Saturday, August 21, 2010


A beautiful person just asked me about how to get started blogging. I was going to answer her email personally however when I began I found that I was sharing information that others might find helpful too.

I was first encouraged to blog in a meeting of the Canadian Author's Association. The president of the BC Federation of Writers had come back from a trip where she'd been visiting various editors and publishers. What she learned was that these people appreciated artists having blogs. Blogs gave them more insight into the people they were investing money in. Apparently the problem in the industry, which has grown lean and mean in recent years, was the one shot wonder. This was the author or artist who produced only one good work. Publishers invested money and time into 'branding' an author and work and were so often disappointed by the failure of the authors and artists in the past to continue. Often they don't make much money off the first book or works that they back and it's only in the continuation of the work of the artist that the publishers, editors and backer really make their profit.

I certainly appreciated this concern as a friend who was a record producer described how often he'd been 'burnt' by bands that fell apart after their first album. He said that this was why he had stopped backing bands with anyone in them that had a drug and alcohol problem because this was the principal problem he'd identified that lead to the short life of creative individuals and groups.

I personally had invested thousands of dollars in friends 'art' and 'music' only to lose the money because the individuals became alcoholics and their work which might otherwise have appreciated and made me money gathered dust and was overpriced 'pretty' but certainly not 'art' that I could even sell at the original price. I put it down to being a parent for friends, supporting their dreams and wondering if one day they will ever give up the drugs and/or alcohol and find the creativity and genius I'd seen in them before they gave it to the bottle or drugs.

That night I went home and started a blog. I used the Google "Blogger". It's on the google top bar when you pull down the "more". It really was very easy to do and follow through. I do know computers and such but the directions were rather 'idiot proof'. I had a blog set up and running really quickly adding pictures and videos and ultimately adding devices. I even tried to 'monetize' but there's no money in that as Google has it set up so that one gets a penny only if a person clicks on a 'google ad'. I never bothered to remove it when I realized that it was a bit of a scam and that someone was getting a whole lot for very little. I liked the fact that Google had the blog and that I could blog as others could so didn't particularly worry. There's probably ways to maximize income with blogging. I've not really looked into this much. Just every once in a while I'll "play" at the computer and add something to the blog like the 'monetize' or another time I joined it to Facebook and another time I added a stat counter. I see something someone else has and wonder in a computer geeky way, how do they do that, and if it doesn't take much time I do it.

I confess blogging has become something of an addiction. It's definitely detracted from my regular professional writing. I used to make hundreds or thousands of dollars a year publishing articles. I would write something like I do on the blog and then maybe edit it a few days later and send it to an editor and they'd kindly print it and send me a cheque. I rather liked that. Indeed the first cheque I got for writing 40 years ago I wished I'd framed rather than having spent like any other old money.

Writing is one of my joys in life. Sharing my thoughts with others. I've loved learning and teaching and writing and all that and over the years have enjoyed it much as I've enjoyed photography. I took pictures for a newspaper once as I also had a newspaper column once. The column paid me $100 a piece and the pictures got $20 a picture. That was a quarter century or more a go. Big money at the time. It was a city journal. Now I might make anywhere from $500 to $1000 for an article. I've just taken whatever the 'going' rate was. I've done so much pro bono work in my own regular work and in my writing but feel I should pay lip service to "business". It's not really something I've paid much attention to and yet I'm envious of people who are rich and acknowledge that they've focused more on this matter than I. I'm grateful that I have what I have.

So blogging has allowed me to 'connect' without that step where I send a letter to an editor and wait for a response. It's removed the paycheque from the equation too. I wonder about that. Yet I love the direct access. I began a diary when I was a teen ager and kept it for all the intervening years. An ex wife destroyed or kept my diaries, I believe, out of spite, or simply because she didn't care or because she thought she was doing the world a favour. I remember thinking that I'd always planned when I was older to write a book and here I was missing bits and pieces of the record. I had so much literally 'stolen' in the divorce process, poetry, paintings, sketches, wood work. I know no judge cares about this. It's like all that refridgerator art of children that has no 'value' to the world of politics and law. That's why I think money so often misses the mark and that so much of what is of the greatest value you can't buy.

I guess that's why I like the 'elusive butterflies' of thought getting out there. I've been fascinated by how 'censorship' of adults serves the most tyrannical governments. Right now India is interfering with Blackberry claiming it's for the 'good of the people' but as I've got older I've come to think when I hear it's for the 'good of the people' mostly somebody saying "it's good for me."

So I blog. It's direct. It's immediate. I've taken blogs I've written edited them and then sent them off for publication.

I was a very private person until my divorce. In my divorce all the lies and misinformation and personal details of my life and anyone else who chose to marry and was punished for not achieving perfection (dying in the saddle) became public domain. I think that caused me to feel that I'd rather have my 'diary' be public rather than have people read about me what others thought. I'm not my best advocate. I have enemies. People who don't are usually empty skin. Lives of quiet desperation. If you don't have scars you've never really done anything to threaten the tyranny and abuse that is prevalent wherever we turn. In deed the sad truth is that if you haven't any 'scar's you may well be the problem. The priviledged protected few are not the solution I envision. They're not the solution that the great religious leaders and indeed political leaders envisioned either.

