Time to Start Writing for Me

I miss you all.

That should be said first-thing, as it seems my endeavors to blog through what has become a series of rapid-fire transitions in my life were a bit overzealous. It doesn’t mean I didn’t miss you though. On the contrary, I thought about you almost everyday, as if blogging was an old friend that went away on a dangerous journey and wouldn’t return for about four months. One of the few running themes of my old posts were that time passes and people move on, but I never had any intention of the same fate befalling my blogging career. Blogging was supposed to be my steadfast friend who follows me no matter where life takes me, like Sam from Lord of the Rings, but even I suffered from the affliction that strikes even the most prudent of democratic denizens. I got busy. Like really busy. And I make no promises that it will never happen again.

I think now that I’ve come to the point of acceptance about that, I can quit looking at blogging as my ticket to freedom to one day engage in creative art day in and day out and start looking at it at what it is, an act of passion. And if one day in the far-flung future that passion gets noticed, that’s terrific. But for right now, I simply wish to blog about what I want. No business plan, no daily schedule, no strategic guides, just posts that will be ready when they’re ready. I have no idea if that will take the form of daily short posts, weekly dissections, or month-long epics. I just know that the desire to formulate some kind of blogging get-rich plan prevents me from writing to my full potential, and I’m finally at the point where fulfilled potential is all I really want. I do enough audience planning and strategic evaluation while working in the field of public relations. I really just want a place to write, and for two, twenty, or two million people who are interested to read and comment on my posts.

At this point, it’s about minimizing. When trying to lead a life of emotional and spiritual fulfillment, complexity is your enemy.

Change is Good (Session One)

Today we’re going to do something a little different. I’m going to take a post I wrote in my first six months of blogging and I’m going to analyze it from the perspective of modern Matt. This post was written on December 28, 2013, and it kind of sucks. I mean, it’s not bad, but it seems I was so adamant in my resolve to not change that it prevented me from growing up as a writer. However, since the post gets some search engine traffic, I’m leaving the original here for all to see. This is going to be a lesson in how maturing can be a good thing, and we should all be open to development. Continue reading

Five Things You Need To Know About Language

People have been writing and talking for millennia. And yet there are still things that people have trouble grasping about the words they script and say… about their language.

1. Words are just symbols. 

Knowing this simple fact will put your everyday conversations in a new perspective. Every word you say could just as easily exist as another word in some alternate universe somewhere. In fact, it very much does, and there are hundreds of languages around the planet. “Desk” could just as easily be a “phrail.” The world “love” could just as easily be referred to as “poop.” That said, I’m pretty sure some people already refer to love as poop, what with Valentine’s Day being last weekend. The words you say have no inherent value. In fact, the words I’m writing are just words about words, which themselves are just symbols about things. Sounds very Plato-ish, right?

2. Words have multiple meanings.

If I had only one wish… well I’d probably wish for money like everyone else. But if I had a hundred wishes, one of them would be to make every word have a different meaning. That is because words are so often misinterpreted. A simple request for clarity can sound like a challenge. A wrongly worded description can sound like a dirty joke. When you’re with friends and family, very often you can clarify what you mean and avoid a confrontation. But in public speaking situations, you must select the most piercing, specific words possible. We have seen many times where celebrities and politicians fall from grace because of a simple, misinterpreted phrase.

3. We freaking love metaphors.

awmetaphor

Augustus Waters would be proud. We use metaphors on a conversation by conversation basis. Now, let’s get the elementary school definition out of your head. You know, the one that says a metaphor can only follow this formula: X is Y. A simile is a type of metaphor too. Any time we describe something using terminology it literally is not, we’re using a metaphor. If you describe the freshman at your high school or college as an “infestation,” you’re using a metaphor. Although they may be annoying, they are in no need of pest control. If you describe that far-too-fattening piece of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory as “manna,” you’re using a metaphor. The purpose of metaphor is to describe something to the audience that they haven’t experienced in words they can understand.  Because of their purpose, metaphors are perhaps the most powerful language “gimmick” of them all.

4. Females and males use words differently.

What I am about to say is not ever meant to be sexist, but I can’t deny that it exists. Women have softer, higher pitched voices than men. It is practically etched into our genetic code to respond to the deeper, more booming voices of males with more seriousness than the gentler voices of females. Don’t believe me? Just ask your kid… or your pet. What’s more, many women (not all) tend to use uncertain language instead of definite language. Words like maybe and could are more prevalent in their language. This isn’t a critique of women, more a critique of culture. Here’s how to stop it.

First, women need to project their voices slightly more than men. If people can’t take you seriously in your normal voice, make them. Don’t yell, but use the same level of passionate sternness you’d use with a misbehaving child, minus the negative tone and look.

