Blogging Insights (25 January 2021)

This week Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks:

How would you describe blogging to someone who has never heard of it before?

It is a form of social media, just a form where posts tend to be that much longer. You’re not expected to limit yourself to 3 characters, you’re expected to maybe string a few more together. So, for that reason, more patience is required.

For me, perversely, the act of blogging, rather that writing, is 90% reading. But I don’t think others agree. I read a post the other day, along the lines “I haven’t been on here much as I couldn’t think of anything to say”. A one-way street, talk, talk, talk. Not a “listen” anywhere.

I’m not sure that there is an awful lot else that is different to other social media platforms. This community in particular is more polite, at least, but peel off the veneer and there is still the same hatred and intolerance that exists in the big, wide world. I read another post last week which started off “Trump should be hanged”. If that isn’t an incitement to violence, the very thing Trump syands accused of, I’m not sure what is.

Blogging Insights (11 January 2021)

This week Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks a couple:

Do you like reading posts written for prompts? If so, what kind?

If I take part in a particular prompt, I try to commit myself to reading other people’s responses. I sometimes miss one or two but I’m usually pretty good. So, reading prompt responses comes with the territory.

That also means:

  • if I don’t think I’ll have time to read other responses, I’ll usually skip the prompt.
  • when I do sit down to look through other responses, I’m going to be reading ten, twenty, maybe even thirty responses to that prompt. So, however long a post is, multiply that by thirty, say, and that’s how long it’ll take me to plough through the bunch. Bottom line, the kind of responses I like are short ones!

Poetry is a good one there, as poems are usually a quick read. But here I must admit to being a bit simple – I prefer direct language and I often don’t understand some of the poems I read. I do write some poems myself – you can’t beat a good limerick – but I deliberately try to be obvious, in your face. It’s very “schoolboy” stuff.

For long posts, whether I even try to read them depends on how much time I have abailable to me.Bearing in mind that WordPress is not my main activity.

When you publish a piece in answer to a prompt, do you read entries by other bloggers? If so, do you read them before or after you have written your own?

After. I try to catch up with my daily prompts the same day, but weekly prompts. I tend to wait four or five days. This is because responses tend to come in dribs and drabs, so I try to wait until “most” have come in. I don’t get stressed about those I miss.

Especially with the music prompt I used to take part in, I used to think of a response and think “that’s so obvious, everybody will think of that one”. But, they never did! It was rare, anyway.

I’d tag onto this that I’d expect the person who issued the prompt to read the responses, even if nobody else does. If people have taken time out to write a response, then I think the prompt-issuer should at least take the trouble to read them. In fact, I once stopped taking part in a prompt for that reason. But… it won’t be anybody who finds themself reading this, this goes way, way back. I think that’s really the committment you make when you decide to host a prompt.

Addendum

The next day. I’m sorry, I really don’t like adding to posts, once they#re live. But I realised there was a glaring hole above.

Some bloggers will say, I’ll read other responses if I have the time. My view on this: if there’s time to write a post, then there’s time to read a post.

Blogging Insights (wb 21 December 2020)

Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks interesting questions this week in her Blogging Insights series:

How organised are you when it comes to blogging? Do you have a blog schedule or do you play it by the ear?
How often do you’ tidy up’ your blog? e.g. go through your Drafts Folder, or go through old posts checking for broken links etc.?

I try not to publish more than three times per day, for no other reason than I figure that people will get fed up if I post more often. Well, there’s also the matter of having time to write. That number is not hard-and-fast, so if I publish four times on a particular day, it’s not a big deal. But I aim for three.

Of those three posts, some of these are challenges I like to regularly take part in. I also have a regular post I put out each week.

I figure my week is as follows:

DayPlanned Posts
Monday2
Tuesday1
Wednesday2
Thursday1
Friday2
Saturday2
Sunday3

In addition, there are prompts I take part in occasionally, such as this one. So I figure, if I’m sticking to my 3-a-day, that only leaves a few slots per week for anything impromptu.

I tend not to schedule anything other than my regular post, because I like to publish privately first, which allows me to listen to the post. Then I can iron out as many typos as I can, before I make it public.

