Wit, Intrigue and Pragmatism…the ways to WordPress’s Heart.

The Freshly Pressed page: an honour, a privilege, a highly sought-after yet elusive territory into which every WordPress wants to gain access. If you aspire to have your much toiled-over blog post invited into this blogospherical popular group of sorts then you are very much like me. But don’t feel silly (I tell myself), don’t feel shallow (I tell myself) and don’t feel as if your priorities are in the wrong order (I tell myself) for the Freshly Pressed podium is simply a very effective method of exposing your message to a broader audience. And isn’t that the very purpose of blogging? (It is, it is!)

Freshly Pressed

Having scrutinised the Freshly Pressed page on a daily basis since the founding of Free Page Numbers, I’ve noticed a particular trend, one that everyone’s probably already aware of (I should stop flattering my own detective skills) but that I’ll point out anyway:

Titles of Freshly Pressed blog posts are usually one or more of the following:

  • Witty – Some even make you laugh out loud and you haven’t even clicked the link yet.
  • Suggestive of useful information – “Gee, I always did want to know how to do that!”
  • Intriguing – You just cannot help but find out what the title is alluding to.
  • Grammatically Correct – Rarely, if ever, will you stumble upon misspellings in the titles of the Freshly Pressed.

For example, there is currently a Freshly Pressed post titled ‘What Can You See in Fifty-Five Minutes and Thirty Seconds?’  which I judge to meet two of my four Freshly Pressed criteria: Intriguing and Grammatically Correct.

There is also one titled ‘How Watching Football is Like Dancing’ which meets three of my criteria: Grammatically Correct, Intriguing and Witty.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a final example: a recently Freshly Pressed blog post was labelled ‘How to Fake Your Own Death‘, a title that just so happens to meet all four of my criteria: Witty, Suggestive of useful information (who doesn’t want to know that?), Intriguing and Grammatically Correct.

So, having quite concretely established the keys to WordPress’s heart, I must now assess whether this post is worthy of some Freshly Pressed love:

  • Is it witty? Given that I think everything that comes out of my own mouth is utterly hilarious, I’m probably not the most unbiased source to ask but that small element of subjectivity aside, I think I’ll toot my own horn and say, of course it’s bloody witty!
  • Is it intriguing? “…the ways to WordPress’s Heart.” That’s intrigue right there, my friend.
  • Is it suggestive of useful information? Well, given that every WordPress blogger harbours a secret desire to be Freshly Pressed, I’m going to say that yes, a title that indicates a path to the Mother of Blogging’s heart is definitely suggestive of useful information. Vital information, even.
  • Is it grammatically correct? I am, if nothing else, a stickler for correct grammar.

Quite obviously and undeniably, this is a post worthy of a spot on the Freshly Pressed podium. Whether it actually features there or not is an entirely different story but let us all sleep peacefully knowing that it at least merited it!

So there you have it, my friends. If you want to win WordPress’s heart, make sure your posts are cocktails of wit, intrigue, pragmatism and grammar and you’ll soon all be partying it up in what is essentially the platinum lounge of the blogging world!

Itchy Feet

Itchy feet, wanderlust, the travel bug…whatever you want to call it, I have it. As you all know I’ve been campaigning for my own cause as of late: to raise the required funds to attend New York University. But NYU Welcome Week is in less than a month and I reached a point a couple of weeks ago where I could no longer deny the obvious…NYU is just not meant to feature in my very near future. Yes, I cried. A chucked a few things across the room. I wallowed pitifully in my own devastation. But the mourning period is over and I feel strangely liberated. My future is no longer clouded by one momentous, insurmountable goal but is instead a wide open playground of opportunity and adventure. What am I going to do with it? Eat, play, travel. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved travel. And at the ripe old age of nineteen, I feel finally ready to embark on my first solo exploration of the world. Who shall keep me company, you may ask? All of you! I plan to write about my travels, ideas, discoveries and so I’ve set up yet another blog: The Jungle Notebook. Named so for my love of the Disney film (based on a book) and for my plans to lose myself entirely in the cultural jungle that is Europe.

