Tag Archives: WordPress

Rules are Made to be Gently Bent

Recently, a very good friend of mine started up a brand-new blog called Home Grown Heaven. Before we go any further, I’d strongly recommend you follow the link and have a snoop about; there’s not a lot there to see yet, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Make sure to bookmark and follow along, if you have any sense. Trust me: it’ll do you good. My friend’s blog is not about writing, or books, or words, or the existential angst that seems to hang around this blog like a miasma, but is instead about the challenges and joys of living ‘off the land’ and following your dream of being sustainable, affordable and ethical in your everyday existence. In short, all the things I love in life, besides the written word.

Also, it’s very pretty and full of lovely photographs of flowers and ducks and home baking. Go on! What are you waiting for? I’ll be here when you get back, and I’ll probably have just finished boiling the kettle. Right?

Don't mind me. I'm fine here, just hanging out...  Photo Credit: Allison Richards (atrphoto) via Compfight cc

Don’t mind me. I’m fine here, just hanging out…
Photo Credit: Allison Richards (atrphoto) via Compfight cc

Okay. You see? I told you it’d be worth it.


Because I’ve been blogging for a while, with varying levels of success, my friend approached me when the idea for her blog began to form. She wanted to know what this blogging thing was all about, anyway, and how to begin to go about it. And because I love feeling like an expert, I (of course) was happy to share my hard-won knowledge. However, as I tried to help her, I began to realise exactly how many ‘rules’ of blogging I have recently begun to bend so far that, essentially, I’ve broken them.

Whoops. But do as I say, not do as I do. Right?

Firstly, I used to blog every day. For a long time, I enjoyed doing that. I had plenty to say; I burned with passion and fire. Of course there were days when I wondered if the inspiration fairy would pay me a visit, but I was very rarely left high and dry. I’m not saying it was easy (and after a couple of years it began to be a burden), but it was a challenge, and I do love those. Also, because I’d begun my blogging journey by writing a new post every day, I felt as though I couldn’t possibly stop posting every day.

Until I did.

As 2015 dawned, I began to see that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I stopped blogging every day. I tried to commit to a regular schedule, but that doesn’t always work either. Some weeks I blog on Mondays and Wednesdays; other weeks it’s Tuesdays and Thursdays. Some weeks I don’t blog at all. Such an idea would have been unthinkable two years ago. And one of the first rules of blogging is: Write posts on predictable days, so that your readers know when they can expect new content. This is a good rule. It’s one I passed on to my friend. But it’s not one I keep anymore, myself. However, I have learned something important, and it is this: the day your blog begins to feel like an unbearable weight, and the idea that you have to write a blog post is like a sharp pebble in your shoe, it’s time to take a step back. Blogging should be, by and large, a joy, something you do because you’re bubbling over with stuff you want to share, and because you want to help others. When it stops feeling like that, take a break.

Another rule of blogging is: Pick a topic about which you’re passionate, and which you can see a long-term future in. In other words, don’t jump on the nearest fad and start to build a blog around it. You’ve got to ask yourself: in a year, will anyone care? This is why I blog about writing, because it’s basically the one thing I do most often; it’s why my friend chose to blog about smallholding, because that’s her passion. They are also topics which have longevity. My writing will (hopefully) form the basis of my career, and my friend’s work on her land will be the means by which she sustains her family, long-term. That isn’t to say that a blog about (say) armadillos can’t occasionally discuss platypi (or, if you prefer, ‘platypuses’) or a blog about roof tiles can’t sometimes become sidetracked with mosaics, but it’s good to keep a focus on your topic.

Sometimes, I don’t do this either. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything to say about writing. Those days are hard and scary, and they make me wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Some days, I don’t blog about writing for the simple reason that I just don’t have any news: the road to being published is long and sometimes boring (and I’m in a long, boring patch right now), and I really don’t feel as though I have anything useful to share. So my blog ends up being about feminism, or crime, or social commentary, or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with this, as such, but it’s not always recommended.

