On Long Form Writing
[In obvious conflict with the last post on keeping written thoughts in staccato mode.]
First, long is relative. But as we’ve had occasion to note here recently, it is getting shorter all the time. TL; DR.
And I’ve been aware of this, of course, looking at the statistics of my blog site all along: the average dwell time can be less than a minute. And that’s a problem on the days my blog posts run more than 300 words. A reader stops at one half or one third or one quarter of a fully-expressed thought. It’s like someone engaging in conversation, and walking out of the room while you’re pouring your heart out to them.
So what is a blogger doing, knocking himself out to find what he thinks are likely to be widely-relevant and interesting topics, spending some time–hours maybe–fine-tuning the language, nuancing the accompanying photograph, finding relevant links?
[Here’s he’s doing with all that: learning deeper into the topic being researched and written about; doing the “morning pages” exercise and growing writer muscles. Â He’s emoting and catharting and creating, and those are worthwhile endeavors. So this is to say I write for me, too. And lack of dwell time, while discouraging, has NOT been a blog killer. It rather frequently comes close.]
Lo some while back I got excited about the advent of a places for writers who have more than 140 characters worth of worth to share. One such site is well-crafted by leaders in thought and tech and design. I offered up a few pieces to the site, after blogging them, thinking maybe this placement would lead to an audience that would fan the flames that died with the decline in blog conversation.
Then I learned that anything I submit to that site is owned and becomes the commercial property of the site owners. Now that’s a deal killer. So the take-away is read the fine print.
I recommend Medium as a place to readÂ some longer and well-written pieces. But I’m not likely to submit anything more. Still, maybe I’m reading this wrong? Here’s the clause that gives one pause…
“By furnishing your User Content to Medium, you give Medium a non-exclusive worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable license to utilize all copyright rights now in existence or that may arise in the future” … Â yada yada yada. That makes me uneasy. Maybe that’s wrong.
I once had a goal, having become comfortable and somewhat capable with the 800-word essay, to weave related pieces together into more fully-fleshed-out pieces in the way that popular writers like Barbara Kingsolver so capably do.
But I’ve had to accept that a blog is not the place to explore this kind of growth as a writer, especially given my history.
I “became” a writer-storyteller at age 54 in 2002 with an instant audience through the blog. That evolution has spoiled me; my writing engine is powered by instant readers. Or at least from “readers” of customary old-form mostly-text around an image format. The blog is failing badly there. Maybe the form needs to change.
WordPress (my blogging platform) is not well endowed for more dynamic story-telling. Other media do that better. I’m exploring. Story is important.
Story is not diversion, not entertainment, not fantasy. See story as truth; story as guiding myth; story as learning metaphor to empower. The best teachers tell the best stories. We need them, and Facebook is not the place to go to find them or to tell them.
â–¶Â Here’s an interesting look at non-linear storytelling–at Medium, matter of fact! Got me thinking–rethinking–what writing-teaching-speaking future, if any, might lie ahead for me.
â–¶Â And news / press-related story telling is also changing:Â How to break away from articles and invent new story forms – American Press Institute