Join me, if you so please. Let us get lost.

Rescue us from Research

Academic writing…boring or brilliant? I suppose it depends on your interests, your style and the content of whatever it is that you’re writing or reading. For me personally, I connect academic writing with a long, painful and tiresome research process. High school Ancient History assignments scarred me for life. But in spite of it being the bane of my academic existence, I can acknowledge that research really is quite necessary to the production of a quality report, essay or thesis. This importance therefore, has prompted me to consider how best to go about researching for an academic piece of writing and what it is that has us all so often frustrated.

I’m contemplating writing a little ‘How to’ manual for academic research but I really would like to directly address the major concerns, questions, frustrations and desires of those who research. And who better to ask than my clever cohort of bloggers?

Tell me:

  • What are your best tips for how to research?
  • What are your biggest frustrations when researching?
  • Are there any aspects of the research process that confuse you?
  • If you were to have a ‘How to Effectively Research?’ manual, what questions would you like it to answer?

The New York Dream

Let me begin by offering a huge thank you to everyone offering their support, wisdom, advice and encouragement with regard to my dream of raising enough to attend New York University! You are all legends and I cannot adequately express how appreciative I am!

One blogger in particular, Messenger555, suggested I set up a personal donation page on the wesbite GoFundMe. So I did! It can’t hurt, right?

This is the link to what I hope to be the miracle dream-enabler website:

http://www.gofundme.com/newyorkdream

If you would like, I would be insanely, incredibly, impossibly appreciative if you would share this link on your own blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! Spread the word! The challenge has begun!

Once again, a big thank you to everyone!

New York University

Because bloggers can brainstorm.

It cannot be denied that those built for blogging possess superior powers of creative juice brewing and brainstorming. The formation of ideas and opinions for the purpose of entertaining the online masses is a skill to be cherished and celebrated and…shared! As loyal and valued (notice the sucking up?) members of my blogospherical circle, I am well aware that you are all cunningly clever, insanely imaginative and spectacularly supportive. And so, with that in mind, I have a teensy weensy little favour to ask…

As I’ve mentioned once before, I was so very lucky to be accepted into New York University’s undergraduate college. As a Zimbabwean girl having lived in a small Australian town since I was seven, the opportunity to live, breath and study in a city as abundant with art, writing and theatre as New York takes my breath away. Never before have I wanted something quite as much as I want the opportunity to…to grasp this opportunity. I would study literature, creative writing, philosophy, theatre, film. I would be exposed to a plethora of like-minded people, of chances to develop my skills and write professionally, of theatre and film experiences and of opportunities to grow, explore and discover as both an artist and as a person.

It would be the greatest adventure of my nineteen year old life and it would be the beginning of everything that I want to do, feel and become. If you’ll excuse the corny nature of what I’m about to say, I’ll let myself be honest with you: I feel it my heart and in my bones that I could be something great, something extraordinary. That I could do and create incredible things to share with the world. And again, in my heart I feel that New York University is the window.

However, with every great opportunity there is a great obstacle and here is mine: I do not have $60,000 to pay for NYU. As an international student, I am ineligible for financial aid. And as a nineteen year old with no collateral, students loans are borderline impossible. But I have to somehow find a way and here is where I ask you to join me for a blogospherical brainstorming party!

The challenge: Three months. Sixty thousand dollars.

As the best and the brightest (undeniably) of the universe, us bloggers now have a challenge. Can we do it? (Notice my use of the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’?) Can we creatively finance this otherworldly endeavour? Can we come up with an idea, a plan, a way?

I promise, when I’m one day writing for the New York Times or am accepting my first Oscar, you will all be first on my list of people to thank.

“Balloon Dreams” – a poetic masterpiece.

In response to my Writing Challenge, I had a single entry! Although I was greedily hoping for a few more stories and poems to indulge in, the one entry that I did receive was of such a high calibre so as to have me grinning with manic glee.

