New Directions

I have been thinking a lot about my goals and how they tie into the writing that I do. The first thing is that I do not write nearly as often as I should. This is true from a marketing standpoint, as any book about blogging or marketing will tell you. It is also true from an intellectual standpoint. I should be practicing expressing my ideas much oftener than I have up to now.

I guess if you are setting out to be a writer, the proof of the pudding is in actually having written material available to people on a regular basis. My habit of writing something once a month, or every other month, is not doing me any favors. I have to do something about that.

I am giving up on the blog How to Get There. I started it because I am interested in strategy, wisdom, and the meaning of success. I am finding, however, that as I progress in my studies and collect more information about my particular sets of interests, generally speaking photography and overcoming power asymmetries, that I can cover those topics adequately in this blog. I am going to rewrite whatever material I have from HTGT and adapt it to this blog. I am not shutting it down, but I will no longer be working on it.

Photography is just something I do. I don’t intend it to be a money making enterprise in my life. I do it because it makes me happy. I will always have new material for my photography blog.

Power asymmetries are a passion as well. There is more than enough info to keep me going on that topic for years.

The topics of HTGT fit in with what I am going to be writing about on this blog. Beside, as you do things and get into doing them, you often learn that some of the things you did when you first started are no longer useful to you. Live and learn.

My First Lessons in Conflict Resolution

I first learned about conflict resolution in the United States Army. They didn’t call it conflict resolution in the army, they called it combat. The idea was that you win or you die. A tad confrontational, yes, but it has proven effective enough to be the go to tactic for many nations.

The army was the first place where I learned that conflict was there to be resolved. I learned that there are strategies and tactics available to deal with, and emerge victorious from, conflict. It was where I discovered the work of Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz. It was where I first learned to that to be successful in conflict you have to prepare yourself before you go looking for your foes.

Now I can safely say that I understand conflict a little better than I did as a private in the army. It seems to me that in many of the conflicts I have observed over the years, the people involved did not have any clearly defined reasons for getting involved in a conflict in the first place. Most of the time they were just angry at something, that may or may not have had anything to do with the conflict they involved themselves in.

One of the keys to being successful in conflict is knowing and understanding what your objectives are. If you don’t understand what you are attempting to accomplish, all the wisdom from every strategic genius in the world will do you little, probably no, good. It will be difficult even to judge whether you won that particular, and probably pointless, battle.

The army did teach me how to prepare for battle; how to fight and win. The only problem is that in the army somebody else picks your battles for you. If you are fighting someone else’s battles, only they can tell you if you have won, or not. As an individual, there is no way to win these battles; you are only along for the ride.

There is a lot of wisdom in the phrase, learn how to pick your battles.

Topsy Turvy Results

I started using Topsy Turvy planters about four or five years ago. They look interesting enough. The plants in them hang upside down out of a non-porous cylindrical bag, which has a cover on the top with a hole to pour water through, and an opening in the bottom that the plant emerges from. I thought I would give them a chance. Now, after two years of close observation, I think I am ready to voice an opinion about them.

I have attempted to grow several different types of plants, using both the individual planters and the larger Topsy Turvy garden planter. I have planted numerous types of tomatoes, various chilies, bell peppers, and lemon cucumbers. I have had mixed results.

The cucumbers were a complete failure. I got one cucumber from the individual planter, and it was small and underdeveloped.

I have only been moderately successful with tomatoes. Tomato plants never grew very well and did not ever provide more that one or two small growths of fruit. Meanwhile, I have tomato plants in the ground that were massive and produced fruit for months. There was no comparison, tomatoes in the ground performed spectacularly better than those in the Topsy Turvy planters.

The quiet success has been a jalapeno pepper that I planted in the summer of 2013. The plant itself is not large, but it produces a moderate number of peppers consistently. I also have a bell pepper and habanero plants that are doing pretty well, though they haven’t produced a lot of fruit. Peppers seem better suited to life as an upside down plant than anything else I tried.

I may not be completely without blame in this limited success. I am sure I could have done something better, like water more, or use better nutrients. However, I like how when I stick a plant in the ground my biggest problem is keeping it from overtaking too much of the yard.

It might also be a problem of expectation, perhaps I expected too much from these planters. I like when my plants establish themselves and depend on me for an occasional watering. I am a lazy gardener. Perhaps these planters don’t fit my gardening style.

Building an Audience

I have read several books on social media marketing. Many of them offer really good advice that sounds great when you are reading it. Growing an audience for your blog is usually a well covered subject. My difficulty has been trying to put those recommendations into practice.

For example, most of these books tell you to define your market. Figure out who is your perfect reader or follower. Honestly, I don’t know who I am writing my blogs for other than myself. I am writing about some narrow sets of interests that I have, but I really don’t know if there is a natural audience for any of this stuff. Nor am I motivated to find out. I follow my interests and occasionally I write something on my blogs. 

I aspire to writing that can serve a practical purpose for the people who read it.  I want to help people. So, I have a blog about strategy, wisdom, and success. All of these subjects are well covered by many other blogs and writers, and there is a lot of noise to deal with. I am writing what I think, but I can’t quite figure out whether my humble observations are contributing to clarity or just adding more noise to the cacophony.

Even if I am not sure that I am building an audience, I am happy that I can write what I want to write. I like the fact that I am building a store of intellectual capital for use in the future. Whether I am offering brilliance or bullshit, it is my own. If it ever comes up, I would be happy to point out that I have written on whatever subject on my blogs.

Maybe that is how it is supposed to work. I am supposed to write and toil away in obscurity. Then one day a set of outside operators and circumstances will conspire to make me the next internet sensation. My writing will no longer belong to me, but I will be making a shitload of money. Or not. I guess you just have to ride the torpedo to find out where you are going.

On Thinking and Writing

I tend to experience the world cerebrally, so I spend a lot of time thinking. Not just because I am in school. Everywhere, all the time, I am thinking about everything. Sometimes my wife has to ask me if I am thinking about what we are talking about or ignoring her.

Sometimes I even get pretty good ideas. The problem is that I want to continue thinking about them until I feel they are fully formed models that are strong enough to withstand intensive scrutiny. I am learning this doesn’t work well for my career as a blogger.

It seems to me that bloggers, if they want to be good, have to write something more often than once a month or so. I can say, in my defense, that I have no necessity to be a successful blogger. I don’t suffer any for my lack of reliability. But that may be part of the problem.

I would like to be a successful writer. I think my blogs, which cover areas that I find interesting, will be helpful in getting me there. Now I just need to do the writing.

Wish me luck.