Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Time". The posts will be more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical than instructional. No time management tips planned, but you never know with A to Z.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Monday, January 30, 2017

If You've Got Something to Say, Should You Say It? (#IWSG)

Should I have said it?  (photo by Betty)

       If you really thought that I wouldn't be posting on my birthday then maybe you didn't get your wish when you blew out your last birthday cake candles.  For some of you, my blog posts might be like the proverbial bad nickel (it used to be a penny, but, you know, inflation and all).   Hard to keep a blowhard blogger quiet when there's always something to say even if it is my birthday.   And if you're wondering about my age then I'll just say it's a palindromic number that is one numeral shy of being the favorite number of those who don't particularly like the Christian ideology.

       And that is the lead-in for the topic of not only my next Battle of the Bands post coming on Wednesday, but also my topic for my February edition of...

The Insecure Writer's Support Group



         Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

     

       This month I'll address the same question that others of you will be discussing along with some expanded thoughts:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

          About the same time I became a more serious reader back in the mid-sixties when I was in middle school, I also began to experiment more with writing.  As the years of schooling progressed, more writing was required in many of the classes I took and more reading was required as well.  The curriculum required the reading and study of certain classics and we were encouraged to read according to our interests.  Book reports, essay writing, and research for required projects entailed reading and more writing, none of which bothered me much since I enjoyed doing both.   For me, reading good writing makes me want to write, maybe something as good as what I've read, or maybe just write whatever fulfills me the most written in the best way I can manage writing it.

        Certainly, reading is a means of escape for me, however I want to read things that I would like to have written.  Fantasy as well as fantastical science fiction is not where my writing interests lie any longer so therefore I don't read much in those genres.  Most of my fiction writing throughout the years has been feet-on-the-ground types of stories to which I can relate.  More often than not, the reading that inspires me most is in non-fiction genres.  My reading experiences now will be escapes into the realities that others have experienced which in turn adds to my own life experience.   

         Good fiction can also do this for me, but I want to believe what I read while at the same time to not be distracted by such nonsense as explicitly written sex scenes or profuse profanity.  Sure, those things are part of real life experience, but rarely does elaborating on any of this actually enhance the value of a story being told.  This is not what I would write and likewise not something I care to read any more than I'd want to read intensely accurate descriptions of any bodily functions or extended passages of small talk that goes far beyond character development or whatever literary device is being attempted.

         Call me a prude or whatever, unnecessary description or dialog of a prurient nature is offensively distracting to me.  If I'm going to be offended then I want to be offended with ideas that rouse my mind to work in higher levels of reasoning and counterargument.  Light reading has its place for any of us, but profanity for me is not lighthearted fun or escapism.   The vilest and most frightening characters in literature scare us more with their intellect than their stupidity and their baseness.  Reading my favorite authors like Flannery O'Connor or Cormac McCarthy has introduced me to some of the creepiest folks around and they spoke nary a profane word.  

         Writing profanity or explicit sex scenes is not something with which I feel comfortable and this attitude goes hand in hand with my reading.  If I'm out to offend people--and this is not something that I necessarily strive to do--then I can write about topical political themes that upset readers or discuss religious and ideological concepts that can absolutely rile those who bitterly reject such things. Of late, I've apparently been doing this as I see certain of my posts with a decline in the number of comments. I do have a consolation in more thoughtful comments and some lengthier ongoing discussion so there is a trade off in that respect.    Should I ever consider writing fiction along these thematic lines?   I have, but then also nothing I have written has been published nor have I tried to get them published--at least not since the short stories that I submitted to publications in my college days many years ago which all got rejected.  Must have been at least partly something I said.

         Truth is that just like I don't particularly read content that offends or distracts me to no good purpose, certain readers may not want to read many of the things I want to say.  I know my writing does have an audience, but it also will have its detractors.  The question arises of how can I get a point across effectively if I'm only preaching to the choir while arguing with the rear ends of horses as they run away from me.

           Okay, so I posted this Insecure Writer's Support Group post a couple days early.  It's my birthday and it's my blog so I can kind of do what I want.  Besides, I didn't want my next post on Wednesday to be overly long because it probably will be so anyway.  I'll continue in a sense with this current post as I present a Battle of the Bands song that will be so offensive to some that I won't even name it in my post's title like I normally would.  After all, a lot of people these days are mighty touchy--irrationally touchy even.   

