Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Hello my old friend. I’ve had a wonderful ride here and the past year has been one of change, challenge, camaraderie and catharsis. Enjoyable yet disconcerting, 2013 has been an amazing followup year to 2012. Events that took place in the year prior to ’13 are still resounding in me and their long term affect has yet to be realised. Still, at this point, the beginning of another new year, sees me bidding goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. It is already apparent that the winds of change will continue to blow and that my “tumbleweed” like lifestyle  will keep bouncing from one exciting event to the next.

A short recap is in order. I’ve discovered that writing professionally is possible. My earlier queries about getting a paying writing job from blogging were proven to have answers in the positive. My blog, which kept me busy in a most tumultuous time in my life, did indeed lead me to paid work. A job that allowed me to further develop a style, that is constantly changing/adapting, and that nets me thousands, and in a few cases millions, of people who read my printed words.

I am able to write about the things that interest me and for the first time in my life I have found that “perfect job” the one that I would do for nothing, and indeed have done, that actually pays me for my labor of love.

The only drawback is that I have ignored you, my first love, with only the smallest of inputs in the way of linking to my articles. Do I feel guilty? Most assuredly. In my neglect, you have gone on to pass the 100,000 mark in terms of page views. Followers continue to support your existence and the count surpassed 800 quite some while ago.

I also have little time to read the wonderful posts of those whom I’ve followed since the beginning. My loss completely. These bloggers have often taught me new things and entitled me to a point of view that I may never have considered if left to  my own devices. I miss you all, my dear WordPress family, even those who have never quite agreed with my ramblings.

But management of one’s time is itself time-consuming. Working professionally means that little time is left over for the more fanciful musings. Even reviewing films falls under work now. When faced with the reality that the most views an article about a recently viewed film on my own personal blog will never go over a hundred, as a rule, and that one reviewed on my professional site will/can get thousands…

There is no real contest. We write to be read. When I started, I was, and still am to some degree, happy just to write. Later, when I found that readers responded well to my ramblings, the focus shifted. As it naturally would. But…I am not saying goodbye to my blog, just 2013. I wish to continue stopping by occasionally writing; not just linking to my other articles. Saying hello to 2014 means following the winds of change, which continue to blow incessantly and moving my life forward. A life that, until recently, I thought was pretty much over.

Another huge leap; a life changing episode, has again become part of my life. I cannot yet get into details of this latest event yet.  I can, however, say that it looks like after four years of, sometimes, life threatening actions that have put me in a place I never dreamed of being in my life, that I am reaching a crossroad that, regardless of which route I take, has brought me to yet another new beginning.

I will not ramble on. I stopped by to say again just how much I love all those folks who have followed, supported and interacted with me. The members of the blogging community who took me in and gave me…what? A place of belonging? A forum to tell stories or formulate thoughts? A place of refuge, when things in my real life got too difficult to face alone?

The answer is yes to all the questions listed above even the incompletely constructed ones.  There have been those of you who have definitely changed my life. Marilyn over at serendipity and Natasha at Films and Things are just two examples of folks in the blogging community who have brought much to the table and shared experiences with me.

I reget deeply that I’ve not had time to follow all the folks who have take the time to follow my blog, just as I feel guilt for not delivering more in the way of written recompense. I will, however, promise to keep dropping in and adding my “two cents worth” on a more regular basis and not just provide links to my “paid work.”

Saying goodbye to 2013 via my little blog, has given me a chance to say how much you all mean to me, and if I didn’t mention you by name, it is only because of the time. It keeps moving, you see. It marches forward resolutely while, if you believe in physics, moving in all other directions at once. I’m moving on a path that I never dreamed possible and I hope to let you all know how it turns out. For now, I’ll stop at saying hello to 2014 and with a little prayer: May your new year be filled with winds of change that continue to blow in  your favour.

My Summer Vacation
Author

Michael Smith
United Kingdom

January 1, 2014
Norwich
Norfolk

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

The First 500 are the Hardest

The First 500 are the Hardest

I had a litte moan about 200 followers ago about the fact that after the big 2-oh-0h that WordPress didn’t give you any sort of fanfare for the 300 or the 400 follower mark. Little did I know that they wait until the 500 mark to say a big, “Well done!”

I cannot say that it got here all too quickly, because that would be a lie. It seemed to take no time at all to get to the 200 point and then?

It felt like time stood still for  awhile. But it didn’t, not really.

It was just that things had changed, the way I wrote changed, the amount I wrote changed…my  life changed.

I won’t go through everything that has changed in my life, I did that in my previous post. But I will say this, I cannot begin to express how grateful I am about everything.

But first I have to thank two very, very special people (Actually it’s three, but who’s counting?)

