If I Were a Real Writer…

If I were a real writer, I would be writing every day. No, I would be writing dozens of times each day.  I don’t.  Write each day, that is.  I write when a) the mood strikes me; b) I have something to say; c) I have a few minutes (hah!) to devote to sitting at my computer creating instead of reading or responding or corresponding.

For years, I kept a journal–somewhat erratically, but I did keep a journal in a physical notebook with physical ink (preferably Peacock Blue) and a physical pen (preferably a good fountain pen, so I could use up my Peacock Blue ink).  There are days when I grab an old journal off my bookcase and turn to some random page.  It always amazes me that I can often write something readable instead of just a day’s whine or record of boring events.  It feels good to remember where and who I was back then, on whatever book or date I chose.  It feels good to recognize that I’ve grown, or that I am still the same me, or that something about me has changed (for the better, hopefully).

As easy as it is to pull up a blog post and read what I wrote, it’s not the same as writing things out long-hand.  There are cross-outs and carets for corrections or additions; there are side notes either to clarify something at the time of writing, or as interpretations or comments from more recent readings.  I don’t feel as though I can do that in a blog.  Let’s face it–there is plenty of editing that can be done on a post before it gets  published.  And everything you write, in whatever final format you believe you’ve achieved, gets put out there for others to share–and maybe laugh at, or cry with, or hate or enjoy.  And you know that there are always errors that weren’t caught before you hit “Publish.”  And there are other errors after you’ve hit “update” for the seventh or eighth time, at which time you just give up and allow the world to see you make mistakes–that you are as human as anyone else.

There was a time when I was a perfectionist about what I put to paper, physical or technological.  I would spend hours and hours on a single email message, or a two-paragraph blog post.  When I kept finding really blatant errors in books and stories by my favorite famous writers, I decided that maybe perfection isn’t what a writer should strive for.  Maybe being a writer is all about getting out the feelings or the essence of a situation or day or tale or practice piece.  Maybe it’s the meaning that counts.

Recently, I read a piece by CurvyLou.  She mentions how she looks for the meaning in her work.  Over and over, I attempted to respond to her post, trying to tell her that all her work conveys meaning–how she’s feeling, the joy of her color combinations, the excitement of discovering a unique color from certain plants… But the internet service here on the island (St. Martin) is not the best–especially here on the Dutch side (Sint Maarten)–and I don’t think I was ever able to actually publish my comment.  And, of course, I was never able to find that particular post again.  The point is, I don’t think that, in visual artistic endeavors, it matters what the artist meant; each person will bring with them their own sets of experiences and understandings and lay their own meaning onto the work.  As long as people find meaning or a feeling in what they perceive, the artist has done his or her job.  If the artist chooses to explain the work, fine: some people will agree; others will wonder how the artist’s intent shows up in the piece; still others will insist the artist had no idea what the final work actually means.  The latter are the critics I have to laugh at–the ones who know better than the artist what said artist meant or tried to convey.

Even as I attempted to post a comment to her post, I started thinking about the meaning in the things I post, or the drawings and paintings I am learning to master, or even the things I say.  It occurred to me that there are too many times when my social filters fail as heavily as the self-editing of my writings.  Do the blunders mean something?  Or is a cigar sometimes just a cigar?

This is just another reason why I am not a writer.  As I write, I start to meander down tangential paths and have a hard time winding my way back to the point sometimes.  It was a lot more evident when I was writing long-hand in a physical book, while technology allows me to touch up what I type too easily.  Yet I still prefer to type on a computer than on an ole-fashioned typewriter, upon which every major error means either the use of a lot of WiteOut or retyping the page.  The worst part is when the major error that can’t be erased (or hidden behind a white blob) comes at the bottom of a typed sheet of paper.  The typewriter was the main reason I hated writing papers in college and decided not to major in English.  Even after several typing courses, I still made too many errors, and my typing was just too slow… And I’m off topic again.

How does one become a writer when the mind refuses to follow a straight path?   And yet, somehow I always get back on the right road and follow–or blaze–a different trail.

Real writers don’t do that, do they?  Real writers stick to one line of reasoning and follow it through–or discover it as they go along.  But they don’t wander all over the place as I do.

