Words, words every where, nor any post to link

Of all the April Fools jokes out there on the interwebs yesterday — well, of the limited number I saw, since I was mostly offline — I think the one by WordPress announcing AutoMatton was my favourite.

Here’s part of their pitch for this awesome new blogging tool:

Writer’s block? No problem! Announcing AutoMatton

As WordPress.com becomes easier to use, one piece of unanswered feedback keeps nagging at us: blogging is hard! Not only do you have to think of something worth saying, you have to take valuable time out of your day to write those things down in an appealing, easy-to-read way! Improvements to WordPress.com can speed up things like load times, but we simply couldn’t remove human nature from the equation… until now.

What is AutoMatton?

AutoMatton uses a simple machine learning algorithm to predict the posts that you will write, taking predictive text and auto-correct to the next level.

Yeah, they got me. It took me way too long to realize they were kidding. I tell myself this gullibility was because I was skimming through email not long after waking up and before a significant amount of caffeine had hit my bloodstream and I was still feeling pretty groggy . . .

But honestly? I really really wanted to believe this was an actual thing.

You see, I’m having a tough time coming up with appropriate blog posts. I’m not sure when, exactly, I started worrying about being all appropriate over here, and maybe I should knock it off, but every time lately I feel a thousand or so words bubbling up in my brain it’s usually about the drama du jour and . . . I just can’t make myself write the post.

It’s not that I don’t want to. Holy guacamole, do I want to. After all, I have Something To Say. I feel compelled to point out that People Are Missing The Point, Dammit. On all sorts of topics, Things I Feel Strongly About, including but not limited to:

  • Politics
  • Civics
  • Conformity
  • Decorum
  • Anonymity
  • Ethics
  • Pseudonyms
  • Hypocrisy
  • Courage
  • Privacy
  • Feminism
  • Religion
  • More Politics
  • More Civics
  • Common Fucking Decency

But then I stop and ask myself: do you really want to be that person? One of the usual suspects who weigh in on everydamnthing, who love the sound of their own voice above all others? One of those who jump in just to see how big a splash they can make? One who, be honest, has nothing new or interesting or enlightening to add other than their own ire or cynicism or questionable wisdom? Do you really want to get sucked into the latest internet quagmire?

And the answer lately has been, invariably, “no.”

Oh, look! Here’s a diversion picture of The White Ninja, nodding off to sleep on the back of my recliner.

A small break from her ninja activities

A small break from her ninja activities

 

But . . . but . . . I should write a new blog post and don’t know what to say! And WordPress’ AutoMatton would have made it all so easy! Just fill in a topic!

How is the content created?

AutoMatton’s job is to figure out the words that you would use given a specific topic to write about. It scours your existing words, fills in the blanks, and checks its own work. Each post AutoMatton writes is compared to your canon of work, old report card grades, everything written by Kurt Vonnegut, and Terms of Service documents from the top 500 most visited websites. AutoMatton then feeds this information back to itself to improve the accuracy of its predictions. It’s like magic.

Actually, the words aren’t the problem. I’m a writer. I can write any number of words, probably too many words, on any given topic, especially the ones listed above. The problem lately has been finding a topic. An appropriate topic.

All this self-restraint has been killing me, leaving me without words. You’d think I had killed an albatross.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Oooh, and here’s another diversion a sign of Spring! My purple-leaf sand cherry tree blooming against a Carolina blue sky.

The honeybees love these flowers

The honeybees love these flowers

 

Whoops. That was from last week and already sadly outdated, not unlike the latest kerfuffle. Here’s one from yesterday afternoon: blooming redbud branches poking through the holly bushes and catching the last rays of sunset.

Yes, the redbud blossoms are purple, not red

Yes, redbud blossoms are purple, not red

 

It’s so much easier, and far less controversial, to just keep my head down and go back to writing stories. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Giving voice to things both great and small through fiction. Not sure how much longer I can maintain that ruse, but for now that’s my strategy.

What have the rest of you all been up to? Anything inappropriate you want to discuss? Anything untoward got you all hot under the collar?

Come sit over here by me and spill it. We’ll use our indoor voices.

