Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


A New Lens on Life

Earlier this year I bought a used Canon 5D MII. Best decision ever. I’ve actually never owned a *real* camera, one that takes super nice photos, where you can control things. There are obviously more advanced cameras than this one out there, but the Canon 5D MII is a Very Good Camera.

Not only does it take gorgeous photos, but it also shoots beautiful video. When I lived in Los Angeles, I worked with professional camera people, and rarely shot my own footage. The fact that I can shoot video now is significant. It gives me a freedom I haven’t experienced in a long time. With this camera, I am re-training my eyes, learning a new instrument, practicing how to capture the world around me with both still and moving images.

It’s by far the healthiest move I’ve made in a long time.

Here are some still images from the past few months… I’ll post videos in the next post.


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


Meta Monday

It’s in my nature to obssess about new things. When I buy a new pair of shoes, jeans or anything, I tend to wear them every day until either they develop holes or the obssession runs its course. Same with music. I must have listened to Jill Scott’s Who is Jill Scott? and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill at least three times a day when those albums debuted. Naturally, when I first started blogging, I checked the stats all the time, especially after I posted. I’m better about it now, although just recently WordPress updated their app for Androids. Now my phone beeps and buzzes with any new like, comment or follower, in addition to email notifications, thereby making it that much harder to ignore (I need to change a setting somewhere to minimize the noise).

Not that I’m trying to ignore the stats completely. They provide certain information that I’m still learning how to analyze. They show me which subjects appeal to readers more, which days of the week tend to get more views than others, which search terms (some pornographic) lead to my blog. They also let me know from which blogs readers come to my blog, and to which blogs people go from my blog. One of the strange trends lately is the number of followers I get over the weekend, when I hardly ever post, usually from foreign countries. I’ve also noticed that some blogs have less followers but significantly more views, and others have tens of thousands of followers but very few comments. How do we know if people actually read our blogs if people don’t leave comments?

For the record, RidingBitchblog is officially eight months old (first post 10/18/12), has 585 followers, 7,446 views (1,121 of which happened on the day I was Freshly Pressed), and 115 posts including this one. I once compared blogging to building the pyramids in Egypt, one brick at a time. I’d like to amend that statement by saying blogging is a helluva lot more fun than building the pyramids could ever have been. I’m also not quite as shy about it as I used to be, though I still don’t post on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Thank you, as always, for being a part of this amazing experience.

Have you learned anything from your stats?


Getting Closer to Organized

Following up to yesterday’s post, I think I have successfully solved my quest to be more organized thanks to the advice from PaulaB at http://thetemenosjournal.com/ (wonderful blog, go read it). I ended up deleting the page menus I’d set up yesterday and adding category menus instead. Then I went back through all my posts and changed the categories from the previous mish-mash to one or two of the following:

Industry Fridays – posts about the business of art
Life – posts about what’s happening now (online journalish)
Memories – posts about the past
Ruby – puppy posts
Wheels – anything to do with motorcycles
Quotes – cool things said by others

Now, if you click on the above categories you will see the progression of posts on these subjects. The coolest one for me is the Ruby category because you can see from the pictures how she’s growing. Industry Fridays now makes more sense too. Conversely, other categories like Quotes and Wheels need more material, espcially the latter. For a blog called Riding Bitch, I need to actually be riding! Not to mention that I miss it and fear I’ve forgotten everything already. But I digress.

For anyone interested in organizing your posts in a similar fashion, hopefully these steps will make sense:

Go to your dashboard, click on Appearance, then hit Menus. You will see a box for Pages and a box for Categories. The categories will be the ones you have already been using. If you don’t see all of them, hit View All (instead of Most Used). If you still don’t see them, go back to Edit mode any of your posts and manually add the categories you want. Then go back to Appearance/Menus/Categories.

Once you see all the categories, click on the ones you want to filter your posts with, then click Add to Menu and name your Menu. You can move the category boxes to the order you want them to read on your blog by simply clicking and dragging them. Any time you want to preview the result, just hit Save Menu and go back to your blog.

After that, you might want to go back through your posts like I did and clean up your categories. I deleted all the extraneous ones so my only choices are the six mentioned above.

In the end, your posts should show up in chronological order under the new tab you set up for your category.

If that doesn’t happen, go to the Support page and ask the experts because I ain’t no expert. I’m literally teaching myself as I go, asking for advice from others and very grateful to have blogging friends who know more than I do!

Good luck.


Getting Organized (sort of)

Not sure if anyone noticed, but the blog has a slightly new look today. And pages! I’m trying to organize my posts so if you want to read the posts on memories, you can click on that page, or if you only want to read the Industry Friday posts, you can click on that page, and so on. Not quite 100% there yet. Now that I have pages, I’m still trying to figure out how to publish a post to a specific page. I created submenus and they are catching some of the right posts but also some of the wrong posts, which defeats the purpose. It might be that I’m doing the submenus inocrrrectly, or I’m categorizing/tagging my posts incorrectly.

Also, since changing the theme of this blog to Yoko, I seem to have lost the ability to feature My Peeps as before. And some of the Likes have disappeared. It just says “Loading…” next to the Like button (for me, at least).

I’m sure the solutions are simple and I’m just not hitting the right buttons. It’s both frustrating and rewarding to teach myself this program. I spent much of today on the Support page instead of writing. Then again, when I first started the blog 4 months ago, I didn’t know one iota about WordPress so I have made some progress.

Thank you for bearing with me. More interesting posts to follow soon, I promise.