Making the Time

English: Writing «Shit_happens»
English: Writing «Shit_happens» (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided about a year ago, that I was going to return to my first love. Most folks will tell you that you never forget your first one and I didn’t. Lurking in the shadows of my mind was my first ever passion. Oh I knew it was there, but over the years it got pushed back further and further into that place in your memory that holds discarded thoughts, dreams, and passions.

Writing was and still is my first mistress. But I’ve been so busy playing the field that I neglected her horribly. Not that I was being consciously unfaithful it was just that I lost focus. I was so busy living and loving and trying out different vocations that I just forgot. For about forty some odd years.

But when my life took a sudden swerve into left field and I had to start over again…again, I rediscovered her. I just re-read that last sentence and realised that it seems to imply that I’ve only had to start over twice. That would be a massive understatement of the truth. I have had to start over so many times in my life that I’ve lost count. In fact the dislike of starting over was one of the big reasons I stayed in my previous unhappy status for so long.

The first love that I’ve been waffling on about is, of course, writing. When I had the sudden epiphany that I really could do whatever I wanted in my ‘new’ life, writing was the first thing that jumped up from the hidden recesses of my mind. I was at first startled by this jack-in-the-box behaviour and then I got excited.

I sat down and started my first blog. Random Thoughts for a Random World was born on the 29th of November 2010. Just over a month after my flight from my previous life.  This first post was a four sentence statement of my intent to try this new blogging thing.

It then sat dormant for another year and one day.

It was only after the dust settled in my transition from nuclear family member to single dad that I was able to set down and start again. I then sporadically published updates to this blog and garnered quite a few ‘hits’ on each update. All this was done in order to practice my shaky command on the English language that was all the more shaky because I lived in a foreign country that spoke and wrote a bit differently from the denizens of my birth.

I finally decided after about a year of so-so response to my first blog and the birth of a Tumblr blog that I quite liked, but never told me if I had any visitors to my site, that I started this one. I decided to make it primarily a ‘film’ site where I could talk about my other great love and anything else that caught my wandering attention.

So here I am fully immersed in writing at the very least my daily blog-posts and a bit more sporadically my first published work. The first published bit is still open to debate as I cannot decide if it should be a collection of short stories or a fully fledged novel.

I have to be careful though, because when you do a blog you can get carried away by just writing for writing’s sake alone. You end up like the Michael Caine charachter in Educating Rita, whose wife asks him when did he stop writing and start just talking about it. Or in my case not writing, per se, but writing about writing.

It is an easy trap to fall into. Blogging allows you almost immediate feedback. Feedback that at the very least tells you how many folks have dropped by for a visit. And that friends and neighbours is very gratifying.

So I have to make time to do the ‘real’ writing. The type that you don’t get immediate feedback on. The type you have to do that allows you to create an entire world and fill it with people and help them tell their story. The kind of writing that might just result in your creations residing in a cupboard or desk drawer alone, dusty and forgotten.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m making the time to write and can’t gas with you, my dear friends and neighbours, for a little while. If I’m lucky we’ll see each other tomorrow, if life has other plans, well the party’s been fun and the next time I’ll bring a bottle.

Why We Write

Angel (TV series)
Angel (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I changed my morning ritual a bit today. I bypassed the ‘oh, so important first coffee of the day’ and went straight to my laptop. While waiting for it to finish loading all the various crap I have on it, I had a puff or two off one of my electric  cigarettes.

While I sat in this contemplative silence, my brain randomly homed in on an old Angel episode. I will pause here, midst diatribe and explain to the uninitiated who or what Angel is. *On a side note: can there really be anyone in the world who know about the Buffy-verse and it’s spin-off, the Angel-verse?*

The episode my fickle brain latched onto was Why We Fight, episode 13 of season 5 (the final season). It was a good episode, all of season five holds the record for best episodes in  Angel, well in my own humble opinion, anyway. But what caught my attention was the title, Why We Fight. I had one of those, I don’t know, ‘mini-ephinanies’ and thought that could be Why We Write and my brain shot out of the starter gate.

So, after a really long way around the barn to get to the subject, why do we write?

I think most folks do it because they like writing. Other folks do it because they feel they have something important to say. Still more do it because they want to become successful or well known. A few will do it because they are lonely and have no-one to talk to. A certain amount will use writing as a salve, writing down the irritating and infuriating things in order to deal with them calmly. And some do it as a means of holding on to their sanity while they hunt for jobs or are experiencing a change of life.

Of course the ‘why we write’ question has to do with the world of blogging.

I am not talking about writers of books, novels, short-stories, technical  manuals, et al. I’m talking about bloggers.

A lot of people obviously do it to become financially better off. At least that’s the impression you could get by reading some of the advertisements on the net.

How to be a successful blogger.

How to make money off your blogs.

These are just two of the adverts that claim to help you be both successful and financially secure from your writing.

