There once was a girl who loved writing,

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

And found it could be quite exciting.

She jumped up from a log, and started a blog,

and she now has a forum worth citing.

Okay, so it’s NOT the best Limerick ever.

Today while scanning the pages of Freshly Pressed (and what WordPress blogger doesn’t?), I came across this delightful piece by Malinda Essex,Ph.D., entitled “Three Things I’ve Learned From a Month of Blogging.”   I’m sure you’ll want to go ahead and read Malinda’s post for yourself. Malinda took the opportunity of the milestone of her first month of blogging to reflect on what writing had meant to her.  She expounds upon how much she’s enjoyed the opportunity to write and the chance to have people read it and offer kind and insightful comments. Malinda’s post made me realize that there was a time when very few writers were able to get their words out to the world in a meaningful and accessible way. This thought so moved me that I posted the following comment to her blog:

There once was  time when those who loved to write could only get their works read if:
1.  They wrote letters to the editor or opinion columns for the local paper, and were lucky enough to get them chosen for publication.

2.  They became a published author.

3.  They wrote newsletters or other self-published missives that they sent out to the readers, who mostly felt obliged to read them.

But now, there’s blogging.

I remember a time when I hoped if I was a really good writer, and worked tirelessly at my writing in a garret, preferably one without heat or electric lights, then mailed my hard-written manuscript to dozens of publishers, that maybe, just maybe someday, my work would be published and someone besides the family and friends that I would force to read it, might actually, voluntarily read it. There is still the hope that someday I will write and have published an actual tome (by then it will probably only be an e-tome) but in the meantime,  I have blogging.

It seems that I never run out of things I want to write about, and love to have the opportunity to share them with others. And it seems that thousands of others, 336,812 as of today, by WordPress count, feel the same way. We’re fortunate to have an opportunity to share our words, even though we may never be officially chosen by an editor, agent or publisher somewhere, to be allowed to have our words read.

Writing is a way to share a tiny part of oneself,  without giving all of yourself away, and getting that tiny part back from the readers who comment, read and like. Just like Malinda, I appreciate every single reader who stops by to share a little part of themselves, and their words, with me. 

I  love this opportunity to share my writing with you, and feel fortunate to have it, without having to suffer in an unheated garret. I’ll keep going until I have nothing left to say, or until you all start begging me to stop. And in the meantime, I still have those two barely started novels, and one memoir on the back burner, nagging at me to come back to them soon. And I will although I probably won’t be moving to an unheated  garret!

The Group of Four

As all bloggers know, we need readers. We craft our words carefully, sitting  hours before our keyboards late at night, early in the morning, and all crazy hours in between. We write in between work, household chores, minding children, paying bills. We toil away at our words. Finally, when each blog is done, polished, spell-checked, ready for public review, we click Publish, and wait. We wait for our words to come to life  in the eyes of our readers.

I have many regular, loyal readers, and I treasure and appreciate each one. But that was not always the case. When my blog was still a baby blog, my readership was sporadic, often disappointing. As a shy baby blogger, I wasn’t hip to recruiting  readers. Until the Group of Four  came along.  Yep, my very own little 4G network. I’m not sure which one I met first. I believe it was Techy, of  Working Tech Mom who very kindly added me to her Blogroll. Blogroll? I didn’t know there was a Blogroll. Then came Margaret of Conjuring my Muse, Zahara of Earthquakes and Rattlesnakes, and Mark of The Idiot Speaketh. Since then these four have been loyal blogger-readers, commenters, and all-around blogging buddies, as I try to be to them. Even if I write a fairly ho-hum post [which hardly ever happens I’m sure 😉  ] I can count on someone from my 4G network to chime in, to be there to support me.

Who is your Group of Four? Who do you count on to help your writing come to life?

(Images courtesy of Google)

Where DO you get your photos, Zemanta?

