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Writing for the Web: Best Online Examples Sought

Three weeks from today I’m leading an all-day workshop for Panhandle Library Access Network, “Writing for the Web.” I’m looking for examples of the very best online writing.

Admittedly, the very best online writing is hard to distinguish from the very best writing, period, and my workshop will bear a startling resemblance to any-old-writing-workshop (and what a day-long romp it will be — a retreat from otherness, a day devoted to the craft). But still I soldier on: I’m looking for born-digital writing that particularly suits the medium — and for that matter, any other resources that would be good to share in a day-long workshop. I’ll give you credit in my set, if that helps.

I found several examples in the ambitiously-titled “The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 1.” I was relieved to see this hadn’t quite rated a 4 on LibraryThing, because if you read creative nonfiction, you absolutely need this book on your shelf, and yet it is flawed; it strains too hard to be “alternative” (like squares of the 1960s straining to be “relevant”), and I suspect the editors were a wee bit dazzled by digital sparkle. (A traditional-print essay, “The Woot Files,” was competent but otherwise unremarkable in everything except its subject matter, “technology’s impact on verbal communication.” Yes, I know that’s not how one spells w00t…)

The online examples are good, but only a couple had the full-tilt sensibility of one of my favorite online pieces, I Has a Sweet Potato. Further, the online works are weirdly marred by how they are cited in the index and within the book by the blog name and not the author. “” is not an author; it’s a blog title. The authors’ names are properly acknowledged in the “contributors” section at the back of the volume, but this error reinforces my suspicion that the editors are awkwardly wading in to uncharted waters and trying too hard to be hip.

Incidentally, I’m now officially a (writing…) bigamist, as I share work not only with my smart and lovely writing friend Lisa, but also with a local critique group. Like my workshoppin’ with Lisa, it’s hardcore: we submit well in advance, submit written critiques, and no looky-loos need tap at our door. We met for the first time last night, and it was great: the perfect blend of observational skills, and exactly the right tone (frank but supportive).

In my work life I may be fully self-actualized and self-starting, but my quavering writing self needs deadlines and feedback and thumps on the head, like four people saying “the time sequence is muddled.” The time sequence IS muddled, and I sort of knew it, but it was like knowing that having Tater Tots in the freezer means I will eventually eat them; that doesn’t stop me from buying them. I need an outside force to connect fact A with fact B. That’s why the Episcopalians get it right about public confession.

Finally, out of frustration I began revising Wikipedia’s entry for creative nonfiction; nothing about writing should be poorly written. The good parts are mine. You can see my plans for this article’s future in the discussion section.

Oh, and speaking of confession, I … ah… mumble mumble… was supposed to let MPOW staff know they could attend at a discount. But this is my maiden voyage with this class, and I’d be mortified if it didn’t go well. I’ve been asked to teach this two more times, so perhaps I can be Truly Sorry and Humbly Repent, and get them whuffies for the next classes, assuming this succeeds the “proof of concept” stage.

So where was I? Ah yes. Best examples of writing for the Web: what would you recommend? All genres welcome.

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