Blogging With Purpose

Blogging with Purpose
It has been almost a year since my nearly fatal brush with death. A lot has  changed since then. My “life-changing” event seems to have caused a lot of things to change in my live. Like the proverbial pebble in a pond, the ripples grow ever larger from this life and death experience and these ripples show no signs of stopping. These changes have led me to this post and blogging with purpose for my own blog that has suffered a bit from the effects of these pebbly ripples.

I’ve already relayed a lot of the things that have happened since my almost meeting the  ” big guy”  and I’ve found a wealth of new opportunities have come my way. It makes almost dying seem worth it.

For a start, I am busier than I’ve been in years. I write, on average, eight to ten articles a day for the Las Vegas Guardian Express who, as far as I know, are the only news site to pay their writers (and Deputy Managing Editor/Senior Entertainment Editor) so handsomely for their labour. The chap who owns the paper has gone from recruiter and  mentor, to friend in a very short time, he has joined my growing list of people who have been influential in changing my life for the better.

And busier.

And more profitable.

But it isn’t all about the money. It’s about realising dreams. I feel a huge amount of satisfaction when people ask me what I do for a living and I can answer, “I’m a writer.” It is nice to be finally welcomed into the professional realm of writing after so many years of doing it as part of whatever job I happened to have at the time. Writing adverts for companies, even the USAF, wasn’t exactly how I saw writing as fulfilling my creative side.

Unfortunately, my “personal” writing, which means this blog and my inputs to it’s daily dietary requirement for film and book reviews, is suffering. I am getting better at trying to do a post a day, but my poor blog feels starved. I used to do several posts per day as well as visiting my favourite blogs to read and comment or just to stop by an like. That has all suffered.

But I do not despair. Well, not for long at any rate! I am getting things scheduled better and trying to keep my input up. The reading and commenting and liking and following will soon catch up. If you are among the many wonderful people who’ve taken the time to follow my little blog, which is growing oh so steadily, I thank you. I also wish to pass on that I will eventually get around to reading, commenting, et al, very soon.

I do need to shout out the lovely Kate over at Katie-Marie Lynch (FilmPunk) for giving me the Epically Awesome award of Epic Awesomeness! I am truly grateful for the gesture and regrettably I am unable to participate in the furtherance of this lovely award. The rules are simple and very straight forward, but, time consuming.

In my attempt to keep blogging with purpose I’m only just finding time to do daily posts on my first-born blog with WordPress this week! I am trying to do other things as well, but my poor brain is struggling after too many years of “minimal” living to cope.

Which brings me to my next fawning gesture of gratitude, one that includes Kate. The opportunity to get in front of the camera again after all these years was wonderful and I will be forever indebted to Natasha Harmer, the writer/producer/director of the film Once Bitten, Twice Shy, she blogs over at Films and Things and is an immensely talented individual. The lovely Kate was part of the crew that day and she impressed me mightily. As did Meera Daji and Fiona Lockwood on the day.

I owe them all a great big hug and thank you for taking it easy on an old fella who’s forgotten more than he remembered about the craft. They made a wonderful team and I hope to work with them again.

The “Big Guy” willing!

So that’s my “personal output” for today. A not-so-short post about, among other things, blogging with purpose. If you’ve got a bit of spare time, have a read, but please don’t nominate me for anything. I just haven’t learned to schedule my time well enough to respond properly! I’ll read you later!

IMG_0229

70,000 and Rising! Thanks!

70,000

This will be a short post. (The idiot that is my sense of humour, wanted to stop the post there!) A lot has happened to me since I started blogging on WordPress last year. I’ll do a very short recap for those of you who came late to the party.

April last year, I started posting on WordPress. I’d been posting things on Blogger and Tumblr but wasn’t too happy with the amount of views I was getting. I switched to WP and the first article I posted (a review of Stake Land) garnered over 2000 views. I knew then I’d made the right choice.

While I’ve never matched that phenomenal view count on any of my other posts, I’ve reached a lot more people and gotten an amazing amount of folks following my little old blog.

2012 was the year of injury and pain. I got injured at work in February after two lads decided to have a fight at lunch time (it was only with extreme self-control that I did not say “feeding time”) and when I attempted to pull the attacker away from his “attackee” and the officer holding him, we all fell to the ground, with moi on the bottom. Cue two more days of intense agony as I shuffled around work and responded to a couple of alarm bells.

Finally, after a 12 hour shift, I drug myself to the doc’s and found I had nerve damage in my lower back. Enter six months of time off work with me hobbling around like a 100 year-old with arthritis.

I then just started back to work and took couple of weeks off for a steroidal shot (two actually) at the end of the first week. Big mistake. The shots hurt worse than the nerve damage and roughly six days after the shot on 30 August, 2012 I had my heart attack. I’ve written all about it in a previous post.

I also forgot to mention that in between the steroidal shots and the heart attack, I got Freshly Pressed! Despite Tyson’s “gut feeling” that the heart attack was brought on by my getting FP’d, I don’t think they are life threatening to everyone!

It’s now going on 11 months since that “life changing” experience (that resulted in two “emergency surgeries” that kicked my arse) and in that short time, a lot of things have changed.

I no longer work in a job where getting assaulted was a daily risk, but I do miss a lot of the folks who I worked with and still feel like a Prison Officer despite my ill-health retirement.  I now work for a Las Vegas newspaper The Las Vegas Guardian Express as the Deputy Managing Editor and Senior Entertainment Editor.

And I’ve just finished a project working in front of the camera for the first time in years.

Thank you all

I’ve also made some wonderful friends through the WordPress blogging community. Natasha “Tash” Harmer over at Films and Things; Meera Daji over at Meera Daji Film reviews & other interesting posts; Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr over at Katie-Marie Lynch (Film Punk), Fiona Lockwood over at Fionalockwoodyr1; Marilyn Armstrong over at Serendipity; Tyson Carter over at Head In A Vice; and so many others that if I mentioned them all, this post would be, if not novel length, at least novella length.

