Posted in Blogging, Writing

Blogging Block

Well, it may seem odd, but I’m not fully blocked by this Bloggers Block thing… I can always think of something to write about, and the desire is still there. It’s the mechanics of it now; the writing down my thoughts and pushing the right buttons to get them out there. If I could just have my thoughts go straight to blog, there would be no problem!

Problogger: Battling Bloggers Block
Copyblogger: 10 Surefire Steps to Beating Blogger’s Block

The above two articles on bloggers block are rather good. In fact I didn’t finish reading either of them, as I was already feeling inspired! I love exhortations to keep a writing journal — a fund of ideas and fleeting impressions! I have my big journal where I write out my thoughts at length, but should also have a pocket journal for ideas. Currently I note down ideas on scrap paper and even on the computer, but they do get lost. A journal would keep them all together.

I should trawl the computer for all those scattered ‘blog idea’ notes and put them in one place. I also have a folder of ‘bloggable bookmarks’, many of which have probably already gone from the internet… but the general picture is that my ideas outrun my activity, if that makes any sense.

I already gave two links to the wallpaper forum on ‘art block’:

BBC News: How great artists have fought creative block
DA News: Art Blocked? The Anatomy of Art Block

Creative block can have to do with negative feedback, obstructions and self-doubts… though an article on ‘Life Block’ that I found today suggests that all these various blocks (which I’d been thinking of in separate terms) can go hand in hand: Facing Down Life Block.

It makes sense, although doubtless you can get the separate blocks on their own. As all agoraphobics know, however, these hang-ups have an unfortunate habit of spreading. I was writing something in my journal the other day about the deaf being prone to lack of self-confidence. So much of the time I would mishear things or miss vital information without realizing; when you have the wrong impressions, you are more likely to do or say something wrong. And so I will avoid doing something irreversible unless someone can say for sure “yes, that’s right — go ahead.” At one time I even avoided packing the boot of the car, as someone (the driver) always came along and pulled out the things I had just put in, and repacked everything! As a result you just put bags on the ground and leave the actual packing to the one who’s in charge… you know they think you’re being lazy or useless, but this is part of your negative life experience.

I don’t think I’m as lazy as I seem… I hang back.

Sometimes I remember two dogs we used to have — mother and daughter. The daughter was always very nervous and shy, and looked to the mother to do everything first, and then she would follow. I thought she would be lost when the mother finally passed on, but I was wrong… after that time, the daughter was happier and more at peace! Perhaps she felt that now she was top dog (only dog), her actions were not going to be questioned. And as no one was questioning her actions, and her actions were only affecting herself, she couldn’t be wrong any more.

It’s not only about our confidence and enthusiasm being affected; it’s about overload, sometimes. There are all these different projects I want to get on with: blogging, digital art, photography, databases (books and inventories), short stories, family history, cross stitch, rug-making, teddy-bear making, scrapbooking, beading… and if you are spending time on one thing, you are fretting about all the others you are not doing. Even within one project there’s a pile-up… a pile-up of pictures I could be creating, or a pile-up of blog ideas. Different people I could be emailing or writing letters to. You name it. Sometime I think I watch TV as a refuge!

Talking of which, we have cancelled our Sky TV subscription. Not just the movies (which we cancelled long ago) but all of it. It is a luxury we can no longer afford. Freeview and Freesat will do us just fine, along with a haphazard collection of DVDs (when I can get the ones I know are subtitled). Of course we were stuck with this crazy situation of having to phone when wanting to cancel (there’s no big red ‘CANCEL’ button on the site), which makes things especially difficult for deaf people. Mum didn’t want to mess around in phone queues (her hearing isn’t so good either these days), so I sent Sky an email to say we are cancelling.

Mary Portas has a campaign going just now… she says the British have put up with poor, bad-tempered, soulless service in the high street for too long, and it’s time we voted with our feet. But I wonder if such a campaign can be extended to include things like not being able to cancel online? Mum said she has a horrid feeling it’s up to the customer to leave (when we figure out how!), but when many alternative outfits (including among ISPs) also seem to demand that you cancel by phone, it doesn’t leave you with a lot of choice. At least after leaving Sky we are not stuck and can still watch TV. Though probably I would be better off using that time to break through my various blocks. 🙂

Posted in Agoraphobia, Blogging, Hearing Loss, Political and Social Issues

Pulling My Head out of the Sand

I saw somebody writing about passive-aggressive characters, and I thought “what’s that? Is there any difference between one type of aggression and another?” I remember a friend telling me years ago (when I was having trouble with a client’s dog) that a dog who is aggressive through fear is the least trustworthy. Opposed to which other types of aggression, I wonder? I suppose some dogs are aggressive because they wish to control, and it’s not out of fear.

