Monthly Archives: April 2016

Thoughts on blogging

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I have been blogging off and on for a few years—I started with a food and recipe blog that I called Where’s the Beef, Baby? And I had some fun with it for awhile. Then I got bored and quit posting recipes.  I discovered that more than wanting to post fabulous recipes to share with the world, I wanted to tell the stories behind the food.  Also, I don’t really love cooking as much as I thought I did. So, the poor blog has been neglected, except when I can’t find the hard copy of one of the recipes I KNOW I posted over there and I go digging around to find it. I love that I started out with it—I was brand new to blogging and shamelessly shadowed my favorite food blogger, Mel, from www.melskitchencafe.com .  I learned a lot about personal voice and the importance of good photographs and compelling content. Not that I apply those lessons all the time, but I DID learn, okay?

Shortly after that, I began The Valiant Efforts of a Half-Arsed Homeschooler. This was my “I’m going to show the world that even though I homeschool my kids, we DON’T FIT THE STEREOTYPE!” I started out explaining why we began homeschooling and writing all kinds of defensive and homeschool apologetics types of posts. Then I grew out of that and started posting about life in general, rather than specific aspects of homeschooling.  I’ve gotten some good feedback from my few readers and decided I’d try to expand my audience through guest posting, but guess what? Most other homeschool bloggers didn’t appreciate my blog’s title—bordering on vulgarity—(no sense of humor, these folks!) and my guest post submissions were turned down because of my blog’s title and URL.  Womp, womp.

So—wanting to break into the guest post blogging world, I’ve created Talk Quirky to Me…and I joined all kinds of blogging groups on Facebook.  After spending some time in these groups, it seems that most bloggers are trying to build their audience in order to make money. I admit, that would be really nice—but so many of the questions are about the technical and business side of blogging for profit, and I realized—I just want to be an artist.  I just want to write stuff.

I asked a question in one of my blogging forums about a potential blog post title and was given some practical, but stinging advice.  I was told that my crazy title would not generate very many clicks, because it wasn’t something mainstream and immediately relatable.  I was directed to a “blog post title analyzer” where you could type in your title and find out how statistically likely it is that people will click on your post and read it. It was fascinating, and my “potential click” percentage was pretty low, based on factors like emotional pull, power words (whatever that means), and some other things.  It stung a little to see that my title was deemed too “out there” to possibly generate traffic to my blog. I played around on the analyzer, trying to hit the sweet spot with a title full of the right kinds of key words.  It was a good learning experience. If nothing else, it helped me get to the essence of what my post was going to be about, which helped me tighten up my writing about the subject, but it was still discouraging to think that my quirky (!) title was a probable dud, in the world of blogging for “traffic.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a huge audience and a great online community that I brought into being myself, but really, at THIS point, that’s all secondary.

What this all boils down to is: I just want to write–I write to process things. I write to gain perspective, to make myself laugh, to chronicle my experiences.  Maybe someday, it will really matter to me to have lots of readers. Right now, I just want to practice writing quality content—so this post is about giving myself permission to do just that.  To not fret over who’s reading, or how to go “pro” at this.  That will be a thing someday, but for now I’m talking quirky to myself.

Tell and Show

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but have you ever overheard something in a cafe or at work that made you rubber neck to find out if what you heard was actually what was said?  That seems to be a regular occurrence in my household, so we’ve started a list of the oddest things we’ve found ourselves saying:

 

“You can’t fold your clothes if you are in that cauldron with that hippo!”

 

“Be careful of  Johnny Depp in my bathtub!”

 

“Stop shedding deer hair on the counter!”

 

“Why is there an octopus in a snowflake mug?”

 

“I think you have an escaped alpaca!”

 

Of course, there are perfectly sensible explanations for all of these declarations, but taken out of context…they sound like bad middle school writing prompts…or blog post titles….

Welcome!

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Welcome to Talk Quirky to Me!

In the fifth grade, my teacher read a nature poem to the class that included the phrase “an egg yolk sun.”  This is the only line in the poem I remember, because after the teacher read it, we were tasked with drawing a picture to illustrate it and I had only one image in my head. 

I drew a frying pan on a stove, sizzling with bacon and eggs, sunny-side up. I penciled in some blue and white kitchen tile in the background because I thought it would look pretty.

The kid next to me glanced over at my drawing and said, “What is THAT? That’s not what the poem is about!” 

The kid on the other side of me leaned over and hissed, ‘That’s not right! You’re doing it wrong!”

When I looked at their drawings, I was surprised to see they had both drawn green trees and purple, snow-capped mountains. Yellow suns bulged from the top corners of their papers.  A furtive glance at other drawings revealed similar mountain landscapes. 

A third kid leaned over and sneered at my paper,  “Why did you draw breakfast?”

I panicked.  My picture was not representative of the class’s illustrative consensus.  Hastily, I crayoned in a kitchen window with a view: pointy mountains, shaggy tree, a speck of sun in the northwest corner.

“You’re going to get in trouble,” said the first kid. “That doesn’t look right.”

My picture had drawn a crowd now and my teacher came over. “What’s this?” he said, plucking my picture off the table. 

“Marissa did it wrong. She didn’t draw what was in the poem!” squealed one of the kids.

My teacher scrutinized my work, then me. I still recall his face—bristly blonde brows furrowed over pale blue eyes, his mustache twitching over down-pressed lips.  This was his expression whenever he scolded me for daydreaming or goofing off when I was supposed to be paying attention.  Hot with embarrassment, I slid down in my chair. Could I get away with hiding under the table?

Finally, my teacher’s face relaxed. He took a step backward, lifted my drawing high, and said, “This is a very interesting take on this poem. I’ve never seen anything like this before.” He smiled at me and handed my paper back. “Good work.”

This was the first time I realized I take the world at a bit of a slant.  Over time, I learned to trust my creative intuition and it’s led me in all kinds of crazy directions and off-center adventures. I created Talk Quirky to Me to share my oddball outlook. I hope my stories make you laugh, make you think, and inspire you to look at the world in a different way.

Love and breakfast,

Marissa