Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stories and Questions

A quick reminder that this Monday, Jan 19 through Wednesday 21 is the posting window for this month's Portrait of Words writing challenge. After starring at the pictures for three weeks without any words finding their way onto paper, I was finally able to get out of the blocks and on the way.

Thank you inspiration fairies for nudging me. I was afraid I'd come up completely blank this time.

I've been doing some research to find a writing group in my area that I can get involved with. There's one called Willamette Writers that looks somewhat promising. My hope is to find some others to share stories and ideas with as well as constructive criticism. I would really like to take my humble little scribblings to another level.

This world of blogging is great for friendships and positive comments, but I wonder how often people will hold back on giving advise for fear that they won't get return readership from the person. Perhaps a disclaimer on each piece of writing stating that constructive critiques are welcome would be appropriate. I don't know.

Have any of you pondered how to approach this?

Maybe some of you have come across other sites where this is practiced and has been of benefit. If so, please point me in that direction.

I've also contemplated creating a separate blog just for the purpose of fiction writing. I could keep this one going for my silly-goofy side and have the other for developing and writing stories.

Ahhhh, what to do, what to do.

Input gladly accepted. . .


Dr.John said...

Bloggers, in general, are just too nice to be critical.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

What Dr. John said, but with an addition. Bloggers, in general, are just too nice to be critical unless it's during an election year.

I'm not a writer so I don't know what to say. If you do a separate blog you may lose some of your readers? I don't know.

Good luck with whatever direction you take. You are indeed an excellent writer and I'd read anything you what to put out for us.

Have a terrific day. :)

Jeff B said...

Dr John- I would tend to agree with that, but I still think critique can be done in a positive and constructive way.

Sandee- Too true. We are in a bit of a political low spot at the moment, but by the 20th I have a feeling things will start heating up again.

Losing readership would be a definite down side to making a change. I'll have to consider that part.

Lanny said...


I can't improve if all I hear is "nice story". Or even keep doing what I am doing. Nice, why?

I did set up a separate blog before my big fall crash and loss of all my current writings (non of it backed up, my bad) And I intend to return to it soon. Need to be writing more than just my regular journally blog. But the loss of the second chapter and all my notes for more was a big blow and then the holidays, and health issues and the list of excuses is now huge and nearly insurmountable.

The two (blogs) do feel way different and I would hope that they would be read for different purposes.

Butcha never know till you try and I don't see the harm in trying the idea.

One of the biggest turn offs to giving advice or suggestions is the "yes, buts" defensiveness. But you don't know someone doesn't really want advice till you give it and then you get the "yes, but" defense back.

When I was in a writing group, non-fiction, we had a little rule that if someone spoke about our writing we could not retort,defend etc. in any way shape or form. We took the information silently. No fair crying quietly either. But I am out of that habit also.

buffalodick said...

I personally would like bloggers to separate fact from fiction. I appreciate both, but dislike being misled when someone tells a tale that is made up, from a real story that actually happened in their life. Anyone can write fiction, as there is no limitations to the human mind, or it's thoughts. To hear a true story told well, let's me know the person is sharing a bit of their life that was special and unique to them. My opinion, humble as it may be...

Jeff B said...

Lanny- Good to see you again. You have a very good point. Advise is only valuable when the recipient is willing to take it, positive or negative. I think it's safe to say, we'd all rather get an atta boy rather than criticism. Everyone I've read or talked to in the writing world says the number one rule is to grow a thick skin, so you can repel the daggers and arrows.

Buffalo- To pass off fact as pure fiction isn't really quality writing at all. At the same time, I think most fiction writers (myself included) use events in our life as a catalyst for our writing. Within most of the stories I write, there are elements of fact tucked in between the lines. Not necessarily verbatim aspects, but rather sound bites to build from. Thanks for weighing in.

Finding Pam said...

Well Jeff, You know you are exceptionally creative in your writing skills. I agree that it would be nice to get positive critique especially for someone of your writing abilities.

If you need more of a challenge then I say go for it. The writer's group would put you in good company and might inspire you to higher levels.

