Tuesday, February 19, 2019

This Is Not the End

Hello readers, aka. the few random people who stumbled in here looking for something else. It's been a while. 

I think I'm finally at a point where I think I have the time and mental resources to start writing again. I will return to writing and hope to bring my best and weirdest ideas to the table this time, at least more consistently. On the flip side, I promise less bitching about how hard it is to write. I think there is already enough evidence out there suggesting that, my previous entries included. And, really, complaining about writing only really makes me better at, well, complaining about writing. I don't think there is much opportunity with that kind of a niche. 

So, bear with me if you would, if anyone is still out there. I will resume writing, but it will probably be on a different site. Details to follow. Thank you to anyone whoever bothered to read a full post of mine, even if you happen to be some sort of Russian spammer artificially inflating my view counts and wreaking havoc on my analytics. You know who you are.

Last, but not least: To anyone who has ever struggled to make some sort of creative work, it's hard, it really is. There is never enough time in the day, and if you're anything like me your attention rarely stays on task. And hell if I didn't shake my fists at the skies and all that might be watching as I struggled to make sense of how advertising your own work is supposed to work. But don't give up. Your own progress is often invisible to yourself, and it's easy to get away from what you want to do because of time, circumstances, or your own doubts about whether or not anyone cares about what you're creating. And just because you put those goals aside doesn't mean you can't pick them up again. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of internal rallying, and yeah, your prospects of your creative works ever earning you money is, well, there are a lot of complicating factors. But there is still value in your work, for yourself, for other people, and ultimately it's a way for you to leave a mark on the world, to get closer to expressing, sharing, communicating your thoughts, your goals, what you love or hate, and what is close to you in this world. There is more reason to create than not. So, create.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Should I Close This Blog?

Ever tried to concentrate on something? Ever tried to concentrate on something, except that you can't, for the life of you, maintain that concentration? Every little sound, every thought, every person walking by and movement at the edges of your vision tearing your mind away from the task at hand? Ever had old associations bending your thoughts, funneling your mental processes down almost inescapable paths? That's me today, and it has been me quite a few times in the past as well. 

I had been thinking about resurrecting this old blog, because I've always been a believer in picking up where I leave off. I think it's a great way to maintain a sense of progress, even if you end up spending more time to refresh yourself than you would have spent just starting over. Continuing a project is, in my opinion, almost always better than starting over. Today, however, I'm on the fence. 

As I sat down to write a new entry today, to draw a line in the sand and start anew, I found it difficult to break away from the mental box I had constructed around this particular blog. I tend to divide my writing projects up, so each blog and journal I have develops a specific purpose, a dedicated style or goal. Perhaps it's the frustrating inability to concentrate that's exacerbating my issue, but I can't seem to just wash away my old mental designations for this blog.

This blog, No One Will Recall, was (and, for now, still is) my general writing blog; I started it back when my goal for writing was a career. My writing goals have since changed, my accounts have changed, and my entire view on writing has changed since then. Yet, for some reason, when I pop open a post for this blog the same old mental atmosphere returns. These days I'm not very critical of what I write, but before I balked at every other post idea, and often obsessed on writing itself, to the point that it was often hard to think about anything else. Some of that seems to remain, since I sat here for a good 30 minutes just staring at a blank page, wanting to write, but only able to think about being discontent over having nothing to write. Which led me to considering, should I close this blog?

Somehow, the thought of starting a new blog is inviting. New account, no old associations, less likely to have those old blog preconceptions crowding in on my post ideas. I'm tempted since, due to an account issue, I ended up creating a second Google account and have already moved most of my activities to the new account anyways. On the other hand, though, I will lose that progress, that history that I have here. I spent a lot of time here, trying to find a voice, obsessing over writing, struggling to make writing my 'thing'. My circumstances and perspective have changed though, so there is a sense of disconnect. Besides, and I say this without disappointment, it's not like this half-hearted blog ever really generated much interest or traffic.

So the question remains, soldier on and reshape this place, build upon its history and longevity? Or start anew, under a less ancient, more unified account, free from old associations? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What Kind of Writer Am I?

I find myself asking this question a lot lately. You'd think that this would be a pretty simple question for someone who writes but I have a way of complicating even simple things. If you are feeling a little lost at this point, then I suggest you take a brief moment to read the title before we continue. There, feeling less lost now? Good. That makes one of us at least.

So, 'what kind of writer', what does that mean? For me it has be 'what is your style?', that thing that other authors, bloggers, writers, and probably editors and agents call your voice. Hmm. There is a lot I'd like to say, but I'm afraid most of it would be wishful thinking. You see, I used to have a fairly comedic style-  a mix of goofy and surreal humour, sentences that flowed easily into eachother, but that writing voice belonged to a younger version of me, a less tired and bitter version of me. My writing voice now, on good days, (like this very moment perhaps) is colloquial and personal, spiced with moments of dry or sardonic humour. The good days are far fewer than my bad days, however, and on those latter days it's hard for me to say if I have a style at all.

