Writing

I guess that “post-mortem” is probably as good a term as “look back” or “wrapup”or any other term that comes across more neutral, particularly after that election.

So, here goes.

  1. We all know how that election went. The less said about that the better. However, I did offer to do something to help the Bexar County Democratic Party. What will I do? No clue. Let’s see what I come up with. Perhaps I’ll have something definitive to say at the end of December or January.
  2.  I did catch up on my steps with one day to spare. I ended up averaging a little over 8700 steps.
  3. I did not win NaNoWriMo. 2016 may have been one of my worst years yet, with just a little over 10,000 words. But there’s always 2017. And I don’t mean just November. I attempt the same goal in February, April, June, and September, as well. If I make it, I at least will know that I can do it.
  4. I’m sticking to my schedule of working on my language skills. I’m doing a couple of Duolingo Spanish lessons every day and also a few Rosetta Stone lessons. My employer is one of the companies that gives access to Rosetta Stone to its employees and so, based on my experience with customers with limited English, I’ve chosen Vietnamese. I’m almost done with Unit One. If I keep to my schedule, I estimate that I’ll spend about six months learning Vietnamese. I also try to do an Italian and a German Duolingo lesson every day and I’m trying to get back into Rosetta Stone Mandarin. I’m paying myself more for Rosetta Stone because Rosetta Stone lessons take a lot longer than Duolingo ones. So far I’ve saved up over $14 and will have accrued at least a penny in interest by the end of the month.

No, I’m not taking up stripping. There’s no way I’m in shape enough for it. I have to admit that I have nice legs, though.

When I first started blogging, I read a bunch of articles saying that you need a “niche.” If you don’t bring your readers something that no other writer focuses on, you’ll never find an audience or whatever. The examples they gave were budget travel, traveling with children, and so on. Like there aren’t dozens of blogs on those subjects.

Then, sometime this summer, it hit me. Two things I really love, and the reason I cannot see myself living in a rural area, are public art and urban parks. I’m not going to only write about those things, there aren’t enough days in the week for me to visit all of the art and parks in all of the cities to be able to keep up a regular schedule of posting on just those two subjects. But as Alex and I (and, once Alex is grown, just I) travel, I’ll be visiting the parks that I can get to and photographing and exploring the history of the public art that I see as we go. There will probably be a side order of museums along the way as well.

The plan (and I’ve saved nearly all of the money up for both) is to visit Quebec City, Montreal, and Toronto in July 2017 and then Memphis, Nashville, and Cincinnati (possibly Louisville as well, depending on how early we get out of Cincinnati) in August on our way to and from Kentucky for the eclipse. I think I’ve only visited one park in one of those cities, Centre Island Park in Toronto, so that will give me some new areas to explore while I’m on those trips.

Speaking of “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” it was probably about 10:00 p.m. or so when I heard Gypsy coming from the other room (my dad watches Turner Classic Movies a lot). I knew that Alex had never seen most of the classic movies and Gypsy was a particular favorite. So I offered Alex a choice, he could go to bed or stay up with me watching a movie about a stripper. I assured him it wasn’t *that* kind of movie (its TV rating is PG), and he was intrigued enough to check it out and interested enough to stay up until the end.

Today, Google Photos reminded me that this is the first anniversary of the day that Alex, my phone, and I went down to San Pedro Springs Park to take some possible header photos for my blog. I had just discovered the panorama mode on my phone. My older digital camera — which has a wrist strap, so I still use it in situations where I’m afraid of dropping my camera — has a panorama mode that takes separate overlapping photos which I can then stitch together into one. My phone’s panorama mode is one continuous shot. You move the camera from one side to another (or from top to bottom/bottom to top) and the camera makes one image out of it. This works out really well outdoors.  Indoors, it makes the walls look like they’re bowing inwards. It’s kind of a neat effect, but not exactly what you want for an indoor shot most of the time.

Below is the panorama I took of the inside of Grand Central Terminal so you can see what I mean.