I just get annoyed with smart people that take to task tearing up new writers. It is kind of a snobery (is that a word?)
like attitude. I have found some blogs that while they may be intelligent, they are a bore and have no sense of humor.

I think you will find what you are looking for. As for me, writing is not my gift, but thanks to encouragement from you and others, I have dabbled in it. I always worry about the incorrect use of words and dangling participles. In order to improve, I must have feedback. I write for the fun of it. I agree that bloggers are so very nice, and do not want to hurt anyone's feelings. I will follow where ever you go because I like your style and humor.

Take care and may you pen roll smoothly on the paper.

Vodka Mom said...

I have a couple bloggers and site in mind for you. Let me get back to you - or I might just email them to you!!!
Damn, I always want to play when I come here, and then i get all distracted. Let's blame the ADD I'm convinced i have, shall we????


Vodka Mom said...

plus, I'm a bitch. Just ask sassy OR bitchy. I'l tell the truth.

goooooood girl said...

your blog is feel good......

BJ Roan said...

Personally, I don't think you would lose readers. I think your readers would merely have more to read. If you write it, they will come.

Jeff B said...

Pam- Thank you for your ind words. The last thing I'd want is to have a tasteless snobbery blog. I do hear what you're saying about how some people would rather tear another down to make themselves look better. Fortunately, no one that reads here would fall into that category.

Vodka mom- I'll look for that email, and thank you in advance. As for being a bitch, hmmmm, maybe your teenage daughter has bestowed you with that title, but I wouldn't say that is so.

BJ- Perhaps you're right. Part of my quandary is in trying to maintain two blogs. One is time consuming enough.


Hey Jay, if you come by, look that ho bag gooood girl is here too. See I told you she was two timing us. Bwahahahahaha

katherine. said...

I thought about having two weblogs also...but not for the same reasons as you are considering.

Maybe you could keep one weblog and post your fictional writing in a different type face or color or something.

the writing group sounds like a great idea for you...hope you find one which works out well and inspires your craft.

Ron said...

Howdy Jeff!

Hey, I think it's awesome that you're thinking and opening yourself to do more with your writing. And your idea about creating another blog specifically for your writing is idea! I mean, that's why I started my other blog back in the Fall.

I share in what BJ said...your readers will have more to read. And when you write it, they will come!

And I bet sharing yourself with others in the writers group will also create even more ideas and inspiration amongst all of you.

You've got such a special gift, buddy.

And I'm excited and happy that more and more people will be experiencing that gift!

Go boy!

Later gator!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay said...

I agree that in general bloggers aren't going to be critical of things. I think it's mostly because nobody wants what they say to be taken as "mean" or "hateful" and it's much harder to express ourselves over the computer because there's no body language or anything else. Just words.

Well, there are a few bloggers who don't mind being critical, but they're mostly A-Holes. LOL

Have you ever checked out Lots of really, really talented people there. Kind of intimidating at first because of that. But, they seem really nice. I haven't written anything there, but I did join. It's a closed community though. You're stuff will only be read by the people who are members. Although, I guess you could cross-post it to your own blog.

Jeff B said...

Katherine- Part of my interest in having a second "writers" blog is so when I start sending out some things in hopes of being published that I can direct would be publishers to a site that's a bit more focused. I'm not sure if that would even be a consideration or not. Just thinking out loud.

Ron- As always your encouragement is. . . well, encouraging! I suppose if I start a second blog some will come and others won't. That's just the way it is.

I know from how the comments come in here that not everyone is into reading stories. Some just want to check out the light hearted stuff. I'm good with that. So maybe separating them is for the best.

Jay- Like any other aspect of life, there are those who will stir the pot just for the fun of it, but as you eluded to, the majority of bloggers don't fall into that category. I'm just trying to find a balance between inspirational comments and honest evaluation to help me become better at writing.

Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to take a look at it.

Akelamalu said...

I've found I get more readers and comments about anything other than fiction! As you know I do 55s, Wordzzles and POW but they don't attract the same attention as the other stuff which is a mish mash of stuff. :(

If you really want to concentrate on writing more fiction Jeff, then I would say start another blog and leave links on this one so that those of us who love your stories can do.

