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About this time last year, I announced the start of my off-site blog, A Pencil Is Best. it's anniversary time, and I thought I'd report back. Is it still going? would be my first question in your shoes. Yes, it is, and doing pretty well. When I started out, I had no idea how I would generate enough material to keep a blog going. Although I have to say, part of that came from the idea that I had to post x number of things over a certain period for the blog to justify itself. I'm over that now, thankfully. I still post regularly, but without the edge of I have to do this. I am helped in creating content by @Parker Owens. Parker followed the blog even before it really got going, and it wasn't long before I recruited him as a 'staff member'. He adds some of his wonderful poetry into the posting mix. I am grateful and so happy that he does so. One thing the blog does on a regular basis is to promote GA. Occasionally it's a piece that refers directly back to this site, but more often we include pointers. When I post material that was seen here first for example, there's always a link back to the site. I can't pretend it's created a noticeable flow of traffic direct from the blog, but I'm pleased to have an opportunity to promote the site which started me writing. This brings me back to creating new content. Maintaining my writing commitments here doesn't leave a huge amount of time for other things. Fortunately, I was introduced to YeahWrite, a blog that hosts a weekly prompt challenge (amongst a whole host of other writing-related material). I started out by thinking this was fairly easy. My mistake. It isn't; it really isn't. To include two prompts within a maximum of 750 words, making a complete story out of it, and writing well, is hard work. And it has to be done in 4-5 days. What was I saying about not having much time? I don't take part every week, but it has stretched my writing in all sorts of directions: voice, genre, incorporating single words or actions into unlikely scenarios ... The other thing that makes me grow as a writer is the feedback. We are all encouraged to give feedback on other entrants (something I still find rather daunting), but it's the crit from the volunteer YeahWrite editor that usually hits home the hardest. He always finds something good to focus on first, then he zeroes in on everything else. Some weeks there's very little wrong; others, he points out some of the holes and failings in that week's attempt. There's little hedging - he doesn't have the time. At first, I had something of a WTF reaction. Now, I accept his crits, grimacing when he highlights something I know to be weak, considering other elements which I liked and he doesn't. It makes the times when he gives out nearly unqualified praise very special. 'Very nicely done' always makes me smile. In fact when I've posted this, I'll have to get back to the next challenge: Write a first-person story in which you use the first-person pronoun (I or me or my) only two times. And include an amulet. Ideas, anyone?
In a moment of January madness, I decided to inflict my writing on the wider, virtual public by starting a blog on WordPress. I already blog on there in a work capacity, but this is rather different. This is me (as northie) putting myself out there in a very crowded arena. I'm under no illusions about the amount of attention it'll garner, but I think it's worth a whirl. A Pencil Is Best serves both to display my writing, but also to promote the community here. If it results in additional interest for GA, I will be very happy. In addition to republishing a number of my shorts from here, I hope to be using some of the prompts available from other bloggers. Although I have to say, my current writing time is pretty much taken up already. I'll see. From time to time, I'll also be using the blog to give form to some of the many thoughts about writing and the creative process which swim around my head. So if you're already a WordPress denizen, or you simply pass through occasionally, please stop by to say hi. By just going to the site, I will know someone has looked at it (and believe me, that'll be something worthy of note ), or if you're feeling adventurous, anyone may leave a comment. However, there is one significant proviso: you can call yourself whatever you want as the name to go with the comment, but it will only be accepted if you give a valid email address. As the 'owner' of the blog, I see that address along with the comment (it is never displayed publicly). I realise that might be a significant disincentive, but still ... As the title says, I'm venturing forth. What will result? Who knows ...