I have to do a huge shout out to Marilyn over at Serendipity she and her other half, Garry, have been enormously supportive ever since I first made their acquaintance on WordPress. She has a wonderful blog and if you haven’t strolled over there yet, just take a second to click on the above link and have a look. You’ll be impressed, I promise you. Then, if you’ve a mind to, hit that follow button. You won’t regret it.

The second person I have to give a singular shout out to is Natasha over at Films and Things. Natasha is a media student, writer, director and producer all rolled into one person. She has given me, perhaps the greatest gift ever, she has cast me in the lead role in her first professional short film, Once Bitten, Twice Shy. As those of you who have been following me for awhile, I’ve written about my love of acting and my frustration at having to turn my back on it, several times. Now I have a chance to get back in front of the camera after a long absence. Thanks Tasha!

I also, have to thank Natasha for putting me up for an award, a loooong time ago, and I still haven’t responded to it! Sorry Tasha, it means loads that you thought of me when it came time for dishing that one out, I will make it up to you, I promise…

But I also need to thank all the other folks who have stuck with me since I started on WordPress. If I thanked all of you separately, I wouldn’t get anything done as the Deputy Managing Editor for The Guardian Express. If you haven’t had a look at our great site, have a look now by clicking on the link. I’ve already been linking articles that I write that have a special place in my heart, either because of content or just because I think I’ve written something particularly well. But I don’t link them all, as we have a lot of writers who all bring something special to the table.

I’m not going to get back on the “apology train” again, but I will get back to something that resembles “normality” on here pretty soon. I’m running around like a headless chicken at the moment, trying to develop a schedule that allows me to donate a little time to everything. I’m getting closer to that goal and you will soon see more “daily” postings of articles.

Until then, I want to say thank you to all my new followers! I haven’t had time to thank you all personally yet, but I will! I’m not so far up my own nether-regions that I don’t think I need to. I’ve just not had the time.

It takes a lot of hard work to do a daily blog. You all know that, I don’t want you to think I am “teaching you how to suck eggs,” but I did want to mention it.   I was doing up to three, if not four, posts a day, now I don’t have the time. But I will get back to at least one per day.

So, in essence, I started writing this about how it really feels like getting the first 500 followers is the hardest part about blogging and, like my life at the moment, it has evolved into something different than what  I had planned.

Thanks to my very special two bloggers (friends) and thanks to the folks that are too numerous to personally shout out. But you guys know who you are, until recently, I always tried to talk to you folks daily if possible. I’ll get back to that soon as well, I promise.

So until I can get on here again, may all you very special folks have the best of today and an even better tomorrow.  I mean that, because you’ve all got a very special place in my heart.

Ciao

Cheers!
Cheers!

I’m a Versatile Blogger…Again!

versatileblogger11

Just when I thought I was through with dodging the award bullets, I got “zinged” with another one from my good friend Marilyn over at Serendipity. She has given me the Versatile Blogger award!

If you haven’t checked out her great blog, stop reading this and head on over via the link above. She has a great site and (like me) she posts a lot! She is a great photographer who shares her work willingly on her site and she asks a lot of pertinent questions. Not to mention that she is one of the most erudite blogs going.

And she and her husband Garry are amongst the few on the net that I consider great pals! Check her out…okay?

Now as with all the other awards that are flying about in the WordPress blogging verse, there are penalties, sorry; rules that must be adhered to, or at least you are supposed to. I tend to vary them a little, just because variety is the spice of life and (in case I’ve not mentioned it lately) because I’m lazy and a bit of a rebel.

I have to mention here that I love getting awards! Ever since I got a Best Supporting Actors Award in 1976 I’ve been hooked on getting any type of “special” recognition. I know, I could change my blog title to Ego’s are Me. It is a tiny personality flaw that I’m aware of and I’m trying to address it.

Okay??

So without further ado, here are the rules involved when you receive the Versatile Blogger Award:

*These have been copied shamelessly from Marilyn’s blog post. See! I told you I was lazy!*

These are the traditional rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, name the bloggers to whom you would like to pass the award and send them a link to tell them you’ve selected them.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So! I’ve thanked the person who nominated me! (Thanks again Marilyn!!!). I’ve included a link to their blog. Now I have to name the bloggers I’m nominating.

*Drumroll please*

And the nominees are:

Written in Blood

Hard Ticket to Home Video

Claratsi Movie Review

myfilmviews

RobbinsRealm Blog

It Rains… You Get Wet

Cinematic

I’ve only done 7 nominees (aka winners). The reason? Well, I’m not going to do the 7 “things about me” drill. So at least I’ve made an attempt at the rules by utilising the number seven. (Does anyone else hear the Sesame Street thing in their head saying, “Today is brought to you by the number seven?”)

What I’m going to do instead is post a picture of “moi” holding up my first coffee of the day (and amazingly it’s after I wrote this blog) and toasting not only Marilyn over at Serendipity and the nominees, but, everyone who follows my little blog!

Cheers, all the best!
Cheers, all the best!

