Slow reading & faster writing

Over the past seven years, blogging has become my writing’s late stages.  I’ve discovered that most of my writing starts in my journal or in the margins of my books.  When I work on them some, they became blog posts.  When I like the posts over time, they became my blog’s permanent pages.  So my blog has grown into a kind of museum, and I recently found myself hating it.

I value my blog’s portfolio aspect — its emphasis on showcasing static pages.  I don’t like most blog archives because no care is normally taken to select which old posts stay on a blog site or which of the survivors get emphasized.  Under most blogging platforms, everything ever written is archived and given equal weight.  It’s not for me.  I want my blog to showcase the best I’ve posted there, and I want the rest gone.

So portfolios showcase.  But as I’ve studied portfolios as part of a school district committee this year, my understanding of a portfolio’s potential has grown.  A writer’s portfolio helps her collect and then select her work, but it also helps her reflect on her writing.  She can demonstrate to herself and to others her evolving writing process and the burden each stage takes on in carrying a piece to maturity.  She can have places to show her sloppiest work, sometimes her most creative work.

That’s what I want to starting doing again here.  I want my blogging to share some of the fun I’ve had in my journal over the past year or so.  I have to risk being faster and less polished.  Using Sideblog, a smart WordPress widget Dave Bonta turned me on to recently, I’ve started Marginal, which is a somewhat separate blog in the margin of my main blog.  I hope to replicate the sense of spontaneity and discovery I find when writing in the margins of the books I read.  (I’ve decided to have my site’s RSS feed incorporates Marginal posts, for better or worse.)

I’ve also deliberately made my blog’s new design busier and less clean — less stately, I guess — than the design I’ve used for the past three years.  I did that for the same reasons, principally — to get my early writing stages online, and to make blogging fun for me again.

I’ve also switched to a blogging platform for the first time in order to automate the laborious steps I had to take each time I wanted to post something on my handmade blog.  I’ve also replaced my old “passages” digests of my friends’ best blog posts with an RSS feed of my blogroll members’ posts.  That should save time, too, and keep the column from getting stale.


  1. Not sure what the benefit of Sideblog is. Why not use Twitter for asides like that? My tendency when reading blogs is to ignore everything bar the main article anyway often reading the whole thing in my RSS feedrear and in doing that I avoid all the clutter that I tend to associate with some blogs.

    1. Good points, Jim. I do use Twitter as a sidebar feed, but I find that I fixate on polishing at the 140-character level just as I do at the post level. Working with this year has made me wonder if there’s a sweet spot between a Tweet and a full post where I’ll natter on the way I envision doing in a Marginal without fixating on polished writing.

      Another advantage to Sideblog is that you can categorize its posts just like any other post. When your readers want to see your stuff by subject matter (and I’m one of the odd people who think they can persuade some readers to do that), they’ll see Sideblog posts included. And people can comment on specific Sideblog posts just as they can on other posts.

      A final advantage has to do with the RSS feed you mention. Sideblog gives bloggers the option of including its posts in the normal feed, so my feed subscribers can’t avoid my Sideblog clutter! (Here I’ll be risking losing subscribers like you. But I’m hoping you and subscribers who might not care for the Sideblog posts will see “Marginal” as the post’s title and will just ignore the post instead of unsubscribing.)

      But that’s all gravy. For me as a writer, Sideblog’s presence is less logical than phychological. I like how it looks and acts like a page margin with no character limit. I’m hoping it’ll therefore help with my writing mentality.

      I could just make my extra material a comment to the main post as I have in the past. But I’d lose the above advantages. Besides, my Sideblog posts begin with a link to the main post and show up as pingbacks beneath the main post’s comments, so the connection is still there.

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