Setting up a blog on WordPress is a new venture for me. I have always shunned the right and sensible way of doing things, choosing instead to knock up a terrible web site here, a half-hearted blog there, a confused little ad campaign or even thinking that sidling up to a stranger in a pub (“Excuse me mate, want to see my website?) might result, magically, in success as a writer.
Incredibly, none of these ill-conceived plans have worked.
I’ve just been reading about SEO and marketing plans and backlinks and something about “juice,” and I want to throw myself into a nearby river: a plan which is unusually achievable because as I write, I’m sitting on a wooden deck by a river. A big one.
That river (the big one I just mentioned in case you have a pathologically short attention span) runs into the sea on the south coast of Cambodia. I have been travelling for what seems like for ever, in search of myself. No, wait, come back! I’m not a New Age hippie and I don’t eat, love or pray. I am a 58 year old Englishman in search of a good hotel room with AC and while Buddhist monks look great in saffron robes, I don’t want to be one. I’m here because my heart broke and South East Asia seemed like a good place to sulk.
Sulking aside, there is a good reason to be here. I wanted to throw off the shackles of who I am and find one that works. Good plan? I think so. Has it worked? Well, maybe…
This is the first blog post of a new me. I’m still 58 and English, something I can’t really change until next year when I’ll be 59 and English, but I have had a South East Asian epiphany. It happened a week ago. You should have been there, it was great.
I was attempting the impossible — to get from Thailand to Cambodia without being rugby-tackled to the ground by scam artists, and I saw a small sign that read “Volunteer English teachers needed. Give a child a better future.” Now, I’ve seen a lot on my travels, but that was the first thing that got me really excited. I wanted to stay, to teach for no money, to give Thai children a better future by explaining that the plural of sheep is sheep. One simple act without the burden of success attached to it other than to make a small difference.
Arriving in Cambodia with all my limbs and cash intact, I have been musing over the level of excitement that the small sign generated. What does success look like? That is perhaps too broad a question, so maybe I should ask: What does success look like for me?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember (and I can remember Winston Churchill’s funeral). I do it because I like it, and a few years ago I thought I could make money from it. I had some articles published, mainly in the genre called Creative Non Fiction. Fiction, however, is where my brain heads and publishing a fiction novel is like adding another pebble to the beach. As soon as you let go it has disappeared among all the others. My haphazard approach to marketing means that even I don’t know where to get hold of a copy. Seriously. I just tried. Which is a shame because my books are fantastic (see what I did there?).
I became Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, tired that even the man who wrote the fantastic books can’t find them, so why bother writing another?
Well, the small sign pleading for free English lessons told me why. Sometimes success is just doing something that matters.
I told my beloved this. In between unavoidably breaking my heart (she didn’t do it deliberately, she did it because life often trumps romance and you have to deal with it like a grown up) we have been wondering what we could do as a business together. How we could be a success. We haven’t thought of THE THING yet, and I wonder if we’re going about it the wrong way; looking for something that would make money rather than looking for something that we would happily do for no money at all.
While travelling I have met some lovely people and had several quality conversations and you know what? I have spoken mainly of her, and writing. She is my great passion in life and so it comes as no surprise that she bubbles to the surface. But writing? I didn’t know it was a great passion, but there is a maxim in the medical world, “Listen to the patient, because he’s telling you what’s wrong with him.”
And so, dear reader (or both of you if I can be bothered to understand SEO), I have travelled all round the world to find what I wanted at home. I write. I like writing. I shall write books not because I need to sell them, but because I need to write them. For me. And I’ll keep a proper blog.
First thing? Let’s get rid of all the loose ends that haunt my web presence and condense it into this blog with the occasional hint that there are books to read too. I’ll keep it simple. I’ll find other ways to pay the bills and not poison the writing with the unfair burden of success.
I’ve found things!
There’s other stuff too, including audio books, so I need to get those organised.
So far there’s a website with a few years of blogging and my other writing. You can find it here:
It became a scruffy dog of a site, a mongrel hybrid of blog and touting long-form fiction. Making a clean blog and trimming the weeds seems like a good place to start. I shall take a story and publish here for free, just see what happens. Maybe I’ll give most of it away for free on here. I was excited at teaching English for nothing. Why should writing be any different?
Right then, my sleeves are rolled up. A simple blog, a simple place to showcase everything, and maybe even find out what a backlink is. Am I a man capable of getting “juice?”
Today, April 14th, is day one of the Cambodian New Year. Maybe it is also a new year for me.