           If you want to hear more about what I'm talking about then be sure to come back for Wednesday's post.   And if not, I hope you at least come back to listen with an open mind to a song with a style that some of you probably won't like much and about a topic that might be a turn off to others.  After a lot of my recent posts the song was just something that came to my mind so I felt like maybe I should say it.

           Besides bad writing, what are some things that will make you less likely to finish a book that you've started reading?    Can you think of any superior quality up-lifting or mind enriching literature that relies heavily on profanity or explicit sex scenes?   How old do you think I am based on my clue provided in the opening statement?





56 comments:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEE: and many, mnay more to come.
    Haave a lovely day and hope your family does you proud. I have already read your A to Z Challange post and have put this year's poster on my blog.
    Will certainly be posting on Alex's ISWG on Wednesday.
    Now don't eat too much birthday cake send some over to Bournemouth here in the UK.
    yvonne.

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    1. If I had cake I don't know how well it would transport to UK, but considering it's only my wife and I here I guess we'll be skipping the cake. Not good for my blood sugar anyway.

      Lee

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  2. Hi Lee - have a very happy day with lots of fun and happiness ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, I took a nap and that was kind of fun and happy feeling I guess. Dinner out tomorrow night.

      Lee

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  3. Happy Birthday. To each their own with reading, I say. Explicit sex scenes I really don't need to read, but if they fit, meh. Swearing that has a purpose is okay, but just saying f this and f that all the time, blah.

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    1. Pat, one thing is certain, there is plenty of reading to please all readers.

      Lee

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  4. Happy birthday!
    I don't want to read those things either and I certainly don't want to write them.

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    1. Alex, I write kind of in the way I speak and I rarely use any profanity unless it is for the impact of a specific purpose.

      Lee

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  5. Happy Birthday. I agree. Some language and graphic descriptions are so off-putting that I put the book down. On the other hand, I read The Shining by Stephen King for the first time this month, and was captivated by his brilliant characterization and ability to build suspense. And, he's not afraid of using a few expletives!

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    1. Mary, I read King's Under the Dome which is like the book you read. I can deal with the expletives, but I'd prefer they not be used.

      Lee

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  6. Happy 66th!
    I had to smile throughout your post. Just agreeing with it all. The "adult content" (seems more like juvenile content) is what turned me away from reading much that is new and watching much for movies and tv. It's so inane and unnecessary. I want my brain to be challenged, not dumbed down. Ever watched the movie "Idiocracy"? It's worth watching even though it is full of garbage - ignore that - and it is truly a documentary on our scarily not-to-distant future - almost our "now" really.
    I know you may feel like you are preaching to the choir, but I like knowing there IS a choir. For a while I thought I was singing a solo.

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    1. Donna, nice deducing of age--or did I mention it in a previous post? My daughter and her husband talked me into watching Idiocracy when I was visiting them--funny, but relevant film. I agree that it's nice to have someone listening to what we have to say and provide some encouragement.

      Lee

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    2. Your clues gave it away. My husband and I are there with you!

      Delete
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    1. Larry, thanks! Will you party for me? I'm too tired.

      Lee

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  8. Happy Birthday Lee and I figured out your age. lol You are 14 years older than me.

    I've started some books but grew bored by the middle and never finished them. For example, I started one about the Halifax explosion. I was really interested in the first part, talking about all the things that occurred to send those boats on a collision course, but then it got too graphic with descriptions of the bodies and families havin to identify their loved ones and how cold and snowy it got.

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    1. JoJo, why you're just a child!

      You've reminded me about a movie based on that Halifax event that used to be on my Netflix queue. Maybe the film was based on that book you're talking about. Actually, from your description the book sounds like something I might want to read.

      Lee

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  9. Happiest of birthdays, Lee! With Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and Gore Vidal it is their non-fiction that interests me not their fiction so much.

    We all change our reading tastes along the way. Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Roland, truth is stranger than fiction as they say and often far more interesting I might add.

      As I grow older it is the non-fiction that entices me more and more, though good fiction still makes for a nice diversion now and then.

      Lee

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  10. First, Happy birthday! Second about what will stop me from finishing a book. Three examples. First, The Tommyknockers. I finished that just to prove I could. That was a 150-page book crammed into 800 pages. Lesson one- skip the fillers.
    Second book- Catcher in the Rye. A boring story told by an unsympathetic character. Prolly wouldn't have finished had it been any longer.

    Third book: Rabbit Is Rich. I kept thinking, this book, or at least any of its characters, will show some level of intelligence. When the lead guy snoops in his friends' dresser to look for nude pictures of the guy's wife, I threw it straight into the trash. Lesson: Don't annoy me with mid-level sociopaths.

