Category Archives: Writing

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Harry Potter Characters and Socks

Happy Labour Day to everyone in Canada and the United States. Most schools here in Canada reopen after Labour Day weekend, so thoughts of making lists and cracking open books are bouncing around in my head.

This is the time of year when I’d try to squeeze the last bit of fun out of the summer before school started up again, so I thought it would be amusing to stick to lighthearted material.

Today’s topic is something I jokingly mentioned in I’ll Tell You About My Draft Folder If You’ll Tell Me About Yours:

I’ve gotten multiple hits on my blog about Harry Potter characters wearing socks, Harry Potter characters who won’t wear socks, socks that feature Harry Potter characters, fuzzy socks, hand-knit socks, and just about any other sock-related query you can think of that so much as glances in the direction of the Potterverse. I am so tempted to write a full-length post on this topic. Would you write it?

According to my readers, the answer to that question was a resounding yes! I have accepted the fact that writing this post may result in even more people finding this blog in their quest to find answers to all things related to the Potterverse and socks, so let’s give them plenty of things to think about.

If you haven’t read J.K. Rowling’s famous series yet or need a refresher about the identities of the characters I’m about to mention, click on their names to read about them. Be warned that those links will contain spoilers!

Most – but certainly not all – of the questions I’m about to answer have showed up in my search logs at various points. The ones I added were somehow related to the queries I’ve already received.

For example, I remember seeing a question about the sock-wearing habits of Potterverse characters. It was a little vague, but it did get me thinking about this topic. I flipped that original query around a bit to make sure that every angle was covered.

My hope is that this post covers so many of people’s questions about this slice of the Potterverse and the Harry Potter fandom in general that everyone who finds it walks away feeling satisfied.

Where Do I find Novelty Potterverse Socks?

Amazon has dozens of entries on this topic, and I’ve received just as many queries about where to purchase such items.  I can’t vouch for the durability or comfort of any of these styles, but they are most certainly out there. Someday when I run low on socks again, I may order a set or two and test them out for myself.

Am I Too Old to Wear Harry Potter Socks?

No one is ever too old for Potterverse socks or novelty socks in general. Why not do things that bring joy to your life, especially when it’s something as harmless and fun as this?

Which Harry Potter Characters Would Wear Socks?

Hermione Granger would wear them because she was a stickler for following rules. (Well, except when she wasn’t).

Dobby would wear them because being given a sock was how this house elf earned his freedom.

Which Harry Potter Characters Would Not Wear Socks?

Moaning Myrtle doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who worries about what’s on her feet. (Can ghosts be said to wear clothing in general, though? Or do they appear to wear clothing because that’s what they did in life?)

Luna Lovegood broke so many social conventions that I could also see her purposefully choosing not to wear socks.

Which Harry Potter Characters Would Lose Socks While Wearing Them?

Rubeus Hagrid. The poor guy had a knack for finding the hardest way to do just about anything.

Fred and George Weasley are the sort of characters who would come up with a spell to transport the dirty socks on their feet to the closest laundry basket, accidentally mis-pronounce one syllable in it, and end up blinking their socks out of existence entirely.

Potterverse Characters Who Should Have Been Socks

I’m tempted to say that all of the antagonists should have been socks instead of people, but that would have removed too much conflict from the plot. You need something or someone for the protagonists to struggle against, after all!

With that being said, someone as violent and cruel as Dolores Umbridge should have definitely been turned into a sock long before she became a professor at Hogwarts.

Socks That Should be Potterverse Characters

I think that any sock with a sassy message or a zany pattern would probably make for an interesting wizard. (My site doesn’t share affiliate links. That is simply a collection of socks that are attention-grabbing enough for me to imagine them as living, breathing people).

What Sorts of Socks do People Wear at Hogwarts?

Based on the references to Molly Weasley knitting sweaters and socks for the children in her life, my fan theory is that many wizards and witches wear hand-knitted socks. Perhaps some of them figure out a knitting spell to create “handmade” socks a little faster than usual if they have a long list of loved ones who need them.

This has no basis in anything I can remember from the Harry Potter books, but I’d also like to think that some socks may have been enchanted before they were gifted. It’s amusing to think there are wizards and witches in that universe whose feet never get wet or cold because of a thoughtful spell that was put onto their socks.

We Need More Response Posts

Woman sitting on edge of white concrete stairs and looking at her laptop.I started blogging back in the early 2000s when most of the bloggers I knew used Blogspot. One of the things I miss the most from that era are response posts.

If you don’t know what a response post is, here’s an example of how this sort of thing works.

Finley: Here are seven reasons why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. 

