Archive for October, 2011

The Boy Genius

October 30, 2011

This week’s poetry offering – The Boy Genius

As the words left his lips –

No – before –

As they formed in his brain

ready to take to the air

sprung fully and loudly, enunciated clearly – no mistaking their shape or intent

The Gods, the Forces

that act against

such arrogance

such hubris

Especially

in one so young

Began their work of dismantling

of destruction

of weakening the structure

so that the edifice would fall

so that the man

– ah, the boy! –

would forever regret

his boastful quip

– what he thought to be a throw away line, casually uttered in jest to his parents

from the back seat of the car

taken all too seriously

by powerful entities – their sensitive egos too easily ruffled

only too happy to smite

an arrogant pup

knock him off his excessively ornate pedestal

deny him any pretensions to greatness

and remind him that he was not

– as he so nonchalantly claimed –

 

a boy genius.

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The Great Gatsby – Did I teach this to you?

October 29, 2011

At first it was the image of Gatsby in his pink suit watching over Daisy, waiting so patiently that made me love The Great Gatsby. The idea that a man (and one as beautiful as Robert Redford was in the original movie) would dedicate five years of his life to the dream of obtaining the woman he loved, resonated deep within me. That feeling of longing, of infinite hope, that so mesmerised Nick, captured me too, and at fourteen, I hoped to find a man who would love me as Gatsby loved Daisy.

Now, because I have taught it so often and write myself, I love Gatsby because of the crafting; because of Fitzgerald’s evocative use of language as he describes Gatsby’s parties, Doctor T J Eckleburg’s insidious Eyes over looking the Ash Heap, a place of singular despair and bleakness; the orgiastic green light that Gatsby looks to hopefully, and how Fitzgerald fills me with the futility of Gatsby’s quest. How can a novel be so hopeful and so hopeless at the same time?

I return to the opening pages again and again, marvelling how within several hundred words we know all we need to know about Nick so we can trust him with the story, embrace his fascination with Gatsby. We are taken in by Nick’s moral certainty as we embark on the journey to find out why Gatsby ‘turned out all right in the end’, even though we expect tumultuous times along the way.

Gatsby is a poignant story of misplaced love, of the waste of a good man’s life. The image of Tom and Daisy sitting together in the kitchen after the deaths (film) of Myrtle, her sad and desperate husband, George and the deeply flawed Jay Gatsby, fills Nick with revulsion, and we recognise careless people who damage others and go on with their lives as if nothing has happened. Fitzgerald suggests it was the Buchanans’ wealth that desensitised them to the feelings and value of others. But he knew, like Nick, that Gatsby, despite his shady deals and dubious background was worth ‘the whole damn bunch of them’.

A boy I taught years ago, now a grown man, confessed that Gatsby was the only novel he fully read during his years at school. He went on to become an economist – did Nick influence him more than he realised? (Hello, Gary Jones.)

Fitzgerald’s characters linger  

Nick because we trust him – his ‘inclination to reserve all judgements’ allows the rest of the cast to confide in him; to tell this story of beautiful waste. Nick is everyman, capable in a range of social settings, insightful, vaguely envious of the rich but able to see into their hearts and the emptiness therein.

Jordan is the dishonest, careless one who cheats at golf and drives terribly. We want Nick to be in love with her but we understand that as the only truly decent person in the text he can’t possibly find happiness with her.

Tom is the arrogant, ignorant fool, who peaked too soon: wealthy but spiritually vacant. Fitzgerald’s description of Tom is as sharp as a photograph – ‘ a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes… enormous power of that body… a cruel body… there was a touch of paternal contempt’. Of course he breaks Myrtle’s nose, he has already broken Daisy’s heart.

Daisy is beautiful, as ephemeral as her gossamer white dresses: she suffers at Tom’s hand, her ‘voice is full of money’. Does she know what love is? Is she worthy of love? Look at how she reacts with Pammy, her daughter, who seems more like a doll than a child. Is that what Daisy is – a doll, pretty to look at but devoid of any substance?

Myrtle and Wilson are both ground down by life, by unfulfilled promises and the grind of daily life in the grime of the Ash-heap, no man’s land, half way to hell. Both are half dead anyway, so their deaths seem assured from the moment we meet them.

