The ‘why’ is the easy bit, the ‘what’ a little harder to understand


I have been following the recent WordPress challenge ‘Writing 101’ – you note that I say ‘following’ –  it should actually read ‘participating  in’ but I confess I have only added two posts instead of the intended post every day. (Sorry WP staffers, I fell by the wayside).

At the start, I really wanted to take part and answer the prompts with well thought out posts and if I can’t manage to get a post out there every day, what the heck am I doing joining up in the first place? But in my defence I also have a full-time job and the husband you will read about later. So a point for good intentions at least?

This started me thinking about blogging, why I do it and what I am hoping to achieve. The why is easy, I want to write, I have things to say,  having a blog is a way of getting my work and my thoughts out there, the second question I find harder to answer.

I started my blog exactly five years ago this weekend.  I had been thinking about retirement as my husband had taken early retirement and wanted me to do the same.  I had read reports in the press of the increasing numbers of people approaching retirement age, who wanted to carry on working, in some cases they just had to.  I wasn’t ready to retire then and I’m not now, but I thought that I would share my thoughts on my blog.  So my first post went out there ‘Some thoughts on retirement’.

I  thought it was a reasonably interesting subject and looked forward to a response from the blogosphere, but zilch – zero – nought – nix – nothing.

I was disappointed, realising  that I cared more than I thought I would about the fact no-one had read my blog. I thought about this ‘rejection’ for a while, then reasoned that obviously there must be a lot of other bloggers on WordPress discussing more interesting things than retirement. (Yes, I was that naive)

I carried on blogging.  But it wasn’t until towards the end of the year that one kind person clicked the ‘like’ button, and it was well into 2010 before my blog started receiving a few regular visitors. I analysed the posts and found that when I followed a photography challenge for instance, I had lots of visitors, but my normal posts carried on receiving little attention.

Undaunted, I carried on with a mix of photo challenges and ordinary posts.  Late summer of 2012 I was invited to join the Friday Fictioneers group.  I read a few of the posts submitted by some of the other writers and felt very dubious about attempting to join them. Their writing was of a very high standard – in my opinion it still is – and the idea of writing 100 words inspired by a photo prompt was huge a challenge, something I had never attempted before.

I took a deep breath, then submitted my first post ‘Shrouded‘. I was amazed by the almost instant feedback from the group. They were very welcoming, supportive and kind to a newcomer. When I faltered they urged me to continue, their criticism was always constructive and their support invaluable. Nowadays, we still share our stories but consider each other more as friends and the comments certainly reflect that – illnesses, family problems, travel plans have all been mentioned and shared.

Since joining the group two years ago, the visitors to my blog have increased, mainly through the other writers as we comment on each others’ stories, but also from new followers, who have found something they like and have stayed. And I thank them sincerely.

I’m delighted when someone leaves a comment, I enjoy responding and then reading and commenting on their work.  It’s a bit like building a pyramid, thankfully it hasn’t taken as long as the ones at Giza!

When I read the stats in a Daily Post, about the number of bloggers using WordPress – like several million – and the number of posts published each and every day – several more million –  I am doubly grateful that my posts have attracted any readers at all.  I am also pleased that my work is not just disappearing into the ether, nor am I talking to myself.

So, what do I hope to achieve? I think the answer has to be to just enjoy doing what I like doing, not worry too much that it’s not perfect, or going to set the world on fire. After all we can’t all be racehorses, there have to be some plodders farther down the field!

 

 

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A change of style and a twist


I haven’t taken part in many of the Writing 101 prompts, to be honest I haven’t written very much at all just recently.  I did take a weeks’ holiday, but mainly it’s work that has just got in the way of me enjoying myself – I’m going to have to either get more organised or magic up some days with a few more hours in them!  I found the latest prompt very interesting however; my post is not really about a fear, although I have always shied away from writing about crime, sci-fi etc –  genres I find difficult for my style of writing, it was more the idea of trying to write in a completely different style that appealed to me, so here goes…

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I’m waiting at the station. Penny is late. We agreed to meet at 10.00 the train leaves at 10.15 and it’s now ten past. I fiddle with the strap of my overnight bag, I do not feel comfortable waiting here on my own, but it is something I have had to get used to. Being on my own. I thought Penny was different from the rest, she is such a good listener and always says the right thing.  She bolsters my confidence in a way that makes me feel good, wanted, desired even. Sarah started out like that and we had some great times together, but she ended up like all the others, her needs were more important than mine. Her and her perfect skin, no blemishes or imperfections, no acne scars to hide away under a generous helping of Max Factor. I could have forgiven her looks, if she had remained true. The train is here and no sign of Penny. I find it hard to believe that she has changed her mind. At least Sarah told me face to face, that was something at any rate. Not that it did her much good. My mother always said that everyone gets their comeuppance in the end and it was only fair that Sarah did too. I get on the train and take a seat by the window. There are a few people running down the platform, but no sign of Penny.  The guard takes out his flag and puts his whistle to his lips, we will be off in a minute and I’ll have to make new plans. Shame about Penny, the one that got away, that’s what I’ll call her. Why doesn’t the guard blow his whistle we are going to be late. There’s a sudden movement at the other end of the platform. Oh it’s Penny, she is here after all.  She is walking towards the train and stops outside my window. She is pointing at me and I wave;  for goodness sake get on the train, I shout through the glass. She is holding up something for me to see. It’s a newspaper showing a photograph of someone who looks a bit like Sarah. I get up to go to the door, to get Penny, but my way is blocked by two large policemen.

 

You can read more about the Writing 101 challenge and this prompt here

 

 

The Unreliable Narrator – it’s been playing on my mind


Well actually that’s not strictly true, but I have spent quite a lot of time wondering about it. Does the author deliberately set out to lie, mislead, or be economical with the truth, or does she/he get caught up in the story and forget what they have written a few chapters earlier?

When I read a book, I usually always trust what I am reading. I don’t think I am alone in this, and one of the most important things we have to learn in life, is to be able to work out the truthfulness of what we are being told, either by voice or in print or even face to face.

After all, we do this all the time in our everyday lives; when we go shopping for a new gadget, meet someone new or watch the news on television. We are constantly assessing the information we are receiving and working out whether what we are being told is true. So how easily do we recognise the unreliable narrator when we come across one? Do we read and then question every act, dissect every paragraph, constantly review what has gone before?

I have written several short stories; not really sure what I will do with them, probably re-line the drawers in the chest in the spare room.  Sometimes it has been a memoir, sometimes I have made up the whole story, after overhearing a comment whilst waiting in a shop or on the train, but I have always been truthful. It has never occurred to me to be otherwise.

I have enjoyed writing them, but have to admit to sometimes losing my way with the plot.  At this stage perhaps I should have thrown in a few red herrings and gone off in a different direction, but how would I then have brought all the loose ends together?

I am not a good enough writer yet to do something like this, but then again, how do you know what I have told you so far is true?

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Written for the Daily Post writing assignment –http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-one/