Rory: The other day I read Finley’s post about why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. Here’s a link to their post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. While I agree with most of their points, today I wanted to talk about why Captain Sisqo was an even better example of top-notch Star Trek leadership. 

That is, Rory noticed something in Finley’s original post that made them decide to write a response to it in order to dig more deeply into the topic of which Star Trek captain is the best of them all or to explain where their opinion differed from what Finley thinks about that universe.

Just like WordPress today, some blogging platforms back then had notification systems that would let the original blogger(s) know someone had linked to their work. Other bloggers could read both of these posts and then write their own replies about which captain they thought was the best. Sometimes this sparked conversations that lasted for weeks or months and took place over many different sites as new people added in their opinions and the original participants replied again to clarify their point of view or ask a question.

I’ve seen echoes of this phenomenon on occasional Tumblr posts, but I’m not seeing it happen in the blogosphere much at all these days. If someone strongly agrees or disagrees with a post, they tend to create Twitter threads or leave a comment instead. 

Comment sections and Twitter threads are fun, but I prefer blog posts for discussions like these for a few different reasons.

Longevity

 It’s been my experience that responses last longer and are easier to find if they’re turned into a blog post. Few people scroll months or years back into someone else’s Twitter stream, and I’ve had experiences in the past where old comments on my various blogs disappeared with site updates. 

Blog posts have a way of sticking around on the Internet for years after their publication date. Occasionally, I still find references to posts that went “viral” in the blogosphere many years ago.

In addition, one of the first things I do when I discover a new blog is to poke around their archives and see what they were talking about months or years ago. There can be posts there that I’ll then share with the people I know who are interested in comparing Star Trek captains, for example.

More In-Depth Discussions

There are many things I appreciate about social media, but it’s hard to fit complex ideas or discussions into a few 280-character tweets. The beautiful thing about the blogosphere is how much more room there is in a blog post to add subtley to your point of view. 

A tweet might only have room to mention one or two things you loved about Jean Luc Picard. In a blog post, you could mention everything you admired about him, compare it to the strengths and weaknesses of other captains, and respond to someone who had complained earlier about how silly is it for him to specify every single time that he wants his Earl Grey tea to be hot when that’s something that the replicators on the Enterprise really should be able to assume based on that captain’s long history of drinking hot tea.

Any Trekkie who stumbled across this hypothetical response post could share it on social media and ignite an entirely new round of discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of all of the Star Trek captains.

Community Building

Image of legs of people standing in a circle and pointing their toes to each other. Yes, communities can and absolutely do exist on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.

One of the biggest differences between building an online community on social media and in the blogosphere lies in how easy it is to keep up with everyone. I’ll take a step back from my Star Trek analogy for a moment to discuss something serious that actually happened in one of my social circles recently.

Without giving away too many identifying details, a friend of mine recently went through something difficult. They talked about it on social media, but because of the time of day they shared them as well as some of the silly marketing gimmicks on that site I – along with many other friends of theirs – never saw their updates. 

It wasn’t until they shared another status update talking about how lonely they felt that most of us realized something was wrong. Had this been a blog post on my RSS feed instead, I would have seen and responded to it within a day or so of it being published. 

I Want to Write More Response Posts

As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.” While that phrase was originally coined to describe far more pressing issues than this one, I think I’m going to start shuffling my editorial calendar around on this blog a bit to allow for occasional response posts.

Maybe they’ll come back into fashion again if more bloggers realize just how useful they can be. If you write something thought-provoking, your post just might be the one I pick! 

For those of you who have experience with them, what do you think of response posts? Are you also interested in bringing this style of blog post back? 

I’ll Tell You About My Drafts Folder If You’ll Tell Me About Yours

Robot fingers gently touching human fingersIt’s been a long time since this blog published a lighthearted writing post, so let’s change that.  Lately, I’ve been gently poking my drafts folder and trying to decide which posts in there, if any, are ready to finish and share with the world.

On a related note, finding an appropriate stock image photo for this post was tricky. It turns out that there is not a lot of demand out there for picture of draft folders!

I’d like to think that if draft posts literally had hands, they’d have five digits just like people do. Yes, I anthropomorphize everything. It makes life more interesting, and also gives me a better reason for using a photo of a robot and a human gently touching each other’s fingers.

But before I get too off track here, let’s talk about draft folders. Most of the time, I have half a dozen or so finished posts sitting in the queue waiting to be published. I also have dozens more posts in various stages of completion. Some of them might consist of a couple of words thrown into my list of ideas. Others have grown large enough to warrant a draft post in the backend of my blog.

Not everything on my ideas list becomes a post, story, or book, but their chances of being written into their final form jumps once I create a draft post for them. This can happen because I need to publish that post at a specific time of the year, or finish reading a book for it (in the case of reviews or recommendations), or have some other experience that would enrich my words.

