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The secret of transparency

April 22nd, 2013 by Bob Bly

One of the differences between traditional print writing and
online writing is the principle of “transparency.”

Transparency means telling the reader all sorts of personal
things about the writer.

Why should the reader care about you? I don’t know.

In the good old days, my mentor SR wrote:

“Don’t tell the reader what YOU did or like. Talk about her
fears, her concerns, her desires, her dreams.”

That’s still the primary interest of today’s prospects. But now,
they also want to know more about you.

A possible reason: the Internet is a more interactive, two-way
communication medium than print.

Therefore, your readers have a stronger desire to connect
directly to you, and part of that is to know more about you.

So in the interest of transparency, here are 21 things you may
be curious or interested to know about me – or not (I am not
100% sold on this transparency thing):

1-I am 5’7″ and have a hang-up about being short. If I could
change 7 things in my life, one would be to become six feet tall.

2-I embarrassingly weigh a little over 200 pounds, and have
struggled with a weight problem for the past few years (I used
to be 175).

3-I absolutely love my work, which primarily is freelance
copywriting and secondarily book writing, Internet information
marketing, and speaking. There is nothing on the planet I would
rather do than write, and my favorite writing is copywriting.

4-One of my great writing pleasures is writing essays. Years
ago, Thomas Nelson published a book of my essays, Count Your
Blessings, though it was hardly a best-seller.

5-I am a hardcore introvert. I like being surrounded by my wife
and kids, but other than that, I prefer to spend time alone.
Prolonged exposure to people wears me out.

6-Aside from writing, my favorite activity is reading The New
York Review of Books. I read every word of every article in
every issue, and if you know NYRB, you know that’s a lot of

7-Unlike some entrepreneurs who work 24/7, I seem to need the
normal amount of sleep, although I often have trouble sleeping.
One of my guilty pleasures is I take an hour nap on the
weekends, and it is the best sleep I have. I agree with Fran
Lebowitz, who said, “I love sleep because it is both pleasant
and safe to use.”

8-My favorite movie is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. My
favorite comedy film is Rat Race.

9-I also love horror movies, especially the old ones. My
favorite horror movie is Dracula Has Risen from the Grave with
Christopher Lee.

10-My favorite book is Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Of
course, that’s a play. My favorite novel is The Prince of Tides
by Pat Conroy, who is also my favorite writer.

11-I love science fiction and have a web site dedicated to it, My favorite science fiction
novel is Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. I’m also a fan of
Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov, who is my writing role model
for his prolificity and clear prose.

12-Although I am not a hardcore Trekkie in that I do not go to
conventions, I love Star Trek, and I wrote a trivia book for
HarperCollins titled The Ultimate Unauthorized Star Trek Quiz

13–For decades my hobby was keeping fish tanks, both saltwater
and fresh, and at one point I had 4 tanks, including one with a
freshwater stingray and another with an eel. Now I have cut down
to one 92-gallon tank. I also have a web site dedicated to this

14-When I was a kid my passion was science, in particular my
chemistry set. And yes, I have a web site on this too: I have a B.S. in chemical engineering from
the University of Rochester.

15-I used to enjoy playing chess with my kids, but now in their
20s, they have lost interest. So I don’t play anymore. No great
tragedy; I am not that good anyway.

16-When in high school, I played clarinet and baritone sax, and
I was not terrible. I enjoy listening to bari sax, especially
Gerry Mulligan. A big thrill of my life was meeting Benny
Goodman in an elevator at a club where my father had taken me to
listen to the Buddy Rich band.

17-I used to listen to music in the office 12 hours a day. Now I
prefer silence when working. But I still love a wide range of
music: jazz, classical, rock, and pop. I occasionally listen to
and enjoy a Barry Manilow CD. So sue me.

18-I love dogs. Our golden retriever, Princess, died a couple of
months ago and I am still not over it.

19-A few people I find funny: Louis CK, Demetri Martin, Sean
Morey, Ricky Gervais, Seth McFarlane, Ray Romano. I like Chris
Rock but his mouth is too foul for my taste.

20-If I could do one thing over again in life, I would have had
my kids in my 20s instead of my 30s. But my wife had cancer when
we were young, so we couldn’t.

21-My favorite food on the planet is a kosher hot dog. And yes,
I wrote a book about them: All-American Frank: a History of the
Hot Dog (Publish America). Oranges come in second.


This entry was posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2013 at 11:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    Thanks for sharing – just started reading your book: Blog Schmog for a report.

  2. Bon said:

    Thanks for sharing this, Bob. I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope your grief ends.

  3. Shirley de Rose said:

    We (my husband and I) appreciate your transparency so very much. We are similar to you in many ways, from being major introverts to enjoying fish tanks. We watch a marathon of Babylon 5 (all 5 seasons) once per year. Like you, we haven’t made it to a Sci-Fi convention, but there’s always “next year.” We are in the SEM business, often copywriting for clients – we understand those 12 hour work days though we do break for naps occasionally. We consider you to be one of our blessings. Thanks for your transparency!

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