Probably a lot of WP bloggers use  Zemanta. Zemanta is a blogging-assist tool that suggests tags, related links, and photos to help polish up one’s blog. Most of the time Zemanta is a helpful tool. But sometimes? I’m wondering what words I typed that makes Z come up with such crazy photos. How could a picture of a clothes hanger possibly relate to my blog about readership? A picture of a chocolate factory for loyalty? The Bilovice Manor in Moravian, Slovakia for a blog about writing? Really?  

"Hello Huffygirl" (Courtesy of Google)

I think sometimes Zemanta’s inner Hal takes over. You know, Hal, the obsessed computer who takes over the mission in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. “No Huffygirl, I can’t let you write about THAT. Here, let me help you. Here’s some photos for your blog. Use THESE.”

But often, I resist. I try to use my own photos whenever possible, and sometimes I don’t want to sort through Z’s photos to find one that’s in the public domain. But Z persists, coming up with more and more absurd links and photos no matter how many key words I give him, er it.  “I’m don’t think so Huffygirl.” At times like that, I just want to turn Z off.  Sorry Z, I’m turning you off now. “I can’t let you do that Huffygirl.”

"Goodbye Huffygirl" (Courtesy of Google)

“Sorry readers, Huffygirl’s not here right now. I’m Halmanta here to assist you”

A look back: my first year of blogging

"You had a good run Grandma"

It’s been just about a year since I started Huffygirl’s Blog, so naturally it’s time for some reflection. I started my blog mid February 2010 when I was spending way too much time home alone, and feeling a need to do something new and creative. I wrote  six posts and was ecstatically excited about every single one. I badgered everyone I knew to read them and give me feedback. (Sorry, obliging friends and family.) My original thought was to write about health and wellness, and help people everywhere overcome their health demons. That idea was okay, but it seemed that not that many people were interested in reading about all the things they should be doing for their health, but probably were not. But then one day I cleaned my self-cleaning oven, all the while with a satirical script running through my head, and the Satire Friday category was born. Suddenly, I had much more to write about, as a chance to satirize my life lay at my fingertips. Since then I’ve branched out into other categories:  Random Thoughts and Personal Rants, which are exactly what they sound like; Exercise and Fitness, fueled by my

"Funny, you don't look a day over...."

 own journey to improve my cardiovascular fitness level; HuffyHow, inspired by my discovery of how to get tulips to stand up straight in a vase,  Plinky Prompts, short stories written in response to a topic assigned by Plinky, Nature, to cover my interests in gardening and birds,  and Food, because we all have to eat, so why not make it interesting?

Just like all things in life, some blogs turned out great and some, not so much. Here’s the highlights of the year in review.

Worst blog ever Senate Bill 2274, McCain-Logan. I wrote this as if it had been plucked fresh off the front page of The Onion, my favorite, made-up, satirical news source,  but most people DID NOT GET IT. It was inspired by a report on dreary unemployment numbers, that basically suggested that the only way to find enough jobs for our large population of unemployed was to have many of those already working die.  I had great fun writing it, fine-tuning every detail down to the bill number (the year Logan’s Run takes place.)

Most enduring blog: A tie between America’s Love Affair with cheese and How to cure floppy tulip syndrome. American’s  obsession with cheese  

Tulip bouquet

"How to cure floppy tulip syndrome"

draws interest, or maybe folks are just entering the search term “love affair.” Apparently I underestimated the need for a cure for tulips flopping over in a vase. That post continues to get several views every week, and was the first of mine to appear in a Google  search.

Easiest blog to write: Invisible Fence. Inspired by a spate of celebrity, politician and rich-people bad behavior, the words just spilled out as fast as I could type, which is pretty fast. But just like McCain-Logan  I’m not sure that everyone got it.

Hardest blog to writeYou had a good run Grandma.  My tribute to my recently deceased mom was hard because I had so much to say, wanted to get it right, and wrote it during a very emotional time, but easy in a way, because the thoughts poured out once I got started. 

Longest time in draft limbo: Just in time for Thanksgiving, the turtato.