I thought it would be entertaining to give all of you a peek into my drafts folder for my blog. There are fourteen posts there in various stages of completion or contemplation.

 

1. Title: Book review for Chesya Burke’s “Let’s Play White” (I’m sure I’ll think of a better title for it by September)

Publication Date: September 5

Why: Earlier this year, Apex Magazine asked for volunteers to participate in a huge blogging bash that’s happening in September. I chose to review this book as my contribution to that bash.

 

2. Title: Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

Publication Date: September 23

Why: This is the final part of a short series of posts I’ve done on books that remind me of specific seasons. It feels right to wait until autumn has officially began to publish it.

 

3. Title: Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Publication Date: October 14

Why: The idea for this post came from reading my search engine log. I thought it would be great for Thanksgiving (which happens in October in Canada).

 

4. Title: Mindfulness and Difficult People

Publication Date: December 2 (tentative)

Why: It’s a great topic, but I think it would have an even bigger impact during a time of the year when some of us may be spending time with folks we may not normally associate with.

 

5. Title: Fitness and the Holidays

Publication Date: December 16 (tentative)

Why: This is one of those ideas I’ve been playing around with for years. Maybe 2019 will be the year I actually publish it? Every December, I take a two week blogging break. I generally write lighthearted roundup or similar posts well ahead of time for that break, so you’ll see a lot of entries from late December and early January on today’s list.

 

6. Title: Search Engine Questions from 2019

Publication Date: December 26

Why: I need to wait until as late as possible in the year in order to make this post as funny and as accurate as possible.

 

7. Title: My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2019

Publication Date: December 30

Why: Obviously, this is a post I can’t put together or publish until the end of the year.

 

8. Title: What I Read in 2019

Publication Date: January 2, 2020.

Why: It’s not January yet. Unless someone has a crystal ball, I don’t see how I can write a post about what I’ve read ahead of time.

9. Title: 5 Places You Should Visit on a Trip to Ontario for Canada Day

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: As I was writing it, I realized that my answers were very Toronto-based because I spend so little time outside of my city. I think I need more experience visiting other parts of this province before I can say for sure where everyone should go.

 

10. Title: Modern Classics Series (tentative title)

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Eventually, I hope to start recommending science fiction and fantasy books written in the last 20 years that I believe will be considered classics in the future. I need to do a lot more reading before beginning this series, though!

11. Title: 3 Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Earlier this week, I had originally planned on taking a yoga class and then blogging about it. I woke up with a sore, spasming muscle that morning and decided it was better to rest my body and try again at a different time. Maybe someday you’ll see this post go live!

 

12. Title: How to Find Your Way Home in Minecraft

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: I’m an intermediate Minecraft player, so I’m still deciding if the Internet needs another post about how to get un-lost in that game.

 

13. Title: Mindfulness Exercises for a Bad Mood

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: People keep finding my blog with phrases like this one. Eventually, I do hope to write a full post about it once I’ve tried enough exercises.

14. Title: The Various Sock Choices of Harry Potter Characters

Publication Date: Either never or ASAP. There is no middle ground.

Why: I’ve gotten multiple hits on my blog about Harry Potter characters wearing socks, Harry Potter characters who won’t wear socks, socks that feature Harry Potter characters, fuzzy socks, hand-knit socks, and just about any other sock-related query you can think of that so much as glances in the direction of the Potterverse. I am so tempted to write a full-length post on this topic. Would you write it?

 

Okay, you’ve seen my long list of drafts. I’m editing this post to include links to other people’s draft lists as they share them with me.

Patrick Prescott’s Work on Hold.

Put Down Your Phone and Pay Attention

Today I’d like to talk to you about mindfulness, brainstorming, and what house wrens are really capable of. (If descriptions of the non-Disney side of the natural world are disturbing to you, consider this a content warning).

No, I’m not anti-technology, and this isn’t a rant. Smart phones have brought many positive changes to modern society, from making it easier to navigate an unfamiliar city to finding out what time a specific venue closes before you traipse halfway across town for it.

I simply believe in balance. Right now, I think I’m relying a little too heavily on my phone for entertainment at times when I could be paying attention to other things instead. Sitting quietly on a bench and seeing what happens can be a nice palate cleanser at times.

Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s talk about what happened at the park this past weekend. It was a little too warm to do anything strenuous outdoors then, so my spouse and I sat on a bench in the shade and relaxed.

Mindfulness

One of the things I’ve been trying to work on lately is spending less time on my cell phone. It’s so easy to browse Reddit or read my newest email when I’m out and about but nothing particularly interesting is happening at that exact second. Since we don’t go to that particular park very often, I tried to drink in every detail around us.

