Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


Blogging About Controversial Subjects

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. I didn’t respond to comments like I usually do, but I did read them and greatly appreciate your taking the time to read, consider and respond, even if you didn’t agree. For those who didn’t read, the post was about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy, one could say a risky post since I usually blog about being a widow, writer, dog mom, etc., rarely about current events.

One blogger responded that writing about sensitive subjects (politics, race, religion, sex) can lead to offending and/or losing followers. That blogger is correct. Yet the comment made me think, what do we do when we feel passionately about something and it’s somewhat off-topic to our blog? This blog is a bit of a hodge-podge (‘expect the unexpected’ could be the motto). But if someone had a cooking blog, for example, then posted a political view, that might not go over well.

That said, some of the most successful writers in history wrote about extremely controversial topics (to both negative and positve consequences). The Freshly Pressed section of WordPress gives recognition to blogs in a variety of categories, including Religion, Feminism, Race, Politics, and so on. There are thousands of blogs dedicated to these subjects and others, which have large, loyal readerships even if they never get Freshly Pressed. What is it about these blogs, and the way they handle sensitive subjects, that doesn’t turn people off? How does one blog about controversial subjects?

After perusing some blogs and articles, it seems like the main piece of advice is to not to use a blog or post simply as a soap box (“This is what I believe and this is why you should agree with me!”), but to tactfully pose a point of view which readers might not normally be exposed to, or consider, otherwise (“Have you ever considered X, Y, Z?”). Humor, research, objectivity, and approach all factor in. Are you writing to people who think like you (i.e. preaching to the choir)? Or writing to a broader audience?

I used to follow a blog that mixes posts on faith with posts on writing and art. The problem (for me) was the faith-based posts seemed geared only to people of the blogger’s faith, as nearly every post (even those on writing and art) was presented though that specific prism. I tried to keep following but after a while got too annoyed. I couldn’t relate to the blogger’s point-of-view, nor was I learning anything new. It felt like this blogger wasn’t writing to me.

On the other hand, I adore the blog Love, InShallah , a blog devoted to the “the secret love lives of American Muslim women.” I’m not Moslem, but I love reading these beautiful posts and learning about the writers’ experiences, some of which include vastly different viewpoints than my own. 

Blogging is fascinating. Where else could a writer have such a direct relationship with his/her readers? Be able to exchange ideas and thoughts with people all over the world? I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t, but my goal is to always be authentic. I welcome the challenge to try and engage without offending, provoke without turning away, enlighten without preaching. I’m also aware that I can’t please everyone. As RUN-DMC said, it’s tricky.

Any experience with writing about controversial subjects?    

Related articles: 

8 100-Year Old Tips for Writing About Controversial Subjects http://www.zemanta.com/blog/8-tips-for-writing-about-controversial-topics/

Writing Controversy http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/writing-controversy/

10 Scandalous Authors From History http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/05/17/scandalous-authors_n_1524300.html


A Moment of Gratitude

I wanted to take a moment to say how grateful I am to have such a wonderful community of people reading this little blog. Your words of wisdom, encouragement, kindness and humor brighten my day wherever I am, whatever the circumstance. The stories and insights you share are treasured glimpses into your worlds and backgrounds, and allow me to know you a little better. Blogging can feel so random and lonely sometimes. We are like so many grains of sand or snow flakes. Yet, together we create these tiny bursts of light through connections of spirit. It’s a beautiful thing. Continue to shine bright, fellow bloggers. And thank you for shining here too. 🙂



Random Tying of Virtual Loose Ends

Here’s a random personal quirk for you – I can’t leave my house or sit down to write if there are dirty dishes in the sink. I think it’s some kind of aversion to unfinished business (and roaches). That has little to do with this post, except I was thinking I should follow up on a few recent posts before moving on to others.

He Who Hesitates is Poor – If you were reading the blog in April, you probably already guessed that I didn’t get the staff writing gig. If I had, there would have been a post already. I was a little disappointed but not surprised that I didn’t get it. I am very grateful for the interview, which was a great learning experience. Now I know what to expect in the future. Also, I can reveal that the show was JUSTIFIED (FX Networks). Any fans out there?  Some trivia about JUSTIFIED – the creator of the show, Graham Yost, got his big break when he sold the script for the future blockbuster movie SPEED. He’s also Canadian, a lovely man, and gracious interviewer.

Breaking Free of the Day Job – I decided not to quit my day job and instead spend the rest of this year finishing the book and writing the television pilot. The actors in the play I was going to direct couldn’t agree on the script, and the writer is going out of town for the summer, so that project is on hold for the time being (probably until fall). One less project on the plate right now is a good thing.

The Love of Cinema – In the comments, PaulaB at thetemenosjournal.com suggested a movie called THE VANISHING, about a man who searches for his missing wife for three years until he finally catches up with her abductor. I watched it a few weeks ago. Easily one of the scariest, most disturbing films I’ve ever seen, with no violence. It was brilliantly made. If you’re brave enough to check it out, I suggest watching the original Dutch version instead of the American version with Kiefer Sutherland and Jeff Bridges. Chances are you will only watch this film once. Hence, if you don’t mind subtitles, watch the original.

Rose Chimera at rosechimera.wordpress.com suggested BEN-HUR, which I also watched – twice – the second time with the commentary (with T. Gene Hatcher and Charlton Heston). Loved the film, and enjoyed the commentary too. Some trivia about BEN-HUR:

– Judah Ben-Hur was not a real person. He was a fictional character used as a witness to a historical event, similar to Scarlett O’Hara and Dr. Yuri Zhivago. In Ben-Hur’s case, he witnesses the Jesus story.

– The film was shot mostly at the famous Italian studio Cinecitta, the Italian countryside, and a couple of scenes in Israel. Between the preparation and shooting, Heston was in Italy with his wife and son for almost a year.

– The slave ship galley rowing scene was the most difficult for Heston. The oars were attached to rubber hinges which were made purposefully tight so the rowing would look realistic. It took several days to film the whole sequence so he was really tired by the end of it. (On a personal note, this sequence is one of the best in the film, second to the chariot race, and not just because Heston is half-naked and oiled up.)

– The actor who played Messala (Stephen Boyd) was actually Irish.

– The color red was purposefully used to signify Rome and “bad guys.”

– The infamous, absolutely F’ing brilliant, can’t-say-enough-about-it chariot race sequence was directed by Second Unit director, Andrew Marton. Contrary to rumor, no one was killed during the shoot, Heston is not wearing a wristwatch, and there is no Ferrari in the background of any shot. Both Heston and Boyd had to learn how to drive a 4-horse chariot for real. The production used 16 white horses and 16 black horses to represent their respective four horses and would switch them out when the horses got tired. The other chariot drivers were mostly horse handlers and character actors from American Westerns.  

– Heston repeatedly calls the director William Wyler “a nice guy” but “tough to work for.” He claims Wyler only gave him one compliment throughout the entire shoot. He also says Wyler is one of the best directors he’s ever worked with.

Thank you Paula and Rose for these great movie suggestions!

Last but not least, regarding Puppy Issues – Ruby still barks, but I’ve also become more vigilant about making her get quiet faster. I think she’s learning. In any case, we’re working on it. Here’s a recent picture of the wunder-pup with her favorite possession, a muddy ball.

Ruby, 11 months

Ruby, 11 months