What would you call a style that consists of rambling to yourself in a literary way, in a slightly imperious air, about your negative thoughts and doubts, like a British aristocrat monologuing to himself in his study in the midst of a rainstorm, his room lit by a single flickering candle. What would you call that? Melodramatic? Oh, sad, you say. Yes, I don't think I can argue with you there. Then on bad days my writing voice is thus: sad.

I think even if I have a voice, however inconsistent it is, my real issue is how I might reconcile it with the types of writing I'd like to do. Put another way, will the same voice work for an essay, for a story, for a whatever, the same way it works for a blog post? That may be a bit of a useless musing, something I am quite good at, mind, but I should probably find out for myself. I'm not quite pinning a certain feeling down, though, as I write this. There is a thought bouncing around my mind, that tempts me to say 'it is ailing me', the brooding British noble trying to claw his way out of my mouth, or at least into my brain. Cease thy meddling and sweeping gesticulations amidst the confines of my mind, ye apparition, leave me!

The thought, I think, or at least I ponder, I wonder, or should I say ruminate upon, is that the style I have is not necessarily the style I want. At least, it is not the only style I want, and I would happily trade away my Melancholy Melodramatic British Man™ for a writing voice similar to Terry Pratchett's. How does develop another writing voice though? The me on paper is often so different from the me in real life. My colloquial, paper 'me' is perhaps closer than the wigged, portly, British man who occasionally possesses my fingers, and so it seems that I could just work on an additional voice to add to something I could one day haughtily refer to as my repertoire. Another part of me says, you are what you are, even in your writing voice, keep it or change it but you don't really have more than one, just multiple sides. You don't have more than one personality, and your writing is just a reflection of that. Oh, that sounds very wise. But tell me, wiser self, if that is true, what about that insufferable British man in my head?

Perhaps, if you ignore him, he will just go away...?

The Answer is to Give Up

My life, at least from where I stand, is so often paradoxical. I have to wonder if others share the same sentiment, particularly with regard to their own self-improvement and goals. Most lately what sits at the forefront of my mind is that often my best progress is made after I have given up. Of course 'giving up' implies that no more progress would be made, so perhaps it's more of a metaphorical casting-away. If I give something up, I get better at it.

Let me avoid being vague any further. Often I become fixated on a goal, writing for instance, and so I set myself about the goal as any other might. I try and make a practice schedule and stick to it. I read about writing and, in general, read more of everything. I do my best to immerse myself and drive myself forward so that I might make steady strides forward and improve upon my modest skill. Over time schedules, routines, can become hard to maintain. The goal becomes a source of stress, but you know what they say, time and pressure make diamonds. Perhaps I just never let the pressure build enough. I think as a pressure cooker I am woefully inadequate though, as I have myriad holes through which I can not help but lose steam. With that I know I can't make a diamond, I'm not even sure if I could make a good jam.

Then comes the decision to 'give-up'. It's not an inapt description, but it is a bit misleading. I do decide to give up. I do, in my current example, give up my writing schedule, and my focus on reading-up on writing, and additional reading, and all insistence of steady dedicated practice. I can't say that I gave up on the idea of writing but, on the steady pursuit of that goal, I have definitively relinquished control.

Yet for some reason I will always come back to the goals I gave up. I will come back, only with less stress, with less focus on improvement. I come back writing just to write, and somehow make better progress that way. I don't practice as often, I don't stare at a blank page until my brain pretends to start working. I just write when I can and somehow that works. And I don't understand that. I don't understand how dedicated practice can feel like such a standstill, yet make better progress with what feels like dabbling. It's as if dedicated practice is a trudge up a gravel hill with each step losing almost as much progress as you gained. It's not as if I couldn't climb higher that way, but it is so much more tiring. I am confused as to why this seems to be my lot. Fix sights. Strive. Give-up. Improve. In that order.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Email is Quaint

When did emails become quaint? It seems like not long ago writing pen and paper letters had become a thing of the past. How archaic, you have to manually drag ink-coated metal or graphite embedded wood across paper? My my, perhaps I should write with a quill for a more authentic experience! Email was the wave of the future; effortlessly compose and correct, instantly send, and revel in your ability to attach as much as you can cram into the file-size limit. Was. Email was the wave of the future, then that wave washed ashore with a quiet 'fsshh' and slid back out to sea. 

