Tag Archives: success

Why Bother Blogging? (Part 1)

I’ve just had a message from WordPress thanking me for renewing and saying “so your site has all its great tools and features for another year”. This is ironic, to say the least, when you consider I’m having to use a version which seems to have been developed by James Watt and has, as a result of WordPress “improvements” noticeably fewer great tools and features than it did this time last week.  Having said that, James Watt would probably have made a better job of it.

They then add “Until then, have fun with your site!”. Fun? I had so much fun last week that I nearly cancelled my subscription and gave up blogging. It would have been more fun to insert broken glass into my nostrils.

One thing I’ve noticed on the plug-in Classic Editor is that when I have comments waiting I rarely get a red spot on the bell icon. If it was always absent, I could understand it, but to have it appear once in every ten times I look seems peculiar.

Same goes for my replies. It no longer tells me I have replied. Before I realised this I actually replied twice to something Derrick had said. It was bad enough looking like I am losing my marbles, but he now has the moral high ground in the question of which of us is blogging with fewer marbles. Having said that, his post today, with photographs from his Assistant Photographer, Head Gardener, Driver and Wife (that’s one hard-working multi-tasking person rather than an entourage) indicate that she’s planning an early claim on his life insurance as he plummets to his death whilst photographing storms from cliff tops. That sort of peril just to get a few photographs for a blog is beyond the call of duty.

Summer View Nottinghamshire

Anyway, enough of my adventures with WordPress, it’s time to write a thoughtful examination of my blogging career so far. That’s what I call it anyway. Others may consider it a series of disjointed rants about things I can’t change and things that don’t matter. That is probably fair, but it wasn’t meant to be like that.

Six years ago I dreamed of writing things that mattered and would change the world to be a better place. I wanted to crusade, to be revered as a master of witty and elegant prose and, some months after starting, to be offered jobs writing columns for top London papers. I thought “months” was realistic, whereas “weeks” would have been an impractical daydream. It has proved to be so – seventy months, to be accurate and the London Editors are playing hard to get.

When the call came, I told Julia, despite my probable membership of the Groucho Club, I would try to remain the ordinary, grounded sort of person I had always been. The cocaine fuelled binges, the women, the wads of cash and the free holidays on the yachts of Russian oligarchs, would not change me. So far, I can say that this has been the case. I am unchanged from the idealistic youth of fifty-something that set off to be a famous blogger, with my dignity and integrity in tact. Actually that may not be true. My integrity is still in tact but having written more than once on the subject of the National Health Service inserting a camera into my bladder in a very undignified manner, I feel my dignity may have suffered.

One of several ex-windmills in the area

So that, at least has gone, mainly, to plan.

As for the rest, I rattle on about trivia in a style that relies heavily on a spellchecker, and has only a nodding acquaintance with good writing practice (too many commas and Too Many capitals, for a start) and no longer expect an email from the Editor of The Times.

Looking on the bright side, at least I have not had to employ an accountant to sort out my tax affairs.

Having just checked the membership details for the Groucho Club so I could add a link, it seems unlikely I’d be able to join anyway, and, as several of you are probably thinking, would I want to join a club that would have me as a member?

I think I should end Part 1 here, as it has gone on long enough and I have to cook tea.

Having disposed of the show-biz element of blogging, with the orgies and the oligarchs, I will continue tomorrow with further discussion of the rewards of sitting down at the dining room table and bashing away on a computer that can, like me, no longer cope with the demands of modern life.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Wednesday 8th July Part III

 

We just had tea and biscuits for a mid-day break. then I washed up from breakfast, including the poaching pan, which looked like an explosion of ectoplasm. Then I let the compost caddy slip from my wet fingers. The lid could be more robustly secured…

So after clearing compost from the kitchen floor (in the shape of tea bags, egg shells, avocado skins and slippery veg peel) I am once more sitting down to work.

SMART Plans were, as I recall, my next subject.

They are plans which have a snappy acronym, and are thus better than ordinary plans. SMART, for those of you who haven’t been exposed to fashionable jargon in the last twenty years are plans that are:

Specific

Measurable

Assignable

Realistic

Time Related

They can be other things too, but this has always done for me. All it means is that you have to say what you are going to do, how you will measure it, who will do it, how you will do it and when you will do it by.

I spent a whole week once filling in the plan for a Junior Rugby section – including recruiting, training or obtaining coaches, first aiders, team managers, match officials, safeguarding officers, equipment, and several things I’ve forgotten, though I remember there were twelve things.