Akelamalu said...

PS meant to say I've scheduled my POW to post on Monday. :)

jay said...

I'm about to take the plunge and join in with one or two of these 'writing challenge' memes, and I think a second blog for the purpose would be a good idea. I don't know exactly why people read my blog, but they must like it the way it is, and I'm not sure if adding fiction would be a good thing.

As to criticism, I was thinking of adding a line to each piece of fiction saying 'please say exactly what you think, you won't offend me by being honest', because I see little point in writing in a blog if all you're getting is your ego stroked. Just my opinion...

Jeff B said...

Akelamalu- I've always found it interesting how the fiction stories generate less readership than, the other stuff. When i first started out writing it would frustrate me that something that took genuine effort and thought wasn't as popular as the quirky bits. Doesn't really bug me now. Guess I just realize different people come here for different reasons.

Glad you got your story ready to go. Mine is about 7/8 done at this point.

Jay- Good to hear that you'll be flexing your writing muscles with us.

I completely understand what you're saying about critique and/or the lack there of. I like a good ego stroke like the next guy, but some honest balance is healthy too.

quilly said...

Jeff -- what do you write? About 12 years ago I was part of an online crit group. We had a schedule for submissions and met in a chat room once per week. It went pretty well until egos started getting torqued. I would like to tell you I had no blame, but we all played the game. I've also been part of

I keep telling myself I need to quit pouring my creativity into the blog, and get back to writing. So far, no go.

CrystalChick said...

Great feedback here. I agree that starting another blog just for your writing is a good idea. Those who love to read your stories can visit there more often and those who want the assorted this and that can stay here. You might even get more readership at another blog if it's specific to something... like writing. People go in search of like blogs so you may develop another whole group of buddies. Always nice!

I don't have good writing ability. I throw a little of everything on my blog. Videos, pictures, rambling drivel. And I've probably used more dangling participles than I should... way too many dotdotdots........ alot of OMG's and the occasional WTF. So I couldn't possibly give you any constructive criticism on your writing. Some of the stories I've read here have been funny and interesting and I've made a few comments if I like one. However, in all honesty, I don't always read them. Depends on how the story grabs me at the beginning and what my mood that day might be. And don't consider yourself to be totally responsible for the mood part. I'm difficult at times. ;)
Personally, I do prefer to read about people's real lives. What the kids are doing. How the wife handled something. What new recipe you tried out. How a day at work might go. Thoughts, feelings, etc.
Seems like you cover all of that and more here. So best wishes with your writing whether you continue your stories here or go with another blog. Just make sure to publish the link if you go that route so we can add you.
Hope you and your family are having a nice weekend. :)

jennifer said...

Checked out the photos for this months challenge. Wow! It will be interesting to see what folks come up with. I can't at this point but hopefully next month?

Have a great weekend.

Jeff B said...

Quilly- Currently my writing is limited to short stories. A crime drama suspense mix I suppose. I have a skeleton of a novel mapped out, but am still a ways away from a finished product.

Your warning about egos in critique groups is duly noted. That seems to be a common theme among those that have participated in them before.

CrystalChick- Thank you for the input. I've decided to start another blog for the sole purpose of writing. I'll keep this one going as well for more of the personal or humorous stuff. Not that I'm planning on the other one being stuffy or anything, just more focused I hope.

I'll be sure to put up a link when I get it off the ground.

Jennifer- It's an open invitation, so feel free to jump in when the time allows. Thanks for checking in.

Travis said...

It can be tough to offer constructive feedback in a comment format. I know for me, if I feel strongly that I can help, I'll send a private email to the author.

But then again, it can seem awfully forward to do that if you don't know the writer very well.

A writing group sounds like a great step for you.

Jeff B said...

Travis- I thought of you as I wrote this. Many months ago when I was starting out, you were one of the few to offer solid advise.

I still have much to learn, but with people like you (and others who've come along side me) I will be much better equipped in my endeavor. Thank you my friend.