Friday, November 11, 2011

Whither the Interrobang?

I'm having one of those "I need a blog for tomorrow and haven't a clue as to what to write about" days. I'd like to say (and think) that this type of day is very rare, but alas...and seemingly is not. It is indeed true that often an idea pops into my head and I sit down at the computer and go from the first word to the last without so much as a pause. More often, I find myself rummaging through the cluttered closet of my mind until I come up with something I fancy or think I can use. But there are times, like today, where trying to find something to write about is akin to drilling for oil, with all the labor involved and no guarantee that I'm going to find what I'm looking for.

Since I never throw away anything I've written, I often start a blog, get a few sentences into it, and then abandon it for any one of a dozen reasons. I then carefully save however much I'd managed to write on the subject to my "Dorien Grey and Me" blog file, prefacing the title with either a "U"...for "unfinished"...or a "UB"..."unfinished, begun" with the date I started writing it and the title. This gives me an idea, at a glance, how long it's been sitting there. I just checked, in hopes of having one of the unfinished titles strike a spark which I then might use to kindle a brilliant and memorable blog. Nothing. And I note to my great dismay that I have 23 prospective but unfinished blogs prefaced by "U" and, purely coincidentally, another 23 prefaced by "UB". That's 46 potential blogs--three months' worth, were I to complete them all (which I know I'll never do).

And just sitting here, I've come up with the title and idea for a future blog (no time to do it before tomorrow, I'm afraid) called "A Garden of Words," comparing outdated and arcane words ("prithee," "thee/thou/thine/thy," "mayhaps") with exotic hothouse flowers. Well, soon, I hope.

However immodestly, I do think I have a gift for catchy titles, and there are a number of pretty good ones in the Unfinished pile: "Druthers," "Whither the Interrobang?" (which I just stole to use as the title for what I'm writing now), "MacArthur Park," "Life in the Rabbit Hole," "Your Career in Spam," to name a few. Whether I'll ever get around to finishing any of them is unknown, and I sometimes find that the title sounds better than what comes up when I start to get into it. It's most likely why I have so many in my Unfinished list.

I've noticed that many bloggers tend to have...well, specialties. My friend Kage Alan writes always-humorous pieces about his partner, "Pookie" (a.k.a. Ralph) and Ralph's Chinese grandmother, who to Kage is "the Godmonster." I admire Kage, and anyone who can consistently find humor in the most ordinary things. As you may have noticed, I tend to dwell on one the secondary subject of the past. Kage's goal is to amuse, and he succeeds. My goal, as so often stated, is, by spreading myself out before you like the entrails of an owl, that you might read in them some things about yourself to which you've never given much consideration...or considered to be something only you have thought or experienced.

Blogs are, I feel, a very effective tool for a writer. It provides a way to reveal himself/herself to the reader in a way far different than in a book, and to show himself/herself (Oh, dear God! Here we go again with this ridiculous "politically correct" nonsense!) as a human being, not merely, as the wonderful Frank Morgan describes himself in his role of the Wizard of Oz "the man behind the curtain." And while I always consider my books to be a form of conversation between myself and the reader, I feel blogs give me the chance to get closer to the reader--and in far fewer words than I can in a book.

So let's hear it for blogs and their ability to build shorter, less elaborate bridges between me and you.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

If you were a cook looking for something to eat at a friend's house who rarely did any shopping, you'd have just made a gourmet meal out of eggs, garlic salt, fried ham and a little leftover cheese.

Somehow, sir, even when you feel you don't have a topic, you always manage to come through. Not finding the owl entrails appetizing, though.

btw, that Kage guy sounds like a git. His partner's Grandmonster is evil though. I've heard the stories.