Joining me tonight is Jurnalist extraordinaire Ned Hickson from Ned’s Blog. To say that I look forward to posts from this man is an understatement. I love his writing and his sense of humour. Ned writes on his About page that he is an editor and humour columnist for the Siuslaw News in Oregon. He has held a few jobs in his life but his latest as a syndicated columnist is the one he loves the most and feels right at home in doing. Ned has several weekly posts such as The Box where he lets loose “Skippy” the blindfolded, rabid squirrel to choose an old photo from the box for Ned to use his Sherlock Holmes skill on deducing what the photo is all about. Each Sunday (or is it Saturday?) Ned also writes a column called My nickel’s worth on writing with tips and tricks for fellow writers. Apart from his writing tips, his posts are all written with a grain of salt and always elicit a laugh from moi. An example of this is An observation of my fridge. Ned has featured on Freshly Pressed and also has a book currently on sale “Humor at the Speed of Life“.
Well Ned, welcome. I’ve been looking forward to having you here on the couch to discuss your blog and what blogging is to you. Tell me what drew you to blogging?
I had been hearing about blogging for a several years and, because I am savvy when it comes to all social and technological trends, I immediately assumed it was a network of swingers. Eventually, a friend explained to me what a blog is, and that “everyone” had their own blog. To prove his point, he showed me my Labrador’s blog, StanleySits. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own blog. If for no other reason than to deny some of Stanley’s accusations about never getting table scraps.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. But I’m not going to help Stanley promote his blog by revealing its real name. Let him get his own interview for that.
I was also drawn to blogging because, as a columnist, I saw it as a way to connect with readers in ways I can’t through newspapers. Being able to post something and have the chance to instantly communicate with people about it is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. I have also been able to discover some terrific writers who I now call friends — with the understanding that I never call them directly.
Hmmmm okay. I can understand the whole thing about making friends but I’m a little scared about your admission that they don’t want you calling them. So how long have you been actually blogging?
I began blogging almost two years ago, when I set a goal of having a site established by my 45th birthday.This was important because I would still technically be younger than Stanley — at least in dog years. I ended up launching my blog in June of 2012, two months before my birthday deadline. That August, the week of my birthday, I was Freshly Pressed for the first time. I didn’t know what that meant and assumed it had something to do with free dry cleaning for a month.
*Sue spits out mouthful of water*. Ahhh a fellow Leo! Very cool. Sorry that the dry cleaning gig didn’t pan out for you but Freshly Pressed is pretty cool as well in its own way 😀 Apart from the obvious use of humour, does your blog have a particular theme?
I write a weekly syndicated humor column, so the blog is an extension of that. At the same time, it’s also an outlet — or maybe “clearing house” is a better term — for things in my mind that don’t fit the newspaper format. For example, there are weekly features on my blog — This Just In (random snippets of irrelevance from out newsroom), The Box (when I use my “investigative journalism skills” to randomly “identify” weird, unclaimed photos dating back to the 1980s), and Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing (writing tips gleaned from 15 years as a columnist. No, really) — that I probably wouldn’t have pursued had it not been for the freedom of the blog format. Sorry about that.
Apology not accepted because we all love it 😉 Like you, I agree that there is a certain freedom in the blogging format. Although you write for a living, do you believe that you have gained anything from your blogging?
Aside from tangible examples, like more readers and an opportunity to promote my book in ways I could never do in newspapers, blogging provides an intangible creative writing spark on a daily basis. That spark can come from reading someone else’s blog; responding to, or leaving, a comment; and the chance to occasionally be a guest contributor on someone else’s blog. In addition to meeting new writers and readers, guest blogging offers a chance to write on subjects I may not have otherwise written about. In the case of Black Box Warnings or Thoughts of a Lunatic, the subjects were more serious and forced me to write outside of my comfort zone — which was a great experience. Pushing your comfort zone means expanding as a writer. Except without the weight gain.
Bite your tongue. We do not gain weight – we redistribute the areas of our brain to other parts of our body! 😉 Given that you don’t appear to have gained too much weight, how often do you blog?
I post four times a week, three of which are regular weekly features. The fourth is whatever happens to pop into my head. You’ll know when that is because you’ll literally hear a loud “POP.”
I’m so pleased you explained what that noise was as I was thinking I was going to have to see my doctor about that! 😉 I guess it would be hard to find inspiration for you writing so where do you look for that?
Everywhere. Working at a newspaper as a columnist and journalist, the news is always happening around me. I’m also a happily married father of four, which means sometimes we ARE the news. I’m also a volunteer firefighter. Between life in general, my job, my family and firefighting, I’m pretty set on material. I also keep a folder of ideas that I turn to on occasion. Sometimes it’s just a scribbled note, other times it’s a news story I printed up or maybe a photo, but I look through my folder and it almost always gives me an idea. Because of these ideas, my editor would really like to burn this folder if she could find it. But she never will because I keep it in her “In” box, which she never touches.
Congratulations on remaining happily married with four children! That’s terrific. I like your idea of keeping a folder of ideas. Many people have a particular quote or mantra that is important to them. Do you have one that you’d like to share?
When I was in my 20s, I used to carry a Daytimer with me everywhere. I was a chef then, and traveling a lot, opening restaurants for Morrison, Inc. But on days off, I wrote short stories and submitted them. To not lose focus of my dream, I wrote this mantra and put it on the front of my Daytimer:
A life spent in pursuit of what can be is better than a life spent pursuing what could have been.
It took 10 years, but I’m finally pursuing what can be.
Good for you. The fact that you finally achieved your dream is inspirational. And your quote is awesome. I don’t suppose you get much time to read other blogs but when you do, what draws you in?
One of the great things about the blogging world is its diversity. I love photography, all kinds of writing, art, travel — and there are bloggers on every subject. What draws me to a particular blog are 1) The Gravitar: It’s my first impression. If it’s interesting or creative, the better the chance I’ll go there. 2) Titles of posts: If they are well worded, funny or creative, I’m hooked. 3) About: When I visit a blog, the first thing I check out is the “About” page, even before I read any posts. I usually gain some insight about the person, which often times adds more to the post. 4) Coffee gift cards: I will skip steps 1-3 if it means free coffee.
Well Ned, it’s been wonderful chatting with you. I have to go and add a coffee gift card to my About page right now. Before I do, is there anything else you’d like to share?
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the chance to be here on your couch, especially before my dog. It’s nice to get up for once and not be covered in brown fur. From my dog I mean; I’m actually not very hairy.
It’s true, you beat your dog to the couch but unfortunately those grey hairs you need to brush from your trousers belong to my cat – Sorry 😀
By the way – she said to tell you that she loves your book. It’s something she can really get her teeth into. (And she’ll bring the shrimps) 😀