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    1. CW, Stephen King sure knows how to fill the pages. I've only read one of his books, but I'll admit it kept me enthralled though being sick in bed at the time probably helped.

      As for Catcher in the Rye, I thought that book did a particularly good job of providing an example of using the "F" word for impact and being an integral element of the book's theme. I didn't like the book as I was reading it, but as I thought back on the book I liked it better.

      I've never read any of the "Rabbit" series or for that matter any John Updike. I'm familiar with those books, but I was never motivated to read any.

      Lee

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  11. Very Happy Birthday. Definitely not a fan of vulgarity, either in written form or in the movies or in songs. I don't feel there is a need for that kind of language and would prefer that it was not said around me. I am enjoying your posts, political and all, and I may not comment on some but only because I don't feel qualified, not because I am offended. As I said, I need someone like you to help me navigate the craziness, which just seems to be getting worse instead of better. Hope we all make it to our next birthdays! (Mine is in March). Looking forward to the Wednesday post because you've got me curious and to next Monday's A2Z announcement!

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    1. Janet, hope you'll keep enjoying my "political" posts. I'll continue with them, but I'm thinking of using a different approach in upcoming ones.

      The A to Z changes might befuddle some people, but hopefully everyone will appreciate what we plan and why we are considering it.

      Lee

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  12. Happy Birthday! May all your wishes come true.

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    1. Jack, Thanks. Some wishes have come true while some haven't, but such is life.

      Lee

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  13. Happy Birthday Lee! Hope it was a good one. The number of how old you are isn't important, but I got your clues. I don't necessarily agree with your reference to that number and the ideology associated with it. But a birthday is to be celebrated - whew, made it through another year. . .may you have many more!

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    1. DG, the number of the age may not be all that important, but the condition of growing older does have meaning. It's like the day coming to an end and not having any electricity or light source of any kind.

      My reference is something that I think is worth considering, but many don't and, if not taken by surprise when certain events fall into place, they will not be happy about those events.

      I'm looking forward to a few more birthdays at least.

      Lee

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  14. I would say based on your statement of being in middle school in the mid 60's, that you're kissing 70.

    You probably wouldn't like what I write for fiction, as I use some vulgarity and except for two short story collections, semi-to-graphic sex.

    In regards to what turns me off as a reader, I'll give you a short answer as the long will go on my monthly post: Literary fiction masquerading as regular fiction. I find the literary genre pretentious and insulting to my intelligence as a reader. Just because you're a write with an MFA attached to the end of your name or the bulk of your published stories have been strictly limited to niche literary journals does not a good writer make.

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  15. GB, I get what you're saying about the pretentious attempts to be literary. I prefer literature that delivers worth and depth without trying overly hard. I want my reading to be natural and real sounding, but to leave me impacted in someway with an experience I'll remember.

    As for the age, I don't think of myself as kissing 70 as much as a virginal young girl pushing off a nasty old aggressive who's trying to ravage me. If I make it that far, I hope the 70's are gentle with me.

    Lee

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  16. "If I'm going to be offended then I want to be offended with ideas that rouse my mind to work in higher levels of reasoning and counterargument." - This is so true.

    Can I suggest that it is possible to be offended by bad writing? That is often a particularly subjective opinion?
    And what of those who court offence - and ask things of you that you wouldn't otherwise see?
    A lot of that does have value too.
    For instance, say a piece of modern art that blasts out a recording of something blasphemous when you hit a button. I might think "This is BS" but then I ask myself WHY I feel that way.
    I once read a short story that blew my mind - a draft by an incredible (recently successful) woman author.
    As I was processing what I'd read, what was clear to me was that if I had written anything like the story, people would be questioning my proclivities. (It involved pre-teen exploration of sexuality.)
    What impressed me so much about it was that it DID offend me in numerous ways, and it was also so strongly written of and by a woman. It was like she's wresting control of literature from the hands of the men - although none of that was explicit in any way in the text itself. I felt there could be university courses devoted to this one story. But maybe, again, that is just me - getting back to subjective assessments.

    By the way, belated Happy Birthday, Lee.

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    1. Richard, I would agree that bad writing can be offensive, especially if it has been highly touted and received a critical acclaim that lures me to read it. I sometimes feel betrayed when this happens. But as you say, such acclaim is often subjective analysis that says more about a reviewer than that which has been reviewed or recommended.