This realization dawned on me just a moment ago, as I considered sending an email. I hadn't sent one in a while and as I considered what to write I thought: maybe I should keep it short because I don't want to go overboard. Wait, go overboard? In an email? This, coming from the guy who used to write a small novel's worth in some emails? That's when it hit me, email is just an annoyance now. It's for when you need something in writing; also, it's a convenient place for all that junk mail to pile up. At least in my email I don't have to take the junk out to the recycling. 

We are so connected now that email is too much trouble. I can call someone with the touch of a button, and with hardly more effort I can see their face in a video chat. I can send instant messages, from anywhere that matters, and have a conversation in real time. Why do I need email again? Oh right, so I have somewhere convenient to store all my purchase receipts. Someone sent me an email? Weird, why didn't they just send a text message? I exaggerate a little bit, but not much. This is my generation now. Calling someone when it isn't urgent is considered a faux pas. I know I am in slightly more techy circles than some but I regularly log into a voice chat server where I am connected with all my friends and we talk whenever we have something to say, as if we were all just sitting at our computers with walkie-talkies. It's the next best thing to being in the same room. Email is just slow and clunky by comparison. 

So much for email. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Things I Hate #10 - I Think We Know the Real Answer

Somehow I made it to #10. It only took me like 4 years and several lapses of motivation. And now here you have it, the  masterpiece  stunning  pretty good   mediocre article you've waited for!

1. 7 Credit Cards You Should Not Ignore If You Have Excellent Credit
Let it be known before-hand that I hate credit cards, so obviously I'm biased. I have one credit card and once I pay it off I will never, ever, carry a credit card again. In fact, I have sworn to never take out another loan or use credit again if it is within my power to avoid it. I'm certain that with the money I've paid in interest over the years I would be in a significantly better position than I am currently. With all that said I can't imagine people wanting a collection of credit cards, or even shopping around for credit cards. And I've never heard lines like "You have got to check out this credit card it's amazing."
The ad says these are cards you should not ignore. Sure, you can listen to the ad, but I think you'll be better off if you take my advice ignore them. Ignore them so hard.

2. Little Known Way To Pay Off Mortgage
I've covered this before so I'll keep this short. What kind of method do you think a site called LendingTree is going to suggest you use? I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with necromancing. (Hint: It's 'refinancing'.) Not exactly a little known way to pay anything off. Also, really, there is only one way to pay anything off. By putting money into it. By that line of thought the best way to pay something off is to increase your income. It's that simple.

3. What's Inside Slim Jims?
While I must admit this is actually an interesting article idea it's being served by Taboola. My suggestion? Just look up the article title on Google, or Bing, or whatever you use. Although, deep down we already know what's inside Slim Jims: copious fat, sodium, and the last of your self-respect.

4. 4 Items Every Man Shouldn't Leave Home Without This Summer
This article sounds...oddly specific. Like: 5 Nose-hair Trimmers No Woman Should Leave the Office Without This Autumn. Why? I can't imagine anything that I shouldn't leave home without except my phone, and my phone does the work of just about any other electronics I could think to bring. Well, I also bring my wallet. I travel pretty light. Oh, plus I usually bring my keys...and a pen. Come to think of it, the article says 'Items'. The picture is some phone (likely designed by someone recently concussed) implying that the 'Items' are electronics but, really, they could be anything. I'd say I named the items already if it didn't qualify the statement with 'This Summer'. Really? What items should I not leave home without 'This Summer' and This Summer only? Was there a mutant wasp outbreak caused by a solar flare? Oh there was? Oh, okay so the 4 items are wasp spray, radiation pills, spf 200 sunscreen, and a baseball bat for when you run out of wasp spray. Man, that must have been a crazy summer.

5. Hurry up to learn the trick : $30 for an iPad
Sound too good to be true? It isn't! Or, wait, no, I meant is. It IS too good to be true. I checked out one of this style of sites once. They want you to buy credits to bid on specific items, and if you're really lucky maybe you can grab an auction for less than it normally goes for. Like most auction sites though if it's a popular item other people are going to push the price into normal retail value range. Also, keep in mind that you paid upfront for credits to use on the auctions. You paid the auction site up-front. For every 1 guy who wins something on that site there or 20 or 30 who lost and aren't getting their pre-paid credits back. So basically it's a scam. I mean, it seems like it's technically legal, but it's still a big ass scam. There you go- a serious entry. And I only made attempt at being funny.

6. The 6 Worst Cars at the Detroit Auto Show 2013
Wow, look how hopelessly out of date this ad is. It most certainly isn't because I saved this image in 2013 and have been incredibly lazy about posting for going on 4 years. That would just be ridiculous!

Well that's all for this one. This was a rough one for me since there wasn't as much to work with. Hopefully the next one will be up (or down?) to their usual abysmal quality. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Things I Hate #9 - Finish the Damn Titl...

