How (not) to blog

blue flowerBeen reading a lot of articles in writing magazines about blogging recently and turns out I am doing it all wrong. Key points seem to be:

Do not write about yourself

Do not write about writing

Do not write about writer’s block etc

Good job this is just my practice blog, then. You know, the one before I am a famous author. Ha ha.

Even my spammers are telling me what I am doing wrong in terms of SEO optimisation. At least I think they are, they write a different language these techie folk.  I understand it about as much as the ‘comments’ received in Cyrillic script.  Although if the Russian feedback is anything like the rest of the stuff I get, I’m glad really. (See Being Someone Else.)

Plus, someone recently reminded me that whatever you put out there is there forever. That’s a scary thought. All those anxieties and little foibles on display for eternity.

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Perhaps I should follow the wise words in Mslexia, issue 61. In Digidoings – Plan B, Katy Evans-Bush suggests inviting guest bloggers to write for your blog and hoping that you will be asked to return the favour. Wendy Clarke in “Be a Good Blog Host” (Writing Magazine March 2014) advises on the etiquette of approaching and hosting guest bloggers. Writers’ Forum issue 149 has an article “Make Money From Your Blog.”  That would be nice. Time to set myself some new objectives and get serious about this bloggin’ lark.

Of course, that will be a distraction from the other thing…

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By the way, the photos are nothing to do with the post, just that it is spring and actually springlike. What a difference a month makes. The offspring got hold of my phone and took these splendid shots at Westonbirt Arboretum.

Is it still January?

How long is this month?

I have discovered that the very day I last posted on here is described as ‘Blue Monday’ due to Christmas-heavy credit card bills arriving and the firmness of New Year’s resolutions wilting.

Unable to do what those well-to-do teenagers did – run off to a Caribbean 5 star Paradise – I have leapt (crawled) into action (slow motion movement) since then.  I’ve signed up for an online writing course (Children and YA) to motivate myself, and have sent off a couple of small pieces of writing.

Am now over thinking and under writing, but as they say, things can only get better…the only way is up …anything is possible.

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Blank Page

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Oh, January – dry in so many ways.

Blank page. Blank mind.

Google blank page quotes.

“I live for the blank page” – Lisa Unger

“A blank page is no empty space. It is brimming with potential…It is a masterpiece in waiting — yours.”  A.A. Patawaran

Miserabalist me, January me, despairing at this positivity, keeps searching for something more appropriate to the current mood.

Apparently, Hemingway, having been asked about the scariest thing he’d ever come across, responded :“A blank sheet of paper.”  This, courtesy of writer Mary Anne Mohanraj. (I know quite a lot about her now as reading the rest of her website was the natural next step in the process of distraction.)

Oh, for focus’ sake.

All the stuff I should have done a year ago is creeping out from behind the (unfilled, unsanded, unpainted) woodwork.  Today, I transferred the painting and decorating equipment from garage to house.  It will sit there a month or two, no doubt.

I’d like to say it’s the January Blues, but blue is my favourite colour and when I think of it, my head fills with visions of Roman skies and Devon summer seas.  It’s more like the January Beiges or the January Blanks or the January Blands…Oh, for funk’s sake.

I’ll leave with a quote by the well known Anon.

 “A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.”

 

Still going

Still going steadily on NaNoWriMo although I haven’t made it to any of the local meets and I did collide with a writer’s block yesterday.  However, armed with advice from one of the many useful NaNo tips I receive via email and twitter, I karate chopped it into tiny pieces and fed it to my pet dragon.

I’m over 35,000 words and still, miraculously, have more to say.

Strangely, while I have been mostly directing my energy into this project,  two other happy writing things are also going on.

I’ve been attending a weekly writer’s workshop with Writing Events Bath.  As in the town Bath Spa, not the tub for washing oneself.  I arranged this as an intervention against myself.  I needed to get out there talking to people who are going through the same things re writing, but mainly to get over the dread of reading one’s own work out loud to other people and taking feedback.  Two weeks in and that’s already getting easier.

The other great thing is that one of the flash fictions I entered into the Inktears Flash Fiction comp earlier this year (after my prolonged writing drought), was highly commended and will be published on that website in 2014.  More news from Inktears coming soon…

All this makes it sound like I have given up on procrastinating.  Don’t worry, I am still doing plenty of it, mainly around domestic cleansing type tasks.  Why is white generally considered the most appropriate colour for sanitary ware?  I suggest a sludgy shade of dust might be the way to go.

