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helen renell Posts

Haiku #78

trees along the Oregon Ocean
Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

man-wind sculpted tree
curved toward the Father land
bends but does not break

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Books and Pet Peeves

On my to-be-read book pile, I have finished two books. A girl can’t have enough books!

It is said give the bad news first (or if it saves you a few dollars, it would be good news). On my last trip to the bookstore, I bought several writing books.

One of those books was Tell It Like It Is, by Roy Peter Clark. Clark wrote one well-loved book on my bookshelf: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer. Not one mention of politics or cultural issues. Pure writing advice. Not so in Tell It Like It Is. This book is a manifesto on public writing, using all the terms that are currently in vogue. I don’t want to read someone else’s political views in a book on writing.

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Bud Gardner was a repeat read. Found it in a nice used store where I live. I love the cartoons included, especially the ones of Snoopy typing on top of his dog house. My favorite story? “Why I Write” by Terry McMillan who writes that her beginning in writing started with poetry. And one article that made me laugh — “Helen Help Us” is about an advice columnist who lived in Oregon.

We writers are keen on clear language. My pet peeve is calling posts — blogs. A blog consists of dated posts. Calling a post a blog is confusing.

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SEO & Social Media

Locked down with nowhere to go. The year was 2020, and if you lived in Oregon even the beach was banned. My favorite place in the whole wide world and it was banned. So what does any writer do? Start a blog, of course. Reach out in the only way I could: the World Wide Web.

The man who authored the classic Robinson Crusoe, also wrote A Journal of the Plague Year. Daniel Defoe journaled the 1665 events in London of the Black Plague. On that premise of journaling my way through my solitary existence inside my home, I began again.

Since the 1990s, I have blogged off and on. Different CMSes, different niches. All blogs, or weblogs as they were called at the time, had their own little—or big—corner of the internet. We were found by internet search engines and Technorati. I didn’t care about how many hits my weblog got, I was just happy to have a space on the internet of my own to write.

Some couple of decades later, I have come full circle. Being told from almost every social media site (thank you, Pinterest, for not throwing me off) that I did not fit the community standards. I finally had to concede, “Is the Lord trying to tell me something?” I was trying to fit in and do like everyone else, with my social media icons displayed in the header area or sidebar. And at the same time was not writing. I was too caught up in social media.

A few days ago, I read The Verge’s post about SEO. It hit a been-there-done-that nerve. I have been checking this blog for listings in different search engine sites, and quite a few big name sites do not list me. I did find a listing in Startpage, and I found one in each of a few much lesser known sites.

That post, along with many whispers from Him to write and post no matter if only a few are reading. Charles Stanley used to say, do what He tells you and leave the results to Him. In our social media and SEO saturated internet culture, that is not an easy thing to do.

However noble that is, writing is also meant to be read. We write to fulfill our calling, our purpose. So my faith now is, “Can I write my posts and say to heck with the SEO censorship and no social media?” I think the answer for me lies in simplicity and motives.

It took me many years to learn this. The joy of hitting the publish button is worth it. After I hit that button, it’s now in His hands.

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