Thank You 

This blogging business is a right hoot isn’t it. The site has been up and running now for three months and we have 900 followers and are fast approaching our 10,000th view. According to my more geographically aware wife we have had views from 50% of the countries in the world. Mind blown. I just want to thank everybody who has taken the time to read the blog, write such positive and encouraging feedback and put up with my daily musings on honey comb ice cream, running and Jesus stuff.

It took me the best part of fifteen years to discover WordPress which I now regard as my online home. I regard YOU ,my fellow bloggers, as my community, my people, my tribe. Down the years I have dabbled with (and spectacularly failed at) a number of other social media platforms. Initially back in the day it was Facebook where Fionnuala first painstakingly introduced me to the internet. It was akin to a caveman stumbling upon fire. ‘Yes Stephen this is called a mouse and when you move it around and click it strange and wonderful things start to happen on that screen in front of you.’

I soon grew bored with that. Addictive personalities can never settle on one obsession for long. The buzz soon wears off and they have to push the boundary and take it to the next level. Facebook was full of people who I knew in real life (Euuuuuughhhh!) and I became increasingly frustrated with their real life dramas of ‘who said what to who’, endless pictures of their adorable kids (because none of the rest of us had kids right?) and drunken photographs of the night before which were invariably deleted the morning after.

Above all else I had to be careful what I said on there. The virtual walls had ears so to speak. Big Brother (and sister and dozens of cousins) were watching. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, be who I wanted to be. And by that I meant say anything and be anyone as long as it wasn’t my dull, real persona who got up every morning, changed dirty nappies while semi hungover and then trudged into work in ill fitting clothes where my genius and sparkling personality were universally overlooked.

Helllooooooo Twitter! Now this was more like it. I’ve talked about my love/hate relationship with the little blue bird in previous posts so won’t bore you with the details again. But it was love at first sight. I did not know 99% of the people on it so could say whatever I wanted to. Any old nonsense and the more outrageous the better. Waving goodbye to my morals and parking my conscience at the front door I proceeded to create an online persona which resembled me in no way whatsoever. Before I knew it I was utterly addicted and had nearly 10,000 followers who I needed (from my slanted perspective) to entertain on a daily basis. They were my public. 

This gradually deteriorated to the extent where my online activities took precedence over trifling matters such as my faith, family and job. I began to live an increasingly secretive and duplicitous life which led to all sorts of carnage in the real world. Spiralling depression and anxiety led to me increasingly hiding from these problems in my alcohol fuelled online life. Where everybody recognised me as the witty bon vivant I was born to be. Alcohol and Twitter equated to  real life misery which could only be alleviated by more alcohol and  Twitter. A vicious and ever decreasing circle. About four years ago it all collapsed around me in an explosion of shame and regret. You can read about this episode of my life The ‘Twirly Chair’ posts.

Since then there have been lapses most notably of catastrophic proportions on Instagram last year. I had badgered a despairing Fionnuala into accepting it as a half way house between the monotony of Facebook and the madness of Twitter. I had promised to moderate both the time I spent ,and what I got up to, on it. Of course I spectacularly failed on both scores and ended up in a situation which made my Twitter excesses pale into comparison. If Facebook had been my marijuana and Twitter my cocaine, then Instagram was the crystal meth and GHB cocktail from hell.

The Instagram days are for another day and another post. Three months into my online recovery I am relishing the WordPress experiment. There is probably an argument that I should go ‘cold turkey’ and avoid social media in its entirety. But then how would I express myself creatively and share my experiences in order to help others going through similar situations. Which is why Fionnuala and I found this safe place. Where I can lick my wounds and write my words. A place of healing and hope.

As I indicated at the start of this post I have been amazed by the growth of the blog and the support and feedback I have received from the WordPress community. It has been truly inspiring. So much so that I have decided to take it further and start work on my first novel. I have an idea. I hope and pray that is original and quirky enough to capture people’s imaginations. I hope I have the talent and determination to follow it through. But as a first time author I need a shedload of help and encouragement. If you would like to know more then add a comment and welcome aboard. Let the games begin.

What has your WordPress experience been like to date?

What advice can you offer a novice author? Structure? Resources? Forums? Personal triumphs and struggles? I would love to hear from you.

