Still here.

gh

I’m alive! I’m still here! I have, if you are new to this blog, recently finished doing a hundred posts in a hundred days. I realised halfway through the process that other people were doing this all the time without breaking a sweat, but I must admit that by the time I got to the end, I was finding it rather heavy going.

 

The beaches in South Africa are really big.

The beaches in South Africa are really big.

The actual process of writing a post was not a problem, but trying to come up with something new every day was becoming a bit of an ordeal. The world is a busy place full of distractions. If people are kind enough to let you occupy a tiny little bit of their headspace every day, you owe it to them to at least try to be interesting. It was quite sobering to see that my brain could only find slightly less than 100 interesting things to talk about.

Part of that might have been the relentlessness of it all. If you’re doing something new every day, there’s no time to think things through, no time to research things properly, and no time to change your mind if you get half way through and find that it just isn’t working.

So, how did it all go? Well, first there are the numbers. I did a hundred posts. But not in a hundred days. I took a holiday in the middle and missed a day or two due to shiftless laziness. It took me 112.

 

I'm OK with the shiftless laziness, but I really do feel awful about that holiday.

I’m OK with the shiftless laziness, but I really do feel awful about that holiday.

 

I had hoped to get 60 000 views. Hah. I got 34 978. So not quite. I have no idea how many comments there were, but on the last day I reached the 3000 follower landmark.

And the real point of it all? Well, part of it was that I wanted to get a decent body of work onto my blog. Which I’ve done; a hundred posts is a hundred posts. I have reached the point where I’m getting about a hundred views a day just on keywords alone. Part of it was that I wanted to get a decent bit of practice in and get better at writing. I have absolutely no way of measuring that. I have, over the last few days, been going over some of my earliest posts. They seem sort of mawkish and heavy handed. I have not, however, had a look at any of my more recent posts. Maybe they are mawkish and heavy handed too.

 

Stick with me for just another couple of million posts and you'll get yourselves some Shakespeare.

Stick with me for just another couple of million posts and you’ll get yourselves some Shakespeare.

But. And right now it feels like a big but. A monster. I have forgotten how to write. I turned off my notebook after writing my hundredth post and that was it. My brain has turned into an amoeba. I even battled to give decent responses to comments. I don’t remember what an adjective is. Vowels? Apostrophes? Sentences? I don’t even remember the layout of the keyboard any more. I have become paralysed.

It’s a familiar feeling. I used to get this when I was studying law in another life. Before an exam, my whole life would become focussed on cramming my head full of dates and court findings and laws, and then suddenly it would all be over. I used to go into something just a little like mourning. Which is weird, because I didn’t like studying law. I would wake up the morning after the last exam and have no idea what I was supposed to do with myself.

 

Anyone keen for a beer?

Anyone keen for a beer?

But it would pass. Slowly. And eventually, I would wake up and remember that there were other things that made life worth living. Things that I actually enjoyed doing. Not that I haven’t enjoyed doing my 100 posts.

I’ve loved it. Probably more than I’ve enjoyed doing anything else in my life. I’ve loved every part of it. I’ve loved scraping the furthest corners of my mind for things that might interest just one or two people out there and make them smile. I’ve loved engaging (never my strong point) with the people who have been kind enough to follow me throughout, and those who’ve just popped in for a look. I’ve loved trying to bend and twist and beat the words I have always been passionate about into something I hope other people will care about too. I’ve loved seeing the same people looking in over and over again and tailoring posts specifically to try and wheedle a comment out of them.

 

SAY SOMETHING!

SAY SOMETHING!

But now it’s done. Time to move on. I don’t think I’ll ever stop blogging; after forty years, I’ve finally found myself a hobby. But in future I will do it when the muse moves me, not in a desperate flurry before I let myself sleep.

