A Meta-Topic

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Once again, I broach the topic of “topic”. Why? A couple of reasons. It seems to be my default topic when I have no others at hand when I sit down to write. As an un-themed blog it is both very easy and very difficult to come up with a topic. Since a themed blog is, by definition, focused on a single subject, topics can be found through research and analysis. At least, this is what I see from both subject matter experts (SMEs) and those on the “outside” looking in. I have great respect for those who consistently provide excellent, focused content. It is not something I would feel comfortable attempting, at least for the mainstream audience.

My blog is an un-themed blog. It is a mix of fact and fiction, part diary, part experiment in other viewpoints, part soapbox. Those who have followed my blog from the beginning see that posts tend to fall into a few consistent themes. Which brings me to another reason that “topics” is my default…um…topic.  For un-themed blogs, topic subjects and timings are sometimes an even better clue, overall, to the person behind the keyboard, than the contents of posts. The topic of any particular post in an un-themed blog reveals what that person is thinking about (or has recently spent a lot of time pondering). When I get too wrapped up in something, I find it hard to stop obsessing over it. Because writing about “topics” is what I would call “meta-writing”, it allows me to step back and clear at least a part of my slate.

Does this mean I can immediately turn out another several blogs on various topics? Sometimes, yes. Usually, no. What it does do is allow me to be more open to potential topics as I run into them.  It gets me in the mindset of “how can I turn ____ into a topic I can write on?” A side benefit seems to be a (sometimes temporary) increase in the ability to link unusual concepts into a single category. For instance, I was playing a word association game a while back when the primary word was “astronomy”. Most of the others in the small group came up with planetary bodies or concepts, but my response was “Academy Awards”. I would group that particular linked pairing into the category “word play”. (I got a few rolled eyes when I explained the link, but it was allowed to pass.)

My main concern, as the semester comes to a close, is that there will be an increasing number of posts about “topics”.

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Topic, Topic, Who’s Got the Topic?

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When I’m asked where I find my blog topics, I’m often at a loss for what to say. I rarely find the topics, they find me. Not only do the find me, they sneak up and whack me upside the head, they steamroll me, they ambush me, they climb in my brain and throw a party. Yes, sometimes they leave me alone, and when they do, I have to go hunting.

The uninitiated will call topics finding me “inspiration”. I call it “mostly annoying”. Usually when a topic jumps out at me, I can’t afford the distraction or I’m not in a place to do so much as write it down. By the time I am, it’s already left.

Once I have a topic, what then? I often have only a vague notion of where I think it’s going to go. Too bad it rarely works out how I think it will. In fact, most of my blog writing relies on momentum, not “inspiration”.

One of my techniques for topic-finding, when they appear to have abandoned me, is to ask friends on Facebook to give me a topic. As with improv, never say no. Take the first topic someone responds with and run with it. This is one of the advantages of an unthemed blog. The downside is it will never be an “authority” blog. I write for entertainment: mostly mine, though the growing number of ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ says other people are being entertained as well. If one day’s entry is boring or otherwise unsatisfying, the next is almost guaranteed to be a different topic, or even a different style.

I hope readers continue to enjoy and leave comments or discuss topics.