Real writers make the reader feel something, or learn something, or think about something.  Real writers have something meaningful to convey, or convey an idea that has some sort of meaning.  All I convey is my words.  And those words will mean different things to different readers because… I am not a real writer.

 

#educ_dr

Posted in About Writing, Creativity, How to Write, improving my writing, Learning to Write, Ramblings, The Writing Process, Time to read, writing, Writing process | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Just thinking…

As I read over my most recent post, I realized how little it had to do with the actual writing process. And yet, as I read it, I also thought about the whole idea of stream of consciousness. My training was not in writing per se. So what drew me to want to write–and share my thoughts and feelings with the rest of the world? 

More to ponder and more thoughts and feelings to share at another time…
#educ_dr

Posted in Writing process | Leave a comment

Argh!!

Every time I think I have the time to set aside for blogging and general writing, life gets in the way.  The truth is, I have done virtually nothing for the past 6 months–no writing during this time, no art for half of the time, no partying, no beach bathing, no exercise to speak of, especially no continuation of the Blogging 101 workshop…

Oh, yeah. I did help out with some aggression replacement training for a bunch of Little League players, and I read tons of books–well, they would have been tons if I didn’t have them on my Kindle. But the kids were fun to work with, and so were the adults that were part of the team–Coach Tom and his wife, Lisa, are so generous with their time and talents.  So wish I could get my body to a point where I can be more physically active and less into more passive activities.

But my physical therapist is pushing me, and keeps reminding me that I bought his-and-hers Fitbits for myself and my husband for Christmas for a really good reason.  And I do try to at least get in 5000 steps a day as I work towards 10,000–even if I seem to be stuck at an average of 4000 because I forget to put it on after my shower…

So here I am on the absolute lowest day of my entire life planning out the next few days on a blog site.  Time to get back to my art classes–will take care of that over the weekend; time to look through the aggression manual to come up with some age-appropriate and hopefully interesting scenarios to use with the Little League team to practice social skills and anger management; time to look through all my art and craft books on my Kindle to figure out what to sketch/paint/create after a long period of arts neglect; time to figure that, financially, my life needs to be retrieved from the dungeons; time to reassess what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Bottom line: writing about things–even if it’s a line or two, or a phrase–gets me going again.  Maybe for me, writing is a type of therapy to help me look at life a little differently again.  With writing, as with art or crafts, something is created before one leaves the page. During the past two weeks, I actually finished 4 crocheted handbags, 4 lacy doilies (something I’ve never done before), picked up my sketch book and frowned at my inability to see things as they are (to me, my drawings look like the subject–until I walk away from them and see how skewed my visual perception seems to be), opened and closed my paint boxes, opened and closed my oil painting books and DVDs…  OK. So not everything ended in a creation.  Some things ended only in ideas…

And now I am wondering about the advisability of basically depleting our retirement funds to invest in an island condo.  But if our calculations are right, and if we are careful with the contract to purchase over the course of 3 years or so, then we just might come out ahead of the game in 5 years or so.  We will see how that works out for us.  I’m so not a gambler, and yet I’m taking a huge chance that our future will actually work out alright.  Uncle Sam will collect his absurd taxes from median-income folks (not middle-income, as that can be misinterpreted as average, and all those 1 percenters have really screwed up “average” as it relates to income; median is the actual middle of the scale that’s not skewed because of the excessive wealth of the few), and everyone will continue as though Americans are still sitting on the top of the financial world…

Oooh.  Too much disgruntlement getting in here.  Too many disjointed thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way…

Hopefully a more coherent post tomorrow–or the next day, or…

 

#educ_dr

Posted in Writing process | 5 Comments

Blogging 101, Day 5: Love Your Theme

Soooo…I’m looking at my theme and thinking, This page just doesn’t convey the point of my blog.

It’s certainly bright enough—a nice sunny yellow border.  And a lot of people like sunflowers, like the ones I have at the top of my home page.  I had taken that photo a long time ago, when I still lived in the Los Angeles area, where a bunch of in-season sunflowers were relatively inexpensive.  I love sunflowers, and so I scooped up a couple of bunches at Trader Joe’s.  The problem is, sunflowers have so little to do with learning of any kind, much less learning about writing.  Time to reassess the photo.

