Guessing

I’ve given up trying to figure out why certain posts I put on my blog get a better response than others. I haven’t really been tracking it to be truthful. But I have noticed that some posts go through the figurative roof.

Looking at the ‘views per post’ doesn’t help at all. I know that I’ve read several other blogs that purport success secrets to increase your “viewer-ship” and widen your audience. I sometimes read these and wonder how do they know this and how do I know they’re right.

The easy answer is, I don’t. It is relatively easy to set down in front of your laptop and present yourself as some kind of “expert” or ‘know-it-all’ who can help every blogger and potential blogger to achieve their goals. But is blogging really about success?

Success is generally measured by income. We don’t, as a rule, measure success by ‘spiritual growth’ or by how much we enjoy our passion about a certain task,  job or hobby.

I  definitely don’t measure my blog’s success or failure by monetary means. Nor do I measure it’s “success” by the amount of views received over any given time period. I do get excited when I see that something I written about gets over a thousand views. But to say that I don’t get excited when something else I’ve written gets only one or two views, would be wrong.

I still believe that the main reason, I blog is two-fold. I blog to practise writing and to say the things that I don’t always have another forum to communicate my thoughts or feelings on.  Because I am not approaching this as a business or a hobby, but as an end to something else, I do get puzzled about why one blog post gets loads of views and another gets a couple of metaphorical glances.

But that is part of the fun I suppose and in a sense another aspect of learning. I am still writing things that one day I would like to see published. If for no other reason than to say I have managed to accomplish something that I’ve always wanted to do. But the other things I write are not for release yet. I am also, I’m embarrassed to admit, very ‘un-coordinated’ about how and when I write.

This lack of coordination, or self discipline if I’m really honest, means that one day I might write four articles; each one about things that are completely different from one another and on another day be hard pressed to write one.  And not for obvious reasons either. On the days I have to really work at writing one article, it’s usually because I can’t force my thoughts in one direction long enough to capture a single topic to discuss, discover or dissect.

I have figured out that blogging is a sort of mutual admiration society of  ‘like-minded’ individuals. It appears that “to get” you have “to give” in the area of likes, comments, and to a lesser degree, views. It is in this area too that I find myself guessing a lot.

When I was posting to my first blog, Random Thoughts for a Random World (no a “closed” blog), I was very slow to start commenting on other blogs I read. I then found a blog that I really liked and began commenting. The little “love affair” lasted for a while, then the blogger complained that, although she loved my comments, I was using too much space to do so. In other words, could I please shorten my input.

I was a bit taken aback. I hadn’t written ‘Gone With the Wind‘ length comments, I saved that type of writing for my blogs, so I stopped commenting at all. Not only was I a little insulted, but, I also became very reticent about leaving comments on any blog-post. I got the idea that even though a lot of blog writers finished with a “and what are your thoughts” ending that, some of them at least, didn’t want feedback apart from the ‘you’re so marvelous’ variety.

Confusing.

Still, I’ll keep writing my little blog-posts and keep guessing why some are “popular-ish” and others are not. I will still hesitantly comment on other blogs that I enjoy and either agree with the posts topic or at least agree with the sentiment the author is expressing about his or her topic.

I will, in other words keep practising with the hope that I will progress in my ability to put two or more words together in a sentence and not muck them up too badly.

And in the News Today, Everything’s Gone a Little Weird

English: Logo of Headlines Today
English: Logo of Headlines Today (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I get up this morning and as usual I start skimming the web. I am looking for news that I find interesting, funny, exciting, irritating or just strange. This morning I found a wealth of  headlines that  made my eyebrows shoot up towards my almost non-existent hairline.

Entire firework display explodes – this was a video that fit the bill of funny and irritating. Of course I would find it funny, I didn’t fight crowds of people to see it live. Nor did I have to pay for parking and then have to fight to get back to my car when the fifteen second display finished. But for the folks who attended, I think maybe irritated would be the order of the day, or in this case night. I wonder if San Diego will try to make it up to the citizens, legal and illegal, who attended the show.

