A newbie blogger, one month old, had one intention in setting up a blog: I wanted to learn about the blogosphere and the whole concept of blogging through plunging in and experimenting. So, what have I learned?
The astounding creativity of other people’s blogs
The nuts and bolts of setting up a blog – Phew. I did it!
Basic blog terminology – themes, categories, tags, posts, blocks, etc.
Writing a blog every day is hard work unless you have a strong theme
Blogging is interactive – connecting with other bloggers is fascinating
Statistics don’t always lie – must try harder
The importance of the blogger’s voice and tone
The importance of having a mission statement or plan for your blog
The need to identify who my potential reader could be
Blogging can be addictive and fun
Adding photos makes a blog more appealing
Which of my blog topics appear to work and which don’t
Regular blogging helps the skill of writing
The need for an ABOUT page
The importance of good headlines
I am sure there are many other things I have learned but am not consciously aware of their impact on how I might blog in the future. One thing I do know is how much I have learned about blogging from visiting other bloggers sites. Very inspiring.
Thank you to those bloggers that visited my site, liked my posts and made comments. It has been good learning about you. You inspire me to continue blogging. Any advice welcome.
Haiku is a Japanese poetic form consisting of seventeen syllables over three lines. Line one has five syllables, line two seven and line three five. Originally the traditional Japanese haiku form was based on the natural world. In the traditional form there is often a juxtaposition of two images or ideas.
Nowadays, increasingly in the West the structure may stay but the focus is not always on the natural world nor is there always a juxtaposition. It has been used to create a short concise poem about any subject.
Haiku is essentially the art of being concise and choosing exactly the right word to fit the moment, image or idea. It often creates word pictures in the reader’s mind. There is a famous haiku by the Japanese poet Basho about a frog jumping into a pond and the resulting sound. Haiku captures the moment taking a slice of the instant.
Why write haiku?
In the true Japanese form it is an art and a science.
It is a discipline in ‘cutting’ verbiage – each word is chosen with great care to have the most impact.
It creates a word picture or a succinct idea.
It has instant impact.
It captures the present moment.
There are endless variations on a theme.
It creates infinite possibilities.
It can be fun.
It sharpens the mind.
It increases vocabulary.
It encourages use of the dictionary and thesaurus.
Stories are everywhere. There are stories that are already told. There are stories that are re-told. There are stories yet to be told. The potential for stories is overwhelming. As human beings we love storytelling.
Whilst on holiday this year I made a resolution to set up my story radar.
Once we reached each destination I looked around the dwelling we had arrived at and scanned the telling tales of human personality. AirB&Bs are particularly good for the whimsical and quirky and far outstrip the hotel experience if you like picking up on stories. Knickknacks, wall hangings, the choice of books and so many other details all reveal storylines. The story the observer may pick up may of course not be the truth. As the receiver of a story we interpret in our own unique way what we observe as a result of our own set of experiences. My mind was well pleased with the sleuthing that I had tasked it to perform. But what was I going to do with these stories forming in my head? Those details that appealed I noted down in my daily three pages. Who knows I might use them in a piece of creative writing. But you have got to be selective with your writing scrapbook or you can be quite overwhelmed.
Sitting in a restaurant or outside watching people pass by I can’t say I was the most attentive travel companion to my partner as I was away in a world of potential stories. There was one restaurant where I was deeply involved in working out the relationship of the owning couple and my partner was getting quite fidgety! I had to turn off my story radar sometimes or I might have been left quite alone with my own devising!
Our holiday was essentially a walking holiday with a difference. The story hunt added an extra magic. When not concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other on a rocky coastal path my mind was scanning the world around me. It dawned on me that walks provide many a storyline. Just looking at the descriptions in walking books there are many tales told about aspects of the landscape, architecture and the people that lived there. Human beings leave behind a trail of story hints wherever they have settled. The best walks we did on the holiday were those that hinted at human stories. On one Dorset walk called ‘The South West Coast Path to St Adhelm’s’ we passed a garden memorial to the Royal Marines killed between 1945 and 1990, visited the 800-year old St Adhelm’s Chapel, the Coastguard Station and a memorial to the work of radar developers in the 1940s and during WWII. Plenty of stories there and potential for some to be retold.
