mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Lent is Almost Upon Us

Posted by Jason on February 23, 2009

Ash Wednesday is coming up in a couple of days, so I thought I’d share this little blurb I was asked to write for our church’s Lenten devotional that they put out every year. I was assigned a little reflection on Psalm 135. Wifey says I should be a pastor. I say sure, another few years of school to move to a different career where wages are low and workload is high… sounds awesome! Anywho, maybe this will help someone get in the mood for Lent. Enjoy…
“Psalm 135 calls us to praise the Lord for all He has done. The Psalmist recounts a series of acts through which the Almighty has shown favor and faithfulness to the people of Israel. Lent is a time of anticipation and of praise. Even in difficult times, we know God will be faithful just as He has been time and time again. Lent provides for this because of the palpable anticipation of Easter, God’s most perfect act of love and faithfulness toward all humankind.
In our lives, Lent is an excellent time of year to evaluate ourselves and our walk with Christ. It is a time for thankfulness and reflection. Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we going? Perhaps through this reflection we will find that the culling of unfruitful things is not necessarily what will get us to the place with Christ where we want to be. Perhaps we need to add things to our lives that are righteous and that further our growth in the Spirit.
This year during Lent, let us heed the message we find in Psalm 135. Let us praise the Lord and give thanks for all He has done in our lives and the life of our church. Let us also not forget that our faithfulness in trying times is as important as the Lord’s.”

Peace.

Posted in Musings, religion, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Creating Original, Timeless Blog Content

Posted by Jason on February 18, 2009

Before I started writing this blog, I read several posts about how to create a successful blog, etc. One thing that hit me then was the need to create original, relevant content. If you merely comment on stuff that happened in the news yesterday, your blog is bound to be forgotten and the only way to keep up your number of hits which, if your blog is anything like mine, isn’t a very large number.

I used to post every day or maybe even multiple times per day, but since the beginning of the year I haven’t really been feeling it too much. Granted my big blogging frenzy only lasted about 2 and a half months, but I think there’s been a change in my ideas about blogging philosophy. It’s hasn’t really been nagging me: I’m not distraught over my lack of bloggage lately. But I did realize that my past blogging has really not been too much of the original, timeless type of writing. I have some things that are meant to be educational and truly not just current events, but not nearly enough of them.

I’ve been in a vicious cycle of reactionary writing. I tended to read many blogs throughout the wordpress world in which the authors write about stuff that they’ve read on someone else’s blog, which was written in response to something else, and so on and so on. 

It’s very difficult to come up with things that you think someone might want to read on a regular basis. It’s far easier to read a bunch of blogs and comment and write your blog in response to what other people are writing. That’s why there’s billions of blogs out there that are really quite lame and uninteresting to read. People find it very difficult to come up with original ideas, but find it very easy to regurgitate or repudiate what they find in elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Now, does that mean I have the answer to writing great blog content that is relevant, yet timeless? Obviously not because I’m still working a full-time job and not getting a penny for my thoughts. So how about this? I challenge all two of you that faithfully read this blog to hold me accountable to not write crap that no one will care about tomorrow or next week. Let’s all try to write good stuff that someone might actually want to read at least two weeks past the date of publishing!

Posted in Musings, writing | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

What Do All These Writers Really Do?

Posted by Jason on January 13, 2009

I’ll make no bones about it, I have next to zero experience with writing for an audience larger than one. This blog and a short story I’ve started are it…period. I read on many other blogs about people writing novels, finishing novels, busting out a short story or two in a day or a week. In addition to that, many of these people maintain active blogs. My question is this:

What the hell do these people do to actually make money?

I’m guessing that very few of these people actually make a living off of their writing, so how do they keep food on the table or access to the internet? I can’t imagine many jobs other than mine (summers off are great… I have yet to fully utilize this time for writing), that would allow someone to write and/or finish a novel. 

It’s very possible that I can’t understand what these people go through because I’m not really a writer. I get up every morning at 5:30 am and go for a run with the wife and dogs. I go to work. I get home around 3:30 or so. I spend time with my family (wife and dogs) until 8:30 pm and then go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have some endeavors that I engage in, like guitar or bonsai or exercise, but that’s about it. I rarely have time to think about writing anything but a little blog unless I’m on vacation.

What do people with normal jobs do in order to write a book? 

Posted in books, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

What Will the Future Really Know About Us?

Posted by Jason on January 13, 2009

I read this post and it provoked a lot of thought in me. The author pondered what archeologists would conclude about her when they dug her house up hundreds of years in the future. What are we leaving behind? What will people thousands of years in the future think about us?

After briefly grazing upon the future and realizing that the only things that will be left from my existence are books, guitars and bonsai trees (most of all these things will probably decompose over time, leaving nothing of note from my life), my attention brought me to different pastures of the past. 

How much do we truly know about civilizations that are basically extinct? We have some writings and maybe pictures here and there. Some descriptions from conquering civilizations survive, but many of those are clouded by insurmountable greed or religious fervor. In most of the world before the printing press, writing was purely for the wealthy and privileged. In some settings writing was reserved for royalty only. What do we know about the poor slobs like us? Maybe their lives are completely irrelevant. Perhaps our lives, our average middle class lives will prove completely irrelevant over time. 

