Welcome to the first installment of Blogs That Work! As I mentioned in an earlier post, this monthly segment is meant to highlight blogs from unpublished authors who focus on bringing their readers compelling, focused content, consistently. What's compelling content? Writing that's crisp, thoughtful, and delivers to the reader an interesting perspective.
So let's dig in!
Clara Paulino and I met last summer through She Writes. I became familiar with her creative work and was immediately drawn to a few stories in her blog, Writing in the Margins. I was intrigued by her "musings on a home in-between places, languages, ways of seeing" because it alluded to me that Clara picked up those delicious details from everyday life most people leave behind corners and under the rug. I was not disappointed.
The first blog I read, I think, was "Atmospheric adventures and the fate of the cucumber," where Clara introduced me to her seaside home in Porto, Portugal, where she is from and is a visiting professor at the university (she's spent years in the US and throughout Europe). She also introduced me to Ms. Maria, a local 80-something vegetable peddler who has worn nothing but all black from head to foot for the past thirty years and blames what's going on up in space (due to the USA space program) for the change in her cucumbers. Through rich imagery, expert photography and near perfect use of dialog, Clara captures the essence of a life in-between in Porto.
I've considered breaking up the dialog Paulino uses in her post to illustrate what I mean, but it's impossible for me to find a good place to break in - the scene is seamless, which is the mark of a blog that works.
I fell in love with Ms. Maria and Clara's seaside city, but Clara was unsure of what else to write, how else to direct her blog. Sometimes she liked to post poetry and other times thoughts on the creative life. I advised her to keep bringing us stories just like Ms. Maria because she clearly had a brilliant way of capturing her city and its people.
Since I began reading this blog, I've learned a lot about Portugal's not-so-distant fascist history and how passports and an education could get you in trouble; why the Portuguese don't take the word LOVE lightly and how a daughter could learn more about her mother through how she is remembered and presented by others.
Why does this blog work? As I said, some of the best dialog economically written; rich material; and though Clara is the author and it's through her perspective that we're able to experience the story, it's not "ME" driven. She is a generous, brilliant storyteller who considers her audience.
Success! Clara's nonfiction piece, Twice The River Flows is featured in the March issue of LOST Magazine (another must-read online creative writing source). Her piece, Blue Sunday was an editor's pick on Open Salon and A British Melody in Portugal was featured on Krista Tippet's On Being blog.
In the words of one of my friends who follows the blog as well, "I feel my life is richer for having read it." I couldn't agree more!
I hope you love it, too! Dig in and enjoy.