I have a file on my computer—several files, actually, they get too long to stay as just one—in which I keep my blog posts. Mostly, they’re the ones I’ve finished and turned lose on the world, with a nod and a “looks good” from my sort-of-editor. But a lot of them are ones I might post in the future, or ones I probably never will post. For every post I write, it seems, I end up with three or more dead sentences, ideas I’m noodling with, beginnings. Some make it to a hundred words. Some to two hundred. Some to four hundred, almost to post length. This one is now in the early hundreds, and as I type it, I wonder if it will be one of the ones that makes it through.
Why do they stop? Why is it that I end up with a thousand titles and first sentences and vague expressions of ideas?
The posts need a topic. Preferably something I haven’t written about before, but I know sometimes I revisit things I’ve already touched. Topics, I think, are the easy part. The world is full of the silly things. I can list off loads of things that I think plague stories, or things that I love in them. I love characters who are sympathetic and interesting but unremittingly evil, though I have trouble writing them and keeping them on the right path. I will forgive a lot in a romance between people in unequal positions if the one on the lower end can keep up with the superior in terms of banter and control over the situation. I can’t stand characters who try to hard to fit a mold and obviously, blatantly, rub-the-audience’s-nose-in-it fail, particularly if they have no idea that they do so. Soundbites are easy. Posts are hard.
The posts need a thesis. I’ve long since lost count of the many times I’ve been pacing, either literally or virtually, around my environs, an hour to bedtime and I still don’t have a post yet, and one of my amazingly patient friends has suggested something that I could talk about… were it not for the fact that, while the topic is interesting, I don’t have anything particular to say. There’d be no drive to it, just observations. One thesis. One direction in which to strike. One goal to type toward. Without it, all I have is a first paragraph, maybe a title… or a title and maybe a first paragraph. It all varies.
It needs to last. There are some concepts that I feel like I can get through in a few sentences, like they’d never make it to the five hundred or so words I expect my posts to span. Snarky characters are cool; discuss. Not everything that looks like a unicorn is actually pleasant to be around. Are we quite done writing stories that claim to be striking out against a given idea but only tend to reinforce it? Everything’s better with baby dragons. If an idea can’t get me past two hundred words, then isn’t it self-evident enough not to deserve its own blog post?
It’s never as easy as it looks… but that’s all right. As long as the ideas are flowing. As long as people are finding it useful. That’s all that matters.