A question of identity

Veteran blogger Jim Benson posted a comment here teasing me about going public with Writer Way because he knows I’ve been blogging for more than three years elsewhere using a pseudonym. My defense: The whole blogging thing was in its pre-teen years, and an avatar seemed like a good idea at the time.

Once, when I published a post questioning the business practices of a local social networking startup, the startup’s founder shot me a vituperative email that began “Listen, dude, if you worked in tech, and lived in Seattle…”

Being, of course, female, working for Apple at the time, and living less than a mile from his North Seattle office, I enjoyed that email for days. Now I’ll miss the anonymity that prevented people from stereotyping me based on my name or my gender. It resulted in such amusing correspondence! But, yes, Jim, blogging has come of age and I want to play with all the other grownups.

Seattle women bloggers, media, and politics

This, verbatim, from Craig’s List today:

Reply to: gigs-220999939@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-10-15, 1:14PM PDT

At last weekend’s Politics & The Media with Janeane Garofalo, it came up how few women bloggers there are in Seattle.

Anyway, I’d be willing to donate use of my TypePad Pro account to help a group of women set up their own group blog. (I’m male). You’d own the blog together.

I was thinking that something multi-generational (one woman from 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s) would be cool – but I’m open to whatever the most talented folks propose.

This guy must be kidding about the lack of women bloggers. (Since Janeane Garafolo doesn’t live in Seattle, I’ll let her off the hook.)

Has he ever attended a session of the Seattle Weblogger Meetup (founded and run by blogger Anita Rowland)? Checked out the community reader blogs at the Seattle P-I (most of them written by women)?

As for a man “donating” his TypePad account to “help” women blog, how incredibly patronizing. Blogger accounts are free and my cat could set one up.

Now my disconnect here may be because what this anonymous fellow is terming a lack of women bloggers in Seattle is instead a lack of women blogging about media and politics. Or perhaps just a lack of women blogging about media and politics in blogs devoted exclusively to those topics.

Consider this: The best-known Seattle blog about media and politics (HorsesAss.org), while well reported and well written, is characterized by reader comments at the level of “f*** you, s***head.” I don’t know many women who would consider this a particularly edifying or productive type of discussion.

I suspect that Seattle women bloggers are coming in under the (narrowly directed) radar because they write about media and politics in the context of real life instead of in a compartmentalized “media and politics” blog.

Let me illustrate with this opening from a lengthy analysis of Al Gore’s recent movie by a female Seattle blogger (her site is Nerd’s Eye View):

There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Martin, one of the nerdy kids, spends his last ten bucks on a talking Al Gore doll. “You are hearing me talk,” says the doll. It cracks me up every time. Plus, it’s a fairly accurate assessment of the production version of Al Gore. Stiff, not that interesting, but honest, very very honest.

Last night I attended a screening of Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It’s a film version of Al Gore’s slide show on global warming. His science is undeniably thorough and accurate. His passion about the issue is palpable, even on screen. This man has done his homework, exhaustively, and when the movie is over you have no doubt that his case is clear and that action is essential.

But I fell asleep in the middle anyway.

Oh, yes, what a pity we timid li’l Seattle gals don’t have a thing to say about the media and politics!

Using Blogger in Beta

Writer Way was created using the new version of Blogger, which seems to be known simply as Blogger in Beta. (You’d think it would be called something like “Blogger 2.0 in Beta,” wouldn’t you?)

Starting from scratch using Blogger in Beta is quite smooth. (It’s similar to setting up a lens in Squidoo.) Posting entries to your blog is pretty much the same as in the previous version, except you can now add labels (which appear to be Blogger’s version of Technorati’s tags). The big leap forward is the easy-to-customize pre-coded blocks for all the sidebar stuff — links, lists, archives. You select and customize blocks which can then be arranged in the order you want. The pop-up for previewing your sidebar work before saving and publishing is handy.

BTW, It’s possible to transition an existing Blogger blog to the beta system with relatively few glitches — I moved another blog, which features quite a bit of third-party HTML in the sidebar, and encountered only one, easily fixable, glitch.

Welcome to Writer Way

After three years of writing a personal rant-n-rave lifestyle blog and two years of “ghost blogging” for corporate clients, I decided it was time to create a blog for my professional life.

And just what is my professional life?

To paraphrase Mark Morris, “I’m a writer; I write!”

I sold my first article (to a New Haven alternative weekly) at 21, and have made my living as a writer since then. My BA is in psychology, but in my mid-20s I took the year-long Master’s program at the Columbia Journalism School. Since then I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance travel writer, communications director, desktop publisher, developmental editor, communications consultant, newsletter editor, magazine managing editor, book reviewer, web content writer, and website managing editor. I currently write for a search engine optimization marketing company and edit ebooks for an online publishing house.

So, this blog will be about writing and editing, right?

Not exactly. It’ll be about being a professional writer/editor. As Mark Lewis of Painter Creativity points out, being great at what you do is only 25 percent of the creative person’s equation. The other 75 percent is about honing and applying business skills such as self-discipline, financial management, marketing, organization, decision-making, client communication, ethics, and common sense.

It was Lewis’ post “Top 10 Lies Told to Naive Artists and Designers” and his advice on protecting yourself from the liars that inspired me to start blogging about the writing life. This blog is where I’ll write about what’s working for me, what I’m struggling with, and the tools I discover along the way. I’ll get to say some of the things I want to say (but don’t) when newbies in my business networking group start chanting their blue-sky mantras, like the one about how you must bend over backwards to please prospective clients, no matter how flaky and unreasonable those clients are.

I’m hoping that wisdom such as Lewis’ (no doubt hard won) can save us all some pain; I’ll be posting more such stories, tips, and reviews as Writer Way evolves.

(Thanks to excellent writing blog Finding the Right Words for pointing out Lewis’ site.)

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