“It is possible that Mrs. Johnson wasn’t evil, though I am not willing to say for sure at this juncture.” ~ Brian Meeks
This is the second in a three-part interview with Brian Meeks, who goes by the moniker “Extremely Average.” In Part I, Brian talked about why woodworking makes him a better writer, and stinking in the dark room. My questions continue:
You’re clearly a skilled writer, anything but “extremely average.” Do you have a background in professional writing, e.g. journalism, or are you one of those natural talents we all wish we could be?
That is very kind of you to say. My background is in numbers. I have a degree in Economics from Iowa State University. I don’t believe I have ever gotten above a “C” in any class relating to English or writing.
I recall in 8th grade trying to learn how to diagram sentences from Mrs. Johnson. It was a nightmare.
I didn’t learn what verbs and nouns were until I started studying French. After spending a summer in France, in 1995, and obtaining a bucket full of French credits, I had a basic understanding of English grammar.
Though I now knew the difference between an adverb and an adjective, and could use a semi-colon on occasion, I still didn’t enjoy writing.
My feeling was that writing was something one did when their evil 8th grade English teacher was punishing them.
For some unknown reason, in March of 2009, I started writing.
I wrote a novel in about 21 days. I believe it has around 78,000 words.
It is rubbish. Nobody has seen it. I did it just to see if I could.
I am not sure if that was when I got bitten by the wordsmithing bug, as a few years before I had started writing horoscopes for friends at work. This was probably the first time I wrote something I enjoyed. Each one usually ended in tragedy, they would have been more aptly named ‘horror’ scopes.
The blog started on Jan 2 of this year. I was bored, and felt compelled to write about woodworking. (Image of a business card holder © Brian Meeks, used with permission).
I have written every day since then, and done a few guest blog pieces, so I am at around 190 blog pieces year to date. I find writing to be a joy.
It is possible that Mrs. Johnson wasn’t evil, though I am not willing to say for sure at this juncture.
Can you share some dos/don’ts on good writing, especially for those who are in the business of communication?
That seems like a good question. Sadly, I am without formal training, so I am not sure how many do’s and don’ts I could come up with.
In fact, only one springs to mind,
don’t get your writing advice from a middle aged, untrained drivel writer, who mostly tries to figure out ways to include monkey, cheese, and Boutros Boutros-Ghalis into as many posts as he is able, without being pummeled and buffeted about the pate by his annoyed readers.
Another bit of advice, now this makes two, I am on a roll, try to avoid using all of your favorite words that nobody has heard of.
I believe I have used, ‘aft gang agley’ three times this year already, it is becoming problematic and I may need an intervention.
Another great don’t, try to avoid using; “I digress” in 83% of your posts. I don’t know how many times I have used it, but I am sure that it is well above 83%.
So, as you can see, I am not one to take my own advice. A 12-step program for writers may be in my future.
There are several blog posts and bloggers who write about blogging “musts” and “mustn’ts.” You seem to break many of those “rules.” What’s your take on good blogging?
I am new enough to blogging that I am not familiar with those rules. I have read that one must keep it short.
I think that it is conventional wisdom to try to stay between 400-800 words. I find that if I am on a roll I will hit 1,300.
I also don’t worry about filling my blog with SEO words. It may be a blogging mistake, but that is who I am.
If there were other rules, I would love to know about them, and be happy to address each of my violations in mind numbingly dull detail. So feel free to lob a few more my way.
Brian Meeks used to make his living in the virtual world of Second Life, where he built spaces for corporate clients under the name Ecocandle Riel. When the economy went south, he turned to Social Media and does this to feed and clothe himself. In his free time, he does… well… social media… and publishes the blog Extremely Average. He can be reached by email at ExtremelyAverageOne (a) gmail (dot) com, or by carrier pigeon at the house with the big tree out front. You can also connect with him on Twitter.