I'm looking forward to reading the Autobiography of Anne Murray. I heard an interview of her on TV and she said the same thing. She'd rather people heard it from her rather than heard it from her detractors. She'd heard a biography was going to be written and decided to get out her autobiography. Anne Murray is one of my favorite Canadian singers and I do look forward to getting to know her better.

The other thing is that there is 'too much information' today. The problem is sorting it through. I was one of the greatest fans of Paul Johnson's writings. His history of Christianity is one of the very best as is his New York Times bestseller, Modern Times. Now a mistress has said he's been seeing her and he likes 'spanking'. Now this genius and great man of letters is known as "spanker Johnson". Lady Di was a drunk too. Prince Charles wanted to be Camillia's tampon.

I think we collectively have to get over the primitive hypocrisy that allows the very rich and powerful to buy or kill anyone that may ruin 'their' reputation. Bill Gates could like little boys but we'd never know it today unless the Apple Company was trying to discredit him. I don't think Bill Gates likes little boys. His wife is hot and he's one of my heros, just as Steven Jobs is. Yet as a society and the media we'll continuing to be swayed by 'false allegations' and "ad hominem's" without realizing that none of us get to know what the Bush family really does at private dinners. Maybe George gets his peepee out and his mother spanks it. Maybe Hillary liked to watch Clinton and Monica. I think that the media with it's 'one picture' and one sound bite and it's rank sensationalism has to be countered by the 'blog'. In a blog you get a 'bigger picture'.

When my friend went to prison for selling marijuania, I didn't think he was a 'bad' man. I didn't think his selling marijuania was good but the British Empire was built on selling booze and opium whereas the American empire is built on selling weapons. Knowing him as a guy who cared for his children, built things, told funny stories, I kept it in context of what the judge who I didn't know said about him.
My ex patriot friends from behind the Iron Curtain said that everyone knew someone who was 'out' eventually. Now everyone knows someone in North America who is 'out' in some context. Martha Stewart and Conrad Black are both scapegoats.

I think the blog gives a fuller dimension of anyone and counters that movement back to the utter hypocrisy of church and government of yesteryear. I encourage people to judge the fuller context of the information and where it is coming from because increasingly there are 'conflicts of interest' and marketing has given us the god awful "Golden Marbles" awards. I think Christianity is right when it says we're all sinners. I know the blog makes me vulnerable. But mostly it frees me.

The way search engines work is that people will find a blog based on the title. The fact is that few people are interested in Gilbert. I am. Laura is. My family is. My friends are. But when I write an article on a movie people check the blog and mostly don't look further. There's a new 'information age' that we're apart of. People learn in ways that are more holistic. I just tapped into a Chilean's blog because I liked what he said about something I was interested in. I liked his diversity of interests. I saw rapidly that he really was an 'authority' on the subject of interest. I check out people's blogs to see if they're just 'one dimensional' or phony or hustlers or really are true people I might want to learn from.

The institutions used to 'control' information by 'certification' and diplomas. I have so many certificates and diplomas and mostly found that I had to work under people who only had 'position authority' and 'raw power'. All freedoms frighten people with power because quite simply 'the reformer is the enemy of anyone who benefits from the status quo'. I'm a conservative and know that God is ultimately in charge so I trust the process more than another might.

The blog is amusing too. People comment. People tell me they read it. I remember when I wrote articles in the most prestigious medical journals that were juried and had all the trappings of power. Well, none of my colleagues read them. They're like the PHD treatises that support university. The Medical Post is the doctors' newspaper in Canada. It goes to everyone in medicine for free. I wrote for that and always I heard back about articles and stories I wrote. So I kept writing. I didn't need to 'publish or perish'. I had more writing and publications of note than many of my academic colleagues but whereas I'd shown the integrity to be a whistleblower on a corrupt imposter and killer those very same colleagues had stayed 'mom' and been rewarded by maintaining the 'lie'. Owen Barfield wrote the book "keeping up appearances'. The politics of the university has been said to make real politics look like children's play. I guess I was more interested in something else, that elusive butterfly thing.

It concerns me that I'm critical of some of my colleagues. I'd rather be like King Lear who paraphrased said "we'll laugh about who's in who's out and such courtly things." I like myself best when I'm able to be amused at my own and others foibles. I liked that Scott Peck called Earth, God's kindergarden.

I recently thought to publish a paper in an 'academic' journal but the process of 'submission' was such that it served the 'academic'. I'm in the 'front line' trenches. I know that we know the 'truth'. It's raw and right in our face. My 'academic' colleagues who write alot of the 'stuff' are often 'dead wrong' and eventually will be shown as such but the very nature of their work allows them all the time involved in 'courtly' things. Beurocracies are forever creating hoops and games that let only their own in, just like Kafka's Castle. I like the blog because it's simple.

I miss the editors. I've had some of the greatest editors at the Medical Post and other journals I've written for. The CAnadian Medical Association Journal had some good people and some of the newspaper editors have been saints. One rejected an article I wrote but kindly explained why it was 'shit'. That doesn't happen much these days. Most editors don't have the time. I've been an editor of a magazine too and I don't judge those who haven't the 'time' today. So few of us do now that we have all the 'time saving' machines.

Anyway that's blogging. There are other blogs. They're listed somewhere. I've loved Google Blogger. It's interfaced with Twitter and Youtube. I found when I got the Ipad it was difficult at first but Blogpress is a really good interface. Hope that helps.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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