But what is it about Gatsby that captures us? He is not a man of breeding or worthy of our respect, given his early years and his dubious dealings with Wolfshiem, who fixed the World Series. Gatsby seems as dishonest as Jordan, as dangerous as Tom, as careless as Daisy, as desperate as Myrtle, as superficial as those who flock to his magnificent weekend parties. Gatsby is new money, as opposed to Tom’s old money. Gatsby is self made, (even his name is made up) ambitious, willing to get his hands dirty. He uses people for his own ends: Nick is used to get to Daisy.

It is love that sets Gatsby apart – his unrelenting quest of Daisy that drives him from poverty to riches; from poor soldier boy to wealthy host with the palace on the water-front directly opposite Daisy’s mansion. It is Gatsby’s naïve hope of love: that Daisy loves him as much as he loves her; that she never stopped loving him and that they can obliterate her five years with Tom and be innocently in love once more. How can he be so brutal in his acquisition of money and status but so innocent in his expectations of love?

The tragedy of the novel is not that Gatsby dies in true Tragic Heroic style die, like Shakespearean tragic heroes, undone by the fatal flaw of his unrealistic expectations about love; a love based in fantasy. Gatsby’s tragedy was that he loved someone utterly worthless. Daisy and Tom carelessly careening through life: death and disillusion in their wake.

It seems that what is important in the novel, what Nick tells us, is that it is more important to have a dream, to have aspired to great things, be it love or wealth, to have tried and lost, to have been mistaken, than to be like Tom and Daisy, careless people drifting aimlessly through life, feeling nothing, giving nothing. After all Nick says ‘Gatsby turned out all right at the end.’

Of the three giants of 20th century American literature, Hemmingway, Steinbeck and Fitzgerald, the latter is the one who matters most to me, despite the other two having Nobel prizes for Literature. All three wrote of despair and of the American Dream. Steinbeck’s vision was without hope – remember Lennie and George’s dream shattered on the barn floor? Hemingway was too interested in the hearts of men not women for me. Only Fitzgerald, like Gatsby, had the gift of beauty and hope amidst the despair. If you only read one of these titans, read Fitzgerald, his short stories and Tender is the Night as well. You’ll thank me. (Images from the 1974 movie staring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow)

Silly Advice for Serious Times

October 25, 2011

It’s dangerous out there, so take care.

Don’t swim with the sharks (or the crocodiles). They can take nasty great chunks out of you, rip your limbs off and kill you. This occurs in deep water, shallow pools and on dry land. Dry land sharks are the most deadly, especially ones at work and in the pub – you should avoid wolves too.

Don’t play in the traffic. Keep to the paths, avoid cyclists, women with prams, teenagers with iPods, hoods, scooters, old people who dodder along and get in your way. Don’t cross the road without looking, use traffic lights but still look, listen, look again. There’s too much traffic, most of it going too fast and not remotely interested in pedestrian rights. Navigate skilfully and you will not get hurt.

Don’t pet strange dogs. All dogs other than your own are strange and can be relied upon to behave strangely. Always ask the owner if you can touch their dog before doing so. Don’t presume anything. If you are a post-man keep clear of all dogs, they know you hate them.

Don’t tweet, email or FB rudeness about your boss or colleagues. Oh God it is so tempting but you will regret it, sooner or later. So slag them off in the pub, loudly and then claim you were drunk and can’t remember. The spoken word can be denied, the written one will always bite you on the bum.

Don’t work with children, old people, sick people or criminals. The caring professions suck, you don’t get paid enough, are blamed for the ills of the world and are more likely to be abused by your charges as appreciated. Don’t be a banker either, find something that makes you happy and keeps you afloat, financially speaking and doesn’t cause the planet any more pain.

Don’t believe that books are dying. The publishing industry is alive and well, just diversifying. People will want to hold a book in their hands a bit longer; students will want to scribble and underline key points; people like to unwrap books on Xmas Day. Video did not kill the radio star or the movies so e-books will not kill real books.

Don’t believe that the end of the world is nigh. Yes, it is grim out there, but it’s been grim for some parts of the world forever – think Africa, Indigenous peoples of the world. It is a time for caution, for not being greedy or reckless. It’s a time to take stock of what you’ve got, look after what’s important, shed the rest. The world is rich enough for all of us – it’s greed that’s killing us and the planet. Do your bit to make your corner of the world a kind and hopeful place.

Tropical Knitting

October 23, 2011

A brief story taken from my Life Happens collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Happens-ebook/dp/B005MR4962

Life Happens

You can’t knit in the Tropics. You sweat too much, making the grip on the needles and the tension on the wool impossible to control. It’s too uncomfortable to sit with a growing blanket of wool spreading across your lap. The sweat from your hands mark and stain the wool so all your efforts are in vain.