There is one rule, however, which I have religiously kept since the day I first decided to begin this blogging journey, and that is: Always write with honesty. This rule is definitely one I passed on to my friend, because it’s something I really do believe in. There’s no point in blogging if you’re going to assume a ‘personality’; you’ve got to be you, behind the words. I have always written from my heart, and because I know my friend well, I can tell you that her words on Home Grown Heaven are from the heart, too. Whatever other rules you bend or break when it comes to blogging, this is one you really should keep.

Because if you find yourself having to pretend, then maybe it’s time to stop blogging altogether.

Writing 101

My own writing is going – but very slowly. I’m struggling these days with tiredness and low motivation; ‘Web’ is still something that’s burning in me to complete, but I’m really finding it hard to see my way around some of the issues I’m encountering with the story. So, because you’ve all heard me whining about how ‘writing is hard’ and ‘plotting is complicated’, I really didn’t want to write another blog post like that. Instead, I’m going to take part in WordPress’s Daily Prompts exercise, a Writing 101 designed to help you hone your point of view.

Here’s the story seed: The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years. Write this scene from a 12-year-old observer’s point of view.

Image: bondedbuilders.com

Image: bondedbuilders.com

True Crime

Mom’s just left for the store when I start to hear weird noises across the street. She gave me strict (and I’m talking strict, like no-TV-for-a-month strict) instructions not to leave the house – but if there’s going to be some sort of shakedown, like, just outside my front door, I want to know about it.

She also told me not to eat the last popsicle, but hey. She can’t have everything her own way, right?

So I slide out onto the front porch, and there’s a ton of cars out in the street. I see flashing lights and guys with uniforms, and in the middle of it my neighbour, old Mrs Pauley, looking like a tiny piece of crumpled paper. They’re surrounding her like she’s some sort of FBI Most Wanted, and I can see her shaking from here. I wonder where Jo-jo is: I wouldn’t like anyone treating my mom like this, and Jo-jo – well. He’s a big guy. I don’t think the police, if that’s what these guys are, would be too thrilled to see him.

Maybe that’s why they’re doing this now, in the middle of the day, I think. Jo-jo’s the only Pauley boy left in town, and he’s got to be at work now. His brothers are scattered all over. I don’t remember ‘em, besides as big shadows and booming voices. They left years ago, before I was able to control my own drool. I don’t even know their names any more.

The Pauley’s’ve lived here forever. Like, way longer than my mom and me.

I’m trying to figure out what’s happening – is her house on fire? Is she in some sort of danger, or what? I don’t see any smoke, or anything, and I’m pretty sure she’s not, like, some sort of criminal on the run or whatever. Maybe Mr Pauley was, though? Maybe since he died a few months back his shady underworld has started to crumble, or something, and it’s all falling on his poor innocent wife…

But that’s stupid. Mr P. was awesome. I miss the old guy; he liked to tell jokes so bad that they should’ve come with a federal health warning, but because he laughed so hard you couldn’t help but join in. Mom said he’d fought in some war, but she never told me the details. I wish I’d asked him about it, while I had the chance.

One of the cop-guys is taking Mrs P. out of her house. There’s another one handing her a bag. I hear some weird banging, and then I see some other guy’s hammered a huge padlock right across Mrs P.’s front door. He slaps up a piece of paper, which somehow sticks itself to the peeling old wood, and I squint real hard: Eviction, I can just about read.

Eviction. No way!

I can’t move fast enough. All I can do is get to the porch steps and shout, and Mrs P. looks up. She smiles, but I can see she’s crying, and she raises a skinny old arm to wave at me. I blink real hard (something’s in my eye, y’know, makes it hard to see).

I wish, not for the first time, that we’d had money to get me a proper ramp. It’d take too long for me to go out through the back – by the time I got around, Mrs. P would be long gone. So, I watch as they bundle her into the back of a cop car, and I shout that I’ll get her some help, and the cops yell at me to get inside and mind my own, and I have to struggle real hard not to shout right back.

And as soon as they’ve all gone, I turn and wheel myself inside. The phone is technically out of bounds to me, too, but I’m sure this time Mom will understand.

‘Hello. Hello? Could you connect me to Miller Automotive, please? I need to speak with Jo-jo… I mean, Joseph Pauley. He works there. Thank you.’

I hear a click, and a buzz, and then I’m through.