Thoughts of a Personal Nature

Writing for a blog is weird. It’s been really difficult for me to decide what to write about, so difficult in fact that it’s led to me not posting as much as I want to because I just have no idea what to write about. Everything I’ve posted has been surface level; the reviews, my photos. Those are things that I can just show you and be on my way. I don’t have to say much about them, you form thoughts about them on your own. So the idea of writing something that is purely my own thoughts on something for you to read is really odd to me.

If I share a recipe and my thoughts on it are, “It’s a good recipe that I recommend!” that is completely different from “Here’s all my thoughts on how the government makes people in poverty obese by only allowing them to buy junk food with their food stamps”. Everything I put on here is lighthearted, and it’s very hard for me to not be lighthearted when addressing a lot of people.

I keep wanting to post things that are more serious, like topics I care about and want to bring attention to, but I don’t want everything I post to be a rant, and I’m afraid that’s what it would turn into. I’m afraid it would just sound like I’m constantly complaining about things. And what if I complain about the wrong thing? Like if I say something about how the women’s clothing industry needs some changes, what if someone says I should be talking about bigger issues like the ICE and deportation? And maybe I should be talking about bigger issues rather than posting songs I like or a photo I thought was nice. Isn’t that what someone who cares about these issues would do?

I’m stuck between wanting to share my thoughts and the thought of “who cares?” How many opinion pieces are already out there that sound exactly like mine? Why write it when hundreds of other people have already said the exact same thing? I want to be more than surface level, I want to be deep, but I’m afraid of being personal.

117 thoughts on “Thoughts of a Personal Nature

  1. Your father is the Master Ranter. Take your lead from him, and you will do well.

    Alternatively, don’t waste your youth worrying about stuff. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

  2. A simple way to keep all of your posts from being rants, or all being about anime is to create a weekly schedule, Heavy topics on Mondays, cat videos on Wednesdays, fun popular culture on Saturdays, etc.

  3. Sadly even if you post about the most inane thing possible, some sad keyboard warrior will get up in arms purely for the sake of it. Just post whatever you like, you’re doing well so far. How about you limit yourself to one serious post per week? That way we still get the fun stuff but also a bit of variety and you won’t feel like it’s a rant.

    As I say you’re doing well so don’t let the haters grind you down- that’s how they win.

  4. What I come here for is the occasional serious commentary. The photography is a nice bonus (with the exception of the parking lots!)

  5. Athena, I think you are off to a great start, as far as personal sharing, with this post. It takes courage to be vulnerable and honest about your struggles, even if it’s something as “simple” as a blog post. I know for myself that both my inner editor and my inner critic stop me from writing in general (posts, stories, songs, etc.). So, I will give you the advice I’d want to receive: If you are moved to write about something, write about it. Don’t worry if someone else doesn’t think it’s good or important, someone else will. At the very least, you will, and you will be sharing part of yourself with the world, which is what we really want anyway. That’s why we read blogs and listen to podcasts and such; to connect with other people. On the flip side, if your heart/brain isn’t demanding that you write something, then don’t sweat it (beyond work/school obligations). The “pressure” to write should come from within. So, you know, give yourself a break.

  6. You are doing great with your posts here. I think it’s OK to have second thoughts on what to write about or not but, in the end, it’s you who’ll write those posts. Do what you want. Write about what you are comfortable. Or not. About your cats. About Pride Month. About ICE. About your future. About writing. About the nightsky. About your shitty president. Rant if you want (or if you need it).
    We’ll be here, reading it :)

  7. Athena,

    Quite simply – it’s perfectly okay to talk about these things, and even to rant from time to time (your dad certainly does).

    The only thing I’d mention is this – you can make any argument or statement you like as long as you’ve backup for it. With that, you discuss, rationally, with people who agree, with folks who disagree and with all the shades of the spectrum between. With those who disagree, this is the best way to test your own perspectives and theories. An intelligent discussion backed with facts and different perspectives can only improve your thought process. Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe you will not but see what those who think and feel differently from you look at the issue. Perhaps the discussion will allow you to improve, solidify and strengthen your position.

    A good, thoughtful and respectful discussion is always worthwhile – whether you agree, or whether you disagree. And so it should be.

    So – don’t be afraid to jump into that pond. A lot of us read whatever because we like to read intelligent discussions of the world. And – believe it – not all of us agree with your dad 100% of the time (I don’t on certain things) BUT agree or not – John will always have chosen his thoughts carefully and will have good reasons for them.

    To find someone who writes and argues with thought and care – that’s value beyond measure.

    So – do feel free. And, if anyone’s a jerk – the block button is just over there!

    Mike M.

  8. Athena, perhaps try not to push for ‘relevance’ too awfully hard at this point. That will come forth as you work into this place. NOTHING at all ‘wrong’ or unfit in your posts to date. Keep on keeping on. Rome: not built in a day (yadda-yadda), neither will be Athena’s Whatever. ‘o)

  9. Write whatever your heart and your soul tell you to write. Ultimately, you have to please yourself. If other people don’t like what you’re writing, then (to paraphrase Beethoven) you may not be writing for this age; and people always have the option to read or not to read what you write. However, that should not stop you from writing whatever you need to write.

  10. Sometimes the biggest challenge in the creative process is getting started. Everyone who writes faces the terror of the blank screen/page, and it can be paralyzing. That’s why the discipline of daily writing is so valuable–it gets you in the habit of getting past that paralysis and getting words out. Lots of people do this in the form of a private journal, but the really brave ones like your dad do it in public in the form of a blog. This gives the rest of us a fascinating window into one aspect of his creative process.

    The nature of the daily blog is such that no one expects genius every time. It’s like photos–you get great photos by taking tons of them and then throwing most of them away. So–you’re doing great, keep it up!

  11. Go ahead. Even if it is something that has been talked about before, it will be from your perspective, which is different from your father’s and everybody else’s.

    Sometimes your views will be accepted, sometimes criticized and sometimes ignored. I believe this community is a strong one, where there is room for disagreement and dialogue. And that dialogue may help refine what you want to say, or give you a new angle to old issues.

    Will there be those who will try to shut you up by any means necessary? Yes. But that is what the mallet is for, so don’t be afraid to use it as necessary, with extreme prejudice.

  12. Ahhh its an old dilemma. You have at least some of the family gift, but perhaps you need perspective. Here’ s place that has influenced me to no small extent. Its a book titled “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill & his wife Harriet Stuart Mill.

    An idea there that really seems to apply it to understand an issue, study the side you disagree with. So if you feel motivated to study the forced deportation of undocumented immigrants you have a fuller picture of the issue. A rant can be fun to read, but a commentary needs to be informed. You can take a side no doubt, but you must know the issue from several perspectives to be able to understand it more fully. We live in an era where rants can all too easily turn into social media trolling. Don’t give up your views or passion, but learn to be nuanced and understand a bigger picture. Add a dose of humility and you are on your way to becoming inspired. Nobody likes a braggart and arrogance quickly gets tiring. Ask your dad about a few of the authors he may know personally. I bet he knows one or two who haven’t learned this (grin-not naming names here). Good luck.

  13. I hear you. How much to open up on the internet is a tough call. It can be important and empowering, but it can also leave you more vulnerable to the junky people. And it is known there are junky people who read this blog.

    There is one thing I wanted to disagree with, though, and that’s the value of writing a post on a topic that’s already been covered elsewhere. Some things bear repeating, and there’s value in standing up to be counted.