But there are other things wrong with my page.  First, some of the other blogs linked in the header haven’t been touched in years, especially the ones on Blogger.  The Blogger sites were used to review books written for children and young adults.  When my general ramblings turned into activities for teachers and parents, I thought I would be linking to these blogs to provide helpful ways of using books and stories in working with children with learning difficulties or behavioral issues.  Even though the blog sites were right in front of me, I kept forgetting I had them, kept forgetting to write reviews on children’s and YA books, and—because I was rather inconsistent with my blogging—forgot that those sites even existed.  In fact, I think some of the sites no longer exist.  Clearly, the “blog roll” needs to be updated and changed.

And then there are all the tags and categories added when I had no idea what I was doing, not that I’m much more aware now.  Some of the posts are ancient history.  These need to be re-categorized and archived.  Lots of work to be done there…

However, what about the basic theme?  The sidebar is so cluttered that I know I need to get rid of some of the widgets, or at least move them around.  And the widgets along the bottom…well, they need some work as well.

The real question is whether this theme—Twenty Ten—is the one I should continue to use, or whether I should choose a different theme.  The rest of the items I mentioned above are all easy enough to fix in this theme.  I can change the background color, the photo, rearrange the widgets or remove some, change the blog roll in the area just below the photo… In all, I like the simplicity of this theme. And yet…

Things I can’t do with it are change the font.  This may sound like a minor inconvenience, but to me it is a problem.  I love playing with fonts and using different ones for different purposes.  I don’t like to have one default font that is basically forced on me.  I like the ability to change the font of the title, and to change my headings and subheading the way I want.  I don’t like that I cannot change the color of the font in various places to serve as emphasis or to mark a change in the direction of the content, especially in the headings.  I like colorful delineation, and fonts that are different for the headings.  And I do not like the default (read: only) font used for the title of a piece, and I hate the font used for my blog name.

So why haven’t I changed the theme?  Well, the theme I started out with at the very beginning—or perhaps it was a former version of this theme—was great and gave me a lot more flexibility in the appearance of my site.  This theme, however, provided more flexibility in things like the number of widgets and placement of certain items.  I don’t remember exactly what caused me to change the theme, but I have used it for several years.  I am not sure when I lost the ability to choose different fonts, and suspect that that occurred during a theme “upgrade.”  Whatever the reason(s), this theme either was OK with me at the time, or I didn’t have the necessary information and skills to change to another theme.  To be honest, every time I look for another theme, I feel overwhelmed by the number of possibilities, both free and for purchase.  So I have left the theme, with its many faults, the way it was when I started.  But that is going to change as I begin experimenting with various themes over the next several weeks or months.

My wish list for a theme is

  • Clean and simple appearance
  • Room for lots of widgets
  • Availability of different fonts
  • Ability to change the color of fonts wherever I want
  • A more powerful blog name area
  • A choice of title fonts
  • Ability to easily change the site’s header photos
  • The ability to add photos in the sidebar
  • A better blog roll
  • A place to add blogs I follow that are relevant to my blog’s purpose

The list is getting longer as I type.  I hadn’t realized I wanted so many things, only a few of which are available from this theme.

Time to go “shopping” for a new theme—don’t be surprised when you return to my site sometime in the near future and everything about it has changed except the name of the blog…because I really do like “Write of Passage.”

#educ_dr

Posted in About Blogging, About Writing, Blogging U, Blogging101 | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Blogging 101, Day Four: Define Your Audience (and Embed Something of Interest)

The Audience

The purpose of the Day Four assignment is to learn how to embellish your blog with outside resources that are attractive to your ideal audience.  My ideal audience is other people who are trying to learn to write, and enjoy the ups and downs I experience as I continue to hone my skills. Since this blog site is dedicated to learning how to write–and write a good blog or other written work–I checked YouTube for some animated videos that might discuss the writing process in simple to understand terms.  I decided that there probably would be a lot less “learning to write” information on sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and other sites that would “show” how to write.  The great thing about YouTube is that it actually gives you code to embed in your blog to include this video.