 

The Great Antiprocrastinator

No, I haven’t gone all anti procrastination.  I vowed this blog would never be about ways to stop procrastinating, mainly because the first point I would make would be to stop reading blogs and get on with something more important.

I’m still on the subject of Rome.  As if the architecture wasn’t enough to make a great procrastinator feel bad, we visited an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s designs.

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That man had a finger in many a (pizza) pie – anatomist, artist, scientist, city planner, engineer, weapon designer, architect, musician, sculpter.  Not to mention, vegetarian.

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How amazing to have such a mind, to be capable of doing so much and seeing so many possibilities.  So many things he had foresight of, that have taken the rest of the world hundreds more years to develop – flying machines and medicine, among others.

design for a tank

design for a tank

I wonder if he ever slept?  He certainly didn’t waste hours wittering about invented problems and insecurities and thinking endlessly about all the stuff he wanted to do but not actually doing it.  I bet he never had a ‘To do’ list.

He is the father of all anti-procrastination and inspires in me both the desire to get on with it and a sad apathy.

It’s much the same when I go into a book shop.  I think: ” Wow! Look at all these books. So many people have managed to write a book (or several) and get them published.  If they can do it, there’s no reason why I can’t.”

The other part of me is thinking: “Oh, no!  Look at all these books.  They’ve used up all the ideas that ever existed.  How am I ever going to come up with something original?  There’s no hope.”

Sadly, the latter usually wins the argument.

 

Excuses, excuses

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No submissions in August. Not a word written. No submissions so far in September, although we are only half way through, and September is a good month to start afresh.

There were some practical reasons for the disruption – those anti-writing gremlins still hanging around, of course, plus a PAID job and a transfer to secondary school crisis, followed by the summer holidays.

Still, when I look at it honestly – the job was only 16 hours a week, the secondary school issue was resolved within a fortnight (two phone calls, one meeting) and as for the summer holidays… Well, the offspring are at the stage where they don’t get out of bed before ten, and only then with much prompting-slash-vigorous hoovering right outside their bedroom doors. I gave up suggesting that handheld electronic devices might be discarded in favour of going outside in fresh air, to pursue some more wholesome activity. Sunlight causes the same reaction in teenagers as it does in vampires, apparently.

In other words, they are old enough to entertain themselves. The photo above is one result of leaving them to their own (ahem) devices and their dedication to sunshine avoiding, sofa surfing, apptastic days. In my youth, we would have had to physically paint the cat in psychedelic colours, take the photograph, (although, I fear the cat would have been long gone) and wait a week for Boots to develop the film; not just press a button – sorry, not even press a button – glide a lazy finger over the screen.

So no excuses on my part. I had some time to write, but I didn’t.

 

I should be doing something else…

I’m only here because I should be doing something else. And there you have it, the blog about procrastination has eaten itself.  I’m supposed to be writing. Not a blog post, either. On January 1st, I resolved to submit four stories a month and I’m struggling in June to submit one.  The anti writing gremlins are still staying with me, and as they’ve been here a month, they’re getting somewhat tiresome.  They are little worms burrowing into my brain, with their negativity. Much like the person, who having kindly given me a top, size Medium, looked at me wearing it and said, “I should have got you the Large.”  The AWG’s have the same effect on my self esteem when they whisper “You’ve read David Mitchell, haven’t you? Hilary Mantel? What are you still doing with a pen in your hand? What makes you think you have any chance with this writing lark? Give up now, loser…” etc etc “Oh, and by the way, you are too old and fat to wear sleeveless tops.”

Not only the writing worms are saying this to me, but an actual editor too. Yes, the one I spent all my time creating a pen name for, rather than concentrating on writing a decent story.  A polite letter arrived with the killer sentence –  “we felt the story line was a little too weak to hold the reader’s interest.”  Arggh! Stab me in the heart with a fountain pen, why don’t you?

But you know what? This feedback, like all the other critiques and comments I have received over the past couple of years, makes me think that editors are really rather good at their job. Without fail they manage to pin point, far more accurately and succinctly than I can, what I’ve been vaguely feeling is wrong with my story.

A story may be weak, but it is never dead.  And this one’s still got a chance of life.  I’m planning to turn it into a flash fiction.  In the spirit of rallying my writing reserves and getting some work out into the public domain, here is one I prepared earlier.  My first ever piece of flash fiction, it was placed third in Flash Fiction World’s March 2013 competition.  Read it herehttp://www.flash-fiction-world.com/going-back-to-frank.html