Anyway, I went and looked up ‘passive-aggressive’ and got completely sidetracked (sorry!) when I came to a list of passive-aggressive traits; apparently one of them is procrastination. (Perhaps if I looked further down, it would say ‘tendency to be sidetracked’ is another).

I never saw procrastination as being aggressive. Possibly, though… you might use it to annoy, or to avoid issues you didn’t want to accept or agree to… such as the example of spending so much time getting ready for a party that it’s too late to go (or nearly over when you do).

I’ve done that… but it wasn’t aggression so much as social phobia, communication problems (poor hearing) and being in denial. I decided I could and should go, but when it came to the point, I really didn’t want to.

Talk about hiding your head in the sand.

Glancing at the labyrinth of links to this trait or that, to this personality disorder or that, I started to think “we all have something like this going on; we might say ‘this is an unbalanced thing to do’ but it doesn’t mean we are not normal!” I think most of us are unbalanced in one way or another, often due to the types of experiences we have gone through. I actually typed ‘personality disorders don’t exist’ into Google, and was rewarded with a direct hit to someone else’s thoughts along these lines. It’s not like saying “you don’t have any issues; just deal”… it’s more like saying “OK, you have issues, and society itself has issues, and sometimes it’s society’s issues that impact on you…. and it doesn’t mean you are ‘not normal’ or beyond help.”

These are just random musings of mine, backed up by very little research…

Anyway, I decided it was long past time that I dealt with my own tendency to procrastinate. It usually means I spend far too much time doing things I don’t need to do (like changing my blog template, looking up what ‘passive-aggressive’ means or watching Frasier reruns) and not enough time doing new things (like maybe go up into the loft and set up my knitting machine. Or bake game pie. Or write a book). All these things I never leave myself any time to do because I’m (1) wasting time; (2) fighting fires (e.g. scrambling to get my tax figures in before Christmas).

If anyone has read any genuinely helpful books on procrastination and time management, please let me know!

I dug out my most recent ‘to-do’ list (2003) and found there are some things I still have to do, whereas other things are completely out of date.
These are some of the things I meant to do in April 2003 (two years before I began my blog):

  • Find out about organizing teddy bear shows
  • Look for the Baghdad Blogger
  • Encourage my chat list to talk
  • Movie of Sharky (my Oriental cat who died early this year)
  • Baby sunlotion on Fusspot’s ears (they were like pale pink shells)
  • Straighten lino in kitchen (gah, I remember how it ballooned up where the heavy washing machine had trapped it)
  • Put a tag on the Bridal Wreath saying “please do not prune”
  • Return cat trophy to next show
  • Space loo

Space loo? What’s that?

My 2008 to-do list (written today) includes:

  • Finish Middlemarch (then get rid of it)
  • Read Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway (then get rid of it)
  • Get rest of the rubbish out of the garden… then check neighbours aren’t still dumping it
  • Reframe the cats’ certificates – rescue their medals
  • Write up dream blog posts (illustrate one about the monkey peanut spider)
  • Try out portable DVD player (it was left out in the rain)
  • Check Mum’s memory chip

Now… to start on this to-do list!!!

Actually, I can already score out the first entry, which was ‘write blog post about to-do lists’.

(Do you think this list is actually getting me anywhere…?)

Posted in Blogging

More Old Posts

Continued (very slowly) with the blog-moving today (also deleted a few!) Amongst those I kept are:

Horrible randomized poetry which landed in my trash folder once: Reaching Out into its Own Vanishing

Personal struggles with procrastination.

An account of Sharky’s loneliness at the old house in Light Burblings. He later found our moving in with Mum and the other cats to be an improvement – he ran in here, purring and kneading everything in sight, and I’m sure he looked around him at my furniture and other things, which I had been steadily moving over for months, and thought to himself “ah, now I know where she sent all this stuff, and I don’t need to worry any more about whether I was to go too – or be left behind.”