  14. How about you write about whatever you like? Its your blog. People will either follow or not. No one is forced to read it. If you want a more reader friendly blog, stay away from rants and write about interests or….write about a topic as a whole and ask reader their opinion.
    Many readers will take what they like from your blog and shrug off what they disagree with without a problem. Example, I disagree with the food stamp example. There’s an amoun placed on the care. The buyer purchases say a roast or a bag of cookies as they wish. The only thing they can’t purchase is hot cooked foods. These are more expensive than cooking yourself anyway. Might be a good restriction. However, the fact that I disagree on a topic, still think you are worth reading and will continue to follow it. We dont have to agree on everything to still respect and appreciate one another, so write what YOU like.

  15. This seems like the kind of thing an intern should be able to take to her boss/mentor and have him provide her guidance while she sorts it out.

    There are some actual benefits to being an intern (or an employee at a new job, and by that I mean “any new job” not just “my first job out of college”). One of these benefits is what I call “the outsider viewpoint” where you don’t share assumptions with everyone else in the workplace, so you can notice things you don’t understand and ask about them. Take advantage of being an intern and ask that guy for his thoughts on different ways to split the difference between “too personal” and “too superficial”. Then take what he says, mix it up until it fits you, and figure out what to do.

    The other awesome thing about being an intern is that you can try things, see how they work, and adjust. If your boss doesn’t allow that, he’s not a good boss for an intern. And I’m pretty sure you have a good boss.

  16. I agree with Lord Commander above: As long as you can intelligently defend your argument, you’ll be fine. If, after a while, you decide that you’re not comfortable broadcasting your views to the world, that’s OK too; until very recently, nobody even had that option in the first place. (Of course, opinions vary as to whether the world was a better place then.)

  17. Hey Athena –

    Great post. Blogging is WAY harder than most people realize, and you’ve nicely captured the complexities. Your post isn’t just good, it’s brave.

    Personally, I would love to hear your views on political stuff. Although politics is a fraught topic, I really value input and perspectives from people your age.

    Also how your school year went versus your expectations. College is a source of deep interest and nostalgia for us oldsters.

    Here’s a process suggestion: separate out the writing from the publishing. Write the pieces you want to write THEN decide (perhaps with your dad or others’ help) if you want to publish them. You don’t have to publish everything. But when you do publish something you basically put it out there and hope for the best without counting on any particular audience response. Mostly we get positive responses, and when we do get negatives, occasionally, it’s not that big a deal because writing, when you keep everything in perspective, is so intrinsically great.

  18. Actually, Athena, you are a breath of fresh air, and it is much appreciated. You’ve given me a few more reasons to read Whatever, and there were many good reasons going in.

    One caution: you use words like “completely,” “everything,” and “constantly.” Those are extreme words that are ALWAYS false (see what I did there? Wink, wink). Better ones are “very, sometimes, often,” because they are more accurate. Avoid thinking about yourself in extreme terms. They just aren’t true.

    One HUGE praise: this particular post reveals your modesty. That is a precious quality that the Interweb could use more of. There are a couple of commenters (most are not, as you can see already) in here who feel they have to be the smartest person in the room, and that makes my eyes roll (which is socially embarrassing, because when my eyes roll, they squeak loud). You’re not like that. You are willing to accept limitations, which causes what you do post to be even more appealing. Please don’t lose that. With modesty, you can occasionally rant about anything you want and we will read and enjoy just because it’s a great quality.

    So far, you’re a hit, and that probably won’t change with personal viewpoint posts. We’re predisposed to like you anyway, ‘cuz your dear old Dad has shared snippets of your journey to maturity. Yeah, smack him for that any time you like. I’ll back ya’.

  19. “If It Feels Good, Do It” — popular poster in the ’70s.

    I’d say you have a pretty accepting audience here to try out whatever you’re comfortable sharing. If you’re in a photography mood, go for it. Cat’s on the brain? Bring it. Just gotta let loose about solar energy? Let us know that teenagers care too.

    Besides, if you don’t annoy anyone, how are you going to learn about moderating and The Ban Hammer? ;)

  20. Take what I saw with a grain of salt but my experience is that one is best served by writing about what they want to write about, but that is a good idea to try as many things as you can. You learn more about what you enjoy, what you’re good at (and what you’re not, which is a very good thing to learn as well), and what the audience responds to. Then, you get to decide whether or not their response is important to you. It may be, it may not, and there’s nothing wrong with either answer.

  21. I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, etc. Sometimes y’all young’uns aren’t well represented on blogs (since the blogs seem to runner older), and it’d be cool to have another college/teen voice to hear. I’m interested in what you think and what’s on your mind. (Selfishly, especially since my DD is in your age cohort, 1st year in college just done, etc.)

    I’m confident that you’ll rein in the rant-y-ness sufficiently for most of your audience. (Tho’ I expect there will be some who’ll think you’re ranting if you provide almost any personal opinion.) And I doubt any topic would be too light, really. We can all walk and chew gum. (I can be rant-y on women’s clothing not having pockets and why it’s a gender inequality issue with historical roots, but that doesn’t mean I’m not otherwise engaged in supporting the bigger / “more important” issues too.)

  22. How about picking one day a week and letting us all know that’s when the rants/strongly held opinions will appear? Those who want only lighthearted observations and cat pictures can choose to stay away one those days.

  23. First, I’m pretty sure everyone who is the least bit self-aware and writes publicly at all has these same struggles, desires and concerns. It may not help to know you’re not alone, but maybe it will help to know that you’re not alone and that others have worked out a solution that works for them. For me, knowing that someone else had the same struggle and managed to overcome it gives me hope that I can work it out, too.

    I haven’t been blogging as long as your intern overlord, but I have had one or more blogs running for more than 18 years at this point. My current blog/site is the one linked to via my commenter details below. The least maintained is the one I used to use for fantasy writing, https://www.fantasist.net/scroll/ and the oldest is Diary of a Network Geek at https://www.ryumaou.com/hoffman/netgeek/ (See? It’s so old it has the *worst* URL imaginable for SEO!) In that oldest one, I got really personal. I talked about job searches and a divorce and cancer treatment. But, here’s the thing; as personal as I seemed to get, it was mostly what I’d tell anyone who I met at a party. It *seemed* super intimate, but it really wasn’t. People thought they knew me from those posts because the subject matter was scary for *them*, not me. Trust me, no one on the internet knows the least little thing about what actually is scary for me to talk about. Not a one.

    This all reminds me of something John already wrote about:
    https://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/01/30/being-fictional/
    As personal as parts of my blogs may have seemed, I’ve always been aware that I was choosing what I share and sculpting a public persona. Start there. If you can figure out how you want people to perceive you, it tailors everything else you do, or don’t, choose to share.
    Or, as Groucho Marx, I believe, put it, “Once you figure out how to fake sincerity, everything else is easy.”

  24. As many have already stated, putting yourself out there on a blog is intimidating! Remember that not only are you putting content onto an established blog, you are also in the process of figuring out just who, exactly, you are and how and where you fit in the wider world. I’m 37, and putting myself out there on my personal blog is scary af, so the thought of what you’re doing is even scarier!

    You’ve been doing a fantastic job so far, getting your feet wet and likely figuring out WordPress’s system for posting, and now you’re ready to stretch your wings a little. Go for it! Post what you’re passionate about. As has been suggested, back up those posts with facts, be open to discussion, and be passionate! Write about the themes of your favorite animes, shows, and movies that resonate with you, and how they may have been an impetus to change your thoughts on a subject.

