I would like to think that the 25 comments in my queue contain an element of interaction; that somewhere, if I look hard enough, there will be a word of encouragement, a glimpse of solidarity, anything by way of human connection. But I know. I know you are blips and bops and spam and ads and things much worse. You sound so plausible. I suppose some must succumb, or why would you waste your time in such futile endeavours? But I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now and I know. I know your sycophantic ways. So Gerri, Vicki, Bunni, Ollie, Bobo, Maverick and Ellie I will not waste my time scouring your contributions, checking if you are really ‘spam’. Instead I will consign you to the bin, a bulk action, along with the rest of my junk. And I will wait for that gem of a comment that is genuine, and I will approve that to sparkle on my blog, outshining and outweighing the rest of you by a mile.
It may have escaped your notice, but it has not escaped mine: my blog has been silent for months, many of them! It’s not for want of things to say -and write- simply that I’ve not made time to sit down and type them. I could say it was because I started a new job, or because of challenges in my personal life, which are both true, but the simple reality is that I’ve not made the time available. I’ve chosen to do other things with my time. I admire those dedicated people who come up with regular musings, monthly, weekly, daily even for some people! Hats off to you professional bloggers out there!
It’s all about prioritising. I’ve not managed my time in such a way as to make time for writing my blog. I have used the time allocated me to garden and walk, and go to the cinema; to take photos, and generally be outdoors as much as possible. It’s not that my blog doesn’t matter to me, just that other things have been more important, other demands more pressing: family, work, health, all the priorities we juggle on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
I am learning not to be too hard on myself. When I don’t get everything done that I want to, the important question is, ‘have I done what I need to?’ Isn’t that what matters? When my ‘Superwoman’ status takes a nose-dive, I have to remember not to beat myself up about it, not to let guilt erode the knowledge that I’ve done my best. That email to my friend, the 2 hour phone call to my sister, the cup of tea with a team member, they were all more important than writing this!
But, here’s the thing: writing my blog is important to me. Having a ‘voice’ out there that can connect me with others gives me an outlet I need, whatever the impact, or lack of, on others. We all need to ‘make time’ for ourselves, that hackneyed phrase, bandied about, and all too frequently ignored in our frenetic western lifestyles. For me, whatever else it is, writing is making time for myself. For you baking a cake, reading a book, or going for a run might be the way you claw moments of respite from the frenzy of pressure on you to be doing something else.
Our time is limited. We have elected to measure it in 24 hour periods, subdivided into hours and minutes; to organise it into allotted moments which we can use profitably. Not all cultures and philosophies have such a regimented view. It is, science tells us, a flowing continuum of time-space which inexorably moves us along. View it how you will, we have no choice about that. The choices we have are about what is important to us, and it is that which will ultimately govern our philosophy on life, and the way we chose to live it. We can be ‘in the moment’ and live for that, and we can plan for a future that may, or may not, happen. All that is certain is this day, this hour, this minute. The consequences of our decisions will ripple through time, impacting people we don’t even know in ways we can’t imagine. We can’t control the consequences any more than we can control time, for all the imaginings of HG Wells, or Mark Gatiss and Russell Davies.
So, I am writing now because I’ve used some minutes to do this, rather than something else, and I feel good about that. The thing I could have done instead will get done at some point and no one will have died, or even been hurt because of that. We often give too much importance to what we do, as if the world will fall apart or stop if we take a moment to relax, a moment to connect with ourselves, and yet so much of what we do is inconsequential, not only in the great scheme of things, but in our own lives.
‘Time and tide waits for no man” – or woman- it carries us along. We should give up fighting against it and relax into our own rhythms; rhythms that suit our temperament, our objectives and our lifestyles. The pressure to conform rigidly to other people’s schedules can panic us into under-achievement and regret, and life is too short for that. Life is long enough, however, for a few blog articles now and again, a walk on the beach, a game of Frisbee, or a good book, whatever it is you enjoy, whatever frees you to be more yourself, with more energy, and time, to engage with your fellow human beings and with LIFE.
With most things in my life, I have been a late starter -the exception was reading- and I am certainly a later-comer to digital, social media, and e-pubs. I have only owned a Kindle for 12 months, and have been tweeting and blogging for a little over 24. Late to the party though I may be, I am making up for it now! It’s not that I don’t have a life, or that I have loads of free time, but rather I have seen the benefits, and potential benefits of being ‘connected’.
In my short time on Twitter I have connected with like-minded people about writing, gardening, organics and the natural world. I have signed petitions and joined campaigns. I have had lots of questions answered, and found out lots of information, particularly about gardening.