A slight rant about lyrics and lyrics sites: Raindrops of Thika. Today I found a ‘legit’ lyrics site which is free to use… still trying to figure out what I think of it and if I should subscribe (well, I only found it half an hour ago!) Maybe the rest of you are familiar with it? It’s called Metrolyrics.

Hmm… TV is calling… maybe I’ll suspend the blog-moving till later.

Posted in Observations

Pleasant Procrastination

I should have been inside, working, but found myself standing outside in the sunshine, watching a bee on a flower.

It hadn’t got there by itself. I spotted it in the house, sitting dejectedly on a shady windowsill. I got out a small drinking glass and a holiday postcard, and used these to take the bee outside. I chose a large purple flower on a vigorous plant that had lots of these flowers. Do bees like these? I suppose so… I think so. Go for it!

At first the bee was too busy struggling weakly with the glass and the postcard, gritting between clenched bee-teeth “leave me be!” Then it noticed the purple flower right under its black feet.


It turned round and grabbed the flower’s centre. I stood by for a little in case it fell off, but it clung on despite a strong wind. After a little, it crawled round the flower and onto the next one. Other bees buzzed past, visited neighbouring flowers, then flew away. I wondered if they knew this bee. Did they notice he’d been missing? How long for?

I went inside to turn on the washing machine and make coffee, then returned to see if the bee was still there… at first I couldn’t see anything. Bees buzzed from flower to flower, then flew briskly off. It would be nice to think my bee was one of them, but it seemed unlikely. Where was he?

A nearby flower shuddered and shook, and I thought “oh yes, there he is! I recognize the way he’s pushing that flower about.” The bee crawled into sight on the flower, then buzzed lightly, and plumped slowly onto the next sprig. He’s airborne!

I came back inside and grinned happily at Mum’s cat Grumble. I should get back to work, I suppose… beside my shady windowsill.

Posted in Computer Graphics, Dreams and Nightmares, Lost in Thought, Technology and Software, TV and Films

In the Mood for Art (but not difficulties of terminology)

The arty sites have a plethora of contests, just for fun, and I’ve been finding them a source of inspiration. I’ve only entered one so far, but got an honourable mention. I’ve been working with others in view, and it’s had the effect of making me even more prolific but not actually posting anything… just in case I post something I could have put in one of these small contests. Most of them say “only new images please.”

I’m usually reasonably pleased with the pictures I turn out, but something unsettling has occurred. The last four pictures I made… I didn’t just like them; I loved them. I was using techniques I avoided before (drawing and painting) and didn’t set out meaning to; it just happened. Even stranger, I only wanted to make one of them, and that was in the nature of a quickie (to try out a Photoshop tutorial).

A short aside: I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to talking about this particular hobby. I don’t like saying ‘my art’ or ‘my artwork’ as it sounds so pompous, and usually alternate between ‘my pictures’ and ‘my images’… but that gets old quite fast. Another mental block I have is when it comes to digital stuff, I can never say “I painted” or “I drew,” as I see those being for traditional media only (real pencils, paints, paper). I know that ‘painting’ and ‘drawing’ are accepted terms in digital media too… isn’t drawing with a mouse or a tablet pen just as much a physical process as drawing with a pencil? And it’s not even as precise, half the time. Still, I avoid it, as I know if I said “I painted a picture today,” most people would assume I’d had the watercolours out.

That leaves me with the problem of how to describe the process… “I made something, created something, did something?” Icky. Overtones of school and Blue Peter.

About the four pictures I made that I liked more than I expected to… I was fairly sure none of them would work, and if they did, it would take some hard slogging to make anything of them; wouldn’t it be easier to make a vector picture with gradients and layer styles? I was in two minds about trying these projects at all. Even worse, I disliked the raw material I started out with… two ugly fractals, an artificial vector flower (made by myself in Paintshop Pro), an untidy Photoshop brush (still be to superceded… deliberately spelling that with a ‘c’…) and a shaky drawing with the small El Cheapo tablet dating from the Year 2000 which I recently dug out from a plastic bag. (It doesn’t go with Mac System X, so I had to put it on the PC… and even then the installation was a bit iffy).

The tablet is supposed to make drawing easier, but my first effort was messy and not worth a second look. I thought “never mind, I’ll send it across to the Mac so the little white Mac-mouse can clean it up.” That’s not what the tablet is for… but the shaky drawing is now in one of my Golden Four pictures.