So that’s it. Except for one thing. Thank you. Simply pouring my voice out into the void would have sucked. But there was no void. There were mad, insomniac Australians, lurking South African wildlife lovers, sweet, encouraging grandmothers, real biologists and museum curators who were kind enough never to call my bluff, young people funkier than I’ve ever been, men in hats, cult survivors, photographers, writers, poets, the works. That’s what made it all fun.

 

This guy was my target market. Everything else was a pleasant surprise.

This guy was my target market. Everything else was a pleasant surprise.

I am eternally grateful for that tiny bit of headspace you gave up, and I hope you will keep letting me occupy it.

Enough navel gazing. Time to start thinking about a proper post again. Stick with me. Where else are you going to learn about Lowveld dogs….?

No.

No.

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98. 14 weeks.

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This is it; the last weekly update. And it will not, I fear, be a very long one. I have, you see, been at war today. I’ve seen some things in my life. I’ve climbed to over 4000m in the Alps. I’ve been charged by elephants and stood less than 20 metres from a wild lion. I’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona. I’ve been caught on a barbed wire fence as a bush-fire raced towards me. But I have never been through anything as harrowing as I did today. I was in a battle today.

Although I was wearing more comfortable pants.

Although I was wearing more comfortable pants.

Continue reading

91. 13 weeks.

gr

Well, here we are. The second to last weekly update. If you are new here, I am doing 100 posts in 100 days. Or roughly 100 days. I was also trying to get 60 000 views in those hundred days, but that’s not going to happen, so I’m going to take a page from the book of the politicians. I’m going to radically shift the goalposts, and then claim overwhelming success. I’m now going for 30000 views in 100 posts. Continue reading

85. 12 weeks.

fr

Here we go again. For the regulars, there are only two of these left, so hang in there. If you happen to be new here, I’m writing 100 posts in 100 days, and giving a weekly update on them. This is the twelfth. I’m also trying to get 60 000 views in 100 days, and failing miserably. Yesterday, I passed the 30 000 mark. It’s still possible, I suppose, but I’d have to give the pope a wedgie or something; there’s nothing wrong with a bit of publicity. Continue reading

78. Eleven weeks.

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The more astute among you may have noticed that this post was supposed to go out yesterday. It didn’t. Yesterday was a momentous day in the 23thorns household. Mrs 23thorns has returned from her two-week trip to New Zealand, or The Land of the Long White Sheep, to those who live there.

Few people know that sheep in New Zealand are mechanically stretched in order to increase wool production.

Few people know that sheep in New Zealand are mechanically stretched in order to increase wool production.

Continue reading

72. Ten Weeks. Sort of.

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As most of you know by now, I’m doing 100 posts in 100 days. Or at least that was the plan. Two weeks ago, I buggered it up. Completely. I went away on holiday. Had I been going to most places, I suppose I could have carried on posting, but I’m not sure that watching their father type away on a netbook would have constituted a treasured memory for the kids.

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

Continue reading

62. Nine weeks.

bh

I am, if you are new here, doing 100 posts in 100 days. And trying to get 60 000 views. That’s not going to happen. I should have said 30 000. That is going to happen. I’m just about two thirds of the way there.

It’s been a busy week. The kids are home for the holidays, and I have grown temporarily obsessed with filling my driveway with sawdust and broken bits of wood. This hasn’t left much time for posting. I’ve still been getting them out, albeit later than usual, but it has given me pause for thought.

Our driveway, yesterday.

Our driveway, yesterday.

The main reason I set out to do this was to practice writing. I wanted to see if I could write every day rather than just when I felt like it. I also just wanted my writing to become more fluid.

But here’s the thing; I’ve never been much of a self-editor. I would even hand in exam papers unchecked, even if I had the time. I do, however, think that one should at least read over what one has written before sending it out. If someone is kind enough to read what you have written, it’s disrespectful to send out something half-baked.

Care for a slice of cake?

Care for a slice of cake?