Somebody looked it over and said: “You’re mad, you’ll never do it.”

By the end of the year ten of the twelve things had been done and one had nearly been done. If I’d have just gone ahead with a vague plan in mind I would have managed three or four of the easier things.

I’ve just cut out 150 words on the philosophy and meaning of failure. I can sometimes be very pompous and boring and have to guard against it.

I will just say that real failure consists of not trying.

One of my plans for today is to write a number of blog posts covering the entire day. That seems to be working. Cooking breakfast was also on the list, as was catching up with the washing up. I now need to write a SMART Plan for my writing over the next year, sort out some books for the charity shop, do the grocery order for TESCO online and start the outlines for some magazine articles.

Julia is currently on the phone in the front room and the TV is off, so there is no temptation to wander through. She has been busy sorting out one of her clients (which I cannot discuss even though it is interesting), sorting out some office inefficiency (which I probably discuss, but it would be tactless) and generally chatting to people who are bored and still aren’t sure why they aren’t allowed out yet.

This is why.

I’d better get back to work now.

Flowers are from  A Bunch of Irises.

 

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Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

10 Good Things About Breathing

After the success of my recent post 10 Points about Writing Ten Point Lists and The Ten Best Things About Lockdown I decided to try another ten point list. You may have guessed this from the title. You may also have guessed that I define “success” in a slightly more flexible way than the rest of the world. Twenty views and ten comments are a success to me, even if five of the comments are me replying to the other five.

I did briefly think of writing Five Ways in which Breathing is Over-rated but I find people like the positive stuff. I suppose that’s why my light-hearted articles on modern life are so popular. I say “popular”, see above for “success”.

So, here goes, Ten Good Things about Breathing.

One, blue is an unbecoming colour. It doesn’t suit our modern ideas about healthy complexions and modern make-up ranges don’t cater for it. According to arlingwoman, the correct term for the blue colour is cyanosis, which is far too good a word not to use, so I have come back to add it.

Two, dum spero, spiro, as I remarked recently,. Hope is good, and you need to breathe to have hope.

Three, It is better than the alternative. I have no particular religious beliefs. I may end up as part of the choir eternal, singing hymns whilst dressed in vestments of blinding white. Or I may spend an eternity of regret in a lake of fire. In one scenario I wonder who does the laundry and in the other I can’t help thinking that there won’t be any cold to aggravate my arthritis. Swings and roundabouts…

I may even come back as a dung beetle. You can never tell, though I feel my afterlife is likely to end with a short trip up a crematorium chimney. Whatever happens, I prefer breathing to the alternative.

Four, it gives me something to write about on a slow day.

Five, there are right ways to breathe and wrong ways to breathe, which gives rise to the possibility of controversy and more lists.

Six, breathing through the nose adds moisture, warms the air and allows better use of the oxygen you breathe. The presence of a nose also gives you somewhere convenient to perch your glasses and avoids an unsightly hole in the middle of the face. Breathing through the mouth gives rise to a huge list of problems and makes you look like an unlikely candidate for a top academic job.

Seven, deep breathing is another of those health subjects you can discuss at length. It will cure many of my health problems and improve my posture.

Eight, deep breathing is also bad for you . giving hope to editors who rely on sensational negative headlines for a living.

Nine, it’s something that is, on balance, good for you, and takes no effort. I shouldn’t have searched for more information, because I turned this up. Quite clearly, the person in question hasn’t lost the knack of breathing automatically, as one of the answers points out, or she would have died in her sleep on the first night, but it does show that it’s possible to worry too much.

Ten, it serves to fill a list, to swell a progress, to start a scene or two. See point 4, or for the more highbrow amongst you try this.

However, as you read the highbrow section, remember that T S Eliot is an anagram of Toilets – life has a habit of bringing things down to my level. Perhaps life would be better if all great men had names that were anagrams.

Bonus eleventh point – it’s free. The government can’t tax it, Sky TV can’t charge for it and breathable air is still widely available. Now I’ve said that just watch it all go wrong.

I couldn’t fit that into the ten point list without altering the structure, and there’s something unfinished about lists that have strange numbers of points. Five, ten and twelve seem fine, three seven and nine aren’t bad, but I’m vaguely unsettled by others.

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Fresh air – still free! Get yours while it lasts.

Good News and Loose Ends

I had some good news yesterday.

