The other day, SI left a comment here that has impressed me more and more the longer I've thought about it. Talking about atheist blogging, he said: I think on the whole, we do it quite well. Even if you don't agree with us, generally, we do say it with style, panache and savoir-faire.
He's so right. There’s some excellent, even exemplary, writing in the Atheosphere. I’d put it up against some of the very best magazine articles and newspaper columns.
Let’s get this straight: I’m not saying that we produce copyedited, ready-for-publication pieces. As a pedantic prig and a grammar nazi – and a sometime professional editor – I’ll tell you that much of our output is far from perfect in terms of mechanics. We make grammatical slips, spelling errors, even punctuation faux pas. I embarrass myself sometimes when I notice that I've written a particularly ungainly sentence, or used an ill-chosen word. But that kind of stuff is all fixable with a blue pencil or its electronic equivalent. It’s not hard to sneak into a post to correct misspellings or sloppy syntax; I do it all the time.
I’m not talking about content, either. Yes, I think content is very important, but to tell you the absolute truth: I’ve been an atheist all my life. There are very few arguments for or against freethinking that I haven’t already heard hundreds of times. And when one of us posts about a breaking news story, it multiplies like an amoeba, spreading all over the Atheosphere in nanoseconds. Hot YouTube Videos, cartoons, jokes – they all appear in dozens of places simultaneously. So content alone doesn’t make writing great for me.
What I'm referring to is a quality that’s hard to pin down, an urgent shoulder-grab by someone who just has to say something important or hilarious or informative or so interesting it demands to be shared, a feat of linguistic magic that breathes into mere strings of words a life of their own, a mind-meld you're powerless to resist.
And so, I’m going to inaugurate the Stermy Awards for Exemplary Writing in the Atheosphere (with a hat tip to Evo for coming up with the name – although in a different context). I’d like to say that the Stermy Awards Ceremony will occur near the end of every month, without fail, but who am I kidding? We’re talking about blogging here; sometimes real life – or a bad mood – intrudes.
For this first presentation, I’ve decided not to honor any of the writers I singled out recently as being among the ten bloggers I'd most like to break open an expensive bottle of wine with. Not that their writing isn’t great, and not that I don’t expect them to "win" plenty of Stermies in the future. But just for this inaugural post, I decided, pretty much arbitrarily, that I’d already given them a blanket award which they can wrap themselves in at least until next month.
Below, in alphabetical order by author, are the posts that impressed me most this month. I've included a very small snippet of writing from each one, just to give a quick taste.
So, drum roll, please:
EnoNomi at EnoNomiAlthough I don't think it's necessary, I will emphasize that these awards are totally subjective and reflect only my own taste. The decision of the judge is final. No animals have been harmed in the presentation of these posts. My name is The Exterminator, and I approve this message.
for Serving Size: One Entry
I love the word Atheist. I love the way it feels in my mouth and rolls off the tongue. I admit to loving the in-your-face-ness of the word, because most of the time I’m not really interested in having a dialogue.
The Lifeguard at The Meme Pool
for Draining the Meme Pool
As I came to realize how faith permeated so much of my own life and the life of those around me, I became entirely too aware of how shocked my loved ones would feel when they heard I had become an atheist. Would they accept it? Would they know I am the same person? That I am still a happy human being? Will they still relate to me? Will I relate to them? How will this all work out? All of this left me very frightened and confused, and I spent a lot of time thinking over my newfound atheism and wondering if I might even find a way out of it. I felt that ashamed and anxious about it.
Lynet at Elliptica
While her husband's in the water
the coxcombs crowd like butterflies.
ordinary girl at tales of an ordinary girl
for More Emails
It seems to me that for you it comes down to likability. What would it take for an atheist to be likable to a theist? Could an atheist feel free to talk at all about atheism and still be considered likable? Or does that make the theist uncomfortable and thus make the atheist unlikable.
Ute at An Atheist Homeschooler
for Homeschoolers are Weird
The thing is... homeschoolers can never do it quite right for society around us. We face expectations that can't be met. Our kids need to be smart, really smart, but when they are, then something is wrong... "You're probably doing nothing but school work all day." (Right) If their intelligence doesn't meet Mr. Smith's expectations then he feels confirmed in his belief that homeschooling is good for nothing.
I can't read everything out there in the Atheosphere. If anyone would like to nominate a December post for the next Stermies, please send me an email with a link to your specific selection. You may even try to lobby for one of your own, but – as I hope you've seen – it better be damn good.