Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avocational Blogger

Just like I'm learning how to sing, I'm also learning how to blog.  I only started this blog last summer, and I've been learning as I go.  Although I have chosen to write my blog about my passion for singing, this blog really is secondarily about my singing for me, and primarily about my passion for writing.

The topics that I choose to write about are like the songs and arias that I choose to sing.  I am a being that has a pressure inside to express, express the self, in some way or another.  There are so many modes of expression an  artist or craftsman has to choose from.  The two that call to me are music and writing, and with this blog, I have found a way to bring the two together in an amazing way.

A writer needs something to write about, just as a singer needs something to sing about.  If we are not really plunging into life and experiencing it, and getting to know ourselves, then we will be limited in what we have to sing/write about.  Or will we be?

Over the years, I have known that I love to write, but never considered that I would be able to do it because I felt so common and ordinary of a person that I couldn't imagine that anyone would want to read it.  There didn't seem to be anything "special" or extraordinary about my life.  As much as I love to dabble in being knoweldgeable about things, there is so little I know, that I can't write as an expert about anything.  I have experienced a lot of failure and frustration, but I wouldn't want to write about that all the time because it would be such a downer.

Yet, whenever an article or blurb of wisdom about writing would cross my desk, a message would continually present itself to me:

"Write about what you know."

But what if you are a writer who does not know anything?  The answer these writing sages and gurus always seem to give is "everyone knows about something."  But for years I have been searching my brain to figure out what I know about.  Everything I know about, however, is known by so many people who know it better and more thoroughly than I do.  This same dilemma can confront the singer as well, especially an avocational singer.  More often than not, and I am speaking generally, an avocational singer is not singing on the high level that a top professional singer is singing.   The singer would like to sing, but is confronted with the reality that there are other people out there singing who sing better.  Just like I would ask myself the questions, why should I write when others can do it so much better and with so much more knowledge than I, I could also ask, why should I go out there and sing, when there are others far better than I am?

Yet, what remains is this need and desire to express one's self as an artist, no matter what that level may be.  Every person should have this flow in their lives, of expressing their inner being.  Some people do it through fashion.  Some people do it through the way they keep their houses.  Some people do it through the way they entertain and throw parties.  They choose these venues for this expression because they have a knack for it and it is what they love.

So, after many years of wanting to write, I have finally decided that I want to write about my experience of being an avocational singer.  I may not know much about all the current opera singers of the day.  I may not know the buzz going on in the industry.  I may not know the intracacies of vocal science.  I may not be able to give you the scoop and inside view of getting an opera up and running from soup to nuts.  I am finding that what my teacher, Susan Eichhorn Young, who always gives me so much inspiration, said in a recent blog post "Honesty ... HONESTLY!" is really true:

"You are Enough!"

So here is what I do know about:   I know what I struggle with and think about and ponder and pursue on a daily basis. I know what it's like to be an avocational singer who has been trying to learn to sing for 25 years or more.   I believe there's got to be other people out there like me, and they don't have to be singers.  They may be painters with makeshift studios set up in their basements and garages, soccer players who join the community leagues, and work out every day like they are in the big leagues, or just ordinary housewives throwing dinner parties based on inspiration they get from cooking shows and home magazines.  Everyone is entitled to be an artist. Everyone is entitled to pursue their modes of self-expression and experience the joy and pleasure of the process that goes into that. Everyone is entitled to be the level they are and to proceed without being made fun of.  One does not have to be the best, the most, or the most refined to get going and just do it!

Whatever my pursuit may be, however, I want it to be as good as I can make it at whatever level I'm at in the moment. This applies to my singing, and it also applies to my blogging.  Detail has always been important to me.  And this is getting me closer to the real purpose of this post, which is to talk about the little glitch that has happened in my presentation of this blog.

One of the details of presenting my writing in this form called blogging, is that how the blog looks and feels, and the rhythm of it is important to me.  I am thinking, not just of the writing, but how it comes across and how the person reading the blog might experience it.  Just like in singing, one may be using it for a mean's of self-expression, a communication of one's self, but that self-expression has a receiver, and the receiver has to be taken into consideration.  Part of this requires attention to visual aspects of the experience, and the rhythm.

There is something I have learned about blogging.  It is that each blog has a feed. This feed is what other blogs use to keep the latest posts current.  When I visit someone's blog, I see the feed in the list of blogs on the side of the blog.

Just like a singer finds inspiration by hearing other singers, attending recitals, catching the latest opera at the Met, browsing and listening to CDs and browsing and watching singers on youtube, a blogger will want to read the work of other writers and bloggers.  This has led me to try to find good blogs to read.

I did a google search: "How do I find good blogs?" and the answer that came up was "Technorati."

Technorati is a place where blogs are tagged and listed and you can search for blogs on topics that you like.  Not only did I find a few more blogs about singing (and other topics of interest) to read, but now I've decided that I want to get my blog listed there too.

The process for getting a blog listed is a little tedious.  First, you have to put a claim in, and then after a few days they send you a claim token to put in one of your blog posts.  They send their search engines to "crawl" you blog and find the token.  Then, they start a second phase of the process where they will decide if they are going to list your blog or not.

My inexperience with these things led me to handle this process in such a way as to end up with a messy little blotch on my blog.  I created a new post for the token, expecting to be able to delete the post from my blog later, which I have been able to do.  I didn't like the fact that this little post was going to show up in the feed and show as a new post on other blogs where I am listed, but I decided to live with it temporarily, because I would be able to make it disappear later.

Well, I did not know a deleted post will remain in the feed.

Now here is where we get to the "details matter" part of this post as the title suggests.

I am in the position of not being able to blog or add to Frescamari's Practice Room over Thanksgiving weekend.  I didn't want to leave off with the testing post for technorati sitting there in the feed on people's blog pages.  But because of my lack of time, I didn't know how to fix it.  I  tried a cosmetic makeover, where I wrote a paragraph about wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  But the rhythm and flow and feel that I want for my blog at this point would be thrown off to just have some little message like this.  It is not the effect I am trying to achieve (for better or for worse, more or less successfully). This little "Happy Thanksgiving" post was just like setting up a screen in front of an ugly pile of laundry, and I wasn't satisfied with leaving it like that for everyone.  So I made the decision that before I left the blog for a few days, I will take this time out (hope I will be ready for Thanksgiving, having done this) to leave a post of more thought and substance that may be interesting and food for thought and reflection to follow you into your holiday weekend.

I hope you will bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of blogging.  I am not a professional blogger, I am,  like my singing, an Avocational Blogger.  I expect to improve and develop as I go along.  I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to coming back on Monday sharing with  you more reflections and studio work as we head toward the end-of-year holiday seasons.

Always more to learn.  My experience with this RSS glitch (deleted post still showing up in the RSS feed) led me to find a cool blog, and maybe there will be future answers here:  "RSS Specifications: everything you need to know about RSS"


  1. It took me a while to make peace with the realization that, whatever pursuits I choose, there will always be people who are better than me and people who are worse than me. The questions for me then became, "Do I have something of value to offer the world?" and "Can I improve myself without constantly comparing myself to others?"

    FWIW, I don't see the test post in your feed...

  2. Oh, and web tech stuff is my day job, so feel free to ask me about blogs, feeds, etc. if you have problems.

  3. Thank you, Blue Yonder!! I will most certainly avail myself of your expertise when the need arises.

    I'm glad you can't see the test post in the feed. I can still see it in mine. I wonder why?