      And I can accept that some works have the intent to offend in order to make us think. Sometimes this might work for me while other times I would absolutely reject the motivations of the creator. Thinking of "art" works such as "Piss Christ" which some have acclaimed (with suspect motivations in my opinion), while I find the works to be useless, blasphemous exercises to attack that which is holy. There is no value to such works in my opinion and the intent of an artist dealing with such things is a base attempt to defile that which is sacred (whether they believe it our not).

      Something I can think of from a personal experience was an art exhibit that I attended where all of the artwork was created out of garbage and trash. Initially I was not particularly moved. Then after reading some of the artist's commentary I kind of understood what he was trying to say about his art about the nature of what we waste and discard. Okay, I could see his point and appreciate his "art" based on what he was trying to say, but I still didn't like it as much as other greater art.

      There is so much to read that is really good that I'd prefer to focus on those works and even if a work might be offensive, but have minimal value or make me think, my preference is to think on other things that elevate me rather than appreciate a wallow in the mud.

      But all art is subjective. If it speaks and we hear it, then that art must be saying something that we deem relevant to us.

      Thanks for the birthday wish and the thoughtful comment.

      Lee

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    2. There's a London Sunday Times journalist (AA Gill) who claims to only read dead writers because there is still so much to get through.

      I think there's different kinds of offence too - my go-to in discussions like this is often Scorsese's Taxi Driver, which can leave you feeling "What the...?" It's a great movie but it's depressing and violent and this guy who needs help is being hailed a hero at the end of it. I think there's a "bon" and "bien" distinction in French language - one relates to good as in the quality of the medium (a DVD or vinyl, for instance) and the other to good as in artistry. So a record with lots of scratches on it might contain good music but it isn't playing well on the player.

      If we go deeper than that with literature, and extend the analogy beyond the quality of the paper, a scene of violence that seems exploitative or unnecessary (racist, misogynistic, overly-transgressive) in one writer's hands can be "handled well" in another's. I just don't want to watch or read anything and think "This is bilgewater AND racist (or whatever) due to historical inaccuracies or broad generalisations (for instance)." I think bad writing can do that - it provides fuel for further criticism. Good writing, on the other hand, can bring a tear to the eye and still be wrong on those things.

      Anyway, yes, all good, Lee. Best to you.

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    3. Richard, I would concur with you on these points. My go to film is Scarface which is well made and well acted but full of excess and one that left me feeling morally bereft. I've seen many films like this. Likewise, music. I can recall reading some books that would fit in this category, but at the moment cannot think of a one.

      Most things in fact that I might fit in the analysis you've laid out I tend to forget since there was nothing for me to take away to want to remember.

      Lee

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  17. Glad you had a happy birthday Lee! The big 66!

    Re: sex and vulgarity in writing/reading: I don't mind a taste of it but I don't want to be bombarded with it. I think a few cuss words are actually good when used for emotional emphasis and use sporadically. I hate to read (or hear, as in movies) the F word used excessively and just for the sake of using it. That grates on my nerves and is a big turn off. But an occasional usage peppered in with other good dialogue or prose I think is okay. Used well and appropriately, it can have effective impact, in my opinion.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, for impact and to move a story forward I do understand some moderate to light use of profanity and sex, but I don't need a gratuitous immersion that makes me feel dirtied.

      Still have a birthday dinner with my wife tonight so the celebrating is still on.

      Lee

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  18. Happy Birthday, Lee! Sorry it's a day late. Hope you had a lovely day. This is #66, yes?

    Bad writing is definitely a turnoff. I don't mind explicit language (very effective for emphasis) or sex scenes, as long as they don't overwhelm the story.

    I'm taking a break from BOTB for a few months, but will check in to see what you're up to.

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    1. Debbie D, yes 66 sad to say. I'd rather it be 26--well then again maybe not.

      I can't think of a single book that I've read with explicit sex scenes or ongoing profanities that was actually good because of their presence.

      I saw your comment on Stephen's site. Will miss your BOTB posts.

      Lee

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  19. I won't take a stab at your age, but it is darn close to mine.
    Blogging has forced me to improve as a writer, find what my purpose in writing will bring.
    This all helps me recognize bad pretentious writing, and know it for what it is. Vulgarity is never a sign of good writing. Using profanity, using God's Holy name, is when I close the book and put it into the recycling box.

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    1. Susan K, blogging is wonderful for writing practice as far as I'm concerned. I'm in agreement with your thoughts here.

      Lee

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  20. Happy Birthday, good Sir !!!
    and Hello from Marshville...