As mentioned there are stories already told. My story radar also had a setting to locate any authors in the areas we were visiting. In Cornwall it was Daphne du Maurier. Everywhere I looked there were references to her and I found myself reading an article on her in an old edition of Cornwall Life May 2017: ‘Daphne du Maurier – Celebrate a Literary Life in Fowey’. Unfortunately we weren’t in Fowey otherwise I would have liked to have followed her trail and perhaps retold something about her life. Next time perhaps.
But it was in Dorset that a story already told but retold came to light. It was on a very misty day that I discovered the life story of Mary Anning. We had planned to go on a coastal walk near Lulworth Cover to Durdle Door – a natural stone arch created by the movement of tectonic plates during the rising of the Alps in Europe after the end of the Cretaceous period. Geology has always fascinated me. The mist was so thick and it was raining lightly so we decided to go into the visitor centre at Lulworth Cove to let the weather pass. Browsing through the books on geology and fossils I came across a couple of books on someone called Mary Anning who collected fossils from the Dorset coast in the early 19th Century. One of the books was a non-fiction account of her life and the other was fictionalised. I chose to buy the fictionalised version of her story by Tracy Chevalier called ‘Remarkable Creatures’. Simple book cover design and tantalising title! Fictionalised versions of real people’s lives are often easier to read in my opinion and this particular story about fossils might need a bit of spice to make it palatable! I had also read and rated highly Tracy Chevalier’s novel based on a famous painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ so I knew I was in for a good read. In the retelling of Mary Anning’s life in a fictional form I have been introduced to the whole new topic of fossils. Just goes to show the power of storytelling to engage us all in life-long learning.
Whilst travelling home by car I kept myself entertained with advertising stories. Whilst sitting in a long queue on motorways I discovered amongst other advertising stories that you could have a camper van that folded in half; and more intriguingly a ‘Greener Goodbye’ funeral. Glad I wasn’t driving. No danger of an accident! Not only were the vehicle advertising stories engaging but also the number plate stories people tell by forcing numbers and letters to have meaning. I was well amused but for reasons of anonymity I won’t divulge any specific number plates!
Human beings are storytellers. Our capacity with language helps us to spin tales and create the world around us and within us. Our storytelling potential is enormous. Our inner and outer worlds can be made richer or poorer by the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we see and hear. The onus is on each and every one of us to filter the stories that will benefit rather than hinder us. Not only are we storytellers but we have the ability to choose the setting on our story radar.
I have always been a writer but the audience has mainly been myself. Journalling and scribbling notes in a notebook has been a joy over the years. Yet there have also been years of drought. It is in the years of drought when I should have been writing because they were probably the most significant years and moments of my life.
Time passes. I wonder what legacy I can leave to give a flavour to what my unique life has been about. It is with this intention that I have turned to writing a blog. Somehow the idea of sharing thoughts with others appeals. I can’t say I have some great message to share. Just simple observations about topics that interest me.
I am not just a journal scribbler but also a secret creative writer. I have written poems and short stories and I started a novel some years ago. Alas, many of these creative endeavours never saw the light of day. Many ideas clamour in my head but I know the only way I am ever going to let them out of the head space is to start writing about anything and everything and keep on writing until one day the urgency of a novel spills out upon the page.
Until that day I continue scribbling away to myself and also blogging about things I enjoy such as nature, yoga and dance. Who knows what inspiration the writing will unlock.
Blogging on … there is a whole exciting bloggers’ world out there.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure into the whisperings of the mind …
This blog has finally got off the ground six years after my partner and fellow walker Alan died suddenly in 2013. In 2014 I set off on a long pilgrimage across Northern Spain to celebrate his life and to move on with my own. I undertook the journey with an old friend. We took two weeks off each year to complete the 500 mile pilgrimage called the Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostela. In 2017 we finally reached Santiago. Much has happened since.
I still haven’t published the novel that Alan kept urging me to do but I have started a blog instead to inspire me to write more often and to get back the motivation to get the novel written and out there. Thing is … I want to change everything now … .
Not only did I go on a long walk but I gave up my corporate job and went and lived and worked in an ashram for a while learning yet more about yoga and witnessing my ego self and its reactions to the world. It was both a sublime and disturbing experience as you can imagine. The ashram experience taught me a lot but particularly how to witness what is going on inside me and around me. When I left the ashram it was such a shock to be back in the so-called real world. The noise and the level of stress overwhelmed me and it took me about a year to readjust. I may still be readjusting now. Daily yoga practice witnessing the ego has certainly been my constant companion. Two golden birds in a tree – one busily pecking around (the ego) and the other witnessing (the higher self).