The Turtato - a potato shaped like a turkey! (Photo: Huffygirl)

Inspired by a potato that looked just like a turkey, I tried to make this one work. I took picture after picture of my turtato, but could not get the right look to show everyone how much it REALLY did look like a small turkey. It’s still sitting in drafts and will probably remain there forever, where it rightly belongs.

 My all time favorites:  A tie between My 100th post,  Socks without partners, and You had a good run Grandma. My 100th post was a look back on how my writing mantra evolved (Laugh. Cry. Think. Learn.) and thanks to my loyal readers and WordPress for helping me to get there.

 Socks without partners was a parody based on the fine organization, Doctors without Borders, inspired by those extra socks that everyone finds in their dryer. Part of what makes a blog a favorite for me is how I felt while writing it, and if I felt the message came through.

Most attentionFunny, you don’t look a day over…  When this blog was featured on Freshly Pressed, WordPress’ home page (thanks again WP) it received an overwhelming 2,639 views the first day, and bumped my monthly total views to a respectable high. Although fame is fleeting, it was a great rush.

Best part of blogging: Being part of a world-wide community of bloggers, reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, having a forum from which to write, and just plain being able to write. 

Thanks readers for your interest and your support. It’s what keeps all bloggers and writers going – we’d be nothing without you!

By popular demand…

(Photo: Huffygirl)

The readers have spoken. Despite my attempt to put the Stylish Blogger Award to rest by exposing the 100% true story of the origin of the SBA, it was not enough. Blogger buddy Working Tech Mom has

 pointed out that I’ve deprived my readers of learning seven things about me, and threatened  suggested that something bad may happen to my front bike tire should  I not comply. And, aw heck, it’s a fun thing that I really SHOULD do anyway. 

So, without further ado, here they are, in no particular order,  my nominations for the SBA. Some of these folks are so stylish they’ve been nominated multiple times, but I think they’re epic enough to handle it.

(Image credit unknown)

  •  Conjuring My Muse Margaret Reyes Dempsey, published fiction author and technical writer, shows off her creative prose in musings about life.
  • Earthquakes and Rattlesnakes Despite my irrational fear of any kind of snake, rattle or otherwise, I enjoy Zahara’s folksy takes on life, peppered with original photographs.
  •  Working Tech Mom   Classy Canadian Techy writes about balancing life, career and family, interspersed with amazing photos and cheery art. 
  •  Garden Muse Cindy Dyer’s amazing botanical photography makes you feel like summer is already here.
  • Todd Pack’s Messy Desk  What’s not to like about a guy who describes himself as “… more Mayberry and sweet tea than NASCAR and rasslin’.” Up here in Michigan, you just don’t hear the word rasslin’ enough. Todd’s writings remind me of my own – good-natured comments on life and family.

And, drumroll – seven things you might not know about me:

  • I have green eyes – not immediately obvious, because they’re smoky-green with cinnamon-brown centers
  • I want to learn piano, but have been paralyzed by my almost dyslexic inability to read music. I have yet to find a piano teacher who understands this.
  • As part of my quest to improve my cycling skills, last year I participated in

    Triathlon girl

    my very first triathlon. I was the biking leg of a three person relay team. Unfortunately  speedy swimmer Pete and fast runner Dave were slowed down by my dismal slog, but I hope to improve my time, maybe this year. 

  • Whenever I travel I compare the beaches I see to my Lake Michigan beaches at home.  So far I’ve not seen a beach that surpasses my home favorites. If there is one out there, please let me know where.
  • I honed my writing skills in Catholic grade school, under the tutelage of  nuns who made us diagram sentences, and refined them under my 1oth and 11th grade English teacher, Ethel N.
  • I’m one of those old-fashioned women who was a stay-at-home mom for years, and enjoyed just about every minute of it.
  • I was always the quiet, nerdy girl in school.

And so, I’ve fulfilled my requirements. Hopefully, my front bike tire will remain safe. And the Stylish Blogger Award will go on.