My favorite college professor would tell us, "Writing an literary analysis paper is, in essence, entering the existing dialogue on the topic. Pretend you're having some friends over for dinner. Just as you would listen to the various points of view sitting around your dining room table, and just as you would agree or dispute or at least consider, so do you need to read the published opinions of the subject you're analyzing. Respond to those in some fashion, and then -- most importantly -- add something. Don't just sit there, nodding your head."
Her advice has stuck with me through all these years: Be well-read; Enter the dialogue. It's occurred to me that this advice applies not only to writing literary analysis essays but also to many other writing endeavors, not the least of which is blogging.
1. No man is an island: I'm sure Donne will excuse my usurpation since these words ring true in the blogging world as well. Find or create a community; seek out like-minded writers and read their blogs; leave comments. Link back to posts you agree with or disagree with or find interesting.
2. Build community: If you're a lurker -- one who reads blogs but leaves no comments -- now's the time to change. Leaving a comment, even if it's just one that says Hey, I was here, I read your post, I liked it allows others to 1) realize you exist, 2) appreciate your presence, and 3) follow you back to your own blog to read your posts. Make sure that your account is set to public and provides a link to your blog. Otherwise, no one can find you.
3. Enter the dialogue: The final part of the equation is making sure that you add to the dialogue. Create posts that enhance what has already been said by going deeper into a subject or by extending the subject wider. Or provide an alternate point of view. Or disagree entirely. But somehow comment on what's been said already (making sure to link to those bloggers' posts), then add to the conversation in some fashion.
Which brings me to your blogs: I gain so much from reading your thoughts. From musings, mis-adventures, and mini-articles to victories, vices, and vanities, they all settle into my being, marinate, and filter through my subconscious in a half dozen delightful ways. Without that vital food for thought, where would I be? No doubt, stuck in the vast ocean and paddling with only one oar.
So how do you connect? In what ways do you enter the dialogue? There are so many blogs to read: how do you find the time to read, leave a comment, and then respond in some fashion?