Imogen Thomas shows cleavage – I don’t know who Imogen is, but, I am pleased for her I guess. This one falls straight into the irritating category. If I hadn’t seen the other “headlines” I would have thought it was a slow news day.

Man dies as road swallows car – this one is brilliant. The mental picture you get while reading this one is funny. I got an image of a road sprouting a mouth, opening wide and working it’s muscles literally swallowing the car. The reality, while nowhere near as graphic or fantasy filled, is just as strange. Two people driving in China and the road literally opens up into a five metre hole “that about thirty some odd feet for you non-metric folks out there). Funny with a touch of sad, since one of the unfortunate motorist died.

Pencil Pierces Brain of Two-Year-Old Girl – Pretty self explanatory this one. A toddler on her way to bed falls and almost gives herself a DIY Lobotomy. Luckily for her it did not result in a more fatal injury. Strange and a little interesting. It kind of feels like a ‘human interest’ story in shorthand.

Base jumper survives 120m fall – Another ‘it does what it says on the label’ type story. Guy’s jump goes wrong and he free falls 393 feet and survives. Luckily he landed in snow, so he only fractured about every bone in his body. But…he lived. Another strange and interesting one.

Okay, so admittedly, these ‘headlines’ were all about the video news. These items were all produced by ITN (aka ITV 3) and they were picked presumably because of their diverse nature. Well they certainly caught my eye.

They funny thing is, all these stories made me think of the video equivalent of The National Enquirer. The “newspaper” that used the tagline, “Because inquiring minds want to know,” has been a supermarket favourite for years. *About fifty in fact.*

A lot of people, mainly celebrities, despise the Enquirer. I’ve always found it quirky and downright weird. With is old ‘yellow journalistic’ style of writing I’ve always been drawn to it if for no other reason than to give it a quick scan while waiting in the check-out queue.

The Enquirer used to boast great eye-catching headlines like: Toddler eaten by rats while horrified mother watches, Elvis is alive and living in the back of my car, and Freakish sea monster eats entire ship. I mean just the headlines alone, made for great imaginative skim reading.

While those video ‘headlines’ I saw this morning  don;t quite match the tasteless ingenuity of The National Enquirer they are, at least, the spiritual blood-brother of the paper. It is nice to see that with all the horrible, scary and depressing  news that we are usually bombarded  with someone has made time for the weird and the wonderful.

So Much To Do…So Much Time

Being off work, with a work related injury, has been a small blessing. It has also been a curse and a downright pain in the butt.

It has given me time to reflect, internalise and worry. It has also given me too much time to do too many things.

I have a gross of books that I want to read. I have at least ten (infinitely more if I am brutally honest) films I want to see. I also want to write about all the above mentioned items. I have at least four or more videos I need to make.

I could literally take an entire day to list all the things I should and could do plus all the things I really must do.

Having too much time on your hands can drive you slightly batty. Because you are not getting on with the everyday business of living your life, you spend way too much time thinking about it. *On a side note here, it’s fascinating how my spell check dislikes it when I use bold and italicise on a word in the middle of a sentence.*

I do have doctor’s appointments and exercises to do and I have to keep my boss informed as to my progress in terms of recovery and what the latest prognosis is of my condition. But these things do not take up much time or even effort.

Of course the worst thing about having too much time on your hands is the distractions.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (which really is a duel edged sword), Pinterest, Stumbleupon…well you get the idea I am sure.

The biggest distraction of all is the housework. Also known as housekeeping, this mundane and mind numbingly boring task has to be done everyday.  If you don’t keep on top of it, you soon find yourself living in a proverbial pig sty. I am also developing  an almost OCD attitude  in terms of keeping the house clean.

housekeeping
housekeeping (Photo credit: pucci.it)

I just glanced out the window and realised that I didn’t even mention the garden!

Oh well, I guess I’d better do something. The trouble is I am kind of spoiled for choice. There are so many things that I could, should and must do that the list is huge.

I’ll just have another coffee and perhaps a cigarette, possibly a real one instead of the electronic one, and ponder a bit more about what to next.

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…