Grand Central Terminal Panorama

Grand Central Terminal taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 on panorama mode

As I said, though, the panorama mode is pretty good outdoors, so I went around to different parts of the park and took a variety of pictures of different parts of the park and sometimes the same part of the park from different vantage points with different aspect ratios (the width-to-height measurement of an image).

Then, once I was certain that I had the layout that I wanted, I looked for an image that could be cropped and/or resized to fit the dimensions of the header image for the layout without compromising the subject. The winner was the panorama I took from the top of the stairs above the springs. And now, one year ago later (to the day!), I’m still pretty proud of that photo.

Frankly, I don’t know.  I keep reading about people who get comped meals and hotel rooms and things so that the blogging helps pay for their travel.  And that might be great for them, but it would make me uncomfortable. Besides that, as someone who’s taster-gene impaired, I really don’t think I’d give my readers a good idea of the food at restaurants.

Although, since I work in a retail pharmacy, I sure could use some help paying for travel.  As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t really done anything to monetize this thing. I’m just not sure I have enough of value to do so yet.

When will I feel that I have?  I’m not sure.  Possibly after I get back from vacation in two-ish weeks and have that trip written up, maybe not even then. I would, ideally, like to find some kind of audience and I fear that having ads on the blog might impede that.  On the other hand, perhaps the ads should be in place when I find the audience to begin with.

Should I experiment with clickbait titles? How could I make a clickbait title out of the Witte Museum, or Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park?  Or even Yellowstone? Well, maybe I’ll have “Three Encounters with Wildlife at Yellowstone” or even “Three Encounters with Wild Life in West Yellowstone” or something of that nature.

Fortunately, I don’t have to make any big decisions.  I’m just navel-gazing at this point.

I had a few posts written ahead of time, then a few things happened to throw off my groove:

  1. One of my coworkers took a couple of weeks off. During that time, others had obligations that meant that they had to take a day or two off.  This led us to being short-handed and to my boss scheduling me for the early shift pretty close to every day.  I was used to working one of our later shifts except for, generally, one day a week (Wednesday), which means that my brain is used to going to sleep much later than was comfortable and I don’t write so well when I’m sleep-deprived.
  2. I was feeling kind of under the weather.  I developed some kind of rash on my neck (the doctor says it looked like some kind of allergic reaction) which itched all the time, so even when I was asleep, I didn’t actually get any rest (see point 1 above about sleep deprivation and my writing skill).
  3. I just hit the November 2015 issue of National Geographic.  When Netflix first became a thing (back in the days when they’d send you a DVD in the mail), my now-ex and I watched at least one episode of The X-Files a night.  Watching it like that brought some of the weaknesses of the show into sharper relief than might have been obvious to the viewers who watched it as it was broadcast (don’t get me started on Samantha Mulder).  I am having a similar problem with reading this many issues as quickly as I am.  In this case, though, it begins to get kind of monotonous — unrest in Africa, global warming, global warming, unrest in Africa, here’s some pictures of Norway, unrest in Africa, global warming . . . .  The November 2015 issue is entirely dedicated to global warming and I just needed a break. Oh, and my dad’s subscription seems to no longer allow me to access the issues online, so in order to write on the issues, I will need to hold them on my lap while I type, which seems like it will be kind of a challenge.

At any rate, I am working my usual schedule tomorrow and have Thursday off, so I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be able to get back to writing soon.

And I’m almost back to where I was when I lost my external hard drive, so I’ll be back to counting the pictures I’ve scanned in soon, as well.

The month of November is known as “National Novel Writing Month,” or “NaNoWriMo,” for short. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

The early 2000s were a difficult time for me, with my cancer, losing my mother, and then my divorce, and my brain is no longer in any shape to be writing fiction anymore.  So I’m going to try to write 50,000 words worth of blog posts (and maybe some other things, like book reviews) this month.

As I write this, it is 7:42 p.m. on November 2 and I have written four blog posts with a total word count of 3,018 words. This does not count this post, which I actually started writing back in October and it has sat in my drafts folder since then.  Only these final four sentences were written in November, and they bring my word count to 3,108.