Robin (the cofounder of HoCoBlogs) and I have been wanting to have videos highlighting local bloggers in Howard County for some time now. Here is our first! Meet Bill Woodcock, who writes as the Marshmallow Man, of the blog, The 53. Bill started blogging in 2008 and is — and has been for a while — one of the most frequent (prolific?) local bloggers listed on HoCoBlogs.com
Tell us about yourself.
I am a Howard County native and I’ve been active in local political, community, and civic affairs for the last twenty-five years. Currently I live in the Stevens Forest neighborhood in the Village of Oakland Mills. Professionally, I work for the Baltimore City Health Department as their Director of Business Operations– essentially, their Chief Operating Officer. I have a Bachelor’s in Biology and a Master’s in Business from Johns Hopkins University.
How did you choose your blog’s name?
I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted my blog to be about. Eventually, I took the advice that it should be about what I wanted it to be about. So I wanted it to be about my thoughts on everything! But how do I capture that in a name? Here in Oakland Mills, the old Last Chance Saloon used to have a slogan, “53 Beers On Tap”, that reflected the diversity of the brews they offer. I felt that would be an apt symbol of the variety of my blog. However, my blog is NOT about beer, so a couple years ago I shortened it to “The 53”.
What keeps you motivated to blog?
I think that Howard County, like many places, is a place where the sense of community is driven by perception. And I think those perceptions can either be ones that expand our boundaries and sense of what we can be as a community, or they can constrain us into feelings of insecurity.
The overall point of my blog is through the eyes of the Marshmallow Man, to challenge those perceptions, both positive and negative. To validate them or to repudiate them. Or simply, to shine a light on those perceptions and show them for a broader audience to see.
What three tips would you give a novice blogger?
- Write often. Like with many other things, you develop a skill by practicing that skill. Blog writing is no different.
- Consider your audience.Yes, you are writing a post that literally anyone in the world might read. But write as if you are talking to a single person.
- Have fun. This is a very individualized, personal exercise. It is you. This should be a thing that you enjoy and that is a pleasure. If it becomes a chore to you, or something you gotta do “just because”, then give it up.
If you’ve come to any of the HoCoBlogs parties, what do you like best about them?
What I like best about them is that they’re a way for us as bloggers to interact with a lot of people we wouldn’t meet otherwise in our daily lives– and surprisingly, that means other bloggers and the readers of our blogs! And it’s great networking to get feedback on our work and to offer suggestions to help and support others. As much as I adore social media, there is no substitute for face to face communication and that’s what the blog parties offer.
Beach or mountains?
Beach, but mountains can be just as fun, especially if there is water involved. Anywhere where there is the opportunity for tranquility works for me.