Thursday, September 2, 2021

Lessons Will Be Learned

And so another Blaugust drifts by, fading slowly into the gathering mists of autumn, shrouded in a cloak of bittersweet longing and tender regret. Or something. It's over, anyway.

So, how did you do? Belghast, like a proud coach at the end of a long season, has the final stats. Thanks, Coach! 

Is that even a thing coaches do? Schools didn't really have sports coaches in my day so I have no real idea what they do or how they talk except what I've seen in movies and TV shows. We had sports masters and my scool had what used to be called a "cricket professional", meaning someone who used to play professionally and parlayed that into a few decades of oiling the bats and shouting at people for running on the pitch. 

Maybe schools over here do have sports coaches these days. They have proms now, after all. 

God, that would have been weird - a prom. I kind of wish we had had them but I went to an all boys school and same-sex relationships were definitely not sanctioned by the authorities back then. Then again, half my friends ended up going out with girls from the same all girls school  that we seemed to have some kind of link-up with, even though it was on the other side of town. 

And so did I, come to that. And married one of them. The girls, that is, not one of my friends. Although we were friends then and still are now even though we divorced in the 1980s and haven't seen each other face-to-face for decades.

Ahem. Shall we get back to Blaugust? Should have done all this in "Getting To Know You Week" I guess, not "Lessons Learned". Lesson learned, then.

Congratulations to everyone who hit their targets and to everyone who didn't. Thanks to everyone who commented or contributed or read along in silence. Every eyeball matters. It takes a village to raise a blog, so they say. Okay, no-one says that but you know what I mean.

My own plan was to post every day and I did. It wasn't hard but then I do this for fun and anyway I don't work as much as I used to (even less, now I've had my requested reduction in hours to two days a week confirmed). Looking back to Blaugusts gone, I have no idea how I managed the full thirty-one posts when I was working almost full-time. I couldn't do it now.

Another Lesson : Random Pictures Break Up Text

Well, I guess I could. I could have done it this time but I'd have had to set up for it. Which I did. Even though I probably could have winged it.

This is Lessons Learned Week and for once I can confidently say I did learn at least one thing this time around: writing ahead really pays off. Also, another thing, so does finding a hook on which you can hang a whole bunch of similar posts.

I've often thought about doing series or features on the blog but until now it's always seemed like it would be more trouble than it was worth. I've done a few odds and ends over the years but only in a very ad hoc, fractured fashion. I've never given anything a specific name or made a separate section for it or allocated a particular day for the posts.

I didn't do any of those things this time, either, but the Pitchfork 25 series did have the benefit of a clear framework and a very specific remit, both of which made it exceptionally easy to knock out posts very quickly. Where the average time from blank page to published post here is probably no less than three hours, most of those P25 posts took less than an hour, start to end.

They were also so much fun to put together I sometimes banged out two or three on the same day because I was enjoying myself so much. At one point I had ten pre-written and ready to go. That really takes the pressure off.

My plan was always to use them only on days when I was working and to write "normal" posts every other day, so I was well aware I'd have more than I'd need to fill the gaps for Blaugust but I couldn't resist doing them. Music posts are so moreish.

As I write, I still have three completed P25 posts in the bank, which takes us to the Top Ten. I haven't quite decided how I'm going to go on from there. I might keep the rest back for days when I wouldn't otherwise post or I might just get bang them out and put them up as they come.

They Don't Need To Be Relevant - Just Pretty.
One thing's for certain: I will finish the whole twenty-five. It would be crazy not to. And there'll be another post on the final, official twenty-five, when it comes. I have no real idea when that's going to be. Entries closed nearly two weeks ago but all it says on the website is "check back later in the year for the results". 

I was hoping when I trailed the series that a few Blaugustians might join in and do 25s of their own (or 10s or 5s) but although I got more comments than I expected on my P25 posts the only one who came up with a list of their own was Mailvaltar

If anyone else fancies doing one it's not too late, you know. That's another lesson I learned from Blaugust. It's never too late to join in. I watched from the sidelines for several years before took the plunge. 

Actually, I didn't dive right in even then. My first year I shadowed Blaugust without signing up. Someone did that this year, I believe, although I forget who it was. It's a bit like when I play World vs World in Guild Wars 2 and run alongside a zerg without joining the squad. Sometimes that just feels freer, somehow.

There's no perfect way to blog and no perfect way to do Blaugust. That's another lesson. Do it your way. It's a platform and an opportunity and a club with no real entrance requirements other than a modicum of interest in blogging.

When it ends a lot of people feel a bit burned out or if not that then a little singed at edges. Others still feel the fire to write burning within. One incendiary metaphor too far? Thought so. 

No matter how we feel when it's over, next year most of us will be back for another round. Good old Blaugust! Good old Belghast! 

See you all back here, Summer 2022. Let's make it a date!


  1. I'm going to be honest, Bhagpuss -- I've secretly been hoping you never quite nailed the whole 'less words' thing you'd been shooting for because I thought it might remove too much of the character I love in your posts.

    This one, in one go, has shattered any and all concerns I might've held in that regard. xD

    To such an extent, I actually have to ask, at what point in your planning or writing did you know you'd close off the opening with: "Ahem. Shall we get back to Blaugust? Should have done all this in "Getting To Know You Week" I guess, not "Lessons Learned". Lesson learned, then."?

    Just *chefs kiss* the perfect cap to that section.

    1. Heh! Thanks! That's a great "Learning Example" you picked out there, too. If you'd read the post in the first hour or so it was up, you'd have missed te capper to that particular little set-up because I only added the final "Lesson learned, then?" after I re-read it for the second time after it published.

      I was freestyling, something I love to do, but as I went through the "story" its relevance to the various theme weeks of Blaugust occured to me, towards the end. When I write like that I'm usually also thinking a couple of sentences ahead simultaneously, presumably the way chess-players think a few moves ahead. (Something I have never been able to do, by the way. I'm a very bad chess player.)

      After that whatever I've written just waits until the first edit, which tidies and tightens it all up, moves stuff around and sometimes initates some extra writing to hold it all together. Then the second edit takes out typos and spelling errors. Al of that is pre-publication. Lastly, I re-read it on the blog to see how it feels on the page, which can occasionally be different to what I expected.

      Mostly nothing much gets changed then, maybe a few more typos. And almost always that's that.

      Only this time, for some reason, I re-read it a second time, an hour or two later. Probably some loading screen was taking forever and I just had it in front of me when I tabbed out. And that time the final capper to that paragraph just popped into my head as if it was there on the page already. I kicked myself for not thinking of it at the time.

      I thought about it for a while. Wilhelm said something once about not messing with published posts after a certain amount of time has passed and I totally agree with that. But it's like the four-second rule for dropped food. There's a short window where changes are allowed and I would generally draw that line at day of publication. So I went in and added the extra three words and voila - your comment!

      This would have been a great conversation for the part of Blaugust where we all hand out tips and sugestions (which used to be one of the weeks, I thought, but now I check doesn't appear to be any more). Bit lost in a comment but then comments are where the conversations happen, so I guess that's all good!

  2. We had proms by the time I was 16 but it was a lot less focused on getting dates and more just about dressing up and having a last party before moving on. Most people just went with their friends. I know I went to the one we had when I was 16, but I skipped the one we had in the A-level year cus I wasn't close with anyone and decided nah. Not worth it. Still weird, but kinda nice the way we do them. Pretty much just a school disco with an American name.


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