This blog is a very public record of my existence, but it could easily be wiped from the slate of history with a click of the mouse. In fact, it most likely will some day. There is very little permanent record of my existence. I think I need to go carve my name on a rock somewhere. Paper will decay, electronic media will be erased, all of our stuff will decompose (eventually).

Will I do anything that will be relevant to history? 

Most likely not…

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ah, the Joys of Net Plagiarism

Posted by Jason on January 12, 2009

So it has been brought to my attention that my content has been copied verbatim and posted on another blog. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t even that great of a post that was copied. My little rant about people bitching about Obama’s choice for the (soon to be forgotten) inaugural prayer was not among my finest posts. Nevertheless, some schmuck decided to cut-and-paste my post into his own blog on blogspot. No props, no acknowledgment, no linkback, no nothing.

It shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve never been the “victim” of plagiarism before. It’s quite a different feeling. I’ve seen scores of examples of it on the internet, but it’s never been my stuff before. I mostly think to myself, “Wow this person is a loser. They can’t even write their own posts. They claim to have information, but it’s not new or different in any way from something else I just read.” And then I move on in my never-ending search for more information about this topic or that.

I did some research, and apparently the practice of “scraping” is quite common and there’s really nothing that can be done to prevent it. If you can read it you can steal it. However, once you’ve been scraped you can try to contact the webmasters and have them remove the content. Or you can try and contact the individual scraper (good luck with that). If the person is making money with Google Adsense, you can tell Google and they’ll stop paying the person. And then there’s legal action, which is never a certain win because the laws are kind of mucky and it’s a waste of money.

Anyway, I haven’t resolved what I’m going to do yet. I’ll probably try and contact the person once I get home from work. I don’t think I should be flattered, since the post was kind of dumb anyway. It’s not like my favorite work was copied and pawned off as someone else’s own work. Maybe I should find some crazy hacker to terrorize his site and harass him. Whatever… Any thoughts?

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Alphainventions=tagsurfer on crack!

Posted by Jason on December 10, 2008

So somehow, this site/blog called alphainventions.com found my blog. I noticed that like 8 people got to my site from there like the first half hour or so since it popped up. I clicked on the link just to see who was linking to me, and it was nuts. All these blogs started cycling through the site every couple seconds and I had no clue what I was looking at at first. 

I finally figured out how to pause the cycling and then checked the about section to see what the deal was. Apparently it’s a site that works just like tag surfer or readomattic on WordPress.com, but it shows you the blogs without you even having to scroll through them. It’s a little hectic at first, but this thing does wonders for generating traffic. It’s given me like 40 hits in 2 hours, which is beyond good for my young blog.

I don’t think it’s a scam, but I do wonder about it. Does it register a view every time my screen cycles onto someone’s screen? Does it give preference to people to link to it? Is it really helping provide quality viewing of my blog? Is this the new cool thing, or old hat that’s going to get shut down in a week? Do I need to post like crazy for this thing to work? Do I give a crap as long as my counter goes crazy? All of these questions… I’ll look into it more tomorrow.

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Will Print Media Ever Die?

Posted by Jason on December 9, 2008

So we’ve heard that newspapers are suffering. Major book publishers are suffering. The failing economy seems to compound the decline of printed information that we’ve witnessed for several years. There is no arguing that the digital revolution has severely changed the scene for publishing of all types. This is a sink or swim time for the publishing world. Adapt and overcome, or face extinction. Will the world of words on the printed page ever cease to exist? Will print media turn to dust and museum fodder like the dinosaurs?

It almost seems that books, newspapers, and magazines have been relegated to the world of luxuries these days. A television is indispensable for news and entertainment, but a newspaper subscription or shelf full of books connotes a higher class of people. People that have those things have more or less stable incomes and static living situations. Any book lover who has moved can tell you that he or she would have far less books if moving were a yearly event. It reminds me of Edison’s reported quotation: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.” Instead of electricity, it’s information. Only the rich will read books anymore…

Many writers certainly welcome the digital revolution for its ease of communication with publishers and editors. Furthermore, all these advances make dispersing of their information much faster and they have access to many more means of communicating their messages. Blogging lets pretty much anybody self-publish with little or no editing for style, clarity, etc. All kinds of people who never had a voice in print now do. Feedback, good and bad, is immediate. These things are all wonderful.

However, writers must have a physical record of their ideas. All the different technologies will change some day, and nobody will be able to read from a standard hard drive as we know them, since there will be 8 million other things a hundred or 200 years down the road. This blog will cease to exist once I die… maybe? Does the blog replace the diary? Will future generations have any access to their favorite writers once print media kicks the bucket? So many different electronic versions and formats will exist of any given piece of literature: how will we know what was actually written or intended by the author? Or will “faithful enough to the original” be the industry standard for literary fidelity? 

I don’t think printed media will ever completely be wiped from the face of the Earth. But we could see a time when it is only reserved for the uber-cultured; those who delight in harkening back to a time when ink needed to meet paper in order for the word to be spread.

Posted in Literature, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

First Day Over 100 Views!

Posted by Jason on December 8, 2008

Well, I don’t know if it’s actually a blogging milestone of any sorts, but I’m enjoying my first day with over 100 views. I’ve been at it a little over a month, and I can see the weekly traffic in an upward trend. Maybe my words will actually matter to someone someday. Hopefully…

Anywho, thanks for all the readers, browsers, or even haters that keep this thing moving forward!

Peace…

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »