Skip to main content

The gulf between writing and exposing yourself

Even in non-fiction, beginning authors are often given the advice 'put more of yourself in it.' The idea is to move from a vanilla, pure listing of facts, to something that benefits from the writer's experience. This doesn't mean objectivity goes out of the window, just that the person's enthusiasm and interest comes through in the writing.

When we get to blogs, Twitter and Facebook, we're talking a very different kind of non-fiction. It's easy to think that it's all about opening up and letting rip. But I'd suggest good bloggers and even good Twitterers/Facebookisti, have more in common with a non-fiction writer than with someone writing in a diary.

There are two reasons for this. One is the interest factor. If your blotwfac (blog/twitter/facebook - I can't be bothered to write it all out) is only about popping down the shops, the dream you had last night and your holiday, then your readers will soon only be friends and relations. Make that close friends and relations. Just like an author, the writer of a blotwfac has an obligation to his or her audience.

I don't mean by this that every bleat (blog post/tweet) has to be a literary work of art, or that it shouldn't be about you and your life. Just that the majority of them should contain something that perks the interest. Take a Facebook comment from a friend recently. why am i hollding wine i think am drunk - on the face of it just a social comment, but done in such a way that it catches the interest and raises a smile.

The other reason for thinking more about the writing in blotwfac is that I do believe we need to remember that we are broadcasting (well, narrowcasting) to the world. And maybe there are some personal things that shouldn't be echoing around the interweb. Another friend recently had to dismantle a fair amount of her blog because of the job she's applying for. It was a good blog, but she feels rightly or wrongly that her prospective employers wouldn't like it. It gave too much of the personal away. (And with web facilities like the Way Back machine and Google cache, which keep copies of websites at different stages in time, it can be quite difficult to cover your traces electronically.)

So, yes, do put yourself into your blotwfac (that's sounds worryingly Welsh)... but do it with a little thought for what the neighbours might say.


  1. "Blotwitface" has the same combinatory principles as "blotwfac" but suggests a more descriptive term for those who have suffered from cyberspace overenthusiasm in their youth


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope