The last few weeks we’ve been dealing with a lot of terrible things and so it was difficult to write about anything else. I made myself write about ducks last week just to avoid talking about death and destruction. After all, this blog is supporting my novel, which is funny. At least it’s supposed to be. So this blog should be funny. On purpose. But this blog reflects what is going on right now, and right now hasn’t been funny in a long time. But for some readers that might just be fake news.
Anyway, all of the titles of the posts on kleimansays.com have started with the word “on,” which of course is simply indicating what the post is about. Where did this come from? It would seem that many essays and other written forms employ the word “on” to start the title. It’s simple and to the point. People want to know the subject of something before they read it, to see if they are interested.
Efforts to research the origins of the use of “on” in this manner were not very productive. Futile, you might say. I was able to find a lot of good information and opinions on writing effective essays and essay titles. Most of these, as you might expect, target high school and college students, because let’s face it, when was the last time you wrote an essay? Probably in some sort of class situation because most people hate writing essays, especially as an assignment, because the memories of these assignments are dreadful. The word “essay” itself reeks of boring.
Which begs another question: what is wrong with people like me who write essays willingly, without the threat of a poor grade to motivate us to endure this task on a regular basis? Are we still looking for some kind of validation of our intelligence from teachers, the approval of our betters? Perhaps. For me, this started as an assignment from The Agent, to support the book. Everyone, so says The Agent, is of the opinion that a writer trying to find readers for his or her book must first engage readers in a blog, and this blog must be written every week, and it must be good.
F%@k that! That was my first reaction. Internally anyway, because I always do what The Agent says, although sometimes not without a tantrum first. But damn, along with writing the next novel, running a business, and the rest of life, now there’s a blog to write every week?
I doth protest too much. This has become the highlight of my week. Even if no one reads the damn thing, I get to vent about everything and write about anything. I start with a sentence, and write for about an hour, and then there’s this thing that people can read if they find it interesting or maybe they just have too much time on their hands.
Here’s one article I found on writing a blog. https://www.michaeldpollock.com/open-your-blog-post/. I didn’t read the whole thing but it looks good and could be helpful. The writer starts the article with a quote from a book stating that the most important sentence in every essay or blog is the first sentence, because without a good first sentence, the reader might not continue to the next sentence, and so on.
Mr. Pollock disagrees. Instead, he suggests that the most important part of any article (or essay or blog) is the title, not the first sentence. Actually, however, it would seem that both of these writing theories can co-exist, as the quote from the book he references talks about the most important sentence rather than the most important part.
Taken together, the writing theory is as follows: no one will read an essay with a bad title (unless, of course, they are assigned to do so by their teacher or professor), and once they do start reading, they won’t keep reading if there is bad first sentence. Then of course, the second sentence also has to be good or the reader won’t continue to the third sentence, and so on. Which means, to me at least, that each sentence has to be great or no one will finish the book.
What pressure! Every sentence needs to be great? There are 131,919 words in Smoking In Bed! Not to compare my book to Catcher in the Rye (and we all had to write an essay on that one, didn’t we?) but Mr. Salinger, according to one source, averages 13 words per sentence in that great American novel (and one must wonder how much time that researcher has on his hands).
Using my handy-dandy, solar-powered calculator (thank goodness I live in LA since the calculator is useless when it’s cloudy), that’s 10,147.615 sentences in Smoking In Bed (available on Amazon: Smoking In Bed), not including the cover! And they are all the most important sentence!? I mean, come on!
In the words of Groucho Marx (on jokes, of which he knew a thing or two), “they can’t all be good.” What writer could stand up to this kind of pressure? Is there a point that the reader gets so involved, has so much momentum that an average or even mediocre sentence won’t cause them to throw up their hands, put the book down and give up? One would hope so.
In any event, the writer of that article on writing does make some good suggestions on how to create a provocative title that will attract readers to your blog, and certainly that is relevant and important.
Ironically, though I made no progress whatsoever on learning about the origins and history of starting titles of essays and blogs with the word “on,” the book used to establish the concept that the most important sentence in any writing is the first is titled, “On Writing Well” (On Writing Well)
I’m guessing that the author of that book would be fine with my use of “on” as the opening for all of my blog posts. I haven’t read this book, although perhaps I should, as it has 4.5 stars on 809 reviews on Amazon, and wouldn’t we all want that? Wouldn’t we all want that for me?
If you do, please buy a copy of Smoking In Bed from Amazon, ebook for Kindle or paperback, and write a review. You will write a good review because you will like the book. On the off chance you don’t go for it so much, let me know and we’ll just keep that between us, okay?