 

21 Comments

Filed under blogging, deep thoughts

21 responses to “Words, words every where, nor any post to link

  1. Saw your link in The Shark’s comment section and thought I’d drop by to wave a paw and say hello, KD! You have a very nice blog. (Where are all those dirty words you warned us about, ha, ha?!)

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  2. Hey, Lilly, thanks for stopping by! (Damn, I knew I should have dusted.) I have some blog hopping to do as a result of that post, as well. Kind of need to finish writing this book first, though . . . maybe I’ll take a break over the weekend.

    Dirty words? What dirty words? I would NEVER use profanity in public. Why, the very idea. [I was rather profane in October when the cat scared the crap out of me. Other than that, I’m a model of . . . something. Just ask anyone. Um, actually, no, don’t ask. 😎 ]

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  3. AJ Blythe

    White Ninja is gorgeous, KD. I love hearing about funny April Fool jokes. I have to admit, the 1st April passed by this year without me noticing.

    Stopping by from QOTKU blog 🙂

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  4. Thanks, AJ! She became “my” cat when my son-in-law’s allergies turned out to be more severe than anyone should have to endure. Not an easy decision for them. Luckily for me, she is the sweetest friendliest cat I’ve ever seen.

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  5. I too am heading over from Janet’s fish tank.
    I can certainly relate to impotency regarding subject. I’ve got a deadline approaching and have no idea what to write about.

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  6. It’s so much easier with fiction— the subject lasts for months before you need a new one. Sometimes, sadly, for years. Hope you find a good topic, Carolynn. And meet the deadline!

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  7. arcangioli

    Hopping over from QUTKU’s. I’ve only had tea and should have coffee before I start writing. Waking up with your story about bloggers writer’s-block is the perfect way to start my Easter. For 20 years I wrote memoirs and always quit. I had a hard time finding things to blog about other than my art. Then I started writing fiction. I agree it is so much easier.
    I love your voice.

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  8. arcangioli

    Of course I would make a type. ARGH!

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  9. Thank you, Angie, what a lovely compliment! I’ve never had anyone say that reading my words was a perfect way to start any day. Looking at pictures of your art was a perfect way to spend part of this afternoon. Good grief, you’re talented.

    And honestly, when a person knows two or three (or more) languages, as you must, I think all typos can be passed off as glitches in translation. 😉

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  10. Ha! I saw the same thing and I suppose it’s a measure of how much I wanted it to be true that I was fooled also! I really struggle with ideas for what to write on the blog, and there’s so much advice out there about not writing about controversial things etc.

    Your blossoms are gorgeous. Other side of the world here so we’re heading in the opposite direction. There’s something so evocative of the image of spring blossoms against blue sky. Lovely!

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  11. Sam, I laughed that you were worried about posting a link to your blog because of swearing. My entire blog should be off-limits if that’s a concern. I really struggle with the “controversial” issue too. I don’t always manage to bite my tongue.

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  12. Loved this. So much fun to read, especially the diversions. And there is no doubt in my mind, none whatsoever, that I wouldn’t have fallen for WP April Fool’s day prank either, if I’d have seen it.

    I can also relate to this post because I have the same misgivings. And I’m also surprised by them because I can talk at length about any damn subject someone brings up. But I always ends up doubting whether these subjects are of any interest to any one besides myself.

    Glad to see I’m not alone in this, KD. Will be checking in every chance I get.

    Cheers,
    Amanda
    Fellow follower of the QOTKU

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  13. Hey, Amanda, thanks for stopping by! I’ve given up trying to predict what people might find interesting. Several years ago I wrote a nonsense post about a pic one of my daughter’s friends had taken of a cafeteria-style food tray in Singapore that listed the “rules of etiquette” for eating hot dogs. For YEARS afterward, one of the hottest search terms that led to my blog was “hot dog etiquette in Singapore.” You can’t even make this stuff up. Might as well write whatever you enjoy!

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  14. I think about this stuff constantly. There are a variety of topics I’d love to post on, but I can’t will myself to do it because of that whole thing called “writer image” — whatever that garbage means… 🙂

    Let’s pick a day and all just piss and moan about differences and the things that make us angry. 🙂 We’ll call it “honesty day” and then each subsequent holiday is a rageaversary.

    And then in our shame, the next day we’ll just all delete our posts. 🙂

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  15. Brian, I’m so contrary that if someone told me there was a designated day to vent anger or frustration, I’d purposely not do it on that day. I can’t help it, I’m just not one to follow rules.