23 thoughts on “Thank You 

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  1. When I first started writing on WordPress I never expected to find such a wonderful, supportive, accepting, authentic community. I have found my writing to be personally healing, but am continually blessed and inspired by the support and journey of others. I had no idea that my heart would connect with the very real people of this global community. There’s that word again… Blessings upon your current and new endeavours!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Alex – I only started blogging myself about three months ago so I’m still a bit of a novice myself. I guess the best tip is to be true to yourself and write about topics you are passionate about. I’ve read some of your posts and your strong faith shows through so keep going with that. Try to be consistent and post regularly. I try to put something on every day at around the same time. I also try to engage with as many other bloggers as possible. Get to know your community and interact with them. People are more likely to read and comment on your posts if you do the same. I have a rough idea for a novel but i need to get a plan down on paper. Watch this space and keep in touch – Stephen 😊

      Liked by 3 people

  2. That’s awesome! I’m so glad that you’re able to express yourself in a safe space here and encourage so many others in a real and authentic way.

    To an aspiring author my advice is come up with a plan before you begin writing. This isn’t exciting and it’s not as fun as just free-writing with the mood strikes, but it’s much more effective. Essentially, mind map about your book topic and then turn that into an outline you’ll follow for the book. This will become the road map that will keep you on track during the writing process.

    The other piece of advice is to write every day. As a blogger, you seem to be pretty good at that. But setting a daily writing goal for your book and then sticking to it can mean that you can finish that first draft in no time.

    And keep leaning on your community. While writing can be a solitary process, make sure you have that good support system rooting for you along the way. Invite them into the good days and the bad days, it’s amazing how they really can make the process better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Sarah that’s really good advice. I’ve already started mind mapping it and it is coming along steadily. I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to my writing so that shouldn’t be a problem. The support on here from yourself and others in fantastic. Thank you again – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The community here has definitely been a blessing to me. Peers and mentors available on the same platform. God has used my talents and my calling to show me that He has a plan, and He will use me, which makes me so happy. He’s heard me, and He guides me.

    For a first time novel, cause I’ve been there, here’s what I can offer from my experience. I am, by no means, a professional. You will start to notice patterns of your writing. I used the word “that” a lot, and other words that (see) aren’t needed in the sentences all the time. When I started to write my other novels, I became more aware of what I was doing so I became more critical.

    These are things you will learn about yourself as a writer. Writing a novel, for the first time, you may not be fully aware of everything you lean to/use a crutch as a writer. This is a lot different than one post on a blog. This is a story with a consistent plot and purpose. It will probably be challenging to you, at first, or when you hit a mental breakdown/loss of what to write next. But challenges can produce inspiration, motivation, and endurance. God used my first novel to teach me a lot, and the importance of commitment and goals.

    Don’t be so flowery in the beginning with descriptions to where you could see the reader getting immediately bored. Some readers have said they will open a book, and if the first few words are about some slow, steady rainfall they will immediately shut it. (I’m not like that as a reader, but I thought it was a great tip as a writer) Try to pull them into the story first, with some minor details, easy to read over, and remember.

    Find a routine time schedule, and train your brain. When I start novel/book writing, like a consistent habit, the more I do it daily, the easier it is to stay consistent.

    Have an overall idea of story structure. You don’t have to! My first novel, I just wrote forward, and didn’t have a full idea of where the story was going. This did cause conflict later on because I felt at loss of ideas. You can have a plan, and still change it. It just helps to have some structure because then at least you know in which direction you want the story, the next chapter, to go.

    I’ve read, if you plan to submit to a publisher, you don’t usually get accepted by a publisher till your third or fourth novel. That’s because in the beginning, you are still very much learning the ropes. For me, this is why I wrote novels before starting my book (the novel I want to be published). I wanted to refine myself as a novelist before jumping in. But, this does not, in any way, mean you can’t be published with your first novel. I think it’s a good tip.

    I’m so happy for your blog and its success!!! I truly believe God will use every part of our past to give Him glory, and to guide others to Him. Hope my response wasn’t too long. 🙂 Congrats you two!!


  4. I think it’s great that you’re going to write a book! Commit your work and ALL of your plans to the Lord, and He will show you what it is that you need to do.

    You remember that book, “The Purpose-Driven Life,” by Rick Warren, right? He also was a first-time author. You just don’t know what God may do when you commit your plans to Him.

    I’ll be praying for you! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What I admire about Pastor Rick (and you) is that he had the willingness to try something totally new and different, and wasn’t afraid. That’s where faith comes in! Give it all to the Lord and see what He does with it. Whether your book touched one person or one million, God is glorified and others are helped. I look forward to hearing how your writing is coming along! 🙂


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