Monday, June 29, 2009

How I blog

In a Father's Day post, I noted that I'd been waiting almost a year to put up Ernie Bushmiller's "DADDY-O!" That prompted Matt Thomas to wonder, in a comment, about how I blog. And so I'm writing this post.

I've written about the why in blog-anniversary posts from 2005 and 2008. As for the how: I jot ideas for posts in a pocket notebook (since last summer, an orange Quo Vadis Habana notebook). I usually draft longer posts in that notebook or on blank pages of my Moleskine page-a-day planner. Sometimes I use a legal pad. I usually write shorter posts in a text-editor on a MacBook.

I sometimes draft a post long before it appears, but that doesn't work well: those drafts often begin to seem stale, and I often end up deleting them unpublished. The time between writing and posting seems significant for me, and the explanation probably lies in the long gap between submission and publication in academia. (I've always felt strange seeing my writing in print well after the fact.) But I can work on a post for a long time or "plan" to write a post for any length of time and then write it, with no ill effect, or at least none that I can see. I "planned" to write something about the astonishing song "I Got Your Ice Cold NuGrape" for almost two years before writing a post. Right now I'm "planning" to write a post on Hooker 'N Heat, the 1971 double-album by John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat (recorded forty years ago next May).

As a regular reader knows, I've been posting almost every day for some time. This practice is a matter not of compulsion but of pleasure. "I can quit whenever I want," and so on. My greatest happiness in Orange Crate Art is that it has made writing a pleasure, not something I have to do but what I do, an always available possibility. I love the idea of "a post" — small enough to fit in the hand, like a letter or card, but as short or long as it needs to be. Addressed, reader, to you.

comments: 5

Matt Thomas said...

Thank you for sharing. I am always interested in how people work. Or in this case, blog.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for asking, Matt. It was fun to write. (By the way, how do you blog?)

Matt Thomas said...

Generally speaking, my process is similar, only all of it tends to take place on the computer. (I do, however, have a couple of lengthy posts about James Bond I drafted on a yellow legal pad with a fountain pen that I'm not sure what to do with.) I tend to save up interesting links and quotes and things and blog them when the mood strikes me.

Now, for my Sunday NYT digests, the process is a bit different. Unless I'm traveling or something, first thing Sunday morning -- after coffee, that is -- I read the New York Times in hard copy. I keep track of the articles I think are interesting on a small notepad. When I'm done with the paper, I fire up TextWrangler, log onto to, copy the URLs for each article, decide on and copy a "money quote" for each article (this is an art in itself), paste everything into TextWrangler, and then finally convert the whole thing into HTML using Markdown. Then I usually take a shower.

Michael Leddy said...

Your Times quotations are really well chosen. I've thought that you must read the paper in print to notice all the articles you notice.

Me, I use TextExpander to manage HTML. But Markdown looks really elegant.

T. said...

Very much enjoyed this description of your writing process! Thanks for the inside look.