You may recall from a previous post that I’ve been worrying about various things. I’ve also noted a few loose ends – in the Bakewell post I said I’d explain why I was using the old camera, but I didn’t.

That’s easy – the socket on the new camera is getting a bit slack and it can be tricky  when downloading by plugging it directly into the computer. As the card reader on my laptop doesn’t work, and there is no card reader on my work computer I tried the old camera as I may start using it for work. Plug-in card readers always seem to fall apart so I have stopped buying them.

Another loose end – Number One Son and the cancelled trip to Innsbruck. Easy Jet are going to refund him for the flight and the Air BnB people have given him a 100% refund as they sympathised with his situation. That only leaves the flight home (Ryan Air) and the loss of the holiday but as he says – the flight home is a small price to pay and though he did miss the holiday he fitted in a day trip to Brighton and was amazed by the kindness of the Air BnB hosts, so it’s all good.

One thing I was worried about, after a couple of acceptances, was that I wouldn’t be able to live up to that standard again. As a result I’ve been messing around with haibun instead of finishing them, and feeling they weren’t good enough to send. I also missed the chance of a few submissions because I didn’t think I had anything good enough to send.

In some ways, having things accepted has been worse for my confidence than having things rejected.

Anyway, I finally got fed up with my pathetically defeatist attitude and sent three more submissions off on Christmas Eve. During the afternoon of Christmas Day I was surprised to see I had a reply, which seemed very quick, very dedicated and, let’s be honest, was bound to be a rejection because acceptances take longer than that.

At least I had the monkey off my back.

However, I was wrong and I’ve just had another acceptance. I’ve also been given advice. This is good, as editors are busy people and everyone agrees that getting feedback is a good sign.

As a result I’m feeling far too pleased with myself. I really need to learn how to cope with acceptance a little better. I also need to alter that haibun I wrote about editors.

I also need to review the advice I gave about people boasting in Christmas Letters as I now find I’m not quite sure of the boundary between reporting success and boasting.

Haiku Challenge – Day 27 – Ups and Downs

I was going to post a couple of days ago when it was day 25. This would have been quarter of the way through, but I was diverted and didn’t get on with it.

However, if I had updated at that time I wouldn’t have been able to include details of my latest rejection, as mentioned yesterday. Nor would I have been able to contrast reality with my comment in the previous report. I said:

“However, I’m not going to make any boastful claims just now. I’m going to send some of the new haiku off over the next few weeks and see if any editors like them.”

It’s fortunate that I didn’t make any boastful claims, as I did send some off to an editor, and the editor returned them. It’s difficult to tell, but I suspect this indicates my haiku writing hasn’t improved as much as I thought.

Set against that, there is the Autumn edition of Wales Haiku Journal. Near the bottom of the page is my first published haiku. It’s under the name of Simon Wilson rather than Quercus, but it is me. If I was going to lie about it I’d have chosen a better one…

Fallen at the 26th Hurdle

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Twenty six days into my hundred day blogging challenge and I fell asleep in front of the TV. That’s not unsual. Unfortunately Julia had gone to bed after a hard day in the Mencap Garden and I slept, undisturbed for several hours.

That took me through until the early hours on Saturday morning, missing my midnight deadline.

Ah well, it’s annoying but it’s a target rather than a deadline. Nothing bad will happen as a result of missing it and I will just potter on. The new target is to do 100 posts in 100 non-consecutive days. I’m on 32 posts in 25 days so far.

The challenge was about self-discipline and regularity and 25 consecutive days isn’t bad compared to the erratic posting I was managing.  It may be a failure in terms of falling short of the target by 75 days, but it shows what can be done and, like all failures, is best seen as a foundation for future success.

This is a huge subject. I’ve seen adults paralysed by the idea of failure. I’m sure it prevents many people being happy and successful. All I do is smile sweetly, apologise and move on to Plan B.

As I may have said, the challenge doesn’t help with the quality of writing. It may help fluency and speed but I’m not sure it helps anything else. I really want to be a writer of posts on important, serious and thought-provoking issues. Instead I’m not sure what I really am, though current possibilities for subjects include waking up with a nosebleed, the poetry of Les Barker and curry for breakfast.

Which reminds me, I’m peckish and there’s a large pot of curry on the stove top.

Time to move on and read a very fine comic poem.