Up until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of a ‘virtual book tour’. The lovely Emma Cooper posted an invitation on Twitter for people to host her, on her virtual reality book tour of the UK, and my interest was piqued immediately. For people that don’t know Emma, she is a freelance writer, photographer, blogger, podcaster, master composter and very keen gardener. She is the author of three gardening titles already, and the aforementioned tour is set to show case her fourth book, ‘Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs’. What intrigues me about this approach to marketing a publication is that the virtual reality translates into something tangible: in this case a fascinating read, from someone who is passionate about sharing their knowledge, and encouraging other people to grow food and experiment.
A virtual book tour is a fabulous way of reaching an audience with a shared interest, without humping a ton of books around the country, and creating a massive carbon-footprint in the process. There is no doubt that people like book signings from commercially successful authors, but this is a far remove from the quiet, steady plod of relatively unknown authors who must graft continually to make a trickle of income from their writing. Perhaps this tour will be a new model for independent authors; I hope so.
So, the important information: Emma will be featuring as a guest blogger on April 15th from 10 am onwards, when you lucky readers will be treated to her expert knowledge on an exciting topic from her latest work. No spoilers here though!
Although behind the curve as usual – Emma is my first guest blogger- I’m right on the case with the virtual book tour, so watch this space, and don’t forget to flag the date in your diary. Emma welcomes comments, and I’m sure she would be happy to respond to any questions.
My writing life to date, 40 years of it, has been made of non-fiction: poetry, short-stories, and at least one novel in progress. I suppose it shouldn’t have been a shock. My first published piece of writing was an essay, which was produced in a medical review, and my main other chunk of writing has been for a community newsletter. I’ve had the odd poem published in magazines, and competition anthologies, but when I think about it, most of my body of published work to date is non-fiction.
I was equally perplexed the other month when I found myself writing a semi-romantic short story for a competition entry. I am not a romantic: I don’t read romantic fiction, or watch romantic films. Ask anyone. What’s more, I now have other stories in the same sort of genre queuing up to be written. What in earth is going on?
I suspect part of the reason may be that, having decided to concentrate exclusively on non-fiction for the last few months, my creative brain is demanding some sort of outlet. It’s behaving like a petulant child who’s been told she can’t have pudding!
So it seems that whilst I still control the pen, or in this case the keypad, there’s some part of my brain – a stranger to me- determining the output. This writing lark is definitely a right funny business!
Photograph © Ursula Graham Dreamstime Stock Photos
My writing life is like that too: it’s all or nothing. I go for a while without writing a thing, and then dash out a story or a few poems, almost fully-formed; scribbled into life in a creative rush.
I’ve always got ideas on the go, milling about in the creative ferment that passes for my brain, and perhaps this is the reason why there are gaps. May be the pieces need time to coalesce from the primordial creative soup, forming into something coherent and concrete that can be expressed in language. May be. It might also be that I’m lazy and disorganised, and can’t be bothered to order my private thoughts into something articulate on a regular basis.
Whatever the reality, I am still writing my blog, 2 years after starting it. I have no evidence that anyone reads it, other than spammers and lonely-hearts, but it is a beacon to myself nonetheless: a personal reminder that I have things I want to say; things that matter to me as a journeyer through this amazing, frustrating, capacious world.
Perhaps they will strike a chord with someone somewhere, but if not, I will still write them. I’ve always written in this self-possessed and questioning style, long before blog-writing gave me the opportunity to broadcast my private musings in a public arena, and I’ll likely continue till the lights go out (mine or the net, whichever comes first!)
I know; I shouldn’t rise to the bait; I shouldn’t respond to spammers and nitwits, serial commenters, abusive people, and all those who have nothing better to do with their time than post inane comments, links to money making schemes, optimisation sites, writers websites, sex websites or anything else that I’m not interested in and will NEVER look at! I should ignore them, and bin the comments without a second thought. I do bin the comments of course, they are time-wasting trash and deserve to be permanently and forever deleted, but I can’t help wondering who does this sort of thing and why. Is it some ‘robot code’ searching for key words, or a real person trawling the net, fishing for suckers? I don’t know, and I shouldn’t care. I have already wasted more time, energy, and grey matter on the subject, than the combined thought of every person who has tried to comment on my blog. I know this, but still I wonder!
May be there are people desperate for cash, or worse, communication; may be they are addicted to what they do; may be they really don’t have anything better to do with their time. How sad.
There! I’ve thought it. I’ve said it. I will give it no more consideration!
For all you sad, sorry, poor and lonely people out there, feel free to try and post your comments: they will never be read. They will never be approved for publication. They will ALWAYS be deleted. Understand the meaning of futility and do something constructive rather than wasting your efforts in this futile attempt to entice me.
Please don’t waste your time – or mine!
Anyone with anything real to say, please feel free to comment!