Thursday 1 February 2018

January Pace II

January has passed at a million miles an hour. I already mentioned that I surpassed my highest ever January total of birds seen on the patch with a frankly magnificent 72 species. As you will have noticed I have also been pretty full on when it comes to blogging which came as rather a surprise given the ability I equally have to be rather lacklustre. Somehow though I have had quite a lot to say (or not, but have written something anyway – Ed.) and so noticing that I posted something on 22 out of 31 days I set off to write about how this was the most productive I had been in recent memory, which also has the benefit of helping to contribute to February. I like to get these things right, so I pulled up the website to check previous years, fully expecting the last time I had written so much in January to be in about 2011. 

Well guess what? It was actually last year, and this post therefore falls at the first hurdle. Yes, in January 2017 I somehow posted on 24 days out of 31, which in all the years of me doing this is the most ever. It was exceptional however, and I soon petered out – February declined to 11 and I never really picked it up as the year went on, indeed that one month ended up being close to a fifth of the entire year. Back in 2010 and 2011 was the last time there was any output-based consistency. Those years started at the same level as this one and carried on relentlessly, a feeling no doubt felt by readers. Those were the glorious days of unemployment, of domestic trials and tribulations, and endless material provided by children. Blogging was easy then, relatively speaking. Every day contained a multitude of silly events that were ripe for self-deprecation or schadenfreude, and of course I went birding a huge amount. The children were highly portable back then, and every day between about half nine in the morning and three in the afternoon was a blank canvas. I twitched as far as Minsmere once, and Landguard was a piece of cake. Mostly I stayed close to home though, engaged in some London year-listing as well pursuing a national year list at weekends. The days were long and fulfilling and despite all of the house work and child-rearing there were seemingly hours and hours of quality time.

Maybe this is the rose-tinted spectacles effect brought about by having spent most of the intervening years in an office at Canary Wharf, riding the corporate roller coaster and all the aggravation that comes with it. If anything this makes this year and last far more impressive performances. I never write about work and what I do for most of my waking hours – and in January, by far the majority of the daylight hours. Working in the type of environment that I do means that there are endless behavioural gems and countless ridiculous situations that in the real world would make wonderful blogging material. I cannot and do not however, being professional means that these two parts of my life just don't mix. From a personal perspective this is a great shame as I spend a vast amount of time at work and all of that time is essentially off limits. That’s not to say that I don’t think about other things whilst at work during idle moments, of course I do, but in terms of experiences and things that go on there it’s basically dead time.

Which is why of course I try and do as much as I can with what time remains, and why I never have enough time to in my view do justice to all the many things I am interested in. And occasionally - when the writing fires are burning - it also results in a stream of posts about all sorts of things, many of which are totally unrelated. January 2018 saw me cover photography, listing, walking, patch-working, wildfowl, building works, domestic bliss, twitching, travel, plants, birding and blogging statistics, along with a good dollop of nostalgia. You never really know what you are going to get, largely because I rarely know what I am going to write. Generally a safe assumption is that it won't be about birds or Wanstead.

Ideas form either instantly based on some random trigger, or gather pace more slowly, fleshing themselves out during the commute or other empty moments. When I am in the groove I frequently have several ideas on the go at once, and certainly January saw more than a few posts lined up and set to auto-publish several days in advance. If something comes out at exactly 6.30pm that's an indication that it's one of those "here's one I prepared earlier" posts as at that time I'm either at work or still on the way home. One evening I wrote three in succession, they all just tripped out of their own accord, somehow the jumbles of phraseology I had mentally turned over and over were retained and delivered in roughly the right order. Often of course that doesn't happen and I end up with a series of disjointed sentences that I need to reassemble into something that actually makes sense and says what I thought I had in mind, which can sometimes result in something entirely different emerging. Sometimes I just publish it and hope for the best. Life is short and I've got eight thousand hobbies to pursue.

And the house needs dusting again.


  1. I'm curious Jono, do you have any idea how many words you've fielded on your blog to this point?
    I say that since my daily output would scarcely be much more than this comment.
    I wonder sometimes how you manage it. But keep it up all the same. More power to your keyboard.

    1. I can probably find out. I'm sad enough to save everything down as word documents about every six months, just in case Google blows up.

    2. The short answer is a lot, but you know I don't do short right? In fact I do about 617....