You can’t make pastry or intricately involved dessert recipes either. Room temperature as recipe writers know it simply doesn’t exist. I tried to make some exotic meringue sandwich with cream and fresh berries once in the early days of entertaining tropical style. It was a disaster from woe to go. Chocolate dipped frozen ice cream balls went the same way.

Vegetables also present challenges in the heat. In the Tropics there is no choice: vegetables of all persuasions have to live in the fridge. Fruit can’t be left in an attractive bowl of glass or ceramic on the table. It bruises and spoils within a day – less if it’s the Build Up. Fruit lives in the fridge, with the veggies, jams, butter, flour and sugar. There are too many temptations for mould, damp, weevils and cockroaches out there in the cupboards and on the bench-tops. A large fridge or two is the only way to cope with the daily battle for freshness and balanced meals.

Don’t expect water from the tap to be anything but warm, at the best tepid. Okay for showers and washing clothes, but no use when you just want something convenient and cool to drink.

But come outside to the gardens. The same environment that makes food rot and gourmet cooking impossible allows the garden to explode. Things grow quickly. Palms sprout and head towards the heavens within months. Mango and Papaya trees heave and moan with heady smells and succulent fruit. Bananas flourish, frangipanis invade the senses and the footpaths. Bromeliads and cycads, flowering ginger and helyconias grow like mushrooms and festoon the garden with colour bursts like a rainbow on a dull day.

Rain-trees dominate the skyline and African Mahoganies grow too big, too fast. You can smell the perfume of exotic gardens on the evening air: floral notes mix with ripening fruit. Bats, smelling what you do, swarm in for their nightly feast, making their cacophonous sounds of feeding pleasure on a rising moon.

The light is brighter here. The colours sharper, the moon is more luminous. You reckon if you just tried hard enough that you could reach out and touch the sun as she sets in a steamy sky. The thunder is louder and closer. Electrical storms are bigger and flashier. You do less – wear less. Toddlers wander naked and shoeless, their feet broadening and browning as they grown like the exotic gardens they wander through.

You are closer to the elements here, more aware of the weather than ever, able to tell the temperature to within a degree or two. Your senses are heightened: you can smell the changes coming in the weather, feel the electricity in the air before the storm breaks. You know how long you’ve got to get the washing in from the line. As it rains children run and squeal, houses sigh and shift: exhale as their owners do. Tensions swirl down the gutters as the rains sweep in and wash the town.

Back in the kitchen meat defrosts in an hour and it’s almost cheating to BBQ every night, eating mangoes from your own garden, as your children splash in the pool while you watch a fat sun fall beneath an unending horizon.

Who needs to knit?

Dreams of a Mechanical Man

October 22, 2011

Something a bit different, dear readers, a poem for you. Published many years ago in Cordite and Red on Red, NT anthology of stories and poetry. Enjoy!

Dreams of a Mechanical Man

And on the seventh day

Deano plays with his own cars

his fleet of BMWs

and the yellow Porsche.

Cars are his passion

his life.

There is no wife

to cause trouble

be jealous

resent the time

the money

the effort

that goes into the business

into exotic machinery

(and their owners).

On his way to sleep

his subconscious briefly

teasingly

wonders about some clients

Some female clients

Some married female clients.

He idles for a moment

on female bodies

female parts

and considers

that there must be time

should be time

for other pleasures of the flesh.

Thus Deano’s dreams

become a rambling mess

of Jaguar bonnets

and heaving breasts,

naked flesh

and Mercedes upholstery,

pouting lips

and Carrerra Porsches:

throbbing engines

turbo engines

V12 engines

blonde hair

and ice blue eyes

14-15 – The Shit Years

October 19, 2011

Being a teenager is the best of times and the worst of times, to borrow from Mr Dickens. No longer a cute and adorable child, yet to be a functioning independent adult, caught in no man’s land, wanting to go back and forward at the same time – confused, angry, uncertain, ugly, chubby, spotty insecure. Yep it’s a great time to be alive.

Somehow 14-15 is the worst of it. Having observed the teenage beast for many years now – my own three as they passed through this valley of trouble and tears and the many students I’ve met across the world – as well as remembering my own awkward years I believe 14 -15 is simply shitsville for many. This is the time of pressure from school, friends and parents; of major skin eruptions, of your body changing, evolving – doing what it wants at a moment’s notice. It’s the same for girls and boys. Do you recognise yourself? Is that why you spend hours in the bathroom gazing into the mirror, looking to see if the image coming back at you is someone you know, someone you want to know?

