Blogging Challenges Finding the Time to Write

My work desk.
My work desk.

Since I moved over to WordPress last year in April, my personal circumstances have changed dramatically. I’ve been the recipient of two live changing events and my life has gone in directions that I never would have dreamed of. Well, except in the area of acting, that’s a dream that never went away. Now I find my personal challenges of blogging all have to do with finding the time to write.

The vast majority of my day is spent writing. I attempt to post at least six to seven articles a day for my newspaper and often exceed that number. But unfortunately I also have to fit in cleaning the house – which I’m abysmal at – and going on my healthy heart walks. I also have to fit in “house” maintenance, another area I’m failing badly in; my grass is getting tall enough that is could harbour escapees from the Serengeti. I expect to see Tarzan and his sidekick peering back at me from the foliage.

The other part of my day is spent collating the over 1,500 pictures I took in South Africa for the writers at the paper who are putting together our trilogy of recent events in that country. I also spend a great deal of time talking to new writers who are joining our organisation and combing the internet for new stories to write about.

I can honestly say, hand over heart, that I am busier now than I’ve ever been in my entire life.  I am still struggling to find time to visit my friends blogs and leave comments. My interest in their output has not waned, but I’m struggling to write enough to ensure that I can live without having to ingest cat food to survive.

And my  professional writing, has taken precedence over my “creative” writing. Sometimes the two are combined, but very rarely, and my newfound love of investigative journalism has knocked creativity into a very solid second place.

I still enjoy writing the “fluff” or entertainment as it’s really categorised, but it’s harder for me to get excited about it. My mind keeps going back to South Africa and all the “hidden” stories there that are just waiting for me to uncover and write about. But that may, or may not, happen. Money, as always,  is the motivating and ruling factor in all travel plans and I won’t know if I’m returning until later this month.

Gold Mine Dump
South African Gold Mine Dump

In the meantime, there are films to watch (and review) stories to tell and news articles to write to ensure a decent wage. I can safely say that the two life changing events (and my divorce the year before) have put me in a very strange, yet happy, place. I am busier now than ever and I find myself in the rather unusual position of being in demand; not to mention much being a much appreciated member of  my ruling organisation.

I am being recompensed handsomely for the fruit of my labour and I have dreams of clawing my way out of the debt that my divorce landed me in.But the daily challenges of blogging are difficult to overcome. Finding the time to write own personal creative blog posts is becoming ever more difficult. I am, admittedly, struggling. Not that I’m complaining.  But the handsome remuneration doesn’t make up for my absence of mixing in the blogging community.

I am  concerned for an old friend. Marilyn over at Serendipity. She  is in a bad place at the moment. If I had been reading my all my friend’s blogs I would have known, but as I haven’t had time, it took an email from my good friend to alert me of her latest problem.

When I got the email, I felt shock, guilt, and dismay; all in equal measure. Guilt did finally become the winner of the gamut of emotions that I felt when I read what was going on. I almost missed what was happening to her and it upset me terribly. If you have a minute and haven’t done so already, follow the above link and read this amazing ladies blog and offer some support.

I can only say that I’ll try to do better, I’ve already tried to schedule my day to at least continue to write a daily blog entry and now I realise that I need to make time to visit my friend’s blogs as well. I have mentioned before that I am basically a lazy bugger, so all this increased activity is difficult for me to adjust to.

I am trying though and the challenges of blogging right now have to do with me struggling to find the time to write. It is yet another development in my ever changing life that I must adapt to. I want to publicly thrash myself with brambles to apologise to one of my dearest friends in the blogging community and I ask that everyone head over to give this remarkable lady some love.

Michael Smith

Cheers!
Cheers!

United Kingdom

8 August, 2013

South Africa: My Personal Journey Schiphol and Beyond

KLM mock-up at Schiphol Amsterdam
KLM mock-up at Schiphol Amsterdam. Photo by author.

During my 11 hour lay-over in Schiphol,  thoughts of South Africa trudged through my mind like a tired Army marching resolutely towards the battle line. My personal journey was taking a very long time. While I was there, my boss contacted me on the intermittent “free” broadband via Skype and asked  me to take pictures. That was easy and you can see them on my previous post. I wandered the airport and attempted to sleep in-between pictures while I waited to go beyond the airport’s restraints and fly out to South Africa.

The Dutch are a very friendly nation, the airport’s employees in each of the shops and restaurants (that were open at that un-Godly hour) were helpful and easy to speak to. In the Netherlands English is taught from grade school and their versatility in the language still impresses me. When I lived in Holland, I would be asked if I spoke Dutch. My answer, in their language, was “Een klein beetje.” Which means, “a little bit.”

And I meant that literally.

If you asked them about speaking English, they would respond in kind. But their version of “a little bit” was vastly better than my poor efforts. The only difference being that they spoke the Queen’s English instead of the garbled “bastardised” version that we American’s usually speak. I could speak both versions of English having lived and worked in both the US and the UK. There is a difference between the two countries in the area of English language!

When it was time to board my flight to South Africa, I left almost reluctantly. I’d not been back to Holland since I left it in 1990 and I was reluctant to leave. I have many fond memories of the place and its people. I will go back one day and walk the streets of the places I lived and worked. And visit the hospital where my daughter was born.

On the last flight, I managed to find sleep at last. I fell into a fitful dozing state that eventually led me into a deeper sleep that lasted roughly an hour and a half. My mind would not stop long enough for more rest than that. I was excited to be travelling the world again after such a long break.

When I was much younger, my plan was to visit many countries and learn about the people who lived in each one. I got off to a good start, but getting married the second time made me sedentary. Having a wife and child makes the aspect of travel an unlikely option. Too many responsibilities and bills to pay.

After the plane had landed at the Johannesburg Airport and taxied up to our disembarkation area, I walked slowly towards the passport control area. I silently thanked whoever had put in the moving sidewalks, or paths, as I could stand there immobile; clutching my now overly heavy backpack that was full of laptop, iPad; various work tools and my heart medication.

Finally I joined the line of international and local passengers waiting to get permission to enter the country. Luckily, the staff that manned the control area, never trained in the UK or the USA. They were friendly, welcoming and ready to smile or joke with you. Perhaps the best advertisement for the country of South Africa “man” those passport control kiosks.

Life saving moving sidewalk
Life saving moving sidewalk at Johannesburg Airport. Photo by author.

After chatting with my passport chap, I made my way to the luggage collection point and was delighted to find my bag already going around the carousel. I grabbed it and went to find my local contacts. The paper’s local correspondent had said that her son would meet me at the airport. I started looking for signs with my name on.

As I moved around the throng of people waiting for loved ones to greet, or business contacts to pick-up, I heard my name called and as I glanced over I saw our correspondent.  I’d arrived at last.  Safe, exhausted and jet lagged, but so excited that I could hardly stand it.

My personal journey was about to begin, while I investigated and learned about a country that has fascinated me since learning of the Livingstone expedition as a boy in school.  My latest job had taken me to Schiphol, in Amsterdam, and beyond. I was now in South Africa, a country often depicted in films as dangerous and deadly.

I was there to learn what I could about a specific news event, but before my short four-day jaunt had finished, I learned much more and made a number of new friends and contacts.  I forgot all about Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber and slogged through the world of investigative journalism.

I am now addicted to this world. My boss declared me an adventurer by nature and I have to admit being hooked on the adrenaline surge and I’m constantly looking for ways to replicate it. With all my senses cranked up to the uppermost level on the dials, I left the airport with two people who would become fast friends and comrades in our search for the truth.

To be continued…

Gold Mine Dump
Gold Mine Dump Johannesburg, ZA. Photo by author.