The extraordinarily talented poet, Geetanjali, submitted a poem titled “Balloon Dreams” and I can honestly say that it is one of the most beautiful and affecting specimens of poetic expression that I’ve ever read. So, forgetting momentarily that it was the only entry, let us all congratulate this wonderful writer for a wonderful poem!

Shall we take a moment to enjoy it?

“Balloon Dreams”

She let herself fly
High up in the sky
Above from the madness
& things which made her cry.

To the balloon dreams she clung
And let her-self be flung
Into the depths of dream clouds
And in deep sleep she sunk.

Heartaches no more
She could feel her spirit soar
High and high
Reaching out to the door.

There will be no more pain
Disappointment will not rain
For she flew far far away
Never to rise again.

~Geetanjali

Balloon Dreams

Your Challenge, if you choose to accept…

Today marks the first Free Page Numbers Writing Challenge!

As I first said in my post, A penny for your thoughts?, I’ve been toying with the idea of engaging you all in a little bit of creative fun. Fiction, while arguably the most imaginative, free and amusing style of writing, is probably also the hardest to write well, especially if you’re plot-challenged like me. Everyone has different methods of stimulating that little lump of brain that does of all the colourful, constructive, creative thinking but when it comes to beginning a short story or, more to the point, not knowing where to begin a short story, I find that pictures, quotes and first lines work wonders!

So, to the challenge! If you’re willing to let your imagination loose on a page for a little while, then you should be game for this. Your challenge is to take the picture below and let it inspire, incite and coerce your creative juices into pumping out a miniature short story. The final product needn’t resemble the picture in any way but see where it takes you! There is no word limit and no rules regarding theme, style or content. All you need to do is submit your story to me via the comment tool for me to compare against the works of your blogospherical peers!

Be creative, be free, don’t stress, remember how very informal this is and have fun!

I give you 24 hours to whip up a little specimen of imaginative writing! GO!

Your Stimulus:

A penny for your thoughts?

I have been struck by what I believe is an excellent idea!

I love fiction and I love short stories but I find it devastatingly difficult to actually write fiction myself. It’s not a fear of style or grammar or structure that injects me with writer’s block, it’s a complete and total lack of ideas regarding plot and character. In the past, I’ve used pictures or lines or quotes as forms of stimulus from which to begin and this works magic with the imagination. Every single one of the stories that I’ve managed to squeeze out of my pen were conceived in the ‘My Pictures’ file on my computer.

So to my idea! Please share your honest and potentially brutal opinions with me.

I was considering instituting a weekly miniature short story competition for all of my readers. I will post a picture or a quote or just a first line and you get a certain period of time to run with your imaginations, employ your brilliant writing skills and whip up a fantastical specimen of fiction for the blogosphere! You can either enter your story via the comment tool or email it to me and I will announce a weekly winner! It would be far from official or strict and would simply be just a fun and free way of creatively frolicking together in the bookish blogosphere.

Please leave me your thoughts on this idea!

I come back bearing gifts!

If a lack of commitment to the blogosphere was punishable by law I would probably be in prison. Rotting away like the guilty fiend that I so shamefully am. It has been quite a while since I last posted and even longer since I actually did any decent writing so I would like to apologise to those of you who actually enjoy what I write (if there is actually anybody who does. If not, I apologise to my imaginary reader friends.) My excuses for such a prolonged absence are pathetic and weak and not worth your time so let’s just pin it down to a temporary lapse in sanity, shall we? The good news is that I’m back! And that I pledge from here on into infinity to blog with fervour and regularity! Hurrah!

To prove my sincerity and good intentions and to assure you that I’m not a flighty blogger who’s just toying with your emotions before running away again and leaving your inner nerds cold, alone and unstimulated, I return bearing a bookish gift:

Books

You may not fully appreciate the humour of this quote if you’re not familiar with the song lyrics upon which it’s based but just start singing it to the tune of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’ and you won’t be able to resist a smile.