It has been far too long since my last entry here.
Sorry about that.
Sometimes life gets in the way. Writing articles here became a very low priority. I hope that you haven’t missed me too much.
In the latter half of 2017, I became the full-time carer for my wife, Corinne. She had experienced many bouts of illness in her life from when we were first married – some 47 years ago. Her health deteriorated rapidly in the last few months of last year and we had many trips to the local medical centre as well as many drives to Adelaide for treatment – some 80 kilometres away (about 1 hour).
We were pleased to be able to celebrate Christmas as a family; our daughter who is currently teaching in Ethiopia flew home, and our son and family drove over from Sydney (about 15 hours’ drive). It was delightful to have the grandchildren here for this special occasion.
In the middle of January and after the second round of radiotherapy, my wife went downhill very rapidly. After a short stay in the local hospital, my wife passed peacefully and pain-free from this life on the 21st January 2018. She was surrounded by immediate family. Her funeral a week later was well attended by a wide range of people from many different aspects of Corinne’s life. It was a celebration of a life well lived with an impact on the lives of so many people.
I have written an obituary on her website, Mallee Native Plants Nursery here. She was a keen admirer and grower of Australian native plants. Her website contains a wealth of information on our plants and how to propagate them. I will maintain this site, for the time being, adding some new articles from time to time. Her nursery has now closed down and there are no plants for sale.
Her interest in our plants rubbed off on me and it complemented my interest in birds. Both of us loved sharing our flower photos and she grew to appreciate our beautiful bird life too. One of her favourite birds appears at the top of this post. She loved seeing all the birds in our garden, including the Eastern Rosella shown above whenever one of them came to our bird bath.
The photo below was taken at Christmas time in 2017. She was helping her two grandchildren to put the icing on the honey biscuits made especially for the occasion.
I plan to get back into sharing my writing, book reviews and hints about the writer’s life here on this site over the coming weeks and months and – I hope – years. Last year I bought myself a new camera and this is proving to be more than I had hoped for – so expect many more photos to be shared as well. I am not yet ready to get back into travelling, but I definitely have plans to do so.
In the meantime – good reading and writing.
Blogging and writing
I am always on the lookout for interesting articles about improving my writing and blogging. I am sure that I am not alone in this; we all want to improve our writing and develop more readers.
In the last few weeks, I have managed to get back to more regular writing, including blogging here on this site and also several other sites which I manage or write for. I plan to write more posts more often in the coming months. I hope.
Over the last few months, however, I have been a sporadic publisher of new articles here on this blog. I have also been unable to add much to my other sites as well (Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels). Sometimes life just gets in the way. I could give you a long list of reasons why this has happened, including illness, family responsibilities, involvement in various speaking engagements and so on. I won’t bore you with the details. Life happens. And sometimes, writing doesn’t.
Increase in Readership
One of the best ways to increase the readership of your blog is to persist at your writing. If you are regularly adding new material to your blog, no matter what the topic or niche in which you write, your writing will attract more readers, Don’t be like me and only post every now and then! Like once every couple of months. By posting on a regular basis, you are more likely to develop not only new readers, but also loyal visitors to your site.
Regular posting of new material
Some bloggers are able to post a new piece of writing every day, and some are even able to post several times a day. I find that far too demanding, and most writers I know would be the same. Most of us simply do not have the time, nor do we have the material to write about. It is far better to set a realistic goal and persist at posting every three days, or once a week if that is all you can achieve.
I mentioned above the importance of persistence. Success in blogging, it seems, is usually only achieved through long-term, consistent and persistent attention to the basics. One article I read recently was the transcript of a talk given by Darren Rowse of Problogger. You can read the transcript or listen to the 40-minute podcast here: 6 ordinary things can lead to extraordinary results with your blog. At the risk of stating spoilers here, his final point is persistence. Keep at it and you will be more successful than the vast majority of bloggers.
Over my nearly 12 years of writing blog posts here and on my other sites, I have written a number of articles about blogging. Here is a very small selection – or you can use the search facility at the top of each page:
- Some benefits of blogging
- Blogging can make you a better writer
- How to keep a balance in your blogging and writing life
- The potential of blogging – this article is now over 10 years old and has not been updated. The figures in this article are all very outdated, but the principles behind it are still relevant. Besides, my predictions in this article have actually been realised over the last decade.
Good writing. Good blogging.
March 26th, 2004
On this day thirteen years ago my life changed forever.
That sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. For the previous 35 years – in another life – I had been a primary (elementary) school teacher. Eight of those years I enjoyed being a teacher librarian; I loved buying books and using the school’s money and not mine. I loved the relationship I had with the students in my classes over the years. I still keep contact with many of them, either on Facebook or in the town where I live. It’s great to see them developing as adults and to see their own children growing up.
What happened to change my life?
On that momentous day in March 2004, I clearly remember hearing a voice inside my head saying, ‘You’ve left your classroom for the last time.’ Now, I must clarify that I am a Christian and believe that God ‘speaks’ to us in many ways, but my experience of His audible voice has been very infrequent. I can really only recall one other occasion. During the first few months of 2004, I had been seriously struggling with illness. Teaching became an almost impossible struggle. On this day, March 26th, I had endured a meeting arranged for me with a counsellor. It was not easy acknowledging that I needed some serious help.
The voice was right. That was my last day of teaching in a primary school. I was granted some sick-leave by my doctor – I had plenty in reserve – and took several months off while I recovered. The process was long and emotional; I won’t bore you with the details. I didn’t want to give up a calling to teach, something I loved doing but a task which had become so hard in the face of my illness.
As my health improved, I was able to consult my financial planner. She looked at my situation with great compassion and understanding, just as my doctor and counsellor had done. She asked whether I would rather teach for a few more years to build up my superannuation, or cut loose and get better. ‘Do you want the extra money, or do you want your health?’
It was a no-brainer, really. especially when she told me that to teach for several more years as I had planned would only increase my super payout by a few dollars per week – $15 was the figure, I think.
I resigned forthwith.
And that’s when my life changed forever.
Life after teaching
For many months I struggled with coming to terms with my sudden retirement. It took me a long time to adjust to not fronting up at school every morning. It took me a while to get over my illness. One thing is certain: during the winter months that year, when the rain was pouring down outside, and the wind was howling around our home, and I was reading a good book in front of our fire, I did NOT miss venturing out to supervise the children during after-school bus duty. I didn’t miss it at all.
Over the subsequent years, I have experienced many wonderful times. Some of this has related to travel. I have been free to enjoy the delights of Thailand, Nepal (see the photo above of Ama Dablam, just a few miles from Everest), enigmatic Ethiopia, mesmerising Morocco and scintillating Spain. My wife and I have also travelled extensively in Australia in that time. We are planning more travel in the coming years. I have written about many of my adventures on my travel site called Trevor’s Travels.
After I had recovered sufficiently from my ill-health, I set about establishing my second career as a writer. I had always been a writer, but my writing was confined to weekends and school holiday periods. In the 1990s I actually published six books; two teacher curriculum books with four accompanying student workbooks, all of them sadly now out of print.
On my son’s encouragement, I started writing three blogs, this one you are now reading, plus Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels. I would love it if you visited them and left some comments. Both sites feature hundreds of photos of Australian birds and scenery shots of places we have visited. In total, with these three sites and two other sites I write for, I have published nearly 5000 articles since retiring. I feel tired just typing that!
During my retirement, I have also written several – as yet unpublished – novels and picture book texts, along with dozens of articles, short stories and poems. (Click on the sidebar to read some of my poems and stories.) Nearly 100 of these stories and poems have been published in a range of newspapers, journals and magazines.
Not content with just writing all of these blog posts, novels, stories and poems, a few years ago I also completed my degree. I now have a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. You can read about that process here. This has led to some lecturing and speaking at conferences. What I learned during this course has equipped me to tackle some earlier novels I wrote back in the 1990s. I am now in the process of rewriting them. Stayed tuned; I hope to publish these very soon.
On occasions, people ask me if I ever miss teaching. It’s a very valid question, especially in the light of a lifetime – 35 years – in the classroom. The short answer is ‘no’. I do not miss the long hours of preparation, marking and professional reading required. I do not miss the unending staff meetings and the politics of the staff-room. I do not miss the parents who make life hard for teachers to do their job; thankfully I experienced very few of them.
I do miss the children. I do miss seeing children develop their skills, especially children like Jennifer. She astounded me with the progress she made under my care and guidance.
I do miss building relationships with children and seeing them go on successfully in life. I actually keep a list of successful former students, following their careers.
And above all, I miss the fact that they all used to laugh at my ‘dad jokes’. Now my longsuffering wife is generally my only audience, though my 8-year-old grandson thinks I am hilarious.
It’s time to roll out a list of what I hope to do in the coming years:
- Many more blog posts here on this site, and the other sites I mentioned above.
- Continue on a wide-ranging reading programme, something all writers should do.
- Rewrite and publish as eBooks my novels, collections of stories and poems.
- Publish as eBooks several non-fiction books as spin-offs from my blogs.
- Write more novels; I have ideas for at least six more. Coming up with ideas is easy; writing the books is hard.
- Continue to travel here in Australia as health and finances allow.
Mmm… looks like I have a busy time ahead.
NEW: why not sign up for my irregular newsletter? Just go to the sidebar of this article, or to below the comments.