A Misty Morning and Thoughts of Mortality

It was, as the title suggestd, misty this morning. Due to Julia’s start time it was also dark, so there was no photo-opportunity. I may try again later.

Mist, which can be a nuisance on a long trip, is always welcome at this time of year because it tells me that Spring is coming. There’s a fine line between yearning for Spring and wishing your life away. and this year is probably the first time I’ve felt this quite so sharply. The last twelve months has made me focus on health, age and mortality in a way I’ve never done before.

It’s also the first year where I’ve been so aware that there’s more to winter than crisp mornings and a nip in the air. This year I’ve had to worry about falling and  the fact that I need to keep warm. O;d people die in winter, and I’ve been feeling old. In fact I’ve been feeling Very Old for the last few weeks as all my joints seems to have turned up the pain setting. If I was youmger I’d insert a Spinal Tap reference here about the pain levels being turned up to eleven. But I’m old. So I won’t.

They used to say that one of the signs of old age was that the policemen were looking younger. That happened ages ago, and didn’t really bother me. My personal milestone, is that Life Peers seem to be getting younger. I’ve added a link for readers who aren’t familiar with the UK’s constitution arrangements but, frankly, it doesn’t help.

All you need to know is that in the old days (basically from the dawn of time until 1958) if you worked hard, did your best and tried to be a useful member of society you would be allowed to wear yourself out and die.

If you added a layer of corruption, politics, back-stabbing, lick-spittling and (often) cash to that , you could become a Peer. In fact, let’s face it, if you did enough of this, you could get by without the hard work, doing your best and being a useful member of society. If you look at the current crop of Peers it’s hard to see many that will be of any use until we have Soylent Green on the menu.  Having lied, cheated and bribed your way to the top you could then pass on your title to future generations of inbred offspring.

All this changed in 1958. After 1958 you were generally no longer allowed to pass it on, and there was more politics involved. Because if you want to improve something, adding more input from politicians really is the way to go, isn’t it?

Getting back to the point, Life Peers are looking younger. To add insult to injury, they also remind me of my lack of success as  they all look sleeker, richer and socially superior to me.

 

 

A New Job and Work/Life Balance

It’s now official – I have a new job. For the first time in 25 years I’m going to be employed instead of self-employed, so it’s a time of mixed emotions.

It’s true to say that it’s close to being a job in a million. For one thing, you don’t get too many job offers when you’re my age and have no proper qualifications. For another, there aren’t too many jobs going in the antiques trade. And finally, a job that allows you Wednesdays off (that’s Julia’s main day off) and regular time off for blood tests is also hard to find.

I’ve also been offered a job as a consultant with the jerk seasoning project. There’s no money attached to that yet but I’ve always wanted to be a consultant so I accepted.

In one way it’s a failure, as my original self-employment plan was to make a lot of money, become a well-respected figure in the trade and go into semi-retirement around the age of sixty.

The reality is that I scraped a living, enjoyed myself and have just accepted a job as a shop assistant in a collectors’ shop. However, I spent plenty of time with my kids and will be in the fortunate position of making a job out of my hobby, it’s hard to see it as a failure. Let’s call it a flawed success.

Watch this space…

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Past Mayoress’s Jewel – Collectors’ World, Nottingham

 

Five habits of successful people

What you say, another offering from Nottingham’s answer to Peter Drucker? For I have decided to become a management guru. Maybe Tom Peters actually, because I just checked up and all in all I’d rather be compared to someone who is still alive.

Yes, after seeing the offerings sprinkling the internet I’ve decided to have a go at doing a list of my own. It’s inspired by the list of 5 things to do on Mondays that I’ve already talked about and the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

(1) Define “success”. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur or a corporate drone digging yourself an early grave. It’s OK to be laid back, even lazy if you want to be. As long as you are making yourself and your partner (if you have one) happy and are paying your way you are doing OK.

(2) Look at your targets. Look at where you are now. Don’t stress out, just reduce the targets to match your current position. Simple.

(3) Plan several steps ahead. If you want to retire early and carve wood learn about carving now or it will never happen.

(4) Eat bacon. The importance of bacon sandwiches in bonding, teamwork and everyday life cannot be overstated. Surrounded by veggies? Get new friends. Tofu is not the same.

(5) Stop reading lists you find on Twitter. They are useless and they waste the time you should be spending on daydreaming or surfing the net in search of wisdom. Apart from those sites that start “17 Celebrities who…” I promise you there is no wisdom to be found there, and I have looked.