    But most of all, be yourself here, unapologetically, and write what YOU would want to read, not what you think Joe Schmoe from 2000 miles away wants to read.

  25. I think you’re doing great so far. As a pretty long time reader of this blog, my advice would be to continue to write what you feel like writing as you get comfortable with the process. The goal should be to get the day-to-day routine down of just putting your thoughts out there without stressing too much on how “important” they are. Give yourself time for the newness and self-consciousness to fade a bit. When you’ve done it long enough that the process itself is not something you think much about, the deeper stuff will come naturally and honestly. (Your dad had the advantage of starting small and even he had a LOT of bacon-on-cat days.)

  26. Athena, dear. Write a short story! Or maybe a song. Or draw a webcomic, with your dad dealing with dialog and characters and whatnot. Or maybe just draw. In doing any of these things, or something else that I didn’t even mention, touch on the themes you want, and then show us the result.

  27. Your paragraph about fearing that if you write about women’s clothing people will demand you address ICE or deportations really touched a chord in me. It’s hard to know what topic to choose and how serious and/or flippant to be. You’re smart and compassionate so I don’t think you will err on the side of being too superficial. So I’m voting with several others who said “write what you want to write.”

    You’re on a blog where the tone of posts shifts from purely informational, to funny, to political and serious (to political and funny) so you have a lot a range in which to work.

  28. I just started blogging myself, and all you said echoes how I feel. Just keep going. You’ll figure it out.

  29. You have an unusual platform, by virtue of being John Scalzi’s daughter. But your voice is utterly your own.

    It’s easy for me to SAY this, of course … but write about what you want to write about! Serious stuff? Fine. Light? Also fine. Recipes … sure, why not?

    FWIW, you’re not the only writer struggling with this. I follow Stonekettle Station, and its author, Jim Wright, recently went through the same type of soul-searching. He had recently rapidly expanded his audience, and he was getting pushback from readers when he posted about recipes, or cute pics of his pets, or gorgeous sunset photos. So for a while, he cut back on all of those, and dedicated himself to serious things.

    And he was, as best I can tell, miserable.

    He finally covered all this in a post, and said he was going back to writing as he wished — and he’s seemed far happier, since.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views with us!

  30. I echo the comments of several others here.

    First of all, it takes a helluva lot of courage to put yourself out there on the internet for any random whackadoodle to take pot-shots at. More courage than I have; I do not face-book, twit, blog or any of the other 21st century forms of interaction precisely because I don’t want to put myself on display through the internet. So just the fact that you are willing to write regularly in this setting places you way ahead of many (possibly most) of us, and you deserve respect and appreciation for that, regardless of what words you put on the screen.

    Having decided to put yourself out on the internet, YOU are the one who gets to decide which face(s) to display for public viewing, nobody else. You are not obligated to expound at length on weighty subjects, nor is there a requirement to rant on a set schedule. If you decide that photos and recipes and reading recommendations are the topics you are comfortable discussing, then discuss them with enthusiasm. Visitors who find your posts uninteresting will simply glance at the header and move on – exactly as they do with the blog’s owner’s posts. Not every word he writes is of vital interest to every visitor here, and the same will be true for you.

    If you do decide at some point that you want to dive more deeply and do some introspective and possibly ranty commentary, please, please, please do not fall prey to the fallacy that it’s all been said before and that you are simply repeating! There are as many perspectives about a topic as there are people considering it, and yours is no less valid just because someone else already shared their opinions on the subject.

    See, when I consider a topic like, say, food stamps, I filter it through the lens of growing up with deeply prejudiced parents in a large urban area in the 1950s and 60s, which impacts the focus of what I see in a very definite way. It also tends to hamper my ability to perceive things that may be beyond the range of that lens. Whereas you would consider the same topic filtered through the lens of growing up mostly in the 21st century in a semi-rural area with a very different type of parenting than I had – which would impact the focus you see, and hence the commentary you’d make, in a wildly different way.

    I would be most intrigued to read your introspection, rants, essays or similar commentary if you reach a point of being comfortable sharing them – while also completely respecting your absolute right not to discuss such topics if you don’t wish to do so. Either way, I reiterate how glad I am that the blog’s owner hired an intern with such impressively formidable skills. You are doing an exemplary job here, and I very much hope that you are enjoying the experience as much as we are.

  31. Since I’m assuming your referring to stuff generally considered personal political opinion, Some thoughts from someone in his 17th year as a local elected official:

    – there are always bigger issues. That doesn’t mean ignore the small ones; that’s part of the reason we have multiple levels of government, with different charters.

    – all big issues start out small; someone has to be the first to broach an idea or issue, particularly if it’s an uncomfortable one that we all “know” but we’re studiously ignoring.

    – politics is the process by which large numbers of aggressive, self-centered, highly intelligent animals figure out how to live together so they can enjoy the benefits of community, which are vast.

    – fight passionately for what you believe in, but be prepared to compromise, declare victory, and move on at a moments notice. The battle never ends, so you can always re-engage tomorrow.

    So, as the first commenter said, write what you want!

    – Mark

  32. I think you are doing fine, including with this self-examinatory post.

    I suspect if you cornered your boss/dad on this topic, he would admit to having taken a while to figure out the balance on these sorts of issues too… and he’s a pro!

    Try different stuff out…see what happens.

    Just remember the blog is called “Whatever”.

  33. Well, the blog is called “whatever”, so I suspect you are free to be as lighthearted or serious as you like. Personally, I’ve enjoyed what you’ve posted thus far but would certainly be interested in ‘heavier’ essays. For what it’s worth, the reasons I enjoy this blog are 1) I’m a fan of your dad’s work and he usually is entertaining to read even if I don’t always 100% agree with what he says, 2) I never know exactly what’s going to be posted and am often pleasantly surprised, and 3) I adore the Big Idea pieces :-).

  34. Blogging is hard, right? I often am conflicted about the same things regarding my own blog. But I took the stance a few years ago that I was going to present a more positive side to things on my blog, and that’s what I’ve mostly done. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have passionate feelings about things, just as you do. It just means that I decided not to put those things on my blog. Make a choice for a few weeks about what you’d like to share, and try it on for size!

  35. Every voice has an audience. Maybe your recipe will be just the thing for someone to chill out after a very bad day. You can never know. As long as you’re genuine or entertaining, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You can always post cat pictures, you know. :)

  36. I’ve enjoyed your posts so far. I think if you want to write about what’s in your mind or in your heart, do so. Be prepared for some to call you out, and they may be people you care about. Evan family can be mean sometimes. I had to block a cousin for awhile. Good luck!

  37. The best deep things are the ones which are personal. Feel free to comment on big stuff if you want, but the things which you write that will be the most impactful, most insightful and most interesting will be the ones specific to your experience.

    As a topic of suggestion, your dad has often mentioned that he lives in a fairly conservative rural area. How has that been growing up in that environment? What were your experiences like? Did you ever feel a need to speak up in uncomfortable situations or decide to stay silent and regret it?

  38. I totally get what you’re saying about wanting to be real and connect with people but not wanting to be vulnerable to the nastiness that can sometimes come online. I say dip your toe into something personal that feels safer (maybe something you’ve already said publicly in a shorter forum like twitter) or something that’s personal but public rather than personal and core or private. You might find that there are days when you feel open to whatever response might come back and other days where you don’t have the mental or emotional energy to deal with responses…experiment on the days that you have extra “emotional bandwidth” and stay quieter or more surface-y on the days you don’t. And remember that we’ll take in whatever you share, but you don’t owe us anything. Hopefully this gives you a chance to play with your online presence and find the depth that hits your sweet spot.