The thing is, you often hear people say (usually of photos) that if it was bad to start with, you can’t make it good. I disagree. You could take the worst photo in the world and turn it into a thing of beauty, though it probably wouldn’t be a photo any more.

To start with, it’s all I can do to keep on with these tough projects, but as time goes by and I see signs that something good is emerging, a sense of wonder creeps in… and you couldn’t drag me away.

This might not seem to be connected, but we were watching Stargate after missing the beginning. It was about an alien city in a dome; the citizens were linked to a main computer and were being brainwashed. People were being killed to keep the population small and manageable, and the survivors’ memories were altered so that they wouldn’t notice their fellows had vanished. I was convinced the Council (or some higher body) were the villains, but they were as much victims as anybody. At the end, I said to Mum, “who was doing it?”
“The computer,” said Mum, squinting strangely at me.
“I just thought… someone must have programmed it to do those things?”
“It was the computer. It got into their minds, like it’s got into yours, and makes them all unseeing and unheeding…”

So, the computer’s the villain. Such a weaver of fantastic worlds and things that don’t exist… even pictures that aren’t on paper. Though, the other day, someone I was talking to said it wasn’t till she had one of her fractals professionally printed and held it in her hands that she realized it was real.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen when I die… will all these pictures, including the Golden Four, be zapped? My diaries burned, disks shredded, words lost? My whole life on computer, deleted.

Mum says she doesn’t care what happens after she dies. The whole planet could blow up; it wouldn’t make any difference to her. But it matters to me. Apart from caring what happens to cats, trees, and dolphins, I want to feel I’ve left some kind of mark. If the planet implodes, so do my pictures. Maybe I will be the only person (apart from Mum and the Computer) to have seen them.

It’s funny how the subconscious mind operates. The other night I dreamed a young student was procrastinating by churning out fractals and Apophysis scripts instead of studying for his exams. His study topics included fractals but he was wasting time on fractal art instead. He even wrote a little poem which he put on his site… and this is it, word for word, not a woolly half-memory of a fading dream:

If I don’t do fractals,
They will turn up, lovingly wrapped,
In my hand.

The breaks are in the wrong places but it has exactly 17 syllables… like a haiku. Yes, I suppose the computer has got into my mind.

Posted in Blogging

Don’t Lose Yourself in the Blog Crowd

Yesterday I was badly sidetracked and didn’t accomplish much. I meant to move a lot more of my posts across from the old blog, perhaps a couple of months’ worth, but instead I was trapped in a web of highly practised bloggers.

You know the kind of thing… you go to look at a single blog page which might be called something like 73 Bloopers to Avoid as a Mature Blogger. At the foot of that well-written article it says, “see also the following links: How to Maintain your Blogging Credibility; Do Not Be a Blogging Fool; The Ins and Outs of Accomplished Posting; Keep Your Blog when All about You are Losing Theirs.”

(I made all these titles up – I hope they’re not genuine!)

They all look so promising that you open each one in a separate tab and fetch another mug of coffee.

None of those pages will let you go… each one presents another multitude of fascinating links. Most of the articles are entertaining, with many other bloggers having their say in the comments. You feel the need to visit some of their blogs as well. Three hours and 73 mugs of coffee later, you’re still there.

Eventually you notice how the main blog writers keep referring back to each other, repeating more or less the same things while the clock ticks away, and you start to feel you are being taken for a ride.

I lost too much time doing that and I’m not sure any of the advice stuck, except perhaps for the blog editor advice. Either I agreed with what people said, or I couldn’t do what they said because of limitations, or I disagreed and had no intention of changing. It didn’t really seem to matter.

Visiting individual blogs is fine, especially personal blogs. Having had my fingers burned, my tip is, stay away from those articles about how to be a better blogger – or just read the first one and refuse to follow any of the links. Otherwise you’ll still be there in the wee sma’ hours, with nothing accomplished and little learned…

Posted in Life and Family

Trying Not to Make Such a Meal of Things

Something I wrote in an email to a friend:

I’m a bit of a procrastinator, busy or not – with me it’s always: “I’ve got to do this PROPERLY!” Prepare the ground and get my plans in order and be sure of plenty of time off… therefore nothing gets done.