But lets face it. The truth behind the reason to blog is immediate feedback. **Another side-note, I just had another mini-epiphany, I could have just as easily called this Why We Blog. But I’m not going to change the title. It sounds better the way it is**

When we write stories, fictional and non-fictional, we have to wait for feedback.  Is it good, bad, lacklustre, or worse boring? When we write for our blogs, we know our indented audience can see our work immediately. It takes the push of a ‘button’ to publish our article and in a flash our thoughts and ideas are there for the world to see.

And just as it takes the action of one finger to publish my words, one finger from a reader is all it takes for someone to “like” what I’ve written. Admittedly, more detailed feedback requires a lot more finger interaction with a keyboard, but what the heck, a comment is worth a hundred likes.

I don’t bother reading advertisements for success or monetary remuneration in relation to my blogging. I am not out for ‘world dominance’ of the blogging arena nor am I looking to gain a fanatical following. I do,  however love writing just for the sake of it. I have said of myself in the past that I have the writing version of ‘running off at the mouth. It’s still true.

And just as I would continue talking if no-one was listening, I would still write if no-one was reading.

I write because if you are talking and no-one else is in the room, it’s weird. If you write and no-one else is reading, it’s creative.

I’m Doing this Right Now…..Not


Cover of "Bring on the Empty Horses"
Cover of Bring on the Empty Horses

I am writing a book! Well…I’m trying to write a book. It should be really easy, but… The problem is with me, amazing how much that sounds like the classic break-up line, “No really! It’s not you, it’s me.” I love writing; always have. But I’m suffering from the ‘David Niven‘ syndrome.

David Niven (1910 – 1983) was a wonderful actor. He won an Acadamy Award for his role as the faux military man in Seperate Tables. Niven was an extremely articulate and intelligent individual. I have always admired the man, even when he worked in some of the most execrable films ever made. He had that certain something that set him apart from the other folks in the film.

Niven was a brilliant story teller. He was at his best when regaling people with amusing stories of people he had met, or worked with, or knew. It was these stories that he finally, after much prodding from friends, wrote down and they became – The Moons a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses. Faintly auto-bigraphical in nature and wonderfully funny and sad, these two books stayed on the bestseller list for ages.

It has been argured that David cribbed a lot of the stories in his books. It has also been said that he embellished the tales to make them more interesting or funnier. How tiresome. I really, and I don’t think any other fans of the book do either, care. What he was good at was both telling stories and then (later) writing about them.

I am sure he embellished a lot, if not all, of his of his “cocktail party” stories. I remember reading in another book on Niven’s life. Someone famous (don’t ask me who, please don’t, because I’m damned if I can remember) listened to Niven recount an amusing episode at a cocktail party. At the end of the story, he scratched his head and said, “I was there! And I don’t remember it being that funny!”

The point is, as I said earlier, that Niven was good at the telling of and later the writing  of these wonderful stories. *Yes, I know that I’ve called the stories wonderful several times now*  But, where the stories were easy to tell, they were much harder to write about. He liked writing in the garden, but this favourite spot was filled with diversions. Niven himself mentions in one of the books that: “I can always find something else to do. ‘Oh look at that bird.’ ‘Oh what a lovely butterfly.’ Even the sight of an aeroplane passing overhead can take up huge portions of my time.”[sic]

Now I am not saying the book I am writing is going to be anywhere near as good, or amusing, or popular as Mr Niven’s. I do suffer, though, from the same problem. If I listen to music for “inspiration” whilst writing, I have to be careful to not really listen or I will get caught up in the music and stop writing. I also suffer the same problems in the garden; not secluded by any means, but it can offer a lot of quiet. It also offers – birds, bees, wasps, butterflies (although not many), planes, or helicopters flying overhead. All good for allowing my grasshopper mind to wander. It seems that my brain cannot wait for the chance to stop thinking about the things I really want to write.

I have two books going on at the same time, I like to write the same way I like to read, one short story and one book with a collection of short stories. Not a problem. But…But… I also have three blogs. don’t get too excited, I usually write the same item and copy and paste it to the other two sites. I also follow a few blogs and I have to comment on the ones I’ve read and liked. Oops, my coffee cup is empty, must go and refill the kettle and make another one. Oh look how filthy that television cabinet is looking, I’ll just go sort that out. Oh look, someone else has subscribed to my small channels on YouTube, I must thank them. Ah! Someone has commented on: my channel, my facebook page, my Twitter, my…Well you can get the idea, I am sure.

My daughter (Meg) is a great Dad cheerleader though. She keeps reminding me that I am supposed be working on the book(s) and not mucking about with all these other things. It helps. And I figure if David Niven could combat the distractions, so can I. I seriously doubt that anything I write would even be published, but I will have the satisfaction of finishing it and having at least one person love it as much as I do.

But first I just have to post this blog and then copy it…