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  21. Happy Birthday! Excessive profanity usually gets to me. It's exhausting to read over and over again.

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    1. Loni, profanity as well as sex should be used for impact. Repetition or drawn out scenes are not very impactful in my opinion.

      Lee

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  22. A belated Happy Birthday! I'm not sure there's a definite shut off valve for me in terms of reading, but if the characters aren't realistic or get themselves into scrapes they shouldn't have, it's a turn off. Same goes for sex just for the sake of showing something randy. I had a favorite author I gave up on when her books became increasingly about crazy sex, with the story suffering for it.

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  23. Shannon, sex sells as they say and sometimes I wonder why people get so fixated on books with a big focus on sex. I guess if pornography is the intent then that's what the focus should be, but I can't see it as great literature necessarily. Maybe Henry Miller or Anais Nin? I've never read any of those kinds of works and probably won't be.

    Lee

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  24. Happy 66th, Arlee.
    Personally, I tend to back off from sex in my books, and politics in my blog and my books. (I'm just off-set enough from my country's parties to enrage both sides equally, and in unpredictable ways.) I don't have an objection to other people writing sex, and half the time, it's an edit-out choice, but I do prefer *some* boundaries between me and the general public.
    Ordinarily, I'd suggest Catullus, for sexual content, but as you're obviously going with a Celtic theme for your birthday, how about Dafydd ap Gwilliam and his hilarious "Ode to My Penis."

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    1. Karen, I don't know about a "Celtic Theme"--the hat was the closest thing to a birthday party hat that I had on hand.

      The ode sounds odd. Maybe I need a good dose of humor though.

      Lee

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  25. Happy belated birthday! I love honesty in bloggers and writers. Communication, straightforwardness and transparency are underappreciated qualities in this society. We all have opinions and as long as they don't offend anybody, they might create a healthy dialogue. Of course, like you said, you won't reach anyone who doesn't agree or who has opposite ideas and are too angry to explain them.

    I'm glad to see that you like reading memoirs. Mine will not have extremely detailed sex scenes or profanity in it. You are warned. :-)

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

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    1. Liesbet, most any opinion is likely to offend someone if for only the reason that there are some people who just like to disagree no matter how trivial. A rational approach should get a reasonable response but it doesn't always.

      I think I might be more accepting of detailed sex scenes and profanity in a memoir unless it was exaggerated for the sake of sensationalism. I enjoy memoirs because they are true, that is, if they are true and if not then I don't guess they are true memoirs.

      Lee

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  26. Hi Lee,
    I have always written humor, until I lost my way and my laughter. My sons addiction to heroin for about 12 years spiraled to a dangerous level last year. Due to some circumstances with his addiction and my stepping out into the community to help I started a blog in which to post my own personal shares as well as links to help those in my community who also shared in loving someone addicted to this powerful drug.

    I blog @ The Chronicles of Loving a Heroin Addict (https://memorialvigil.blogspot.com/) This blog gets a lot of hits for reading, and I get feed back sometimes in comment and other times in email.

    I haven't been able to gain any followers to it. I am hoping that during the April Blog Challenge as a platform to gain a few followers.

    Thanks for sharing this ISWG. When writing my own personal shares I leave nothing out- even a curse word or two because at the moment- that is what I feel. I want my posts to come off with it's okay to have those feelings.

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    1. Gossip Girl, I can understand how circumstances can divert original intents to lead you to a new purpose. You've got an important message that you want to share and it will likely be a very niche topic that will take time luring the readers. I wish you well with your endeavors, but I also hope you never lose the ability to smile at the good in the world and laugh at those things that need a touch of humor.

      Lee

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  27. Happy birthday to you! I am guessing 60's and I'm not that far behind.
    I agree with you overdone profanity and sex usually causes me to lose interest in a story. So does really gruesome violence. Being able to have your reader imagine what is happening is true writing talent, IMHO.
    As far as topics and comments, I've definitely lost readers but I've gained more that are engaged on a different level. Like you said, more conversation.

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    1. Doreen, Imagination! What a novel idea. That's part of why we read. I believe in the "show not tell" philosophy, but we don't have to show absolutely everything in detail. Good writing should be open-ended enough to allow the readers to do some thinking for themselves.

      I've always tried to engage conversation more than just look for "nice blog" comments. I ask questions in hopes of actually getting some answers. That's what I like to see when I visit other blogs as well. It frustrates me to finish reading a post and be stumped for something to say other than "Uh, nice blog post".

      Yes, 66 this birthday. It's hard for me to believe.

      Lee

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee