552 Words in 10 Minutes

I've started reading uncorrected page proofs of a book to be published in March by Ted Kooser, a poet I admire. It's full of encouragement and tips for beginning writers, and by that I mean anyone trying to begin their writing again, as I am. One of his tips is to write for 10 minutes every morning. He says you can generally write 200 words in 10 minutes, whether you are writing longhand with a fountain pen or tapping on a keyboard, as I am now. I will be curious to see if I write more than 200 words before the beeper on my Casio watch goes off. I'm a pretty fast typist, from my days as a journalist but mainly because I took a typing course in high school, a week in the summer that gave me a skill which has been crucial, or at least deeply enhancing, of my chosen passion: writing.

What I'd like to address in the remaining minutes is what I'm looking for in Banff at Camp Blog, as I've come to think of it, the Blogs n Dogs conference which begins tomorrow night. The latest e-mail from the helpful organizer, whose name is Amy Inkster, if you can believe it, had only 16 e-mail addresses on it, including mine. Ms. Inkster warned that if we don't have the right pants, we won't be able to go on the dogsled ride, so I'm going shopping at REI today. "Can you recommend some good pants to wear on a dog sled?"

What I'm looking for are new skills to navigate the blogosphere, skills that may be as important to me in the coming years as typing turned out to be. I have no clear agenda for what I want to learn. I just feel stuck, plateaued in my writing in general, from poetry to book reviews to blogging. I hope three days in the Far North with a bunch of youngsters lit up with Blog-thusiam will inspire me to mush ahead with new energy and direction. Today I am working on provisions, making sure I bring all the right technology. Ms. Inkster basically said don't even bother showing up if you aren't bringing a laptop. I love this. I have a hunch I am going to be surrounded by kindred spirits and techno-weirdos of all ages, but I really don't know what to expect. That's the main thing. To go somewhere for three days, not including two travel days, and simply not know what to expect. Will they like my stuff? Will I be bored with technical crap? Will I discover my mission in life, to make the blogosphere safe for Eminem-loving boomer poets and arts policy wonks with trust funds? I will be looking in all directions, sniffing the cold air for scent of what's ahead. I'll be running through the snow harnassed to like-minded blogsters, making tracks. The canine metaphor potential here is worth woofing about and will clearly be chewed up and turned to mush like my Yorkie's favorite pig's ear by the time we all leave Banff on Thursday. Can this really only be 10 minutes? Beep beep beep.... It looks like the Kooz never took typing in high school. This baby checks in at way more than 200 words--552 to be exact.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Back on the Dog Sled

Someone I care about expressed concern about a previous blog posting, so I immediately deleted it. In the aftermath, I have felt skittish about writing again. This is normal, a natural step forward in this experiment of blog writing. I really don't know what I'm doing here. I know I enjoy creating a post, especially when I have a satisfying photograph to play with. And I know that I claim the parts of my life that I write about, live them twice in a sense. I enjoy going back and checking the archives to see what I was doing a year ago, or three weeks ago. It feels like stepping back into the same stream, experiencing the same water flowing over different rocks in a different part of the woods. Sometimes I get a kick out of checking my Webstats4u tracker to see how many page views per day I've received, and which countries they've come from--315 so far from France since I began measuring in March, and 17 from Sweden. But mainly I am not concerned about audience.

That may change next week, when I attend the Blogs n Dogs conference in Banff. The event caught my fancy because of the terrific name and the fact that a two-hour dog sled ride is included in the registration price. The workshop topics include "Blog Writing Style," "Managing Your Public Life Online" and "Blogging and the Arts," as well as technical sessions on everything from RSS to video blogging. I am going to Blogs n Dogs with an open mind, not sure what I will be looking for but grateful to have a chance to spend three full days surrounded by serious denizens of the blogosphere. The event comes at a great time, after a long experimentation with blogging on my own.

As we wind up our stay at my parents' home in Cambridge, I am finishing a tricky Mac-and-PC project of installing a Netgear wireless network in their home, complete with boosters to extend the signal to the third-floor apartment where we will be spending more time in the coming months. It's Christmas morning all the time, now that I am free of the dial-up connection for my trusty Vaio. It's good to be back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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