Before I set you loose on the video, it may be that you need to have a Youtube account to view the clip, since it is a secure site.  But how could I think that anyone might still not have one?  Just in case you don’t, go to this link http://www.youtube.com/ and sign up.  According to McAffee internet security, this is a safe video on a safe site. What more could you ask for?

How I found this video

Since I am always looking for seminars (preferably free) that are both entertaining and educational, I hunted around a bit on YouTube, making several search attempts based on the theme “learning to write right,” until I finally changed the hunt to “writing process” and hit on this video from several years ago that discusses–in just 13 minutes–what you need to do to write–especially to write well.  Although the majors purpose of this video is to teach a bit about writing blogs, it clearly states that it is also a great technique for writing other things, like essays, stories, and almost any writing purpose.  In essence, it is a perfect little gem of a lesson that helps its watchers get started in writing.

For me, having taught students of all ages how to write, I only wish something like this had been available for most of the years when I was actively teaching in one capacity or another.  But a lot of that was back in the Stone Age when the computer was used for purposes other than canned video lessons and online schools.  Even after I began to teach online, videos like this either did not exist, or I would have had to learn to program all over again to either provide a personal video on the topic or ask someone else to video a process for me.  The whole idea of using animation the way Jonathan does it not only would never have occurred to me, but I didn’t have the skills to do what he does.  In fact, I still don’t have skills, but this clip gives me reason to teach myself how to do it and do it as effectively as he does, with or without ongoing illustrations to take us on a wonderful little journey of good blogging and writing techniques.

Let me know what you think. If I would include more videos like this, would you want to come back to my blog to see what new teaching/learning tool I’ve found?  Or is thirteen minutes too long to spend to learn a bit about a technique that could revolutionize your own writing? This may not be the perfect solution for everyone, but you have to admit that Jonathan provides both great information and a lot of entertainment as he takes us through the process of writing with great visuals to help it stick in our minds..

Enjoy! And, in the comments, please let me know what you think!

#educ_dr

Posted in About Blogging, About Writing, Blogging U, Blogging101, Learning to Write, The Writing Process, WordPress.com | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blogging 101, Day 3: Meet the Neighbors

It is far beyond Day 3 of Blogging 101 and I this is my first catch-up post.  The Day Three assignment was to “say hello to the neighbors,” something I have been doing for some time.  Among other things, we were asked to check out the Reader facility, which lists a broad range of broader topics. We were asked to select five topics and select a few blogs to read over and possibly follow, if they are of interest to us.  In addition, we were asked to add a tag of our own to the site to see if it “takes.” (I believe the purpose of the latter is to help narrow the scope of broad topics and to help add “subthemes” to some of the major Reader categories.)  Lastly, we were invited to introduce ourselves to at least five course-mates and read and comment on their sites.

First, the Reader list.  From the list of topics available from the major Reader category selection, I chose the following: Education, Photography, Photos, Writing, and Art.  Why these five? Well, if you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I am first and foremost an educator.  Most of my adult life has been spent in one form of education or another, including educating and training teachers, school administrators, and educational researchers.  Then there was the education part of the jobs I held as a computer programmer/analyst (high level executives don’t always know how to use the latest tools at their disposal, if they are even away of them).

Photography and Photos were chosen because I have loved the “art” of the camera all my life, but have only recently made an active effort to take up photography as a hobby. As with the category “Art” (largely because I’m taking drawing and painting lessons now), I’m learning a great deal about what it takes to have an artist’s eye—and that I don’t have one, at least not yet (my art instructor insists that I will develop one, even if it takes time. Of course, the fact that I’m already 65 and may not have that many more years left to develop that eye never enters the conversation, for which I am grateful!).

As for “Writing”…a huge portion of the 13 years I spent in teaching K-12 students centered around the two-sided coin of reading and writing.  Teaching students to read and/or improve their reading skills gets them nowhere if they are not learning to write at the same time. Aside from speaking, these are the two greatest tools of communication we have at our disposal.  Yet, even at the college level, far too many students have trouble writing a good sentence, much less writing a solid paragraph—and let’s not talk about what goes into writing a decent and cohesive essay.  I’ve taught bright college students who had no idea that writing needs to be organized: sentences in a paragraph need to be related to a topic, and an essay should contain an introduction, a body that expands on the introduction, and a concluding section that summarizes the essay and, if possible, leads the reader to want to know more.