  39. I’m also going to add to the chorus saying “don’t worry about it”. If you feel moved to write about something, then do it. Don’t worry about people’s reactions until after you publish, if at all. If you’re constantly second-guessing yourself as you write, you’ll never get anything written at all.

    As a wise man once said, be yourself, because everyone else is taken.

  40. The title of this blog is ‘Whatever’ for a reason. Post a rant if you want. If the readers here don’t like it, they can ask for their money back. Oh wait.

    If you piss off some people, you might need to get the mallet out, but you know where it is.

  41. I’m an editor by trade and I think this is the best written post you’ve put up so far. I look forward to hearing more of your voice, even if that means I’m bearing with some bumps in the road while you continue to develop it.

  42. Athena, that was an excellent post. You’re a gifted writer and a brilliant young woman, and this is an ideal platform for your posts. As a reader, I would love to read more of your serious writing. As a teacher, I like to encourage young people to find their writing voice. As a parent, I don’t like to see our children’s generation subjected to internet trolls. As a woman, I got back and forth between celebrating women finding their voice online and warning caution because of what women encounter when they speak up. The Internet gives us a voice, but how we feel best about using that voice varies greatly from person to person.

    I would say this; try one post that discusses a topic you have strong feelings about. Maybe write a few such posts for yourself to see which you like best. Then put one of them up here. See how it feels, how you respond to the comments, how the back and forth affects you. That could give you a better idea about how you would like to proceed with your posts. It’s one step at a time, or at least that’s how I’ve always done it. Each step can give you an idea where you’d like to take the next.

    You’re already doing a dynamite job. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  43. I think this is the best post you’ve written so far.

    Go ahead and share your brain. Maybe it’ll be good. Maybe it’ll suck. Either way, you can learn from it and go on and be better the next time round.

  44. ::writes half a comment::

    ::has second thoughts::

    ::deletes everything and closes window::

  45. I agree with the others that you’re off to a good start. My own experience blogging is that the best posts I’ve written, with the best conversations spiraling off them, are the ones which came out of something that was beating around my brain, wanting to come out. Sometimes they were profound and deeply political; sometimes they were rants about the lack of pockets in women’s pants; sometimes they were goofy comments about a weird food I saw in the grocery that day. But… you gotta care about your posts, and get something out of them your own self, otherwise, what’s the point? I’d say at this stage don’t worry so much about what your readers may or may not want; write for yourself and the conversations you’d like to have, and your readers will find you.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with. :)

  46. Someone else’s words of wisdom:

    You can please all of the people some of the time,
    and some of the people all of the time.
    But you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

    You’re almost certainly going to put someone’s nose out of joint. Embrace that and just do it.

  47. Don’t be afraid to be personal. Personal is important and it matters. As a school teacher, I quickly learned that I have to give of myself to get my students to open up. I have to be vulnerable to get them to be so we can all learn and grow. It is a kind of group intimacy and it matters. I think blogging is somewhat like that, but I’m guessing here.

    You are a unique individual. It is what makes you unique that is interesting and that is personal and it means being vulnerable to some extent. Yes, it might piss a few people off, but consider that a side benefit! ;) The alternative is to post superficial things. Some will like them, but they probably won’t touch people’s lives or resonate with them. What you decide you want to do and what you’re comfortable with is up to you. My advice is to go where your heart tells you to and challenge your fears. It’s the best way to grow and learn.

  48. You’re doing just fine, Athena, and you shouldn’t feel compelled to write anything you don’t want to. The only thing you *should* write is what *you* want to. If that’s ICE deportations or recipes… cool.
    Part of the writing process that many writers will tell you is that the physical act of writing is a good way to figure out what you want to say. (Also an argument for always doing at least a first draft…) The blog format, based as it is on immediacy, kind of puts the impetus on the creator to CREATE NOW! But instead of looking at that “submit” button staring at you, putting the pressure on you, preparing to unleash digital judgment upon your words, just wing it. Have fun. If it means deportations, great. If it means herb gardens, also great. You do you.
    You also may find that someone else has already articulated your particular point of view. You may also feel that person did it better than you could. It happens to the best of us. You could take it as a teaching moment, and say, “Oh, that’s a neat thing this other writer did. I’ll keep that in mind for the next time.” And you can also just say, “It’s OK. I’ve said my piece.” There may be some judgey people out there that, say, will pick up on you writing about herbs and DEMAND you can’t do that without calling out the Oregano Industrial Complex. Or (more commonplace) telling you you can’t write about ICE deportations because REASONS. They’re not worth your time. Enjoy your garden, enjoy your blogging, and tune out the rest. To thine own self be true. Most of all, have fun.

  49. While I don’t know what comments get malleted before they would be posted here, I think you’ll find an audience see that is willing and eager to work with you and that would look forward to reading your thoughts. Many might not agree with you, but their replies should be polite and constructive–I think the comments here support that.

    One thing I found over the years–forcing myself to put pen to paper to delineate how and why I think on a certain issue, and consider how others will respond, find holes in what I write, and edit so I can incorporate their potential disagreements really forced me to sharpen my beliefs. When you have to do more than throw out an opinion it forces you to really study an issue and consider the problem(s), causes, factors, and potential solutions.

    Using your SNAP thought–what causes people to go hungry in this country? What kind of solutions are possible, within our governmental and social framework? What are the benefits and pitfalls of those solutions? Why would someone disagree with what you feel is the optimum solution, and is there a way to incorporate their disagreement into the solution to resolve their disagreement (note I didn’t write “compromise” here.) How would your preferred solution play out in different environments–rural, suburban, urban?

    Working through this process and rigorously examining an issue from multiple perspectives is challenging but incredibly educational–both on the issue at hand and in developing mental models and paths to apply in other areas of life.

  50. Agree with just about everything in the comments. One thing to remember, writing is to a certain extent a performance. As a performance it may reflect on you, but it isn’t you. Find the level of engagement you are comfortable with. I am willing to write about politics but often loathe to write about my personal life and circumstances. (hell- when people I know ask me ask me I’ve been up to, how am I doing (and not just in a how’s it going way)I will often go with fine, not much. I love fighting over ideas, me as an anecdote not so much.

    There are things your Dad writes about and things he doesn’t. He has his lines, the parts of himself he lets others see and the parts he doesn’t. Don’t worry if someone else’s lines aren’t the same as yours.

  51. You’ve summed up some key questions in human interaction – how much do I disclose, how will people respond, and what if weekdays important to me either isn’t important to them or isn’t important enough?

    If you’re writing from a place of honesty and personal conviction, it will come through. You won’t connect with everyone, and nor should you. But sending your thoughts out to find like minds, or to catalyze dissenting minds to reconsider, is worthwhile. People don’t connect without that sort of effort.

    Hang in there, it takes a little while to find your groove. But you’re doing well and I’m looking forward to seeing more from you .

  52. Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I appreciate all of your advice greatly, and will take what you all have said into consideration. Your comments mean so much to me, I read every single one. Many of you have only kind words to say, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

  53. Three important things to remember:

    1) You have the floor here. You’re allowed to speak about whatever you want, in whichever way you fancy.

    2) Commenters can comment, but you don’t have to listen to all of them.

    3) It’s a big internet, but there’s always room for people to write their own stuff. Complainers can go find themselves a bit of free space on a blogging platform, and write that article they think you “should” be writing if they’re so keen on the idea.

