Most of what you’ll read here is life and fun, with episodes from my past, amusing and serious. But I have an unwelcome stranger lodged in my brain, as you’ll find if you explore my stories. Our destinies are interlocked, but its deadly presence reminds me every minute that each day of life is a miracle. This is my space to reflect on life, and an interactive area where we can share our experiences freely. Without you, this blog has no reason for existence. Carpe Diem!
For a person like me, writing a blog has meant changing my writing style.
Let me explain.
As an academic writing ‘scholarly’ books or journal articles, I had many thousands of words to play with. An article or book chapter, e.g., might be six thousand words or so. Each paragraph may be up to four hundred words, constructed in a particular style I won’t go into here.
When I began this blog, this was the style I had used for forty years of professional writing. Very formal, with perfectly grammatical sentences, weaving together an argument or theme as precisely as possible.
I would never have used an incomplete sentence such as that last one. I’d have hastened to correct such a fault in a student’s essay or thesis draft - and nor would I have used a contraction as I just did in this sentence. And I’d never have started a sentence with ‘And’!
As the wonderful dragon lady producer warned me decades ago when I started writing radio scripts, a formal style’s not really going to work as a script. Nor will it work as far as style for this type of blog is concerned. Writing a blog, you have seconds only to capture and keep a reader’s attention. HELLO!!!! Are you still there???? (That’s cheating!)
I started looking more carefully at the way that journalists craft an article for a newspaper or a blog entry. Thanks to Twitter, I have access to an unlimited supply of newspaper articles by very smart people who really know their craft - people like Greg Jericho and Lyndal Curtis, Annabel Crabb and Jonathon Holmes. Mark Colvin as well, when he’s writing and not talking on radio. I do an injustice to many others not mentioning them in the same breath... errr... paragraph. (See the list at the end of this posting for a selection of others!)
For me, the person whose style epitomises a fine blend of journalistic skill and powerful insight is Bob Denmore. Just keep an eye out for anything he writes and you’ll see what I mean.
Things have changed dramatically since the 70s when newsmen (as the profession didn’t have all that many women in its ranks then) were to be found haunting the Journos’ Clubs in various capital cities, drinking vast amounts of alcohol and commiserating with each other about deadlines, editors, the competition and their personal lives.
At least, that’s how it seemed to me at the time, on the rare occasions I went to such haunts with friends who were professional newsmen. I wasn’t a journo and never pretended to be, for it wasn’t my world, and to make the grade would have taken a lot of alcohol, effort and coaching. Hell, I don’t even know the lingo now - the idiom amongst journalists, and probably sound to them these days like I’m out of the ark – which isn’t far from the truth.
Frankly, it never even occurred to me in my entire life that it was an occupation I might have taken up. Yes, that in itself is telling, even though it’s one of life’s ironies that the style of an investigative reporter is exactly the approach to collecting data I had to cultivate when doing my research in Bangladesh.
Where the game has changed is that there are new opportunities for writers of all sorts to excel; none more potent than the blog. This is just a layperson talking, but serious journalistic blogs seem much freer of the restrictions that newspapers impose, while bringing to the reader the same knowledge, intelligence and experience of the correspondent. Writers of online media have just a few hundred words most of the time to get something very complicated across to people like me, and that demands the purest of clarity and economy.
It didn't take long to appreciate what and how the best of them were doing. I’m not saying I do it myself – far from it. But what an art form a good piece of professional journalistic writing is, and how I enjoy it!
No doubt I break most of the rules of good writing in these postings – many of which I don’t even know about because I’m not a journo and have never been confronted by the demands of an editor, except a journal editor or book publisher.
There is a special group I wanted to mention - the many writers of blogs alone, or whose writings are most accessible through their blogs. Some are already established fiction and non-fiction authors. Their skill at their craft can be both wonderful and enviable, but if I mention one then I’ll need to mention a hundred. Maybe some other time!
My writing is sloppy and often lazy and sometimes plain unattractive. I use turns of phrase for the sake of sheer whim and spontaneity that no self-respecting writer making a living out of their craft would use. And you know what?
I don’t give a bugger as long as I enjoy writing it and you enjoy reading it!
What’s below is a list of people whose writings I enjoy for various reasons. This particular list favours the Australian political scene, as I was writing above about journalists and their styles for the most part, but not exclusively. Just by ‘Following’ these people on Twitter, you can enter the rich world of classy blogs and entertaining writing.
Alternatively, if you aren’t a Twitter fan, try Googling these names or pseudonyms, and you’ll find plenty of rich pickings. Oh, the profiles are in their own words – they’re not my comments on these personalities! Their Twitter names are in bold face.
1petermartin Peter Martin economics correspondent
AgnessMack Agnes Mack long time political voyeur
alexandrawrote Alex. writer. editor. photographer. talking film, fashion, food allergies, french bulldogs, fonts - and that's just the letter F.
AmandaMcInnes Amanda McInnes Thirty something - English Teacher, Mother of 3, Wife of Mat, reader, observer of life...
annabelcrabb Annabel Crabb
aptronym aptronym Watches, food, books, minor news junkie, Flathead Valley Police Blotter, mental detritus and so on. Also at http://iamaptronym.tumblr.com
AshGhebranious AshGhebranious I am human, hear me laugh
Colvinius Mark Colvin Presenter of PM, ABC Radio. Lifetime Lance-Corporal in the Awkward Squad.
DanielleCronin Danielle Cronin Senior Writer for The Canberra Times
deemadigan dee madigan ad chick, Gruen Transfer panelist, regular on The Perrett Report, political and social commentator, writer, creative director, mother of three, wife of one.
drng Ashley Ng Honorary Doctor, hopefully soon to become a proper Doctorate Doctor, though you'd probably want the former in a medical pinch, especially if blood related.