The problem with the Reader topics, I soon discovered, is the vastness of the subtopics tagged to the categories.  Take, for example, the category “Photography.” The blogs in this category range from newbies like me struggling with taking a solidly acceptable photo, to experienced photojournalists with a blog on WordPress and a huge following. A few sites appear to be dedicated to helping the newbie photographer learn to take a decent and interesting photo, while most of the sites appear to be the online version of a one-person gallery exhibit. Certainly, over the years I’ve learned to discern what I believe is “good” photography, just as I’ve learned to appreciate certain forms of “good” art. That doesn’t mean that other photography blogs are not worth mentioning; it just means that much of the work displayed may not be to my personal taste. Unfortunately, I need to visit a lot of sites before I can figure out which I would like to follow—sites from which I can learn even if the intent of the photo blog is not to teach.

Another example—“Writing”—sends the viewer on a different journey of figuring out if the site is there to help the novice, a blogger’s personal development site for writing that may lead to a short story, novel, or collection of poetry; a mish-mosh of a writer’s experiments with different styles, a shared site by a host of different writers either within a genre or doing their own thing, etc.

To my way of thinking, this may be one of the things WordPress may be trying to address through the Blogging 101 assignment to add one’s own tag to the list.  My tag would be along the lines of “learning to write,” but I am having some trouble getting a tag to stick outside of a personal list.  Clearly, I’m either misunderstanding the directions provided to add a tag (most likely scenario), mistaking the tag for a category (also highly likely), under-qualified in basic online and PC programming to understand the logic (very likely), or something else. Perhaps WordPress has moved ahead without informing its course facilitators of changes to the basic platform on which it is built (unable to judge the likelihood of this conjecture).

For now, I think I will leave the options and opinions until the (probably) third attempt at taking this class. Although not new to blogging, I am new to all the options available within the WordPress platform, and I don’t want to prejudice anyone’s opinion about the Reader and what will be found under its various categorical headings.

On to the “Meet the Neighbors” part of the assignment…

I’ve classified five neighbors by broad category.  In the category of photography, I’ve gotten to know two blog sites:  http://sakurajunction.com/ where the theme appears to be architecture—exterior, interior, and everything in between.  The photos are delightful to view and creative in their own right.  The other site is http://www.sylvain-landry.com/  where one will find everything from the political to the mundane.  I became aware of this site while taking the Photo 101 class here, and have been a follower ever since. (This latter blog is also the only one among the five that I came across before the current Blogging 101 class started.)

Among the writing blogs are   http://aopinionatedman.com/ , or HarsH ReaLiTy, which is a site containing poetry, one-line observations of self and life, occasional short rants, and just general glimpses into the blogger’s life and state of mind.  Following along on the theme of life lessons is https://jonasessentials.wordpress.com/ which comprises general views of life and lessons learned from personal and others’ experiences.  The blog at http://japanorama.me/  presents interesting views of life in Japan—activities, festivals, tand he author’s cultural interpretations and personal reactions to these.  It interests me because I know so little about Japan and its culture. The difference between sushi and sashimi just doesn’t go far enough to describe a society.

It’s interesting that what I’ve termed “writing blogs” are not about the actual process of writing, although I know that several exist from past perusal of the Reader. There are a few blogs by professors or teachers on writing style and writing correctly—these are true “how to” blogs rather than what I’m writing, which is a general “here’s what I’m doing and why, and ways to avoid my mistakes” sort of thing. My writing skills in general are strong enough, and should be after strict academic reinforcement for much of my teenage and adult life. However, my skills are far from perfect: no matter what anyone says, you cannot write an acceptable dissertation without having all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted (there are Style Police that carefully read each manuscript submitted and flag everything that deviates from the university style manual).  Unlike many graduate students, I could not afford a professional editor to review my work. Yet, there have been excellent teachers throughout my life, and I would rather look up a rule than chance that I haven’t written a sentence in the prescribed manner—except for ending sentences with a preposition or other annoying irritant to English and/or journalism majors. Fortunately, I don’t get too excited about perfect grammar when what I’m writing just sounds better than either modifying the sentence to conform to the rules, or writing a whole new sentence or two that just doesn’t sound right to me or becomes tedious and falls heavily on the reader’s “ear.”