I use categories and tags to keep posts organised. That’s as much so I can find posts again, as anybody else finding them. With my poetry, for example, I’ve a mind to self-publish some of them, when I have enough good ones to choose from. So I’ll need to be able to find the poetry in amongst all the other stuff.

Regular housekeeping tasks include sifting through spam comments, and spam contact form submissions – I do all that a couple times a week.

I don’t check for broken links in old posts. Here’s why:

When I looked at 6PM, only 8% of yesterday’s views were on posts that were more than a week old. I assume that’s pretty typical. On those numbers, I’ll take my chances.

Blogging Insights (wb 14 December 2020)

I haven’t answered one of these for a few weeks, but I had some unexpected free time come up, so decided to participate. Tanya over at Salted Caramel asks an interesting question this week in her Blogging Insights series, and I wanted to respond, especially because none of the responses I read so far puts things quite like this:

Is your blogging personality the same as your real life personality? If not, how is the blogging you different from the real you, and why?

Remember that legal expression: the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth?

Well, in this blog, you certainly get the truth. My truth, anyway. Yours is probably different.

Nothing but the truth? No, there’s a lot of nonsense thrown in. Hopefully, it’s obvious which is which. That’s deliberate, because I think life is a bit more bearable if we can see the funny side of it, so I hope to promote that.

And, the whole truth? Nah. you guys only see a small part, the stuff that I want you to see.

You didn’t see that it took me half an hour Sunday to put the cover back on my duvet, after I washed it. That this is a single duvet, because I can’t manage anything larger, period.

You didn’t see me try to tidy up the patio Sundayafternoon in preparation for a firewood delivery today – but had to give up because it was too difficult. Brushing.

You didn’t see that I had to hunt high and low for somebody who will not only supply the wood (there are plenty of them) but who will also stack it for me afterwards, because to do so myself, last time, took 4 days.

So, admit it, aren’t you glad I keep that shit out of the blog? Because nobody likes a whiner.

I swear, if ever we met in real life, you’d walk straight past me.

Open Book Blog Hop (7 December 2020)

In her Open Book Blog Hop, Stevie asks:

If you had unlimited money to start and maintain a business, what would it be?

Okay, keyword here is “unlimited”. So, you’re not bothered about making a profit. Profit and loss are immaterial.

So, how about a business where you build homes, then give them to homeless people?

Or, maybe, growing food, so you could give it to people who would otherwise resort to food banks?

Take money out of the equation, and there’s no end to the good that could be done.

Of course, there is no real concept of “unlimited”, but perhaps we might ask ourselves what role our governments should play here, in helping to solve these problems. After all, you wouldn’t think that a country full of needy citizens has much of a government, would you? Isn’t that what a government is for? It’s raison d’être?

Or, you might ask whether we shouldn’t think twice before buying that shiny new aircraft carrier, when at the same time, people are having to use food banks? For defence? Defence of what? Lines of hungry people? Anyone else spot the irony here?

Truthful Tuesday (1 December 2020)

I quite liked this week’s Truthful Tuesday question, too, which was:

With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

Okay, first-off, blogging is very much just a hobby. I tend to be around most days, but other activities take priority when they crop up. In fact, it is getting harder for me to keep up with posts, so you have been warned! But I won’t ever “like” a post unless I have first listened to it.

I talked last week about how I liked writing software, and that has always been a hobby, since my early twenties. As soon as computers became affordable enough, I was writing stuff at home and releasing it alondside my paid job. My first “home” computer was a 386SX laptop, if you remember them, with a black and white screen.

Busman’s holiday? Actually, chalk and cheese. At work, in most places, the priority was to hack things together and to get them out as soon as possible. The jelly mould model – when something stops wobbling for long enough, get it out of the door.

Home environment was different, elegance, quality. And the skills picked up there led me into design. So as I grew to do more design in my job, the trick was to blend the hurry, hurry and quality together.

Strictly recreational, I developed a passion for photography in my thirties. This was one I took back then, and posted the other day. I post one a week, and there are a bunch up here already, in the same category.

