The Retribution of the Writing Rules

comments 5

It seems I’ve gotten myself into a quandary. And I should have known better, considering my resumé.

Education: BA in English; MA in English.

Work experience: 33 years as an English teacher, otherwise known as enforcer of the writing rules; 24 years as a feature writer and proofreader at a newspaper, where an editor handed me a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook and said, in his best Moses impersonation, consider this your bible.



Yes, I should have known better. I mean, I DID know better. But…

I couldn’t wait to start this blog. I had my overall concept. I had three posts “in the can,” ready to publish. I had a WordPress account. I had a technical adviser on standby to help me take the blog live. I was ready, except for one nagging doubt that I repeatedly pushed aside.

What is this writing rule that I violated? I didn’t know who my audience was. Like one of my former students, I claimed my audience was “everyone and anyone.” Sometimes I would write for my neighbors, other times for potential home buyers; sometimes for close friends, other times for folks I have never met.

To make matters worse, I had chosen a rather narrow niche for my blog — I would write solely about my home and my community. In order to make up for that, I tried to be all things to all people. And now my rule-flaunting has caught up with me.

I increasingly struggle to find topics for posts. Oh, there are ideas I’d like to explore. But often they are more appropriate for a personal blog than for… whatever this one is.

Back when I was teaching, I would occasionally tell my students that they could choose their own topic and format for an assignment. They would start out smiling and happy. But after some time passed, a few would sit with blank pages, their smiles turning to frowns. Eventually, one or two would straggle up to my desk. “Just tell me what to write,” they would whisper. “Please.”

I have been identifying with those poor souls lately. And I don’t even have a teacher to ask for help. There is a misconception that I am paid by Epcon Communities or Wilcox Communities for this blog, but I am not. Nor do their employees tell me what to write or how to write it. Honestly, there are times I wish they did.

So here’s where you come in. Do you have any advice for me? What would you like to read more of? Is there a subject or a person you’d suggest for a future post? Should I start a separate personal blog to complement this one? I would appreciate any suggestions you might send my way.



  1. Hi Carol,
    Well… it might be time to branch out into writing a separate blog about your experiences as a teacher and/or a newspaper writer. As you admitted, your reader base for “Home Sweet Abbey” may be fairly narrow. I, for one, would enjoy reading about your past “real life” exploits. The student begging for a topic to write about could be a springboard. The “Moses editor” at the newspaper could be another. I’m sure there are dozens of other stories to be revealed. Just don’t mention any last names!
    P.S. Your blog was an inspiration for me to begin writing my own, and I still aspire to be as good a writer as you. Thank you!


  2. Of course, I always enjoy reading about the Maples activities. There is also so much going on in this community. It is nice to hear about Woodstock activities too.


  3. I, for one, would love to hear about your career and other life experiences! It’s great to read about our community doings as well, so doing both blogs sounds like a winner. Looking forward to following your next adventure.


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