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Fortune Cookie Blogging

It took two things to come together in a coincidence to motivate writing this article. An odd batch of fortune cookies and researching the many blogs and bloggers on . Here are the fortune cookie sayings I found over several days of too much Chinese food while working long hours.

All the effort you are making will ultimately pay off.

You always know the right times to be assertive or to simply wait.

Don’t wait for others to open the right doors for you.

Today it’s up to you to create the peacefulness you long for.

You never show your vulnerability; you are always self assured and confident.

I don’t remember fortune cookies being so full of platitudes. Vague, good luck statements that will work in all situations, in all times, and for everyone. I remember them saying “You will meet a tall dark handsome stranger” or “Money will be found right around the corner.” Specific “fortunes”, telling you what might be around the corner. They were filled with surprise, and a little self-interest because you might just be looking for tall, dark, and handsome! And some found money is always welcome, isn’t it? Gives you hope.

Things like “You understand how to have fun with others, and to enjoy your solitude.” Well, duh, of course. What should it say? “You are miserable to be around and better off alone with yourself”? Or how about “You are a happy person, but also a sad person.” That’s telling them!

These vague, wishy-washy, good luck sayings kept popping into my head while trying to read dozens and dozens of blogs for the article. These blogs reeked of these same say-nothing phrases. In fact, I think they were thinking some of these bland-diet thoughts while writing their posts. I found a lot of blogs with little or no opinions, or just blockquoting other blogs, or stuffed with no content just a lot of links. Even some were discussing political and HOT topics filled with plastic words saying plastic things that didn’t generate any enthusiasm or interest.

This isn’t an attack against I find blogs with general opinions on general subjects all over the place. I read these blogs and realized their authors were staying safe, saying only safe things in safe ways with safe words.

Luckily for me, the good bloggers stood out amongst the fortune cookie bloggers, giving me some fabulous blogging to report on. Good writing with specific and energized attitudes and opinions that explode off the screen. They stood out as brilliant gold nuggets from all the gray gravel.

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

Playing It Safe in Blogging

I don’t have a problem with people playing it safe. I think “middle-of-the-road” is good. We need middle-of-the-road as well as left and right of the road. It’s about balance.

Still, this fortune cookie blogging left me frustrated and empty. I read word after word, sentence after sentence and didn’t learn anything. I didn’t walk away thinking “huh, that’s interesting. This will give me something to think about.” It was like reading one of those books you forget about two minutes after you finish it.

The problem with staying safe means sitting on the fence, not going one way or the other to get off the fence. The problem with sitting on the fence is that you have a stick up your butt.

When I’m asked about what makes a blog successful, there are a lot of elements. There is look, feel, navigation, design, and quality of writing. But there is a more elusive element that is frustrating to explain. It’s the difference between sitting on the fence and jumping off the fence to feel the ground under your feet. It’s about risk.

George Carlin describes it this way:

…You know morally committed people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a demonstration. They knew how to put on a protest. Light yourself on fire! Come on you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke to match the fire in your belly.

While he is using satire to make his point, it’s the fire in your belly enthusiasm I find in writing that makes it memorable.

Making Your Blog Memorable

I’ve thought a lot about this, and while I know the following is just my personal opinion on what makes a blog’s writing memorable, read it and let me know what you think.

  • The blogger takes a position.
  • The position is clearly explained.
  • The content of the post sticks to one, two, at the most three points in a theme.
  • The blogger’s enthusiasm for the subject matter exceeds mine.
  • The blogger’s enthusiasm for the subject encourages mine.
  • The words (vocabulary) used reflect the subject matter, enthusiasm and expertise.
  • The words invoke images, vivid thoughts, and possible changes of mind.
  • There is a body of work to create a sense of trust and respect for consistent subject matter and opinion.
  • The topic chosen engages my brain.
  • The writing and words chosen engage my brain.
  • My brain remembers the post more than 10 minutes after reading it.
  • I want to tell someone about what I just read.
  • I want to write about what I just read to share it with others.
I think that all right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! But I’m sick and tired of being told that I am!
Monty Python

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen


  1. Eip
    Posted May 20, 2006 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Great blog entry. I am sucribing to this blog.

  2. Posted December 4, 2006 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Is something like “Don’t wait for others to open the right door for you” any more a platitude than “Blog with fire in your belly”?

    Both seem to be sound advice for most people in most circumstances.

    And advice which a heck of a lot of people on the planet would do well to heed, since they are noticeably not doing that.

    So what more do you expect from a fortune cookie or a brief blog entry?

  3. Posted August 20, 2007 at 4:13 am | Permalink

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  4. Posted April 17, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Well said. Well said. May we all take a stand and blog about stuff we believe in! More power to you.

  5. Posted April 21, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t blog as often as I should sometimes but I try to make my stuff profound. I tried doing paid blogging for a while and had to stop, not because I felt like a sell out or anything, but more so because my articles in between were becoming more and more mundane, pointless, filler content.

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