For instance I might say, “I should creosote the shed” and nothing happens, because I need the whole day, and to get up early, and lots of sun and fresh air, and enough creosote, and all the brushes, and the stuff to clean them, and the jars to clean them in, and the old clothes to wear, and the bags to put down round the shed to protect everything, and water to wash down anything I splashed accidentally, and a dry brush to brush down the shed and remove all the dust and cobwebs and little spiders and bugs.

Just doesn’t happen, as the thought of all the planning and work puts me off before I even get started.

Then Mum comes along and says “I should creosote my shed,” and buys a tin of stuff, and when she finds ten minutes between ‘Flog It!’ and ‘Countdown’, she’s out there (in her good clothes, minus dry brush, jars, bags et all, with an overcast sky lowering), and she’s already halfway through covering the shed with this creosote. And finally she comes back in, and says “there, that was a messy job; the stuff was like water and sprayed all over me!” and smells of spilled petrol…. but her work is done.

Maybe the secret is to play down the preparation and just throw yourself into it!

One day, doubtless, I’ll just do the website without having planned it. Just – “eh, that annoys me!” and next thing you know, I’m up to the ears in code and graphics. That’s usually how it happens.

Must admit, Mum can get to grips with the shed but would never put up a website in a month of Sundays. She would be much more likely to chop down trees and put up entire sheds than make a website. So I guess I shouldn’t underplay my ‘getting to grips’ with stuff – it’s just different stuff. She’s left me a message asking me to look at her printer today, which has gone on strike. I sorted it out last time it did that. I was muttering to her about it not being at all intuitive – you need to consult the map to find out where all the printer options are; they’re hidden in the unlikeliest places. I wrote out a couple of sheets of instructions for her concerning the printer alone, but now maybe the problem is something different.

Well, the printer seemed to have healed itself – I tried to print out a blog post from Aw Diddums, and instead it spat out five pages of a route description. Then it started printing them out all over again, and I stopped it, and checked the job queue, and it had five or six of the same jobs waiting – and one of Aw Diddums. Managed to clear all that without deleting the printer from the computer (which I did twice before; once on Mum’s and once on my own – at least it also cleared the jobs queue while it was at it!)

So that was all right. Except that Mum said originally it was refusing to print her route description – it did two pages then stopped. I don’t know what that was about. I said either she accidentally turned the printer off, or it had to be ‘turned off then on again’ to clear the block (a corrupted file or something). I hope this isn’t some kind of printer glitch I will start seeing in my own sweet printer. I would be very disappointed.

Anyway… I must get on with my procrastinating.

Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):

1. Pacian wrote at Apr 5, 2007 at 12:04: I’m doing my procrastinating later. Maybe tomorrow.

2. Geosomin wrote at Apr 5, 2007 at 16:21: Procrastination is something I keep meaning to try…:)

I know the feeling. I fixed up a room in December with my Dad and I’m STILL in the midst of painting it… just too daunted by the day or two of hard work after all the mudding and sanding and priming I”ve finally gotten thru. That’s my goal for this weekend – to finish it up.

Truth is if I don’t soon my husband may kill me as all the stuff from that room has been sitting in the rest of the house for 3 months. The planning thing is what gets me too…It’s just a little room…but so daunting!

3. Jo (kitschkitten) wrote at Apr 6, 2007 at 08:09: Hey Diddums,

I find the secret to overcome procrastination on one thing is to be procrastinating on another thing. Eg. today I was supposed to be fixing up a website, looking for jobs and about a dozen other things – but because they are all a bit overwhelming, I have found myself instead spring cleaning the house. I had been meaning to spring (autumn) clean the house properly for a long time though! So at least something is getting done…

4. Diddums wrote at Apr 8, 2007 at 01:39: Pacian: ha ha…

Geosomin: it’s funny how it’s hard to get oneself doing something one dreads, but then when you get started, you almost enjoy it. Or at least feel it’s not the end of the world. Well… I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that. Sometimes I get a bit lost in the middle of something I didn’t want to do anyway.

Jo: I found that too, recently – I was so busy not doing A that I suddenly found myself in the middle of doing B. And the euphoria from finally cracking B carried me into doing A quite soon after. Hoorah.

PS: I heard back from my friend, saying that in the time it took me to write all that in my blog post, I could have finished creosoting the shed! But he can’t know me that well… I would still be carefully brushing off the spiders.