I started writing this blog pretty much at the same time I retired in September, 2013. It was my attempt to continue writing, albeit in a totally different way than that I engaged in when I was working. In the absence of any professional writing which was an aspect of my job I really enjoyed I needed a substitute. I saw the advert – one of many – in The Guardian for a course run by The Gentle Author on setting up and writing your own blog. The two day course was excellent, inspiring in fact. Yes, blogging could be the writing outlet I needed. So 15 months ago I started to write about my retirement activities. I would try to make the blog helpful to other retirees using my psychological skills in a different way than in my career and either interesting or perhaps even amusing. I really hoped that people enjoyed it* but if they didn’t at least it would be a kind of therapy for me.
I have already admitted in several of these blogs that I haven’t found retirement easy. The vague but grand plan to reinvent myself hasn’t quite worked. I’m basically the same miserable bastard I’ve always been but at least I’ve been a miserable bastard in different ways, this blog being one of those different ways. The Gentle Author was clear in his advice that successful blogs published frequently and predictably. He actually set himself a target of a blog a day. As far as I am aware he is achieving this target. When I started the blog I set myself the task of publishing one blog of about 1000 words per week, every Tuesday. I must admit I wasn’t at all sure I could think of a topic for a blog on retirement every week and there are times, even now, when I think I’d better give this up gracefully because I’m running out of things to say. But providing I don’t worry too much about what kind of drivel I write it’s been not too difficult. In fact I’ve done better than one blog a week as the maths show – 200 blogs in 17 months works out at more than two a week. This is my current target one on Tuesday and another on either Friday or Saturday.
I think I’ve got the balance about right between the serious and the, hopefully, amusing or at least interesting. I’ve got certain activity themes running through the blogs, those that represent the main areas of my retirement – jazz workshops, vineyard activities, pup type activities as well as the ‘psychology applied to retirement’ type blogs with an emphasis, perhaps over-emphasis, on what happens to your (or mine at least) self–esteem when you retire and I’ve also persuaded Mrs Summerhouse, in her capacity as an experienced yoga teacher, to provide me with a ‘yoga for retired people’ blog every few weeks. There have been odd blogs on elderly parent, football, a bit of golf and quite often, by its non-existence, blogs on all the travel we thought we would do but haven’t. But as I have darkly hinted at elsewhere I do still have plans and ambitions in this area. I’ve even written the odd blog on writing a blog. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I get a friend to write a blog. China has featured quite strongly in this category for some reason. Generally I have found it nigh on impossible to get people i.e. friends to guest on the blog although I have written blogs for other people’s blog sites. These same people seem more Facebook or Twitter type people, not many words and lots of photos. Fair enough, takes all sorts. I tried both of these before coming to blogging and I have to say, and I would wouldn’t I, I much prefer the blog format even though it’s more demanding. I’ve tried publishing a couple of Ebooks which was one of my goals for this year. The last time I looked at the sales data I won’t be giving up my pension any time soon. I’ve even put out a podcast after another Guardian course but it was hard work so I haven’t repeated that.
I never plan these days what I am going to write I just start somewhere and see what flows from the first sentence. That’s the case with this blog. I didn’t know what I was going to write about 200 blogs written. Whether what I have written is a fair reflection of somebody being quietly proud of their achievement in writing 200 blogs I am not sure but it is what it is. Probably a bit of a jumble but then it’s nice not to have to plan what you’re going to write as I did when I wrote professionally and the jumble probably neatly reflects the jumble of my retirement. For all my efforts to bring it under control it remains, well, just that – a jumble. As for the blog, well it continues for the foreseeable future.
*I have downloaded, actually that’s a lie, I should say my IT guy downloaded for me, a programme called Jetpack which along with Google Analytics are my measure of success in terms of how many people visit and hopefully read, my blog. Jetpack provided me with what they called an annual report. Among other bits of information it told me that in the 9 months that I had been using the programme up until the end of 2014 I had had over 5000 visits to my blog or, as they charmingly put it, more than 4 full New York subway trains. Oh, the glamour. Put like that it didn’t seem too bad but then what do I know? No doubt there are people out there running blogs who will scoff at such paltry figures. I would like to increase my readership hence the ‘PS’ below and I would particularly like to increase the number of comments I receive. Even I would call these paltry. I like what I’ve written and, on the odd occasions I re-read what I have written, I think to myself, that’s pretty good, you should be famous. Then I push my old, unhealthy ambitions back in their box and carry on writing.
PS In case you were wondering about the ‘as seen on TV’ part of the title well, that was a lie as well but it sounded better than ‘as advertised in The Oldie’ which should appear in the March issue. I’m hoping it will bring more readers to the retirement blog. If not well, tough shit I guess.