I’ll also add a few more pictures from “yesteryear.”

My family. Brother Randy, Dad, Mom, Me, and in the front, my son Donovan. 1980
My family. Brother Randy, Dad, Mom, Me, and in the front, my son Donovan. 1980
Me. 1979.
Me. 1979.
My daughter Megan, 1990 aged 9 months.
My daughter Megan, 1990 aged 9 months.

And that’s me finished!! I’ll also take this time to thank all the folks who stop by, ‘like’ and follow my blog. You guys are the reason I keep forcing myself to sit down in front of my laptop and repeated strike the keys…and to write my blog posts.

You guys are the greatest!

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award: Mouthwash Not Required

Awarded from Marilyn from Serendipity!
Awarded from Marilyn over at Serendipity!

When I first saw that Marilyn over at Serendipity had graced me with this award, my first thought was, “Dragon’s breath?” But, no, it turns out that this “new” award is an amalgamation of the  Versatile Blogger Award  and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Katrina Perkins came up with this wonderful idea and hence it is she who is ultimately responsible for this new and pretty cool looking award! I have left the links on the names of the site and the lady who started and passed this auspicious award along. Please feel free to click on these links and check these incredible and erudite sites out.

Now!

Just kidding…

But check em out…okay?

And just for information purposes, Katrina was the one who designed the logo for this cool new award. So giving credit to where it is due, I’ve made sure I mentioned it.

Now like every other “award” out there that we bloggers like to bestow willy-nilly to our fellow bloggers in an attempt to show our appreciation to those who follow, inspire, and other-wise move us; there are rules. I know, I know, no-one likes the rules bit, but really; what did you expect? Freebies?

So, on to the rules:

  1. Display the Award Certificate on your website
  2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

I’ve displayed the Certificate, announced my win (via this post) and linked to the presenter.

Now I just have to present the award 15 times to “deserving” bloggers. I honestly, really, hate this part. I have tried pulling names randomly, picking the last (insert number here) followers, and picking those who comment or like the most on my posts. I think I’ll try a combination of the above and do my usual cry of, “If I missed you out, I’m sorry!”

All the nominees are folks that I follow and appreciate what they bring to the blogging world:

  1. http://vinnieh.wordpress.com
  2. http://lastroadreviews.wordpress.com
  3. http://claratsi.wordpress.com
  4. http://natashaharmeryr1.wordpress.com
  5. http://robbinsrealm.wordpress.com
  6. http://foxxiecinnamon.wordpress.com
  7. http://Www.hagiographic.com
  8. http://table9mutant.wordpress.com
  9. http://imalazyboy.wordpress.com
  10. http://terry1954.wordpress.com
  11. http://jackieeatworld.wordpress.com
  12. http://ckckred.wordpress.com
  13. http://www.filmhipster.com
  14. http://hardtickettohomevideo.com
  15. http://jmountswritteninblood.com

All the above listed folks have great blogs and they interact with the blogging community on a regular basis, check em out. You’ll be glad you did! I will be informing them as soon as I’ve posted this blog.

Now for the last part. I’ve been disclosing X amount of personal facts for quite some time now and I think I’m running out of things to disclose (at least things that won’t get me in trouble) so I’m going to borrow a page from Marilyn’s blog and share some pictures instead. It’s actually been on my blogger’s list of things to try for some time now and her post that nominated me and a slew of other blogger’s just jiggled my old memory box.

So here we go, just think of this as a Little Photo History of Mike:

My first Easter with my Dad!
My first Easter with my Dad!
Christmas 1965 me and my new brother. The one I took to show-and-tell a year or so later.
Christmas 1965 me and my new brother. The one I took to show-and-tell a year or so later.
Another Christmas, year unknown, smoking an Avon pipe dispenser of aftershave.
Another Christmas, year unknown, smoking an Avon pipe dispenser of aftershave.
My dad's horse, a part Tennessee Walker and huge! Great temperament.
My dad’s horse, a part Tennessee Walker and huge! Great temperament.
The 1975 Fayetteville High School Talent Show, I got honourable mention.
The 1975 Fayetteville High School Talent Show, I got honourable mention.
The 1976 Ice Cream Social I was the villain and wrote my own lines...we all did. Great show and great experience.
The 1976 Ice Cream Social I was the villain and wrote my own lines…we all did. Great show and great experience.
My first cowboy hat that went mysteriously missing a year later. I loved that hat! Circa 1975.
My first cowboy hat that went mysteriously missing a year later. I loved that hat! Circa 1975.
One of my John Robert Powers pictures - 1979.
One of my John Robert Powers pictures – 1979.

So there you have it. A very tiny pictorial history of me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed digging through the old stack of pictures that I have scattered here and there. I do apologise for the rather random way that the photo’s have been arranged, I’m not really very of-ay with the picture side of these blogs!

Thanks Marilyn for thinking of me for this neat new award!!