The less time I have, the less carefully I edit myself. I don’t think I’m sending out any glaring errors, but I’m starting to question my style. First of all, there’s “and” and “but”, my two new bugbears. I know you’re not supposed to start sentences with them. But I do. And it’s starting to annoy me.

Then there’s that whole thing with sentences. There are rules about how sentences are supposed to be put together. I break those. All the time. My spellcheck doesn’t like it.

And you won't like my spellcheck when it gets angry.

And you won’t like my spellcheck when it gets angry.

I have always felt that if you are aware of the rules, breaking them occasionally is not a problem, so long as you know why you’re doing it. Unless you are writing formally, your words should flow like those of a well-spoken person telling a story out loud. People telling stories out loud don’t follow the rules of grammar, but good story tellers do instinctively follow a less defined set of rules.

Rules about rhythm and pace. Rules no-one teaches you, but that everyone can feel. Good storytellers know where the pauses are. They know when to speed up and when to slow down. They know when their sentences should be short and clipped and when they should meander about like lazy rivers. They know when to start sentences with “and”, or “but”, and when to speak in fragments.

Maybe I shouldn't have meandered quite so much.

Maybe I shouldn’t have meandered quite so much.

I would like to be able to do that with my writing. But there’s a huge caveat to that. I need to work harder on moderating myself. I used to love watching a TV show called “Top Gear”. It’s about cars. I don’t like cars, but I loved the show. It was the style that made it appealing. It was funny and rich and irreverent.

I don’t watch it any more. I can’t. It’s the style that puts me off. It’s just too instantly recognisable and repetitive. It’s become, for me, a bit of a parody of itself. I can see the same thing happening to me. I need to rein myself in before the things that were originally appealing about my writing become teeth-clenchingly annoying, and my blog starts to look like it was written by Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. I don’t want strangers to club together to have me banned from the internet.

Definitely starting a sentence with "but" again.

Definitely starting a sentence with “but” again.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to buy Mrs 23thorns an electric cattle-prod. I’m going to ask her to proof-read my posts. If I start a sentence with “and” or “but” more than twice a post, I’m going to ask her to jab me with it. If I use the same phrases over and over again, she’s going to shock me while I’m sleeping. If spellcheck decides that over half my sentences are not actually real sentences, she gets to turn it on and throw it at me while I’m in the bath.

And once a day, when I least suspect it, she will get to sneak up and zap me for no reason at all. This has nothing to do with my writing. I just think it will make her happy.

A marital aid, 23thorns style.

A marital aid, 23thorns style.

Anyhow, enough waffling. Mrs 23thorns’ trigger finger is starting to look a little itchy. This week, I wrote about our chief of police, and his supernatural investigator. I wrote about owls. Twice. I promise never to do so again. I wrote about the Japanese and their space robot, and snorkelling in glasses. And I wrote about my children.

I hope everything was up to scratch last week. I felt like I was dashing things off at the last minute. This will, I fear, continue. The kids are still at home, and next week we’re going away. We’ll see how that goes.

Good luck with the blogging, Dad!

Good luck with the blogging, Dad!

If you do feel like things are slipping, you can get hold of Mrs 23thorns on her blog. I’m sure she’ll be happy to zap me on your behalf. Apart from that, thank you all for reading and I hope you stick with me for the final third. Here’s today’s vote;

59. Being practical.

When we woke up yesterday, we had no plans at all. Just another school holiday day with the kids, trying to prevent sibling interaction from escalating to gunplay, and wondering how a nine-year-old who looks like he’s suffering from malnutrition can eat eight kilograms of food a day. Between meals.

He's practically fading away!

He’s practically fading away!

By the end of the day, we had stripped all the paint off the inside of our bedroom, made a huge hole in the wall, and plastered it over. That’s how we tend to do things. Just wake up of a morning and decide to go ahead and build a carport or remodel the kitchen. We even had the children like that. Which was a hell of a thing to do on a whim. Continue reading