This is the time for falling out with your parents, for grunting and sulking your way through the day. This is the time for wearing entirely inappropriate and desperately ugly outfits, while you hide your body away as it does its butterfly thing beneath the layers of grunge. Please don’t clean or tidy your room and never willingly do anything around the house to help.

This is the time for boys to stand up to their fathers, to do some of that play fighting that isn’t really as boys test their strength against dads and find that dad may be getting older- slower-fatter but he’s still stronger. Sons will move away from their mothers, being rude and ungrateful but still needing huge amounts of food and someone to make their sandwiches for them, Mum.

Daughters become sullen, find their fathers stupid and foolish, utterly lacking in understanding. Mums are for shouting at, for being bitchy to and for ‘borrowing’ jewelry, nail-polish and perfume from, even though mum’s taste is appalling. The sweetest baby girl will evolve into a she-witch, a banshee from hell the moment you look at her. It’s much better that she lives in her room – its dark cave-like atmosphere just right for her dark emotions.

This is the time for first love, crushes and infatuation. Nobody will understand, you’re too young for love. But Juliet, as we all know wasn’t quite 14 when she met Romeo. The thing is, the teenage years are intense; you feel everything sharply, truly and it hurts if you are ignored or worse rejected. And who can you tell? Love hurts no matter what age you are.

Parents are not to ask questions: that’s just another word for interrogation. Homework and school are dirty words. Parents are caught in the quandary of respecting their child’s space and not caring if they don’t enquire after their child’s well being, friends, day, lessons. It’s a thorny time. Teachers are in-your-face-idiots, always telling you what to do and thinking they know everything, when patently, as they’re only teachers, they simply don’t.

This time has to be skilfully navigated in order for all to come out the other end of the dark teenage tunnel still as a family, still able to communicate and share lives as children grow into adults and their own lives. This is the time that parents have to be tough, show love but not indulgent love. This is the time for boundaries to be reinforced (if you haven’t got expectations and ‘rules’ in place by now you’re in for a hell of a time), for consequences to be meted out. Ground them; ban them from electronic gadgetry, but not forever.

Be reasonable in your punishments despite your desire for blood: pull back from the precipice. You do not want your child leaving home or self-harming, and in these emotionally intense years terrible things are possible. Keep a watchful eye as things can go awfully awry. Remember you are the adult – be one!

16 is when the waters tend to calm, when the winds drop from gale force to occasional strong gust. The child your teenager once was – sweet, loveable, kind, funny – will reassert her/himself and, if you’ve maintained your love amidst the torrent of the mid-teen years, you will have a relationship worth having and a child who loves you as much as you love them.

Remember what it was like for you. How lonely and misunderstood you felt from time to time. How hard it was to feel okay about yourself, what you looked like, what sort of person you were. Give your kids a break, it is a hard world out there, much harder now than it was for us. Tell them what’s good and fine about them, be honest in your praise, be strong in your love and you will have a fine young person of whom you can be justifiably proud.

Welcome to the Pleasure Dome

October 15, 2011

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree… Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We’re a long way from home, welcome to the Pleasure-dome… Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Pleasure – a lovely sounding word, feel how it sounds in your mouth and think about the things that bring you pleasure. Be as salacious as you like, it’s your imagination. Pleasure-dome conjures evocative images of a central controlled space of pleasure, luxury, riches, indulgences. Close your eyes, remember the poem, recall the song…

Welcome to my Pleasure-Dome – my bed. I cannot afford a stately kingdom full of every imaginable pleasure known (and unknown) to (wo)man. But I have my bed and it brings me pleasure wrapped up in a great many packages.

The pleasure of sleep – it is impossible to over-rate the importance of the joys of sleep. We’re supposed to spend a third of our lives away with Orpheus so we should enjoy it all, especially our dreams. Dreaming is the stuff of wonder, the place you and only you can go to play, frolic, sort out your problems and find fabulous solutions. A good sleep in can never be over-rated. A good night’s sleep is what keeps us functioning sanely in this insane world.