At this point, I’ve accomplished all of the Day Three assignment requisites except for that infernal tag addition.

On to the Day Four assignment!

#educ_dr

Posted in About Blogging, About Writing, Blogging U, Blogging101, Wordpress | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Blogging 101, Day 2: Blog Title and Tagline, and My Own Problems with These

Today’s Blogging 101 assignment involves changing the title of a blog and its tagline.  I’ve thought a lot over the years about changing the title, but never did anything about it. Today, although I successfully managed to change the tagline of the blog–shortening it from what I changed it to when I tried to take this class last month (Learning to Write Right and Writing to Learn today becomes just Learning to Write Right)–I was unable to change the title. Whether it is because this is the original title associated with my site, or whether it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing, a title change just doesn’t seem to want to “take.” But that’s a technical issue that I’ll deal with a bit later with WordPress’ Happiness Team or the course’s facilitators.

Right now, I’d like to talk about what I think would make a better title for this blog site.  It has morphed from general commentary to providing commentary and activities to teachers to–what it is today–a blog on my personal experiences with learning about the writing process and learning to write right.  That’s why the tagline was changed to “Learning to Write Right.” I thought about making that “Learn to Write Right,” but the truth is, I’m learning along with everyone else–not just in this course, but with everyone interested in improving their writing or writing style.

But the title…well, that’s a harder one.  I thought about titles like Write of Passage, or Write Right–titles of books and other writing materials, I’m sure. But, as far as I know, there are no copyrights on titles of reading or blogging materials, so these are possibilities. Other titles I’ve thought about were Rambling On…Writing, Ramblings on WritingWriting Wrongs, or leaving the base title almost intact by making it Eleanore’s Ramblings on Writing.  After all, I’ve had several followers–not many, mind you, but a few–who have been following me for years. Changing the title too much might be confusing.  And then there are the followers I’ve picked up through the blogging and writing classes I’ve taken so far–and so recently! Will my blog posts still reach them?

The reason for my confusion is that I have another site called Li’l Ole Lady Press that has been upgraded and provided with its own URL (liloleladypress.com), but is connected through the URL for this site (dremiller.com, or dremiller.wordpress.com–either will get you here). Every time I post from that site, it takes on all the characteristics of the main site–posting to Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, RSS feed, etc.–as though it were part of the same blog stream. So I am not certain what to do about the title for this site’s title…

Better check in with the support personnel I mentioned above and see if it’s worth changing the title at this stage…there may be a part 2 to today’s post.

#educ_dr

Posted in About Blogging, About Writing, Blogging U, Blogging101 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Back to Blogging 101, but with Thoughts and Highlights of Assignments–Day 1This i

Warning: I’m not going to bother to edit this Introduce Myself post because it’s almost 4:30 in the morning, and I have a long day ahead of me.  At this point, even if I go through and proof read for the most obvious errors, I’ll forget what I’m doing and just start adding more to the post without taking care of the problems.  Yeah, I’m just made that way.

And now, the response to the first assignment. Hope I covered all the basics requested…

First Assignment: Introduce Myself

Hi, Everyone.  I’m Ellie Miller or, if you prefer, Dr. E. Miller.  I have a doctorate in educational psychology (thus the dr or Dr. as my account name, and I have been in the field of education most of my adult life in one form or another.

My site, Eleanore’s Ramblings (http://dremiller.com or dremiller.wordpress.com) has changed over the years from general ramblings about anything when I first started this site to an education site on practical classroom applications–especially with an eye toward special education behavioral information and good practices–to its current version about my experiences as I learn to write.  In case you haven’t noticed, writing isn’t just about putting words to paper; it is also about grammar, spelling, and style.  So my writing on this site is aimed at setting an example for novice bloggers as well as being a fairly regular journal of my writing activities, including errors I’ve made, things that worked as planned or didn’t work at all–not just the success, but the failures as well.  For the next several weeks, it will be a journal of what I’m learning in Blogging 101, what I’m doing to improve my writing and my site as we go along, and a general record of how I am doing.