    4) [okay, four things] The word “should” is probably the most toxic word in the English language.

    Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. I’m certainly enjoying the stuff you’ve written (just to add another data point to the survey).

  54. Adding my five cents worth: some of the best advice I was given when I first started blogging a few years ago, when I was about the same age as you, was to write without caring about comments, and to write what I felt like, not what others felt I should do. Also to only blog as much as I could, and find what works for me. My blog is an eclectic mix of things. In the past I was able to write more political stuff, but these days less so, which niggles at me at times, but you only do what you can.

  55. You step on stage in front of the Whatever audience, it’s a bit like being the opening act at a concert.
    Majority of the crowd is here to listen to The Big Name Band, but they’re going to listen to you too.
    Sing your songs, see which ones you want to keep singing, which to leave behind, which new songs to write.
    And you might want to play some instrument besides the ukulele.

  56. I feel you..I’m often torn and hesitant to write and post…thoughts like this hinder me…now i know im not alone. they are too many songs and each has unique style. I think you are doing a excellent job 😊

  57. Remember the name of your father’s blog. It’s sole purpose is for him to write about WHATEVER he wants to write about. As you are the intern, that applies to you, as well. Who cares if it’s a rant or extremely personal? If you want to write about it, do it. You will find that a vast majority of us on here don’t mind if it’s a rant or not. Blog are personal spaces, kinda like a written mind that others have access to. I will gladly read whatever you write and will always be supportive. It’s the least I can do. Your father has been such a big influence on me in many ways, I can at least pay it forward

  58. Athena, please feel free to write whatever you feel like. Most of the people here are kind, or at least civil, and ones who aren’t can be malleted or kittened as you see fit.

  59. The reason I’ve been coming here to read for years is for your dad’s personal takes on things. Often he makes me laugh. Sometimes he makes me think about things in a new way.

    The reason I keep coming to read here is because the things about which you choose to post are very different from his, and it gives me a broader perspective on the world (especially because he and I are of similar ages, and I have a lot less contact with people your age).

    What makes any blog special is that it is — hopefully — a personal reflection of the person writing it… a human connection.

    Not everyone will appreciate your particular perspective, but that’s okay. Be honest and thoughtful, and use your best judgment on how much to share. Know that you will occasionally make mistakes… and that’s okay, too, as long as you learn and grow from the experience.

    Above all, keep in mind that this should be a satisfying experience for you. The rest of us will do just fine; it’s not your job to cater to us. :-)

  60. I am going to second what many have already said. Take your cues from your Dad. Be informed and entertaining. Assume that no matter what side of an issue you are on some will agree and some won’t. Don’t sweat it.

  61. This is what I’m looking for, inner dialog. Whether we agree or disagree, these are your thoughts. Express them. Everything changes. You are not excluded.

  62. Rant away, girl! Rant away and do it proudly and without shame. It’s good to be engaged with the world and to have opinions and criticisms and ideas. Of course, because you are a a)young b) woman c) with opinions, you will definitely encounter people either telling you that you care about stuff too much and you should really lighten up and stop “complaining,” or otherwise that the stuff you care about is silly and frivolous and what you should really be talking about is x instead of y. It’s unfortunately sort of a rule of being female that some folks are going to think that everything you do is either too much or not enough, no matter what it is. Fuck those people. Living your life trying win their game is pointless because the whole point of the game is that it’s supposed to be unwinnable for you. It’s supposed to make you shut up. Don’t shut up.

    And there’s nothing wrong with being more engaged with or interested in certain issues than with others. There’s nothing wrong with knowing more about certain issues than about others. We cannot be engaged with everything and know about everything and a wide range of things are important in different ways. My career is centered around plenty of bona fide Important Issues. I’m a social worker by training who works as a counselor with survivors of sexual assault. My professional conferences involve workshops and seminars about child sex trafficking and how to get services to undocumented immigrants who have been raped. Heavy stuff. But I’m also a woman and I wear clothes, traits I share in common with many, many people and so the women’s clothing industry very much affects my life and lots of other people’s lives on an intimate and daily basis. It’s important and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Oh, and just in case you think the kind of things I might tend to rant about are ridicule-proof, I can promise you there are people out there willing to troll me about “But why am I not dealing with THIS issue that I’D rather talk about” or “None of this matters at all because the whole planet’s in danger!” or whatever. Mostly men. (In case that wasn’t obvious lol.) Imma keep on doing what I do though. It lights my fire and I’m good at it. Other people are good at different things and get fired up about different things. That’s good. We need everybody.

    If you want to be lighthearted for yourself, do it, but don’t feel like you need to be lighthearted for anyone else. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. ;-)

  63. I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the women’s clothing industry. And it really is an important topic, since it contributes so much to body shaming and poor self-image that hurt women (especially young women).

    A blog is your voice. If some people aren’t interested in what you have to say, they don’t have to read it. Write about what matters to you – like when you wrote about volunteering at the animal shelter, which was a really good post. We all know you’re a college student working as an intern, not a professional writer with 30 years of experience, so please don’t worry that we’ll have unrealistic expectations. It’s nice to see a new perspective her. And recipes and photos are fine, too.

  64. When you write from your heart and mind – but – through the lens of how you think others will react, you may not write what you actually wanted. And it may lack the impact, the power with which you wanted to impart your message.

    When you write through the lens of what YOU feel is right and good – what YOU feel is important – without regard for what others may judge, then you will become a more effective writer.

    Be true to yourself, the rest will follow.

  65. This is a time in your life when you’re meant to experiment and try different things, figure out what works best for you. That’s not a bad way to approach writing for Whatever. I think many of us are interested in what you have to say on a number of levels – as a young American woman of the 21st century, as a college student, as John Scalzi’s daughter, and most particularly as *yourself* – so feel free to test the waters in terms of subject matter. There’s nothing wrong with variety and alternating between light and serious, or having a mix of recipes, photos and thoughts. The most important thing is to do what feels right for you.

  66. I agree with what the others above me have said, but something else I didn’t see anyone touch on (although now that I think about it it’s … possible … I saw something about it here, once): if you post nothing but serious things, there’s a real danger of burning yourself out. So maybe just keep that in mind, and don’t feel bad about talking about lighter things.

    (Also, and this *is* something others have mentioned, but which bears reiterating: others may have said things with the same basic idea, but they weren’t you, so none of them have said precisely what you would say in precisely the way you would say it.)

  67. I think that it really doesn’t matter what you write when doing creative writing, so long as you approach it like you’re crafting something beautiful. It can be funny, it can be poignant, it can be a sarcastic, it can be dramatic, it can be a rant, or it can be a stream of consciousness. It may not be beautiful to somebody else, but that’s what makes different writers appeal to different people.

    I like to write thoughtful rebuttals to bad theistic arguments on reddit’s atheism subreddit, preferably with empathy and understanding but occasionally with bite. That’s probably not something that appeals to you, and that doesn’t bother me. And some of what you write is undoubtedly not going to tickle my fancy and hopefully you don’t mind that.

    Bottom line, try to approach blog writing like a crafting project. If you want it to be funny then sneak in subtle jokes that build on each other. People that enjoy what you write will appreciate it. Jasper Fforde once maneuvered two and a half novels just to make a particularly clever (or bad, depending on perspective) pun. The joy of reading it wasn’t necessarily the pun itself, but the fact that he clearly had planned the pun for years and figured a way to do it while still writing pretty good books. I wouldn’t recommend starting on that scale, but figure out a goal an work towards it. And if you decide you don’t like that goal, change it to something you like better.