    I started to think about all the times I’ve gone on a rant over here and looked back through old posts . . . there are a lot of them. Really, no one can ever accuse me of being shy about expressing myself.

    There was the time I got angry with Harlequin and their (new at the time) vanity press: https://kdjames.com/2009/11/27/were-looking-at-different-horizons/

    And the time I went on a rant about Penguin’s Book Country: https://kdjames.com/2011/11/19/book-country-apparently-a-whole-other-world/

    Then there was the time I got completely furious about entitlement: https://kdjames.com/2009/10/05/to-what-are-you-entitled/

    And the rant about answering machines: https://kdjames.com/2007/04/13/raindrops-on-roses-it-aint/

    And about customer service at my bank’s drive-thru: https://kdjames.com/2007/04/04/the-dark-side-of-customer-service/

    I could go on, but I think it might be bad for my blood pressure. 🙂

    Seriously, just write whatever you want to write. I mean, don’t be a jerk about it and don’t pick on individuals. But say what you need to say. The sky doesn’t fall, no one comes to your house to kick your dog, and sometimes you meet new people who agree with you. Just, be yourself.

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  16. Richard Maguire

    I remember Cornelia Read used lots of photos in her posts on Murderati. I suppose looking at pictures – especially old black-and-white shots of her interesting and curious family – suggested themes for the posts.

    I love your photos. Especially the cherry blossoms against that wonderful blue sky. (That is a cherry tree?) I don’t think the redbuds are native to this part of the world. But later this month on the lower slopes of the mountains the cherry trees will blossom. A beautiful sight while they last.

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  17. Oh, I LOVED Cornelia’s picture posts! I think even I could make up stories about her family. They were fascinating. Mine? Not so much.

    The purple leaf sand cherry doesn’t bear fruit so I guess it isn’t a “real” cherry tree. I also have a flowering cherry in the front yard which is now in bloom— this is the type made famous in Washington DC during our National Cherry Blossom Festival (google it and you’ll find a ton of pics). They don’t bear fruit either, but they’re absolutely gorgeous. And messy once they drop their petals. My dogwoods and azaleas are blooming now too. And the camellias and wisteria. Spring in NC is like living in an enchanted world. 🙂

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  18. Colin

    If you’ve been to my blog, you’ll know I write about writing, music, theology, and I post stories too. So it comes as no surprise that my most-visited, most-search-for article is about… Graham Crackers in the UK–where to find them, and what are acceptable alternatives. HA! It was a one-off posting (which turned into three articles as I updated the topic), simply because someone asked and no-one else was answering. After a few years of these constantly out-stripping other articles in views, I fist pump whenever any other article gets more hits than one of the Graham Cracker articles that day!

    The moral: You never know what’s going to capture people’s attention. But the eyes that catch that one article may well catch some others and stick around. So just write what makes you tick. Use this space for people to get to know you. Even if some of the topics are controversial, use your writerly skills to be passionate without being offensive, and to be firm in your beliefs without alienating those who disagree.

    Are you planning to be at Bouchercon in October? Mystery/crime may not be your genre, but it’ll be a good opportunity to meet some writers, some agents (including Janet), and some fellow Shark Tank dwellers. It’s in Raleigh, which is what makes it affordable for me. 🙂

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  19. Hot dogs in Singapore, graham crackers in the UK . . . what would the world do without us and our random blog topics?

    Colin, I’m seriously considering Bouchercon this year. Seems too far off in the future to make plans, but I’m usually mistaken about that. There are an awful lot of writer friends attending who I’d love to see again and/or meet in Real Life, and Janet, of course. She has been very kind to me over the years. Seems only fair to show my appreciation by stalking her at a con.

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  20. I’m hopping over quite late from Janet’s blog. I’m the blogger who finally cracked and said, “Well, if they hate it, tough. I’m going to have my say.” And I’ve been putting my brutal inappropriate opinion out there. Had some good discussions as a result. Don’t try it if you’re not ready though.

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  21. Hey, Jen, thanks for stopping by! I’ll have to go over and check out your brutal inappropriateness, see whether it matches mine. I am way behind on that effort. Too much life in my life lately.

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