Although I’ve been blogging for years, I can’t say that I’ve been doing so with any consistency, and I can’t say that I’ve ever gone beyond “novice” level.  I used to program mainframe computers, and have made an attempt to learn to program for PCs and other electronic devices, but the code has progressed far beyond my ability to keep up with it, and I’m finding I need to learn html and CSS if I want to make meaningful and unique changes to my sites.

This is also not my first trip through Blogging 101–I tried to take it last month but found myself pressed for time.  A year ago, I started taking Blogging 201 (after all, I’ve been blogging for years, right?) and dropped out immediately when I realized it was way over my head at the time–not because of the writing, but because of all the information for upgrading your site that went far beyond what will be covered in this class, and I already know what I don’t know about the information covered in Blogging 101–I know nothing.  Because Blogging 201 overlaps with 101 for a week, I decided to wait until later in the year for the 201 class rather than once again trying to do too much in the time I have to devote to online classes.  I made the mistake of taking both Blogging 101 and Photo 101 last month, and feel that I failed myself and any readers or followers I may have picked up because life got in the way.

To me, blogging is not just a public journal (although my Li’l Ole Lady Press can get rather personal).  Blogging should be informative or helpful in some way, and Eleanore’s Ramblings is basically educational in nature, even if it has morphed from its last incarnation as a help site for teachers.  It’s still a help site, in a way.  For the next three weeks, it’s a help site of my own progress (or lack thereof) through this class.  Since blogging has become such an important part of writing–especially for new bloggers or people like me who can write pretty well if I’m writing non-fiction.  But I already know that blogging needs to be entertaining as well as informative, or you’ll lose followers.  In addition, the site needs to match its theme, and it needs to be simple enough for new visitors to handle, while being flexible enough to allow for experimental or permanent changes to format and theme selection.

So I’m going to learn how to make this site better while still staying within the parameters of its current function–sharing what I’m learning and how with others.

Why share the problems as well as the successes?  Because I’m an educator who teaches by example, and I don’t like students to think everything a teacher does is supposed to be perfect the first time around–or even the second time around.

I am looking forward to learning from the assignments; but mostly I am looking forward to learning from the participants’ interpretations of the assignments.  When possible, I’ll share what I consider to be the best examples of a lesson as done by other participants so that  readers can see the variety of interpretations of new stuff to include on the blog page or just great examples of the expectations in the assignments.

The next three weeks are not intended to be a replacement for taking the class.  Rather, it’s meant to “model” what I am going through to learn about WordPress and making my blog more appealing to readers.  If the information is helpful, I would encourage readers to take the class for themselves.

Don’t have a blog site? No problem.  You can start a free blog right here on WordPress when you start a course–or at any time, really.  However, you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to join the classes.  They are open to anyone with a site anywhere else.

Lots of options; no excuses to put things off.  WordPress makes it easy for you to become the best blogger you never thought you could be.  Lots of classes, lots of daily and weekly ideas and challenges, which are especially helpful when you’re stuck for a topic after the class is over.  And mainly, you can get lots of help, whether from the facilitators, other participants, or the WordPress Happiness Team (technical support on most sites).

I’m wild about WordPress, even though I’m an old lady with decaying brain cells.  The classes and challenges keep me going when I’d prefer to just lie down for a very long nap.  Give me a challenge and the neurons start firing away in creativity and production mode.

If you are a participant, I’m so happy to be here with everyone!  If you are a reader/follower of my blog and are stuck for what to do to draw more attention, all you’ll get from me is a summary of what I’m learning and how I think I’m doing.  You’ll have to take the class itself to get the most out of your learn-to-blog experience.  If you’ve been reluctant to start a blog, or are reluctant to take a class, no one grades your work, and sharing what you’ve done or tried is optional.

So no more excuses.  Start that blog!

#educ_dr.