Behold the monstrous visage of terrible clickbait advertisements. Now let's tear it apart to see what makes it tick. Now who is the real monster?

1. 5 Signs You'll Get Cancer
Let me start of by pointing on that this under-handed ad preys on your fear of vulnerability to cancer. Oh no! I don't want to get cancer I better click this link so I can better protect myself! Although now that I think about it, it says nothing about risks, it just says 5 signs you'll get cancer. Guess that means it's unavoidable and nothing matters anymore. In any case whatever it says is probably utter garbage, a literary sewer back-up presenting the latest pointless health conspiracies. So instead here are my 5 Signs You'll Get Cancer.

  • You bath in gasoline.
  • You can only enjoy food when it has been charred beyond recognition.
  • You feel breathing is too easy by default so you like to keep your home filled with a thick blanket of smoke.
  • You can't sleep at night unless your Geiger counter makes a constant soothing click noise.
  • You believe that sunscreen does nothing- it's a hoax like global warming. 

2. The 3 Worst Things that Age You Faster (AVOID)
You know, if you are going to capitalize everything else in your title, you might as well get that last word. I hate to admit it, it's technically right, but everything else is capitalized, finish that fucker off. Now, where to start? The picture shows someone exercising, so it seems like they are trying to imply that exercising can in some way make you age faster. Chances are the picture is unrelated though. This is clickbait after all. Also, what's up with the "(AVOID)"? I mean, these are about things that age you faster, do you really need to tell people not to do them? This is an elixir from the Fountain of Infirmity, don't drink it! (AVOID). Duh. More garbage.

3. 10 Crazy Alternate Endings
If this wasn't from Movieseum (wtf is that even) this sounds like it could actually be an interesting article. Although the harsh reality is that most of those endings didn't make it into the final product because they aren't that great. Sometimes an alternate ending can provide insights into characters or details from the movie. Sometimes the alternate ending is dumb or barely distinguishable from the actual ending. Either way, I don't expect a site called Movieseum to provide more than a bare minimum of effort. Certainly nothing engaging is there. And, goddamnit, what have I told you ads about jamming two words together for a site name. You lazy bastards.

4. 16 Exercises You Must Do If You Want To Lose Weig...
Oh how I loathe these types of ads in particular. The mere title perpetuates a common myth that there are exercises that make you lose weight (or target certain areas). There aren't. The short version is that it's entirely dependent on calories in versus calories out. I can give you a better version of whatever article was linked (minus whatever product they are trying to push) just by rearranging the title. Behold: Exercise You Must, If You Want To Lose Weight. Also, seriously fuck this title. Fuck this title in particular. It trails off implying there is more after 'Weight' but they could have just as easily finished writing weight. The title would have still made sense! Seriously, c'mon!

5. 18 Celebrity Hairstyles We Hope To NEVER See Again
A cheap ad-ridden site filled with low-res photos and the occasional absurdly high res photo (for no particular reason) with each picture accompanied by a poorly written snarky comment. That's my guess as to what that link leads to. Oh, and they'll force you to click "Next" for each one. Now, if you've ever read any of my old Things I Hate posts you may know that I care next to nothing about celebrities. My general thought process being 'leave them the hell alone'. So, you know, even if this article was being presented by someplace more reputable than whatever Refinery29 my feelings would still be about the same: The article concept is garbage and I could care less. 

6. You Won't Believe What This Teen Can't Do Whil...
Toyota? Somehow I doubt that is the official Toyota site. Also, let's bullet point this shit because I have a lot to nitpick on this one. 
  • The picture depicts someone driving, the site is supposedly Toyota, and the title implies 'While Driving'. Key word being implies. The link probably is something to do with driving but I'm just saying this could just be a big switcharoo.
  • Fuck. Just add the goddamn 'e' before the ellipses. 
  • I bet I can believe it.
  • The trailing title and the picture of a young blonde girl (with her mouth open and an aloof expression) suggest something sexual in nature at the end of the diseased rainbow that is this ad. The content is most certainly not sexual. I'd bet money on it. Their goal is to get you to click, not to be truthful. 
  • The picture and the title 'What This Teen Can't Do' combined prey on the stereotype of dumb blondes even though it's likely completely irrelevant. The picture implies that the article concerns a blonde girl. However, aside from the picture (which is frequently misleading) nothing confirms that the article is even about a girl much less a blonde. It says 'Teen'.

Well that's all for now. I'll leave you with this thought for now: Why do I share all this? Well partially to indulge my indignant rage, but also because I don't want you to click on these. The rancid ad-meat of Taboola ad blocks might just go away someday if everyone stops clicking on their shameless links. Also because these crap ads provide much insight into the wider world of ad psychology.