Looking For Inspiration in My Blog Archives

I looked at some of my earliest posts hoping for inspiration for a guest article — I figured with an archive of 1,380 posts there should be something of interest for me to resurrect and expand on. I was surprised to discover how few of those early posts still had significance. Many were about my efforts to attract the attention of an agent, editor, or publisher, and I have since found a publisher. If ever I found myself unpublished, I’m not sure I’d embark on a quest for re-publication — I had my fill of querying years ago. (Not sure I’d self-publish, either, which would leave me exactly nowhere.)

It’s not only personal posts that time has rendered obsolete, but also posts about the publishing world. Things sure have changed in the six years since I began this blog!

booksSome of my early posts focused on what I had learned about Capturing the Attention of an Editor. We have an image in our heads of editors and editorial assistants eagerly pawing through the slush pile in search of our literary gems. In truth, all they are looking for is a reason to dismiss our manuscripts. If our first words don’t grab them, too bad. That’s all the time they are going to give us. And if by chance our first words do entice them to read further? They are going to be looking for any excuse to stop.

The trouble with this advice is that many writers now go directly to self-publishing without doing any research on how to capture the attention of an editor. As it turns out, what agents, editors, and publishers seem to be looking for are self-published books with a strong following, making my post redundant.

Other of my early posts focused on Basic Tenets for Good Writing, such as using dynamic verbs and concrete nouns; putting the action before the reaction; eschewing passive voice; not being clever for the sake of being clever; and paying attention to spelling, punctuation on grammar. I thought these tenets were undebatable, but all over the internet, writers are debating the necessity of such basics.

Still other posts mentioned what readers look for when they pick up a book, such as Paragraph Size, Italics, and Dialogue. If the paragraphs are too long, they feel that the work will be ponderous; if the paragraphs are too short, they think it will be lightweight. And if all paragraphs are more or less the same size, they get an immediate impression of stagnation. If there are too many italics, readers lose interest because long passages in Italics tell readers those passages can be skipped. As for dialogue, dense paragraphs of dialogue look like preaching, and few readers are interested in sermons, and large sections of one or two-word dialogue looks inane.

This advice, too, is now redundant. With ebooks, readers no longer flip through a book to scan it. They might use the “look inside” feature to read a page or two, they might scan reviews, or they might simply download the book sight unseen.

As it turns out, in a round about way, I found what I was looking for. Although I didn’t find inspiration for a guest post by searching my early blogs, I did find inspiration for this post.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “Looking For Inspiration in My Blog Archives”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I know how you feel. If I looked through some of my earlier posts, I’d probably find plenty of posts that are no longer relevant to the person I am now.

  2. Kathy Says:

    I tend to delete old posts, old Facebook statues, old blogs even. Writing advice soon becomes out-of-date and many posts are “emotions of the moment.” To me it’s like cleaning house – you don’t leave old mail, etc., sitting around the house. On the other hand, a blog is an archive or “photo album” of the past. I tend to keep older posts on my travel blog and am more aggressive with the delete button on my writing blog.

    I think blogs and Facebook should have automatic archives you could set up without having to make a post private or password-protected. You could define when a post or type of post would go into archives. And it would be nice to have an export file other than .xml so that Word or some other popular word processing tool could read the files a little more easily.

    The internet in general needs to clean itself up with out-of-date posts with old news.

    I admire and am amazed at the sheer volume of your posts. Even if writing advice is out-of-date, it is a story of your writing path as well as your life path.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t considered deleting old blog posts about writing, but I should, especially those that I update and repost. Interestingly, a couple of my oldest posts are among the most popular, so those of course, I would keep. On a lot of sites, such as FB, if you delete posts, they are still in the FB computer, just not available to veiwers or search engines anymore, which is why I am very careful what I post there.

      • Kathy Says:

        Yes – I try not to post on FB but I can be a bit impulsive, much to my regret. But talk about miscommunication – people who think they know you jump to conclusions that they wouldn’t if the really knew you. Sheesh! 🙂

  3. mikesteeden Says:

    I just write self-deprecating words about my life thus far as a mere hobby – more of a diary in essence. However, in order to capture the words I seek in the ‘now’ reflection on what has been laid down previously is a vital source of inspiration. Can’t comment on ‘blogs’ as such as this is the first day I ever tried/joined one! My PC skills are scant so maybe this ‘comment’ along with the bits & pieces I’ve ‘blogged’ today will never touch base anyway!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You did touch base! Congratulations on joining the blogging community. I hope you continue writing your self-deprecating words. In a word of self-aggrandizement, a bit of deprecation is welcome.

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