I want to thank all you folks that I’ve mentioned and whom I haven’t the room or the time to mention. Misty Layne over CinemaSchminema also deserves a special mention, it was through her I got to write (for all too short a time) for Rogue Cinema, thanks mate, your support has been terrific.

But to Marilyn and her wonderful “other-half” Garry Armstrong – who has met and interviewed the world’s rich and famous, among others, I want to really thank as they’ve both been there for inspiration when my days felt pretty damn bleak.

Tash, Meera, Katie, Fiona, I love you all, you helped an old actor discover he could still do it. (I’ve just re-read that and thought of you guys’ references to another type of short film!) And any time you young ladies need an actor for anything, do not hesitate to call me, I owe you.

Now I must stop this long, and somewhat self-serving, post and get busy. I had many days of “too much time on my hands” and I’ve swung to the other end of the pendulum and now seem to have more things to do than time. I prefer the latter. So in closing, I’ll just say that I’m grateful and pleased and a bit shocked that I’ve gotten as far as I have in the blogging world.

I’ll also leave a link to my employing newspaper, The Guardian Express Las Vegas just in case you’d like to see all the articles that I write for them.

I raise my metaphorical glass to you all, “Here’s to another 70,000 views and posts!” Oh, and I lied about the length of the post…sorry!

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!

Blogging Part 5: Viewing

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 11.09.59

As I sit here watching my WordPress follower number steadily approach the big four-oh-oh, I’m thinking of things that I’ve done and can’t help but wonder if others do it too.

One of my lazy habits for a long time was to go to the Readers menu and go through all my followers blog posts. If I was feeling guilty, I’d quickly go down the list and hit “Like” on the ones with the titles that impressed me most. (or thumbnails)

Now besides showing a sort of “kack-handed” support, it also showed just how lazy I could get. It also doesn’t show up on the bloggers view count. Now I did not realise this, back when I was doing it. It only became apparent when I paid a bit more attention to the “stats” for my site.

I would get a notification that “so-and-so” and good old (fill in site name here) had “Liked” my latest post.

But…

My views had not increased. It took a little concentration on my part, but, I eventually made the connection. In a moment of serendipitous epiphany-age, I put two and two together and, besides getting four, I realised they’d hit the “Like” button without actually reading the post.

Now, I’ve always had a “thing” about my view counts. I had it on my first blog at Blogger.com and I had it on my second blog on Tumblr.com and I still have it. I’m attached to my view counts and will (throughout the day) keep checking them to see if they’ve gone up. I am, almost, OCD in my feeling about my view counts.

I then made another connection. I was doing that myself! I felt a little bit ashamed. I mean, I read incredibly fast (always have) and it seemed worse than cheating for me to ignore the actual content of the bloggers I was following to not at least look at the damned post!

So I have stopped that heinous habit and started really liking the post versus, liking the idea or the notification of the post. I would like to point out that I didn’t do that all the time, just occasionally when I “felt” strapped for time. Something that, now-a-days, I’m not but old imagined stresses are hard to break.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this preoccupation with viewing figures.

So how about you?

So you have anything that you obsess over? Do you compulsively check your follower numbers or views? Do you even bother to look at your stats at all? Do you succumb to this “lazy liking” and not read posts at all?

Let me know.

My obsession.
My obsession.

Blogging Part 4: Etiquette Part II

That little badge of excellence.
That little badge of excellence.

Metaphorically strolling through the recent entries on the Freshly Pressed page, I noticed a disturbing trend. Some of these recent winners of that coveted page placement aren’t responding to their comments. They are responding to a few, but not many.

When I got Freshly Pressed last year, I tried my damnedest to answer every single person who commented. I would have continued doing so if I hadn’t had a heart attack and wound up in hospital and almost dying. At that point my blog and getting Freshly Pressed was forgotten. I think it would be safe to say that the only things that existed in the world for me at that point was the hospital.

If I remember correctly, when I came home four days later, full of scars, stitches and medication, the first thing I did was to check my blog and answer comments.

I can hear a lot of folks saying now, “What makes you think that what you have to say on the subject is worth reading! You don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers.”

And they would be right.

But what I do have is appreciation, manners and courtesy. And a real idea of time.

I have quite a lot of time. I’m ill-heath retired and I don’t have another paying job to go to. I am writing/hosting for other web sites, but that is non-paying and not enormously time-consuming. I do all my own housework (But honestly? How much mess can one bloke, on his own, make?)

I do my laundry, cut my grass, run errands. But all of these things, as a rule, don’t take hours.

Stop shifting in your seats and looking at your watches! I am making a point here!

But where I have a lot of time, most folks do not. They have full-time jobs, children to raise, an entire family to clean up after, hobbies to pursue and lives to lead. If one of these people take the time to read or like or comment; they are making a statement.

They are saying, I like what you’ve just written, or your point of view, or how you write. By commenting, they’ve taken even more time out of their busy lives to say something.

If these busy people can take the time to comment? You can take the time to respond. Don’t let getting Freshly Pressed make you forget your manners or, more importantly, your appreciation.

If you are like me, you would keep writing your blog, even if no-one liked, commented or reblogged your work. But it is precisely those little things that make blogging more satisfying and enjoyable.

Try to remember that in future you Freshly Pressed bloggers. I’ve been there and I’m telling you; only a heart attack kept me from responding back to everyone who commented on my Freshly Pressed post.

Etiquette is not just about leaving comments, it’s also about responding to them.

Photo on 27-03-2013 at 09.03
All advice given with a pinch of salt, the same way it should be received.
%d bloggers like this: