Friday, 29 June 2012

Setting myself a challenge Day 15 – The Full Stop!

As I begin to type this, I’m aware that this is my last self inflicted challenge to write 1000 words a day throughout my two week holiday. It’s Friday June 29th 2012, this is the last day of my holiday. I have made it, but only just. By the end of this posting I’ll have written about 16,000 words in a fortnight, which sounds impressive, maybe it is, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing. It’s been a bit of a slog at times.

So why did I do this? Well, plainly and simply I like writing, but as my first posting said, I am not a good writer, nor am I a disciplined person. My personality is one of all consuming interest in a topic or process for about six months and then I become bored, I move onto something else for 6 months and the cycle repeats itself. By way of broadcasting what I was up to on Twitter and my blog, it forced me to be disciplined. I have no idea how many people read or wanted to read my ramblings, but the pure act of saying I’ll do it, forced the issue. However there have been times when the stress of having to write something got to me. But that is good, controlled stress is great for creating creativity.
I’ve also confirmed through my challenge what I secretly already knew: if I get up early and write (or paint) I can be very creative. If however I leave the challenge to the afternoon or evening, creatively I really struggle. On average, morning compositions took under an hour to think, write and publish, with words and thoughts flowing easily and continuously. In fact most morning postings are written in a single burst of energy and left unrevised. By contrast those writings I left until the afternoon and evening took around 2 to 3 hours, they needed more correction, more revision and for me I felt they lacked that spontaneity of cognitive outpouring. I wonder if any reader can guess which were morning or which were evening creations?
I have also discovered I am absolutely hopeless at grammar. Mind you there’s nothing new there. My school education was appalling, being educated in a liberal 1970s comprehensive school where errors were left uncorrected, homework nonexistent and educational standards at rock bottom. As a result, although reasonably intelligent, I am lazy and easily distracted. And this meant I failed my O levels in English Language and English Literature. To this day I struggle with what for me are the incomprehensible complexities of English grammar. What is a verb is? A noun? An adverb? All are like double Dutch to me. I’ve tried many times to understand English literature and language, but these subtle complexities of prose and composition are like a mist which falls across my eyes meaning that each time I write it is like re-inventing the wheel. I therefore have to offer my eternal thanks to Julie who each day, after reading Day 4’s appalling car crash of grammar and semi-colon ineptitude has painstakingly corrected my efforts.
And that is something else which this challenge has been an eye opener for. The actual process of writing is a lonely task, but in reality I feel to write involves at least 2 people. Creatively my mind never switches off. Sometimes this drives me mad as I sometimes find myself batting about half a dozen ideas without any coherent reason. My father calls me a fidget. I’m never still, always on the go and always thinking up new creative things to do. In fact tomorrow we shall be off stone carving. No doubt that will become the next obsession and writing will be consigned to the “done that, got the t-shirt” part of my life. I like to write, but can I really call myself a writer if my composition is unread by others?
To write is essentially an egotistical occupation. As a creative person I have an idea, I write about it, and therefore by default I then want others to read it. I may huff and blather with notions that as an artist my words are my own and it is irrelevant what happens to those words once written. Absolute poppycock.  Creative people are egotistical. One should never generalise of course, but show me an artist who doesn’t want to see their paintings hanging on a benefactor’s wall, or a writer who doesn’t fill with pride when their words are published and I’ll show you some hens teeth. Maybe I’m being harsh here but anyone who is creative wishes to be acknowledged as such. Am I correct? And is this necessarily a bad thing? I’d say not.  What do you think?
By and large, before the advent of the Internet, to be published involved a middle man (or woman), be it editor for print media or a publisher for books. Self publication was always seen as “second best”, something a writer did because no one else wanted to take the risk with their work. These days, self publication is very much the norm via social media such as Blogs, Facebook and Twitter which are the supreme way to air unregulated thoughts; however by its very nature this unregulated aspect of social media is fraught with dangers. We can all recall someone sending out a message only for their words to be either misinterpreted or cannoned around cyberspace and the red-top newspapers with an almost evangelical zeal to bring the perpetrator to justice, with a sub-plot of “phew that wasn’t me this time”. In the past the publisher or editor would have prevented such errors before they hit the public domain. But the dangers inherent in self publication, can again bring a certain creative edginess to a work, I feel.
But to prevent free speech, no matter how well meaning, is in my view one step closer towards the slippery slope of repression. I love the fact that the Americans invented the World Wide Web for secrecy and intelligence purposes, and in doing so they created a technology that is absolutely unregulated.

And so my final unregulated free speech posting is coming to an end. I sit, I think, I write and I publish. If I get it wrong, I’ll be informed of this by another indulging in free speech. I hope though, by and large I get it right, and for those of you who have read one or all of these 15 essays, you gave your time freely, to allow me to indulge myself in my egotistical free-speech compositions.
For that I thank you.
(Speaking of discipline, keeping to 1000 words has never been achieved – 1,129 today)


  1. Congratulations on completing your challenge Andrew, very well done!! I have read and enjoyed each one, even if not always on the same day they were written. The Internet has indeed been a liberator for anyone with a desire to share their particular passion with others and to connect with people in a way which would never have been possible just a few years ago.

    Your 'Coincidences' post was just one of your excellent pieces which resonated with me. I have often visited somewhere, a nature reserve, stately home or perhaps just a wood or meadow and found myself looking at other people and thinking 'this means you made the same plans to come here today, worked out how to get here, looked forward to it etc. just as I did which means for this short time we are connected and when I go home I will see the same images and have the same memories in my head that you will' Why did a particular set of unconnected people all decide to do the same thing on the same day? A question I suppose we will never be able to answer. The next question I always ask myself is 'why do I even consider such things, am I mad?'...Well, I know now that if I am...I'm not the only one Andrew ;-)

  2. Well done Andrew... you made it! I've really enjoyed reading your posts. When's the book? ;-)

  3. Hi Shysongbird, you read them all.............!!! Blimey I need to sit down and recover. SOMEONE read them? Seriously though thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It is very much appreciated. Its good to know that other people have the same views and thoughts about coincidences. I find these types of though and muse fascinating. Why did we all converge in time and space for a fraction.

  4. Hi Jane,

    Thank you for the note, would be interested to know any specific points, drop me an e-mail if you wish. It was hard work, but good fun, and as for the book, humm, watch this space :-)