  68. I agree, it is more interesting and real when you write from your heart. What you could do is write your unfiltered rant and then read it and edit it a bit?
    Also, I think mostly everybody here is genuinely supportive, because this space has already been established, we want you to succeed :)

  69. The people who read your words WANT to read your words, which are your thoughts, which then gift your audience with something to think about. Be true to yourself, write from your heart, and for god’s sake don’t make your posts as long as your dad’s! 💜

  70. Wait, you have opinions? Wow. Is that allowed? ;)

    Seriously, this is a good place to share them if you want to. You have been doing a great job and if you want to branch out, you should go for it. You are clearly braver than I am – I find it easier to encourage someone to do things than to do them myself – but I’m happy to stand by and applaud from the wings.

    And there are so many different things that could be said about the women’s clothing industry…including the pocket thing, which drives me nuts. I particularly hate when clothing has “mockets” – as in they’re mocking me by being mock pockets just for looks and not being functional.

  71. For ‘serious’ stuff, write it, set it aside for a day, then re-visit it. If it needs editing, do so. If it still says what you want, how you want, post it. And if it needs tossing, do so. Many a writer has been saved by the trash can ;-)

  72. A writer is an obligate word-wrangler. A writer can’t *not* write. After the writing has been done is the point when choice comes into the picture.

    Previous commenters have made valuable points: follow your passion; don’t try to please everyone; enjoy what you do. It’s not only your respondents who can come at a given topic from a different direction. Your own mileage can and will vary over time. Current-you will write stuff that Fifty-Year-Old-you will not. That’s cool.

    Bare coercion is not cool. I agree with the commenter who finds “should” toxic. There will be moments when your aim is not so much to entertain as to persuade. To convince. Rightly or wrongly (I think wrongly) the bar is set higher for women in this. Intelligence & passion are a great starting point. Levity & humility seal the deal. So far, you appear to me to have a nice touch with all these things.

    No matter what you write about, and even if you feel that the subject has already been done to death, there’s bound to be a reader or two who’s new to it. (“Food stamps”? What in the hey are those?) Ideally, such readers will come away from your piece with a basic idea of what’s involved, a sympathy for your point of view, and a raging desire to know more.

    I agree with those who’ve said it takes courage. One can say things in public with the best will in the world, and depending on the venue, some will be encouraging & enthusiastic, some may disagree with you outright, and a select few will pick up perhaps 1 word in 7, devote minimal thought to that small bit, and will respond accordingly. You’ve gotta be able to laugh!

  73. Great post. You can tell from the response that a lot of bloggers wrestle with the same question. For me as a reader, a mix of light and heavy topics is best. If everything is light, I skim and leave.

    I have to say I was startled to read you felt you should post more often. I don’t know what your internship arrangements are, but you seem to be posting several times a week, and that’s a lot of thinky bits.

  74. Ranting (or even expessing an opinion mildly about A does not mean you don’t care about B. Maybe A was really bugging you right then. Maybe so many people write about B you didn’t. Maybe the kitty-overlords demanded you write about M, Q, and Z . . . Whatever. (It was the best word, honest!)

  75. You have a window of opportunity here, relatively large international public, well behaved and mature enough to not take everything too personal.
    I do not believe you will have a better shot, so go ahead and risk a bit.

  76. I would definitely be interested in hearing your personal thoughts on anything and everything! You’ve already shown yourself to be thoughtful and compassionate, which is a breath of fresh air in the internet environment. Do what makes you happy!

  77. Well-behaved women seldom make history.

    And you dont have to rant either. Silently refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Rosa Parks made history without ranting.

  78. Like everyone else said, i come here to find out about whatever is on the poster’s mind and what everyone else thinks about that. I liked the herb garden post, still haven’t got my garden camera-ready, but I thought about your invitation for pictures while I was weeding out the walkways. I too would like to hear your thoughts about clothing and the related industry. If your internship contract states a certain number of posts per week, then I would see that as an advantage, something you can plan around. Certainly a deadline can be a trigger to the creative juices, and you can train yourself to think of something, to open the intuitive sphere or the argumentative one, wherever the energy wants to go that day. Personally, I too like the mixture of topics, wouldn’t want to read a rant a day, wouldn’t come to see cats every day, but I do enjoy the randomness. Also it’s summer, an especially whatever time of year.

  79. First, this is absolutely normal for people your age. (Not only have I been there, but have watched three children survive the process.) Defining boundaries between your inner self, your intimate self, and your public self is not trivial; I wish you well in the journey. [1]

    As for what to write about: surely there are things that you struggle with. Not in the “I know the answer but haven’t come to terms with it” sense but in the “this is a problem that doesn’t have a simple answer but I can’t ignore it either” sense. (You might find William James [2] interesting.) These are good to write about because putting the questions clearly for others also helps clarify them to you.

    In both cases, engineering the person you wish to become is both hard and rewarding. More power to you.

    [1] Search term: “theory of mind” is where this starts. Your college undoubtedly has psych classes; this is part of every intro psych I’ve seen, and I’ve taken two now.
    [2] Late 19th century American philosopher; his “The Will to Believe” is a classic and quite readable.

  80. Hey there lady,
    Been reading your dad’s blog now for over a decade. Don’t really come here for CNN/FoxNews spew, just to here what normal *thinking* people have to say about, well, Whatever. Your dad does a really good job at talking about his thoughts and why he has them, instead of just spewing an opinion/screed.
    This is where we come to YOU. One of the things that I was excited about when your dad said you were going to be guest blogging is that we would get to here about what YOU think.
    You are the new generation. Most of us have kids your age. If we are lucky, we REALLY get to talk to someone your age and get your take on things. If not, we get to watch you text your friends and are left out of the conversation.
    Please gift us with your thoughts in this forum. Post happy stuff, sadness, angry, cat pics, your feelings on going to college in the 21st century, what your friends think about/ don’t care about politics. You know, Whatever.
    A lot of us have read your father over the years and said ” Damn, maybe I am not crazy and SHOULD be ________ about that.”
    For a long time your dad’s audience has watched you grow into an intelligent, thinking being. Trust me, you have thoughts worth sharing.
    Dave

  81. Your dad’s blog is called Whatever. This blog’s audience expects posts to be about whatever. (And if they have a problem with posts being about whatever, why the heck are they following??) Personally, I love eclectic blogs. In this age of hyper-branding, authentic content can be very valuable.

    If you’re interning here because you have an interest in writing/blogging, use this space to experiment. It can take a while to find your voice. To figure out what you want to say, how you want to say it, the things you want to talk about, and in what way. This is the perfect place to start learning that.

    The only caution I’d add is something you already know – be thoughtful with your posts. Rants (to me) are when someone wakes up and barely has half a cup of coffee and then starts spewing out stream-of-consciousness nonsense. Everyone has the right to rant, but rants are very rarely effective. I enjoy reading well written, respectful posts/articles even if I don’t agree with the writer. It’s good to hear from a variety of sources (avoid the echo chamber and all that).

    This post is a wonderful addition to Whatever. Now go brainstorm 50 more ideas, both silly and serious, to write about this summer. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

  82. This post, exploring your own thoughts and struggles with how you write and what you publish in your intern position was interesting and even captivating. As the writer, you largely can’t control the way a reader responds to your words. And if you try to write for a specific response, outside the context of fiction in which a reader is willingly joining you as you build characters and a world, most readers tend to sense the attempt to manipulate them. Even in fiction, you can set the stage and provide a story, but the things a reader brings to the elements you provide will often surprise you.

    In the end, the best blogging, and certainly that which I most tend to read and follow, is written with the awareness that a public audience of large or small size exists, but which expresses the author’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and reactions to the world and their experiences. I can’t speak for most bloggers, but I write primarily for myself and am often bemused when others happen to find my thoughts interesting or relevant to their experience. Relatively few people read my thoughts, but I also don’t make any effort to gain readers and I write only when I have something to say or something I need to work through.

    You, of course, have an intern position that in part probably has expectations that you write more than simply when you feel like it, so the dynamics are a bit different. But whether a post is lighthearted or serious, it’s usually best to write about something that interests you in some way. And on any issue, there’s usually some sort of personal experience or reason behind the logical, rational thoughts you might have about it. The best blogging, in my opinion, explores those as much or more than the arguments for or against.

    Your mileage, as always, may vary. Good luck! I do enjoy hearing your voice.

  83. You don’t owe anybody anything.
    Actually, that’s not true: You owe your boss content that holds readers, justifying your salary. By extension, you owe us the readers content we’ll stick around for. But you also owe yourself the privacy and integrity you choose to claim. What you don’t owe anybody is a particular tone, content set, or format.
    If you bare your soul to us, that should be your choice and not a concession to (perceived) external pressure. But whether you choose to rant about Injustice Toward the Underrepresented in Today’s Society, or the One True and Correct Method of Making a Jelly Sandwich, is up to you. As long as you make it readable, we’ll read it.

  84. My completely subjective opinion: this is my favorite post of yours so far. Because I get to hear a bit of how you think, rather than just what you think, so I ended up feeling like I know you a bit better, personally.

    Good writing is all about concrete specifics, rather than “universal” ideas, even if the specifics make a point about a bigger notion.

    You can write about ICE or you can tell us about what stresses you out or a story about someone who influenced your taste in music, and it’ll be good to read because it’s honest. The specific details will be something only you could write, even if many people have also written about music or politics.

    Good luck!

  85. Athena, so far you’ve shown intelligence, self-awareness, and empathy. That’s a great start, and I’d love to hear your views on things. On, as they say, Whatever.

    Also — much as I enjoy your dad’s blogging, the world hears enough from middle-aged men, myself included. We need other viewpoints.

  86. I’m probably a bit older than the average visitor here (nearing 70), and have been reading this blog on a daily basis for quite a few years. Why have i been doing this? Because I find things here that are interesting to read, that are different than my own thoughts on the (whatever) matter. It doesn’t matter whether the subject is political, economic,literary, or personal, all have something to interest and engage me.
    You have an incredible opportunity here, a place to put your thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, and passions, that many others can see and respond to, either positively or negatively. I wish I had had such a platform when I was your age. All I had was my high school literary magazine, for which did some editing and provided some occasional content. But there were severe restrictions on what I could write, imposed by the school, and looking at some of those old pieces today (I still have them), a lot of them were pure garbage, but a few had potential. My audience was limited and feedback was small, but it was still a great experience. Here, you have a platform with world-wide exposure, an audience that is very supportive, and a mentor that’s been doing this for a long while and knows what the heck he is doing.
    So write what you want! The more, the merrier. It’s great to be able to see your viewpoints, hear your voice (and you already have one, something many writers struggle to find for a long time), and hear the dissonance and resonance with your father’s voice. Expose as much of yourself as you’re comfortable with, and don’t sweat the small stuff – after all, everyone has opinions and viewpoints that are different from everyone else’s. Keep up the good work!

  87. If you want to write on more long form issues, but don’t want it to be too ranty, then write it in draft-mode. Throw words at paper, then go watch Voltron, or a cat video or real cats. Come back to it a bit later and give it a second read through and see if your feelings are the same, did you want to change something? Change it. Add something? Add it. Completely delete it? The delete key is right there.

    You were hired to be a summer intern to run a blog which means writing, and writing isn’t always a one shot deal. Sometimes you need the ‘puke draft’ (according to Wil Wheaton) before you can get to the good drafts, the public drafts and the final drafts. Especially if you want to talk about more serious subjects in between cats, sunsets, clouds and recipes. And if you don’t have something more serious to talk about Voltron, movies, volunteering, recipes and pictures work to, then that’s what you can talk about too.

  88. I came to your blog because it occasionally takes on a serious subject, and you provide a different spin on it from others I read about. For example, your post about GDPR on May 22.

    Keep blogging, don’t worry about ranting. Thanks!

  89. After reading your post, my first thought was to post a comment. My second thought was why would you care what a random reader thought about your post? And boom, I’m right there where you are in your post. Do you share or not? Sharing is brave, and (with the size of your audience), scary.

    I wrote a few columns for your dad way back when he edited his college paper. After writing just a few, I realized that 1) I didn’t really have anything to say and 2) I wasn’t very good at it any way (I more science and math than arts and literature). So I stopped. But if you have things to say, say them honestly, don’t be afraid to defend them, and don’t take it personally when people inevitably disagree with what you say. And if you decide there is nothing to say that day, post a cat picture, or a recipe, or Whatever.

    I also second the comments above about writing first and choosing to post second, especially about the personal. That will help you find that balance that your are looking for, and also maybe help you refine your thinking and your opinions. Writing is like any other creative process – many failures for every success, but you can learn even from a failed experiment.

    Good luck over the summer.

  90. A different way of thinking about it, Athena, is that while we’ll certainly have opinions about what you choose to write, is that many of us are of a different generation. I’ll certainly be interested to see what you find important, or relevant, or interesting. I’m sure there will be a number of issues that have moved in the couple of decades since I was in college, and even more brand new things that I’ve never considered or never considered in light of growing up with an exclusively 21st century childhood.

    Besides, you can be our reporter of what it’s like to attend an Ohio university these days. For most of us, there’s a lot of differences — in time, but also in location (my schooling was Californian), school culture, and so much more.

  91. Hello Athena,
    I could write an entire nice meta-blog post using all your points. That would be fun, some day, but it’s not where I’m at right now. (So I’m saying: write where you’re at)

    I remember taking a five-night basketball clinic, from five different guest coaches. (M-F) One man, although he knew we were into the fun and glory of shooting baskets, spent his evening stressing defence to us. Another night, another man put chairs and cones on the floor, and stressed that we should (at home) being doing drills for dribbling. (and then shots) You can imagine that he, too, did not excite the imagination of we boys.

    Still, I respected the five because, although (in theory) they could not all be right, they were all sincere. Each was giving us what he had. And together their five nights added up. (So I’m saying you and other bloggers add up)

    As for repeating common knowledge of other bloggers and so forth, I have many responses, but let me only say I never get tired of how magazines keep recycling the same topics every year or two—even though I’m now in my late middle age: That’s a lot of reading! … I suspect you get good marks yet still like articles on study tips and getting the most out of your student years.

    As for complaints and rants: If I am respectful and kind, then I will make due allowances and give you the benefit of the doubt. If I am not, then maybe I am not your audience. So I am saying just write for good people. When I was your age I expected to like and be liked by people I met. I still do, because the ones I grate on disappear from my life. (Thought: Maybe in the web-world the bad people would disappear because they would be the ones without an attention span)

    Your dear dad once asked people to put all their points in a single comment box, so let me continue with this one.