The pleasure of sex – well, how can you speak of bed and not of sex? Although I would suggest that bed is where most people actually make love. Sex in an actual bed doesn’t tend to happen for a while as a young sex-crazed being. Sex and bed tends to be for more tender, passionate embraces, the languid, luxurious love making that a comfortable mattress ensures. The joy of sex in a bed is in the slow unwinding from the heat of congress, the lying together bathed in spent passion as you resume a normal heart beat and your bodies cool enough to find sleep. And a very good sleep at that.

The pleasure of reading – don’t you just love reading in bed? Half an hour before you sleep, in the morning of a weekend? Anytime really. You can stretch out, plump up your pillows, play a bit of music and settle into the most comfortable place to read and then travel off with the story you are into at the moment. Remember, a bedside table is for the stacking of books, so you must read in bed.

The pleasure of eating – this divides people. Crumbs and spills and stains are horrid things. But if you’re careful breakfast in bed is one of life’s major pleasures. Add to that snacking while you’re reading and a glass of wine and chocolate while watching telly and you’re away. If you live on your own there are no holds barred about eating in bed but sharing means negotiation and consideration.

The pleasure of writing – thank God for the lap-top. Now you don’t have to be chained to the desk to get on with your best seller. A large bed is also very helpful for spreading out your notes and drafts and organising yourself. Writing in bed vastly improves the quality and quantity of your out-put – tis true, really. (No, this is not penned from bed).

The pleasure of telly and DVDs – I have come to this again later in life, as for many years we had the TV central to our family life, now we watch DVDs on my iMac from the comfort of our King-size bed. With the lights out and a beverage and a snack it feels more like being at the movies, except of course you can pause to go to the loo or restock your supplies. If you’re sick, there’s nothing nicer – bed + TV + food = pleasure despite the suffering

The pleasure of chatting with loved ones – you should be doing this before and after the ecstatic act of love. But you can talk to others too. Baby girl loves sitting or laying on the bed disturbing my reading or writing to chat, aimlessly, endlessly. It’s unmitigated bliss to relax, chat and be with her. As a baby I used to read her to sleep in bed, her warm little body, on mine, reassuring, life affirming. Now I read and she does her homework and I offer wisdom when asked.

I always loved books and movies where some lady simply took to her bed and never got out again. How divine! For me a day in bed can be as good as it gets. Ah, bed, one of the under-rated Pleasure-domes of the world.

Puppy Love

October 12, 2011

Who do you love most in the entire world? Is that a fair question? No, but I love my dog as much as you can love anything. The joy of furry things is indisputable. A good dog is loyal, devoted, never answers back, is always there and up for a moment of mutual comforting – I pat his tummy, he licks my face.

 Really, I’m a pussy cat

Feeling a bit regal, a bit special on the purple

He’s never cross, never upset, seems to smile – oh yes, he does – and is, as a bonus, being a German Shepherd a good deterrent for strangers. He does bark something fierce, tis a wonderous sound, deep and throaty and thunderously threatening. Why would you opt for a small dog, or even a cat?? (Had them too, okay in their time and place).

Zanz in the pink

Handsome on the waterfront, out with ‘Mum’

looking goofyhandsome

Ready for my close-ups, Mr de Mille.

sticky beaking

Being a sticky-beak – fortunately my neighbour loves me too. I don’t bark at him.

There’s nothing like a big dog, handsome, pure, loyal and true. So much easier than children or husbands – although I have them too. Unlike Bridget Jones, I’ll be quite happy to die alone and be eaten by my Alsatian.

Songs to be alive to

October 10, 2011

Part 3 of the songs for life series. I’m sure you have your own lists that light your fire. Music enriches us, makes us feel great, sad, strong, invigorated. This listing is essentially songs for life – amazement, etc as Talking Heads asked – ‘how did I get here?’ Read and sing along. LOUD for most, it is better that way and I’d suggest listening on your own so you can sing along without shame or embarrassment!

Amazement at Life

Like a Virgin, Madonna – the first line – I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through. Great clip and certainly the lines resonate more as you age.

Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads – well how did I get here? Ditto – a song for middle age and beyond, is this my beautiful house – how did we get to be grown up – are we really?

 

Escaping – sometimes you’ve just got to get away, even if only in your mind for a while. Play these and feel better, especially the Eurogliders – brill OZ band from the 80s.

Heaven, Eurogliders – must be there…

Jailbreak, AC/DC

We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Angels version

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon

One Way Ticket, The Darkness

It Keeps You Running, Doobie Brothers

 

Australiana – just had to include a few of these, especially from a cold bleak island so far away from my wide brown land – yep, a bit homesick.

Solid Rock, Goanna

Sounds of Then, Gangajang

Just Like Firewood, The Saints

Cheap Wine, Cold Chisel

Don’t Change, INXS

Down In the Lucky Country, Richard Clapton

Down Under, Men at Work

Treaty, Yothu Yindi

 

Life is Good – any of these will make you feel great, I especially recommend Love is in the Air and Everyone Wants to Rule the World played uber-loud. But the best, my all time favourite song is Echo Beach – loud on repeat anywhere, I defy you to feel amazing!

Love is in the Air, John Paul Young

Weather Without You, Crowded House

Echo Beach, Martha and the Muffins

On the Beach, Chris Rea

Gonna Make You a Star, David Essex

Better Than That, John Butler Trio

Destination Calabria, Alex Gaudino

Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears

Moondance, Van Morrison

Find Your Own Voice and You Will Find Your Audience

October 4, 2011

You can’t write if you don’t read. You can’t write if you have nothing to say. Well, you shouldn’t, but many do. You know how burdened the internet is with millions of words but, the crucial question is: how many of these words are being read?

If, as is claimed, so few bloggers are actually being read why keep writing? It is the Communication Age’s 64 thousand dollar/pound question. If you’re writing and nobody is reading what’s it all about?

Web wisdom has it that the more single purpose your blog is the easier it is to attract and keep your readership. This is makes eloquent sense. If your speciality is 80s Rock n Roll then you simply write about that, nothing else. Easy. You blog often, make the necessary links to create traffic and your readers should find you and stay with you, providing you are presenting something that maintains their interest.

The problematic issue in terms of readership seems to be the all purpose writer, who is not a single issue blogger. But why should this be a problem? A lot of us want to share our wisdom on a range of matters. Does it matter that it takes time to build a following – either blogging or tweeting? I think one of the joys of blogging into nothingness for a while, as most bloggers do, is that it gives you the chance to find your topics, your areas of interest or expertise and, importantly, your voice. Remember that most novels don’t see the light of day until they have been through a rigorous drafting and editing regime. Most popular writers don’t attract a big readership with their first novel. JK Rowling was onto the third Harry Potter when she struck it big.

Take your time in the void of nothingness, enjoy it and consider the following –

Finding your voice – how? There’s nothing wrong with being a general blogger. This is a highly democratic environment and the freedom to express yourself never more true than in this domain. Use that freedom wisely and well in the early days of audience free blogging to develop your skills, play with topics, find your passion and you will find you voice.

The more you write the better you write – providing you are paying attention to Purpose, Audience and Language – the Why, Who-for and How of your writing, then you will improve your skills with every piece. This means crafting and editing. The more you do this the better writer you will become. Don’t be casual about what you send into e-space, you never know who will be reading.

The more you write the more you will find your areas of passion – a lot of blogs are general purpose blogs, like newspaper opinion columnists such as Caitlin Moran, or India Knight, which seems just fine to me. Blogging often will refine your areas of interest and passion. Feel free to set up sub-categories on your page. Over time – say 6 months to a year – I bet you’ll find you are writing about only a handful of issues/topics again and again. My own observations say I write about mostly Writing, Education & Lifestyle Matters. Certainly these are the blogs that gain the biggest readership. But I didn’t know this when I started and I don’t think many of us do. Nor do I think this is a bad thing. If a novel takes anything from 1 to 3 years to write, why shouldn’t bloggers take some time to find their area of passion?

The more you write about what you want, the easier you will find your voice. Style is a highly individual thing, be it in fashion, Art or Writing. Are you formal and precise, more conversational and cosy? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you develop your own way of writing about topics. It doesn’t matter that a hundred other people write about this very thing, they won’t be saying it in the way I am. Your voice is unique: it is what will keep your readers coming back, your unique way of expressing yourself.

Be who you want to be. Write what you want to – but do it well. Eventually your ability will shine out. If you’re blogging to gain a following, people who will buy your novels, short stories or non-fiction, then be true to how you write, to who you are. Readers respond to real writers, people they feel they know and come to care about. If they like your blog they should want to read more of you and so buy your books.

Some issues to consider. 1. How do your readers know how to find you? 2. Does your blog name and topics tell them anything? 3. Are you giving readers value for money?

Cheap Advice. 1. Be patient, hone your skills. 2. Read other blogs like yours. 3. Consider the advice out there, but judiciously apply it to your own needs. 4. Blog because you want to, not because you feel you have to.

Through your writing shall you be known.