I have come to the end of our travel tale. However, that does not mean the end of my blog. The central theme of the ‘reluctant retiree’ remains, that is to say, that the story of transitioning from the workplace to ‘another’ place is still valid.
Travelling in Europe for three months has put me in a different head space, and while the idea of returning to a full-time career is no longer top of mind (and let’s be realistic, less and less likely with every birthday), exactly where to from here is something of a mystery yet to reveal itself. No doubt there are stories to be mined in whatever happens next.
For the moment, I will stop and reflect on why I started blogging in the first place.
Here are the ten good reasons for blogging that I have come up with:-
(whoops! I think this is eleven reasons)
To record my point of view and actions as I re-invent myself. Things that seem so important at the time have a habit of fading eventually. It is helpful to remember this when struggling with thoughts and emotions of the moment. Recording them, then looking back a year or so later, can help gain perspective that “this too shall pass”. On the other hand, there is value in recalling important times, thoughts and emotions. For example, I wish I had started this blog a few years ago when I went to university as a fifty-five year old.
To document my experience for others who are struggling with retirement. Jokes abound about retired men being ‘under the feet’ of their wives and partners. It is not just men who find themselves at a loose end. It is not a matter of filling in spare time, or getting involved in worthwhile activities such as community volunteering. For me, it is a matter of the loss of respect drawn from being a leader in the workplace, and of feeling that you were personally making a difference. Suddenly it disappears, and you must ‘re-invent’ what makes you tick.
To record the travel diary and maintaining it in a central repository. Okay, enough of the philosophising. The rest of the reasons are straightforward. In recent years I have re-discovered the art of keeping track of what we do on holiday. However, the stories end up on the laptop and never get seen. What’s the point of that? In the old days you bought yourself a pretty notebook, and every so often left it lying around for others to pick up and remark on. The modern equivalent is the internet, or so it seems for now.
To keep my family and friends up to date: where and how we were. I am lousy at sending postcards. Full stop.
To entertain my family & friends. My sister says this has been the cheapest holiday she has ever had. She read it on her smartphone on the train to work. Several other people have commented they felt as if they were there with us. One of the bonuses of being out of the corporate workplace is that you can wax lyrical without being told “too much detail”. Being succinct was a challenge for me at work. Hence the self parody in the pen-name Garrulous Gwendoline.
To share travel stories with like minded people. Every couple of days, I picked up new followers. Many took the time to comment, or to like posts, which was very encouraging (thank you – you know who you are!). I am not sure what the blogging protocol is in this regard, otherwise I would name some here in particular. However you can see in the sidebar which blogs I am following. Now I am home, I have more time to read their posts in depth. The blogging world offers many intelligent and interesting contacts in all parts of the globe.
To practice the art of writing. Trying to make the story flow, be easily read, and not to repeat the same words, are some examples here. I was sabotaged by technology on occasions, in that breaks in paragraphs kept getting lost, so that my writing sometimes read as an uninterrupted stream of consciousness. That may have a certain charm, however, I would like to stress that I did stop to take a breath every so often.
To make writing a habit. Distinct from the above point. I mean, to write regardless of whether you were “in the mood”, too tired, too uninspired, or any other obstacle that writers use to put off starting a new piece. By the way, whenever I had to study for an important exam, I found an urgent need to clean the top of the kitchen cabinets, even though I couldn’t see up that high. I think it is called procrastination. So I was hoping to train myself out of ‘writer’s procrastination’.
To gain an audience. I would like to be famous 🙂 No, seriously – which writers wish to do so in a vacuum? I think it was the Alien movie that had the advertising tag-line “In space no one can hear you scream”. I figure, if I am going to be bothered to scream, I’d like to think someone is listening.
To test whether my voice has appeal. Okay, so I have established that in the workplace, “less is more” was the mantra I most often heard. Except for when there was a need to write a corporate email expressing sympathy to a work colleague. Then they called on me. Anywho ….. now I can write whatever I want, is my voice any good? Is it: too simple, too pompous, too detailed, too boring ……………the list goes on. Happily for me, some bloggers did ‘like’ many of the posts, and some went on to tell me what they liked about my style. Great feedback, and thank you heaps!
To receive negative feedback. Hahahaha. No, not actually. However, if you are going to put yourself out there, you have to expect that not everyone will take kindly to what you have to say. A couple of times I was taken to task. Well, okay, I could get all defensive and say that this is my travel blog and my opinions, however perhaps those persons were bringing to my attention that I could do better. If I were ever to have a book published, and it were to be reviewed, it would be the job of the reviewer to point out my story and style weaknesses. People would be parting with hard earned cash to buy my book, so they had best know in advance whether that were worth it. In fact, I am somewhat flattered that those who did take the time to tell me what they did not like about what I wrote, felt that my blog was reaching an audience who would be influenced by my ramblings. So, inadvertently, blogging will teach me how to receive negative feedback.
Now, armed with encouragement from a growing readership, I intend to return to the draft manuscript that I set aside when we went off travelling. It is a memoir, with a tentative title of “I Belong to No-One”. It tells the story of loss through adoption, and follows in the wake of the Australian National Apology for Forced Adoptions issued last March by our former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It is a change in theme and content when compared to the articles in this blog, however the voice and style is mine. Wish me luck.
Garrulous Gwendoline, Wollongong, NSW, Sunday 15th September 2013