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BK Magazine BK Life
Posted by Katie Swalm, Editorial and Digital Intern.
Katie is the Editorial and Digital intern at Berrett-Koehler, a third year student at Westmont College, and a habitual overcommitter. She currently lives and writes in San Francisco.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good blog must be in want of comments." - Jane Austen, probably
As I read through the comments on our blog, I notice that there are many from within the BK company and less from those on the outside. The most-commented upon posts write about things that are “live” for people. Some topics incite emotion within readers, through their content or through their novelty. Something compels us to respond in turn. We believe we have something to add; we feel as though we are being spoken to, uniquely – that the author is calling out to us by name.
Another emotional response to an idea, and a reason that we respond, is that we feel we are being attacked. Something is at stake; our very way of life is under attack. This is a “live” idea - something with the perceived potential for action, whether for good or for harm.
Sometimes, they write about things that are humorous, and for a moment, we find a connection over some strange coincidence, joke, or situation that reminds us that we don’t have to take everything so seriously.
Writers that get engagement from readers write about truth. By this, I don’t mean tacky epithets that come out of fortune cookies; I mean those things we feel that may not be completely logical, but speak to something deeper. We are emotional creatures, like it or not – if something can stir an emotion within us, whether of identification with the idea or attack by the idea, we will spend that time crafting a response to this in order to confirm our own identity or defend against the outside assailant.
Sometimes, it is throwing formality to the wind and writing something outrageous, something not serious; but isn’t there truth in the binding content of humor? (Think about an inside joke between you and a friend. You find identity and affirmation of your relationship - and couldn’t that be truth?)
Why we communicate the way we do is not always based solely out of our heads. In fact, as writers and readers searching for content, we might ignore what we “should” be responding to and focus on what we naturally are.
Anything we write, to give dignity to our readers and ourselves, must come from the place of emotional truth. If there is no investment in the topic, why are you writing it? And why are you expecting others to respond to it?
This requires a bit of searching – where is the idea, and the human behind the idea, that I can respond to? And as a writer, it involves deep, strategic thought about what means most to us, and what means most to the community we are speaking to.
The truth is, there is no magic formula to getting replies. There is close examination, honoring the sense of truth, and careful crafting; there is a bit of wisdom about who is on the other side of your discussion. There is luck. It is maybe challenging them as you challenge yourself. There is treating those who are listening with dignity and respect as you share what is true for you, and hopefully asking the same.
mind --> blown