The forest behind us was filled with the sound of cicadas buzzing. There was a picnic table off in the distance filled with people eating lunch together.  A woman and her dog jogged past us at one point, and I marvelled at how well the dog was keeping up with her.

The writing portion of my brain always wants to make up stories about the people, animals, and places around me. I let those thoughts bubble up but didn’t encourage them. They’ve caught my attention before, and they will catch it again.

It was at this point that I noticed the house wren. These birds are incredibly common here in southern Ontario. I often see them hopping around on the sidewalk and nibbling on seeds or other bits of food they can find there. They’re fluffy little creatures that I’ve always felt oddly protective over.

House Wrens and What They’re Capable of

The wren was picking something up with its beak. At first I assumed it was a seed, and then the house wren’s lunch wiggled.

It wasn’t a seed.

It wasn’t a stray crumb from someone’s hot dog.

It was a bug.

Not only was it a bug, it was a bug that continued to wiggle up until the point that the house wren tore it in half and began eating it.

I will admit to not responding particularly mindfully to this scene at first. Up until this point, I’d always assumed that this species of bird was vegetarian.

It is not.

If I were the size of that bug, I might have been next on the menu!

Brainstorming and Mindfulness

Mindfulness and brainstorming can coexist. I tucked that mental image into the back of my mind and continued to sit quietly on that shaded bench.

For the time being, I lived in the moment once I adjusted to what that bird was having for lunch. It isn’t every day that the weather in August is cool enough to sit outdoors for as long as we did that day!

Now that I’m back home again, I can’t stop thinking about how the same creature can be a vicious predator in one scenario and fluffy and harmless in another.

This is common knowledge, of course, but it’s not something I as a city person see being played out very often.

It makes me wonder how our human ancestors over- or underestimated other species in the distant past when we moved to parts of the world no human had visited before.

To give this line of thought a futuristic bent, it also makes me wonder how humans from generations who have yet to be born might misjudge an alien species if we were to ever meet one. Maybe astronauts should be taught mindfulness. Or, if you’re writing something that would work better if humans acted impulsively, maybe NASA should specifically select for people who react as soon as they see something out of the ordinary.

Mostly, though, I’m thinking about house wrens and how ideas truly can pop up anywhere if you put down your phone sometimes and pay attention.

Respond

How has practicing mindfulness influenced your writing? Am I the only person who didn’t realize house wrens were omnivorous? When was the last time you came up with an unexpected idea?

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We Need Movies About Blogging

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. As I’ve said here before, I don’t believe in stretching out my words if a few hundred of them will suffice.

Someone found this site recently by doing a search for movies about blogging. Normally, queries like this happen because of something I blogged about in the recent or distant past.

This time I couldn’t figure out why that search led them here other than the fact that I have multiple posts about movies and blogging as two separate categories.

Sometimes the magic of Google combines unrelated words in new ways when someone searches for something that doesn’t have a lot of hits online.

The more I think about that original query, the more I agree with this person.

The first movie I remember seeing about email was You’ve Got Mail, and it came out shortly after this form of communication became more commonly used.

Blogging hasn’t gotten the same treatment so far as I can tell even though it’s been around for about twenty-five years now. This post is old, but the demographics of blogging also make me think that there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in seeing such a film. At least as of 2010, the average blogger was young and almost a third of them lived in the United States. That tends to be the same demographic that goes to the movies regularly!

This isn’t even to mention the fact that blogs exist for every niche out there. A story about bloggers who were all dealing with chronic health problems would have a completely different narrative flow on the big screen when compared to bloggers who wrote about playing poker, rescuing abandoned pets, restoring vintage cars, reviewing books, or trying to convince toddlers to eat their vegetables.

The possibilities are truly endless.

True, it probably wouldn’t be very entertaining to have an entire film about someone typing away on a laptop or tablet.

The director and screenwriters would need to show other sides of the blogging community like conventions, small group meetups, the things bloggers go through to get that perfect picture for their site, or what happens when you have a post ninety percent written, forget to save it as you work, and then your computer crashes right before you tap that save button.

Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you!

What do you all think? Would you watch a film about bloggers?

 

 

The Joy of Writing Six-Word Stories

How many of you have ever written a six-word story, twitterature, dribble, minisaga, drabble, or other piece of flash fiction? What all of these terms share in common is the idea of fitting a full-formed story in a much smaller amount of space than is generally used for even short forms of storytelling. It might be… Read More

My Top Five Distractions and How I Deal with Them

Unless you happen to living in a hut in the middle of a forest that happens to be filled with silent animals, you’re eventually going to run into things that distract you as you’re writing or doing other work. Dealing with these distractions is of the challenging parts of my average day, so today I… Read More