62. Nine weeks.


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;

42. Six weeks.


I’m trying to do a hundred posts in a hundred days, and get 60 000 views while doing so. And I’m just about half way there. In terms of posts. Views, not so much. With those, I’m half way to half way there. Oh well.

I’m starting to get into the swing of things. For the last few weeks, I’ve struggled to come up with ideas for things I really wanted to write about. This week I turned the corner. I have the answer. Structure. Planning. Organisation. Continue reading

17. Unconventional love

I woke up this morning at about 3 o’clock with a pounding head and a throat full of razor blades. We don’t really have the time for man-flu in our household. Children need to get taken to school, beds need to be made, dogs fed, dishes washed. Lying around groaning and talking like Yoda doesn’t get you sympathy. It gets you bitter resentment.

Tissues you will pass me, young padawan.

Tissues you will pass me, young padawan.

Continue reading

8. I think my blog is possessed!

Something odd happened yesterday. It was a busy weekend. Some of the battered remnants of the South African book trade got together for a lunchtime party on Saturday. It was fun. The sort of fun that saw my post for the day being hammered out at 2 in the morning, with one eye closed. I made it just in time (2 o’clock for us is not quite midnight in WordPress land, wherever that may be). I’m still a bit nervous to go back and see what I wrote. WordPress has not closed my blog or banned me for life, so maybe it’s best just to leave well enough alone.




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A blogging challenge.

I haven’t posted anything for a while. I’m not sorry. You see, I have been much too busy. I went for a swim. Here.


My mother took the whole family (Nine adults and nine children) for a holiday in the Seychelles. It was very hard work indeed. Every morning, I would have to wake up and choose a special holiday outfit. I simplified this difficult process by wearing the same swimming costume for over a week.
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PayPal on WordPress. The road to riches?

There are three different ways of approaching a project. My way, my wife’s way, and everybody else’s way. Let’s take painting a cupboard as an example. Here’s what everyone else seems to do;

1. Measure the cupboard.

2. Go to the shop.
2.a Buy enough sandpaper or paint stripper to strip off the old paint.
2.b. Buy enough masking tape to cover the hinges and locks.
2.c. Buy some primer.
2.d Buy some paint.
2.e. Buy some paintbrushes.
2.f. Buy some solvent to wash the paintbrushes with.

3. Lay out some old newspaper on the ground outside.

4. Take out the cupboard.

5. Strip off the old paint.

6. Cover the hinges and locks with masking tape.

7. Paint with primer. Give it a day to dry. Wash off the brushes with solvent.

8. Paint a first coat. Give it a day to dry. Wash off the brushes with solvent.

9. Paint a second coat. Give it a day to dry. Wash off the brushes with solvent.

10.Take the cupboard back inside.



This technique will give you a sparkly, new looking cupboard. It will also leave you feeling hollow. Empty. Unfulfilled. Your cupboard will look just like everyone else’s. How sad your life is. Next time do it my way;
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Where the hell I’ve been.

There is no such thing as a typical blog, just as there is no such thing as a typical book or a typical movie. There are all sorts of blogs out there. Photo blogs, rants, fashion blogs, food blogs, humour blogs, and on and on and on. Over the past few months, I have tried my hand at a couple of those. I’ve done a photo-post. I’ve done a fashion post. I’ve even tried my hand at a cooking-post. And now it’s time to try something new. A “Where the hell I’ve been” post.
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Gulag Zen

My wife has a bit of a flair for the dramatic. Years of chronic drug abuse have left her emotionally unbalanced. This morning, I woke to find her standing fully clothed at the foot of the bed.

“I”, she said, fixing me with an unnervingly level stare, “am going out!”

“What’s up? Have we run out of milk?”

“No. I am going out. For the day. Alone.”

“But what abou….”

“I”, she cut in, “am going now.”

“Are you taking the ki…”

“ALONE!” her voice cracked like a whip and she was gone. Continue reading