    If I was your Wednesday night clinic coach, I would talk about fear.
    Because our society has a blind spot for fear. (Like the silence at midterms) So let’s talk.
    Your milage may vary (your dear dad seems very tough) but it is common to feel butterflies when someone pushes against your post. Luckily, you have two good supports, K and J, whom you should use.

    Besides careful editing, what I do is take time to get centred-grounded-NOT going against my better judgement before I hit post. Trial and error has taught me that if I feel twisted or uptight inside then I should not hit the button. To bad it takes trials to learn.

    When a post gets attention it can feel like you’re getting stared at. Samuel Johnson said we all like to be stared at, so if we do something worthwhile, then let them stare all they like. In my case, blogging is like speaking up in class: If my motivation is less than fifty percent for my ego, and if it is over half to help others, then I go ahead.

    … In the wildly unlikely event that someone makes a misguided comment, then in my humble opinion, as you are feeling emotions, you don’t even have to respond in print. Us well-guided readers would just roll our eyes. We know what’s up.

    I shall end with two quotes: “Perfect love casts out all fear,” and Congressman Davey Crocket said, “Know when you’re right, then go ahead.”

    Footnote: If you have an academic bent, I wrote two long blog posts in May pondering what my responsibility was to readers and commenters if they “don’t read too good.”

  92. Remember, you don’t HAVE to write a post every day. Your dad tends to post frequently because that’s just how he rolls, but you are you and you can and should adopt your own personal posting frequency/style. You are not our dancing monkey, remember, we drop in to see what is currently entertaining your thought processes, whether it’s photographs, humor, food, or thoughtful musings.

  93. Athena, I am so touched to see how supportive this audience is of you and your work. Its actually encouraging to me as well. I don’t aspire to be a writer, but in whatever I wind up doing, seeing the way others believe in you gives me hope that if they knew me, lots of other people would believe in me too.

  94. Not that you’re probably lacking in blog material or anything, but if you ever find yourself not knowing what to write about I know myself and others would love to hear about the time you took the pineapple to homecoming! Your dad told us a little bit but I’d love to hear the full rundown from you

  95. The last thing you need is another opinion, but considering a lot of us are much older than you, I think it will be good for us to get some idea of what young people think. I think you may be a cut above the normal, but I for one will enjoy hearing your opinions. I loved being a parent (still do) and I love being a grandparent, the young keep us hopeful. Happy blogging.

  96. You’ve had some great advice already.

    Write what you care about, and write it with care. If that means that you start off writing a review of a recipe, and find yourself wanting to talk more and more about food justice issues, that means that you care about food justice and the roles poverty and policy play on the types of food people eat. So spin it off of the recipe, and write about it. Because what you care about will always be more interesting to read than what you felt obligated to write. So write it up. And then sit on it for a day. Triple-check facts, look at it from a different perspective, have someone else check that you didn’t use the wrong word for something. Maybe post the recipe review that you cut your food accessibility discussion from, while you wait for your rant to simmer into a persuasive essay.

    In theological settings, we often talk about calling as a place where the world’s great needs meets your great joy. The idea is that while there are hundreds and thousands of needs in the world, you will burn out meeting one you think you should, when you ignore what your own needs and joys are. So too with writing: there are so many important and powerful topics out there, and you could spend forever writing on them. But the ones that will resonate with you and that you can write about with authentic interest and voice will be the ones you can speak too most powerfully.

  97. I care what you think. You’re literate, informed and honest. And I may not agree with what you write, but I’ll still respect your right to express them. Because you’re literate, informed and honest. So please – share what you want to share.

  98. Your concern about writing about subjects that have been covered hundreds of times brings even professional writers with years of experience up short (speaking from experience here).

    The thing is, you are obviously the only person who can address a given issue using your words and your thoughts. And some anonymous reader, whom you may never meet or hear from, may well be moved (at least to think again) by the unique way that Athena Scalzi has put words together after remaining unmoved, and unthinking, after reading about the same topic elsewhere.

    So write. And publish. You may never have a clue what impact your words have — but that’s a fate that most of us share. Not everyone becomes famous for committing atrocities against burritos like your dad.

  99. You are just getting started kiddo. Rarely do you hit the ground running on any new venture. You will get better at this. Just give it time.
    I started reading your father’s blog after I found his writing. I liked the way he spun his stories. I read some of his opinion features and found them well argued. That’s why I keep coming back.
    Pick a topic that you are passionate about and speak from your heart. I have a feeling that most will respect that. You needn’t argue a point of view, just express it with style and grace. I’ve given up trying to argue with folks with entrenched views. If they have an open mind they will appreciate your point.
    You already have the gift, I sensed it in your intro piece.

  100. Always remember that ranting about stuff can feel cathartic and feel like you’re trying to challenge real issues, but don’t forget to write about things that you find incredible or amazing as well. That can be hard because it’s more personal and sometimes much harder to describe. Trust yourself, don’t stress on how if people will care about about it or not, write why you care about and people will connect with it.

    At least that’s what it said in this fortune cookie I found. I don’t know how they fit it all on there.

  101. Blogs are totally supposed to be personal! There’s nothing wrong with posting a cute dog picture one day and the next raving about how America has 3.5 million homeless people and 18.9 million homes without residents (HuffPost).

    The thing is, a blog can be whatever you want it to be: themed or theme-less, personal or not, your deepest thoughts and desires or quite literally a picture of every meal you eat every single day. It is what is uniquely YOU.

    So unmoor the ship and sail into all the waters you wish! The readers will read what they want, not read what they don’t want, and yes perhaps complain, but compainers are just people who are unwilling to accept or change their reality.

    Above all, have fun with it. Cheers.

  102. Balance my young Padawan is what makes your voice you own. You can go dark and rant and rave just remember there is also light and goodness out there that needs to be shown and shared as well. I think all of us look forward to a young persons interpretations of events that are unfolding in the world and their take on the matter. Not to mention what our future leaders are doing for fun, whether that is cooking, movies, music, photography or Whatever.

  103. I have not read any of the comments (up to 112 I think) so this will likely be a repeat of other people’s advice.

    Your thoughts and opinions matter, even if the basic subjects have been covered a zillion times by others. There is only one Athena Scalzi so there will only be one version of your words – your own.

    It’s okay to offer your thoughts (or rant if that’s what you want to do that day) on deep, serious subjects and then to offer them on lightweight topics the next time. It’s important to do both.

    Think of this summer’s internship as an experiment in finding your voice. Have fun with it. Try out whatever subject moves you – wherever it lands on the serious-silly spectrum. I look forward to reading whatever you come up with.

  104. You have a winner here, judging by the # of comments (now + 1 more :)). I think that in writing there are 2 keys: write about what you care about and write like you (would) talk. Your audience will find you.

    That said, as a caretaker for this here blog over the summer, you are somewhat restricted to pictures of sunsets and cats, pictures of ARCs, occasional rants, and even more occasional updates on progress on books, etc.

    Oh, forget that. Do what you want, you can’t break anything. I am here for humor, insight, community, and / but enjoy hearing a new take. Go for it. If I can’t take it, I am not your audience anyway.

  105. Don’t let the idealized version of the blog become the enemy of good stuff you are writing! Be authentic, and if some people don’t resonate with it, the problem (if there is one) is with them.

  106. Athena:

    I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on, well, whatever. We older folks do not often get an insight into your demographic, i.e. younger, female in the age of #metoo, a person who has to think about the real danger of school shootings, etc. I would be interested in anything you have to say on these topics all way down to books you are reading or musicians you like.

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