As well as blogging at http://www.maureen-eppstein.com/mve_journal/, Maureen Eppstein is the author of three poetry collections: Earthward
(Finishing Line Press 2014), Rogue Wave at Glass Beach (March Street Press 2009) and Quickening (March Street Press 2007). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poecology, Calyx, Basalt, Written River, Sand Hill Review, and Aesthetica 2014, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a former executive director of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and has taught poetry workshops at the College of the Redwoods and elsewhere.
You’ve been told that having a blog is a great way to hone your writing skills on a regular basis, right? You started with great enthusiasm: nice design for your site, a list of topics, encouraging feedback from your friends. But somehow it petered out. Weeks have passed, months even. Life has gotten in the way, and anyway you can’t think of what to write about. One way to get your blog back on track is with a frame.
Frames are as old as storytelling. Think, for instance, of “One Thousand and One Nights”, in which Scheherazade, to avoid death, tells her royal husband part of a story each night. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins a new one.
Another example is Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” The frame is that the characters are on a pilgrimage and are persuaded to tell stories to each other as they ride. Any pilgrim unwilling to participate will be expected to pay for everyone’s meal when they return to the inn that is their starting point.
My friend Kate, in her blog “It Happened at Purity” (ithappenedatpurity.com/) uses the frame of visits to her local supermarket to comment about events and issues in her home town on the Mendocino Coast. Another friend, Sarah, chronicles the mishaps and triumphs of homesteading in southwestern Wisconsin. (https://skdbrehm.wordpress.com/)
Some months ago I happened on a productive frame for my own blog (http://www.maureen-eppstein.com/mve_journal/) when I walked into the attic storage room in my house. Among the clutter of boxes and unused furniture sat an old black metal filing cabinet. Stuffed into its four drawers were fifty-five years of typed and scribbled notes, battered blue air letters to parents (my mother saved them all), dog-eared manuscripts and yellowed clippings of my published articles. Exploring my old filing cabinet has provided a frame within which I can use these physical fragments of my past to construct blog pieces. I decided to approach the material chronologically, starting with my time as a reporter for a Christchurch, New Zealand newspaper, moving on to the experience of emigrating to England and then to the United States.
As I sort through the mumble of papers, I’ve become intrigued by the experiences and interests of a younger self I’d almost forgotten. In the spirit of memoir, I try to reflect on the personal and social context in which these writings were produced. When I need to provide historical background, the Internet has proved a marvelous resource.
As readership for my blog has grown, it has pushed me to maintain a regular publication schedule. My current list of topics will keep me writing for a year or more, and it’s continually growing as I rediscover previously forgotten material in the old black filing cabinet.
To find a focus for your blog, I suggest you write about what interests you most. By learning and sharing as much as you can about this topic, you’ll keep your readers reading, and yourself interested in continuing to write.
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