Posted in About Blogging, Blogging U, Blogging101, Wordpress | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hmm…

It’s been over a week since I posted anything to this site.  I had finally made the decision to transform this into a “how I’m learning to write” site, and then I got overwhelmed with too many things to finish taking the Blogging 101 class, using this blog as the base for that class.

But guess what!  I’ve got another opportunity to learn more about the finer details of the blog itself as well as prompts for writing.  Although I didn’t always do this last time around, this time I’m going to blog about the learning process itself.  Assuming it is basically the same course as last time, there were plenty of opportunities to share what I learned and how it worked for me, but often I didn’t take advantage of passing that information forward.  If you’re learning to write, blogging is a really good place to get started and get noticed–if you follow the lessons provided and take the time to play with the site itself.  What good is a blog if no one is reading it because it’s boring to look at and has nothing more than the story of learning to write, for example.  So if you’re not taking the course but want to learn about some of the finer points of page management to catch a potential reader’s eye, for instance, just follow my journey here.

On the other hand, you might consider registering for the course yourself.  It can be time-consuming and challenging at times, but it is well worth the effort–the effort I was not able to put in last time.  Here is the link to register for the three-week Blogging 101 Class that runs July 6 through July 24. Register here.  This same link allows you to register for Blogging 201, a two-week advanced class that overlaps this class by a week, and runs from July 20 through July 31.

If you think you can handle it, start with the 101 class and start the 201 for that concurrent week.  Then you’ll have a free week to work just on the 201 class.  Having been involved in two totally different classes simultaneously this last time (Blogging 101 and Photo 101), I wouldn’t recommend doing any two courses together.  But I’m an old lady and slowing down more each day.  I’m sure you’ll do much better.

So next week, on July 6, I simply finish up Photo 101 (and I have some work to catch up on there as well as assignments I want to do over again) and jump right [back] into Blogging 101.  I’m so glad there are all these courses that you can take over and over again, honing skills with each pass, or taking off in new directions that you can share with other participants.  I love these classes because, not only are they free, but they encourage interaction among bloggers and point you to all sorts of interesting places in the WordPress world that are sometimes hard to come upon on your own.

Hoping to see you in Blogging 101!  And in several of the other courses offered at Blogger U!

#educ_dr

Posted in About Blogging, About Writing, Blogging U, WordPress Courses | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Oops!

Yesterday morning, I re-read Monday’s post, and found myself very embarrassed by the grammar errors it contained.  Since this site has developed into a “how I am learning to write” blog, I am particularly disappointed in myself.

So here is one point that I feel obliged to make: edit your post before you publish it.  I did not do that yesterday, mostly because I was writing it in a hurry between appointments.  But that is a poor excuse.  I could have saved it as a draft, and returned to it later.  I probably would have added a photo of the Lego set for some visual interest, too.  Instead, I published a post that had grammar errors, wrong words (thank you, auto-complete), and at least two transitional errors that made the story read less smoothly than it should have. Unfortunately, errors are  distracting to many readers, especially those people with degrees in any field of English.  I wasn’t an English major, but from junior high through graduate school, editing was highly stressed in all my classes that required some writing ability.  That means all my classes except for pure math or statistics courses.  So typos and grammar errors are particularly embarrassing to me.  Besides, I often find myself stopped cold while reading novels that were poorly or not professionally edited–including works by some significant authors.  Many of the latter are barely proof-read beyond the first half of the book anyway, which annoys me to no end–especially when the author contradicts him/herself on a descriptive point or previous action by a different character.  My memory may not be what it used to be, so I find myself checking back for the original reference to see if it’s me or the author.

A lot of people can catch their errors by reviewing the “writing page;” but I am not one of them.  I am one of those people who needs to review her work in Preview mode to catch errors.  Why?  I don’t know–probably some disconnect between one or more brain cells.  We all have our little qwerks, and that happens to be one of mine.  The point is that I did not take the time to review, and therefore published a post that could have–no, should have– been better.

So if you are following my blog because it has become a record of how my writing is improving, I apologize for the flaws in Monday’s post.  At some point, I will return to that post and add a section of corrected work.  Not today, though.  It’s another time-restricted day.

With deepest apologies,

#educ_dr

Posted in About Writing, improving my writing, writing, Writing process | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments