m perfectly willing to say: “It’s January 1, 2010 at 11: 25 a.m. and I’m walking along Westwood Boulevard thinking about what Davie wants in this scene.” Why can’t gadgets be simple anymore? Why can’t voice recorders just record sound? Now I have to establish folders and all sorts of other fancy crap that I don’t want or need. All I want to do is record, erase, record. I decided not to talk about this topic because I sounded ungrateful and whiny.

Tell me if this floats your boat—stupid street signs. I even snapped a photo to illustrate my point. Can anybody figure out when you are allowed to park on this street? There’s another trend I see creeping into my neighborhood. Speed bumps are now called humps. What’s the difference between a speed bump and a speed hump anyway? Life is complicated enough. Let’s decide if it’s a bump or a hump and stick with the program.

Oh boy! Will somebody please save me from this mental fog and tell me what to write about?

Happy New Year!


  1. You've given me an idea for a book to be titled, "No Parking Any Time, Except..."

  2. Those cryptic street signs drive me crazy. I suppose the one on top deserves the highest priority but who knows?

  3. When I worked in a newspaper bureau office in a small town several years ago, there was a Chinese restaurant across the street with a banner sign that said: "We are Grand Opening."

    It's not a street sign, but it's funny, and since I'm back at work after Christmas recess, a chuckle is a good thing.

  4. There used to be a sign on the road between Yakima and Ellensburg that read: Eat here. Get gas.

    Love the cover of your new book, Karen. And yes, we all need a few good laughs in this new year.

    Paulie, if anyone could write a compeling thriller about Parking signs, it would be you.

  5. I read some of the online forums on the screaming baby incident. Sounds like the mother didn't feed her child for the first leg of the trip so he'd be hungry when they got to wherever they were going.

  6. You have my sympathy, Patty! I blog daily, have for about three -- oh my, four years this month! -- and coming up with topics can be daunting.

    Which is why this year I'm giving up the Friday spot to guest bloggers. No takers, no blog.

    I find, though, that I come up with blogging ideas just when I'm falling asleep, and then. . .they're gone.

    But frustrating technology and great street signs are both good!

  7. Daily??? Oh Fran, don't know how you do it.

  8. from Jacqueline

    Patty, you have a mind like mine, jumping from one thought to another. And I find raking leaves meditative - just looking at those colors is like staring into a kaleidoscope. Unless of course I leave them until they're went, brown and slippery.

    Noise canceling headphones on a 'plane, along with ear plugs, can sometimes block out the noise of a recalcitrant child.

    Very good post, Patty, as always!

  9. I use the shotgun approach. I spray topics throughout the week hoping that someone will make sense out of something.

    I just started my fifth year and I'm beginning to doubt my sanity.

  10. Frankly, we've been wondering about that too, David. JUST JOKING!!! I feel the same way sometimes. Do you bloggers ever think about a blogging endgame?

  11. A blogging endgame? Well, Patty, you could fake your own death, but that seems excessive.... And we would miss you.

    Happy New Year to all of the intrepid Nakeds.

  12. James O. Born1/04/2010 3:35 PM

    Patty, Good post.
    You can see the different approaches right here at NA. Paul with his short comments on news, You and I with generally single supjects, Ridley with news of his adventures and Jackie with her lovely views into different aspects of her life.

    It's hard, really hard to do it every week as you know.


  13. Mims, faking my own death? What a fabulous idea. But how....

    Yes, James, it's difficult but I'm so glad to hear from all you wonderful people every week.

  14. Не догадывался что человек может обсуждать до такой точки что дело пахнет вазилином. И хочется им столько времени тратить для обсуждения ниочем. Странные они какие-то
    вот соседняя ветка форума [url=]Дождевые черви могут перерабатывать навоз? Вы используете продукты переработки червей?[/url] где собственно и произошел спор. Думаю решат проблему сами и без нашего вмешательства
    вот уж не предполагал что так может случиться.

  15. I agree totally with Anonymous.

  16. patty, i just know that you will never run out of stories to tell us and neither will your fellow naked scriblers.

    sometimes i do wonder how you can come up with so many diffrent ideas and your blogs are never taken for granted by this reader. it has inspired me to write to my sister every day. she lives up north and since her sons have showed her how to use facebook, we are in daily contact. so far we haven't run out of things to say....

    at the moment i am sharing this computer with my husband and my daughter because the others are being repaired by our not-so-fast boyfriend-in-law. so i can't look this blog up on a regular daily basis. but i do come back whenever i can to read up what i have missed.

    so don't you dare fake your own death or anything silly - it's just not allowed!


  17. See, now you've spurred the inevitable topic of "Road Signs I Have Known and Loved".... ;-)

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