Second, remove any unnecessary language from your speech. Don’t apologize… you have nothing to apologize for. I would argue it’s people that have the apologizing to do. Get rid of uncertain terms like kind of, probably, and might.

Third, be super careful to avoid filler words like um, uhh, and like. This goes for everybody, but will make women look especially weak. Like it or not, at this point women have a slight disadvantage culturally when speaking. Hopefully that will change in the near future. Until then, use these three things as a guide.

5. The main focus of language should be the audience.  

The most important thing you can do in language is remember who your audience is. They are your mission objective. It’s why I changed up the format of this blog to fit the attention span of the modern internet user. Simply put, you’re going to speak to different people in different ways. I remember once I was talking to someone at a family get-together. Well, he was talking about a violent movie, and I said something like “yeah, if you can handle people’s heads getting blown off.” When I said it, I had forgotten that I was in the presence of a ten and twelve year old that was listening in. I had to apologize for my lack of sensitivity. Things like slang and jargon are good to keep in mind when respecting your audience. When you’re with your friends, it’s okay to talk without regard for proper vocabulary, but when you’re in a professional environment you probably want to avoid the latest hip terms from Urban Dictionary. The same is true with advanced vocabulary. The audience will get nothing out it if you talk in big words nobody has ever heard of before. Believe me, my ninth-grade self figured that out many years ago.

The reason people get degrees in communication is because communication is not an easy thing to master. The more you learn about it, the more you understand how easy it is to screw it up. That’s why an awareness of the words you speak and write are so vital to finding success in life. No harm can come from understanding language. It is the very source code by which humans interact with other humans.

Word count: 1015.

This blog was inspired by both the rhetoric class I take and the public speaking class I’m learning to teach. This blog post was written over the course of two semesters. While many of the concepts of this blog post were learned and grown from these environments, the thoughts in the blog are my own. I have no intent of plagiarizing anyone.

about the author

5 Rules of Blogging and Why I Break Them

bpen

I’m not a particularly big fan of rules, which is probably dangerous because I’m a communications major with a focus on public relations. It’s possible I love this field because it helps me decipher just how far I can go to be unique and creative without falling over the edge. 

There are many understood rules among bloggers. Some of them you can find on various lists of blogging tips, but many of them are simply blanket statements that seem to stifle who you are. Let’s talk about five of them.

You Need To Stick To Your Target Audience. This is the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard in my life. You need to find a target audience. You need to find a niche. If I here the word niche on one more publication about being a successful writer, I’m going to make a petition banning the word from the English language. 

There’s only one way to gain an audience, and that is to talk to the world. If a person doesn’t like or care about what I have to say in a post, he or she can always come back tomorrow. But I should not have to limit the people reading about my life to young adults from Alabama. Life is a far more all-encompassing expierence than what can be limited to a socioeconomic group. The haters need to shut up and let me talk to whoever I want to. That’s the only way people will come to my blog in the first place.

Don’t Always Hit That Publish Button. The way I see it, there are only two reasons to not press the shiny red (umm… in my case blue) publish button. If the blog post is absolute grammatical crap, or if you’ve said something hurtful about somebody in particular. When that’s the case, fix the problem and then publish it.

I’ll give you a free pass if a house fire breaks out, but you better go back and publish it later. 

Keep Your Secrets A Secret. This could be true, but in my case it lacks one very important piece of information. You see, I have no secrets. My life is an open book, and everything there is to know about me is contained within the annals of the 65,000 words (and growing) of this blog. 

The way I see it, a life with secrets is no life at all. It’s a collection of evasions, keeping one person after another from finding out how dark you really are. Well here’s the truth, I am dark but I strive to be more and more like the savior I love every day. And by reading my blog, you are coming along for the ride. My life is an open book.

You’re Supposed to Seem Perfect. All these famous people like to put themselves out there and posture that they never mess up. People listen to them, thinking that they know far more about the secrets than they do. Well I’m not going to let you do that. 

What you get from me is my life of vulnerabilities and my joy. Everything from my deepest darkest doubts that I ponder in the dead of night to the joyousness that I try so very hard to convey to everyone daily. I know nothing more than what God allows me to know. I’m just trying to grow as a person.

There Are Taboo Topics You Should Never Write About. Yeah… no. I am fearless when confronting any topic. So you as an audience needs to be prepared for anything. I promise to handle any topic I choose tastefully and with respect to everyone. 

But I don’t run. If something needs to be written about or just won’t seem to go away, I’ll attack it head on.

So there you have it. A Link to the Matt will never follow conventional blogging wisdom. Why? Because it’s not a conventional blog. It is, in fact, a link to my soul.