Mrs Summerhouse and Archie while I contemplate

Don’t know what happened to this blog, should have gone out on Tuesday as usual. First time I’ve missed a deadline.

I like holidays (although we’re home now) because they give a person time to reflect on life. In my case my retirement life. I think if I was ever going to make a sweeping and radical change to my retirement it would be occasioned by being on holiday. Being away from one’s normal life gives a chance for reflection born of distance. Strange phrase but you know what I mean. So it was with our Irish holiday, we had plenty of time between throwing and kicking the ball for the pups along those empty Irish beaches (as in photo), to reflect on where we lived and how we lived.

As we walked and talked we gave ourselves the widest opportunity to change our lives should we want to – do we want to go back to England? Where would we go if we didn’t? Should we be looking for a different living environment? A house by the sea maybe in another part of the country? And so on. Blue skies thinking as I believe it has been described.  Well to cut a long story short we decided against anything big by way of change. Mostly we liked where we lived and to move countries, for example, would just be too difficult to relocate the pups and one thing we were clear about was that we wanted the pups to be part of the family and I say that despite watching Archie disappear hysterically into the sea to attack a yacht anchored in the bay and his sister equally hysterically trying to round him up. He can’t swim and nor can Millie. So yes, despite their little ‘aberrations’ we want them as part of the family so that is limiting.

OK, nothing radical but, at the risk of repetition, I returned to my view that there was something missing – usually the ball – from my retirement and that this retirement business was not all it had been cracked up to be. I allowed, nay encouraged, my mind to wander. I thought back to the many occasions at home and abroad when, in what would then have been some form of proper holiday (i.e. from work), I had sat / lay on a beach and reflected on what I wanted my life to be like on our return from wherever we happened to be in the world. Sometimes the reflection would drive a desire for living in a different place or even moving my career in a different direction. Most often however, I realised that some of my best reflections had led to an idea for a ‘project’ of some kind when I returned. Not a massive change but enough of a change to keep me engaged.

Those projects, as I recall from this distance, almost always revolved around my career and hence the project was in some form work-related. Usually I would have read a book maybe and been inspired to adapt what I’d read to my job as a psychologist. The pleasure of having an idea (I’ve always seen myself as an idea’s person) and being able practically to develop it in my schools in some way, felt deeply fulfilling. Now I don’t have a work setting to try out whatever idea my beach reflections had inspired but I still like the idea of a new project.

So I thought about it and I came up with an idea. Problem is, as it stands, it’s not a very original one. I used to have a technique of evaluating an idea (mostly about changing the behaviour of a student) called the NAF rating, borrowed from a company called Synectics. If an idea was any good, i.e. likely to work, it needed a 7 or 8 rating out of 10 in three areas – N, Novelty (it’s a new idea), A, Appeal (you like it) and F, Feasibility (it’s practical to implement). My new idea would get a low score for novelty, a high score for appeal and a moderate score of feasibility. Having written about this idea before in this blog I’m almost embarrassed to write it again but hey ho, here it is – I want to turn these blogs into a proper book. There it is again.

So not a new idea and, if it’s going to work as an idea, I need to increase the novelty rating somehow. The ‘appeal’ is fine, I like the idea very much because I’ve lived my whole life with the notion that publishing a book is ‘a very good thing’, a mark of a proper writer, so no problems there. The ‘feasibility’ is more of a challenge but, given the options available in self-publishing at least in producing an actual book (the promotion, distribution and marketing now that’s another story altogether), I reckon I can produce the thing itself and I don’t mind putting some money into the project, so yes, feasibility should be OK. But ‘novelty’ and that marketing? So I came up with the idea that I would offer this book to you, my readers, for a small sum, say maybe £10 / $10, just so it feels like a proper book. Maybe take it to my local Waterstones, don’t they like to offer books from local authors?

Then I went back to the feasibility factor in this newly developed selling format. There was a problem straight away. How many copies would I hope to sell with this strategy. Perhaps I might expect 10% of my blog readers to buy a copy, but 10% of how many? I have absolutely no idea of how many individual readers I’ve got. I know how many ‘hits’ I get a day / week/ month but does anybody know how many individual readers they’ve got and I address this question to you experienced bloggers out there. I have asked my IT guy if he can calculate this figure but so far he has remained disappointingly vague. So any suggestions would be welcome. Then when I’ve climbed this first hurdle, my feasibility score will rocket and my holiday inspired project will be underway – maybe. As I say, I am a bit disappointed that my blue sky holiday imaginings haven’t come up with something a bit more radical, an idea that will really set my retirement fulfilment similarly rocketing, but for now this project will have to do, at least until our next beach holiday.

And finally Manchester, makes my problems seem small, sad to say. Life goes on?

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