Writing is full of paradoxes. Here are ten contradictions writers face. It's an incomplete list. The title and focus of this blog draws on another one.
To succeed as writers, we need skills and knowledge that come from working steadily with words, sentences and paragraphs. We also benefit from occasional gifts of inspiration.
A mechanic. A muse.
A wrench. A wand.
Since November 2002, I've written a weekly writing advice column called "Chip on Your Shoulder" for Poynter Online, the website for the journalism school where I've taught since 1994 after spending 22 years as a newspaper reporter and occasional magazine freelancer.
I'll continue with columns, as with this Q&A with Larry Welborn, a legal affairs writer for the Orange County Register, but on a more occasional basis.
For now, I'd like to try my hand at blogging, writing bite-size prose items that track my continuing quest to master the writing craft. I intend to share my passions and the lessons that every act of writing contains, along with my encounters with mechanics and muses over the years.
I begin blogging with not a little trepidation; I know I'm late to the party . There are blogs I love for their wit, their eclectic and passionate interest, most of all for the way the best bloggers make you feel they're speaking exclusively to you or lead you to destinations you'd never have imagined. And then there are blogs that I visit once or twice and then take up rent-free space on my blogroll. I'd prefer to be the former.
I have an ulterior motive. In addition to writing about journalism, I publish fiction, personal essays, screenplays and memoir, some of which you can find scattered about on the left rail, in a kind of virtual clip file. I hope to attract readers to my work, past, present and future.
Among my works-in-progress is a novel set in a military psychiatric hospital at the end of World War II and what I think of as an "investigative memoir" of three generations of flawed Irish-American fathers.
At the moment, I'm behind deadline on the second edition of a journalism textbook that I hope will serve 21st century journalists. There's lots about the world of new media that I don't know, but which writers like me, and their editors, will have to master, or, at least, respect. I'm hoping you will help me narrow that knowledge gap.
In that spirit, here's a question: what does it take to write a good blog?
Thanks for stopping by.