It’s far more important to concentrate on quality than quantity. That’s a mantra I’ve been uttering for as long as I can remember. It’s just a pity I don’t apply this to my writing because the one thing I seem to be good at is providing on this blog is quantity. Eclectic Blue has been up and running since the summer of 2014, something like – and this is a bag of a fag packet calculation (even though I don’t smoke anymore) 2700 days. To my utter astonishment, I’ve posted 4506 blogs in that time.
I somehow imagined that having retired from the civil service after 39 years, it would be my path to fortune, if not fame. Having done no market research, I assumed there would be a large audience waiting out there for the thoughts of a middle aged bloke living in South Gloucestershire. After about one blog, I reluctantly accepted that there would be no fortune to make up for the lack of fame. In fact, I still spend more money having the blog maintained than I earn. This is not difficult because the income is – and here I can be 100% accurate – nothing.
Mind you, the aim from the start was never to get rich. I was advised there were advertising opportunities, which I took from the outset, but after seven and a half years I’m still waiting for the cash to roll in. I fear that wait will last a lifetime.
This blog follows a wearily familiar pattern, life’s rich pageant if you will. I thought I could write and maybe even make a living at it, or even just a few quid. Just like my earlier efforts at being a songwriter, poet and a musician. The 300 or so songs sit, unrecorded and even unplayed, in over a dozen handwritten books, sharing space with hundreds of poems. I even bought an electric guitar and amplifier in my youth, in the certain knowledge that I would be able to play it straight away, without a lesson or the need to practice. Quite why I ever imagined the thoughts of someone who wasn’t even a household name outside his household would seize the public imagination is anyone’s guess. But then, when I was a teenager, I was convinced that if I ran fast enough and leapt in the air that I would soon be able to fly. My list of possibilities including many things which weren’t going to be possible, in that number being writing.
It’s not as if I know the basics. I don’t know if it’s because of my so far undiagnosed ADHD or that I am simply stupid but things like verbs, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns and all of the rest of it I file under ‘Can’t understand any of that’. It’s not that no one tried to teach me basic grammar, it’s just that no matter how hard I tried, none of it sunk in. See also mathematics, science, practical subjects and everything else at school. None of it made sense. At least I am okay at spelling, although that’s something that just happened, like Raymond in Rain Man. I never learned how to spell words. I just somehow knew how to spell them. I’m sure one of my primary school teachers thought to himself, “How come that Johansen boy is so unutterably shit at everything, when he is the best speller (is this a word?) in the class, if not the school?’
It appears my self-confidence at the time was just bluff? I reckon I left Briz (Brislington) School with no more academic knowledge than I started with. One O level in English Language and a few utterly meaningless ‘qualifications’ in something else. My full time professional career lasted 39 years, a consistent litany of mediocrity and failure, but somehow I got through, somehow not getting sacked along the way. Trust me: this is not self-pity. I have learned to understand and accept my failings and limitations. With writing, I felt sure I had found my place in the world and I was right. It was at the bottom of the pile. The Big Fail.
My Big Fail has at least kept the wolves at bay (we have a lot of these in South Gloucestershire) and stopped the Black Dog of depression from completely overwhelming me. (I had to add ‘completely’ to the completed sentence after it was written.) But every now and then, as Bonnie Tyler irritatingly repeated ad nauseum in her dreary dirge Total Eclipse of the Heart, I fall apart, questioning why, against all odds of success, I keep writing. I think the simple answer is a question: what else is there? It’s what I love to do, it’s what makes me happy, it’s what gives me fulfilment, it’s what gives me meaning in an existence where there is no meaning because contrary to oft parroted myth everything doesn’t happen for a reason.
The ifs aren’t worth bothering with. The reality I now know is that there are precious few writing opportunities in writing for anyone, including proper, professional writers, let alone someone who is an amateur blogger. I know enough brilliant – and I mean brilliant – writers, far better at writing than me who can’t get a writing gig. So, it’s not just me. But if there is no future in writing, what can possibly drive one – me – along?
Above all, the Big Fail has kept me sane or at least halted or slowed the path to madness. And it’s for that reason, I’m going to carry on. I’m unemployed and absolutely unemployable for reasons I have the time but not the current inclination to tell you about.
I’ll probably hit 5000 blogs sometime next year and maybe I’ll see where things are, always assuming I have died or been sectioned by then. One thing is for sure. My work won’t be seen anywhere other than on here or on Amazon, if I ever get round to finishing off my next worst-selling book. Better than nothing, to be sure. And nothing is the alternative.