My other big hobby from that time was cycling. I cycled a hundred-mile ride once, and used to average about 200mi/month. I was a fit boy back then. As well as riding (I still have 5 bikes chained up in the garage), I also enjoyed watching races. I saw several stages of the Tour of Britain, several of the Tour de France, and used to go to a big track cycling event over in Belgium every year.

Stroke changes things, cameras are two-handed gadgets (I still use my phone, it is more convenient but the SLR’s versatility puts it in a different league, even an old SLR), and I can lose my balance standing up, let alone riding my bike. I am, however, as good with softwareas I ever was.

Truthful Tuesday (from 24 Nov 2020)

I saw an answer to this one yesterday and thought it was an interesting question. It’s one of the Truthful Tuesday prompt series, and PCGuyIV asks:

Do you now or have you ever been employed doing what you love?
Do you agree with this saying [presumably work to live or live to work] or is it a bunch of poppycock, and why?

Yes, I’ve spent a lot of my career doing something I love – I design and write software. It is truly satisfying sitting down with a blank piece of paper and then designing, then implementing, something, which solves a particular problem. I can’t ever imagine myself not doing that, whether paid or not.

And, because this is software, it is all in my head. Any disabilities I might have are irrelevant. I’m every bit as strong now as when I was able-bodied.

My latest project – it is just at the initial stage of going live – is a small web site containing COVID numbers, just for our village. Nobody asked me to do it, but they are numbers that I’ve been collecting for a while and thought I would share. Hopefully other people will find them useful, too.

It is still work. When I worked for the banks up in London, even though I felt ever so fortunate to be doing something I enjoyed, I still had to be there. My time out of the house was about 6:30AM – 7:30PM, Monday to Friday. I wonder how many others would fancy those hours? Plus I did other odds and sods besides.

There were obviously other sources of discomfort, the main one being when clients expected something impossible, which happened all the time. But they were just the chaff – writing the systems themselves, I’d have done for food.

So the second part of the question, work was about half of life. Mathematically. 13+/24 hours, 5+/7 days. If work’s enjoyability didn’t play a massive role in life’s enjoyability, something would have been very wrong!

Open Book Blog Hop (wb 16 November 2020)

In her Open Book Blog Hop, Stevie asks:

Has the pandemic affected your writing? If so, how? Have your writing habits changed in reaction to the ‘different’ world we are faced with?

Okay, it’s a tricky one this week, just because I’m not a writer. Not literature, anyway. So I’ll interpret the question as a more general regular activity rather than writing, specifically .

Actually, my regular activity is writing, but software rather than literature. And I ramped that down, just because there seemed to be more important things to be doing.

Over the last few years I’ve been doing some voluntary work. It is only calling people to chit-chat, but that human contact is important, especially when many of the clients are isolated anyway. At the start of lockdown, I said “if there is anything more I can do…” and my list doubled overnight!

Ostensibly, it was tangible things, “do you have enough food?”, but over time the intangible came to the fore, people’s mental health. Some people went crazy, while for others lockdown was no different to any other day. Please take a moment to let that sink in – some people are forced to live every day as though they are locked down. But while that is terrible, when lockdown did happen, these people already had their logistics sorted. Many people are still locked down (from February, they have never not been locked down) and I am still in contact with them.

So, there was one “regular activity” which got ramped up.

Another was blogging. Before, I posted 3-4 times per week, but I thought it was important to put out some kind of regular “heartbeat” message. Because when we post, whatever the subject, we’re also saying “I am OK”. It’s weird, because there’s nothing we can actually do if somebody isn’t OK, but we care anyway. I do, I’m sure you do, too.

So I started posting daily. I got involved with a few more prompts, which helped find something to write about. A lot of these were just links to a song or a photo, but I was posting daily. And, I tried my hand at fiction and poetry, because… why not? Between you and me, I’m really pleased with how the poetry has gone – absolute nonsense but I enjoy writing it, I find it easy, and people seem to like reading it.

So while I’m not so sure I’d measure volume, I’ve certainly found my scope has broadened.