If I had stayed: A poem by Mike Cole

If I had stayed, where would I be?

Would my life have been an Ocean, my joy from the sea?

Or would flowered meadows have grown dark?

Devoid of life, lost of spark?

If I had stayed, would you have cared?

Or would I have been left, forgotten, to the creeping night?

Entombed, exhausted, succumbed to your inescapable blight.

March 2021 State of the Blog

March. Another month and with it a tiding of changes. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

The Coming Months

Last year I spent quite a bit of time working on the format of the blog and where I wanted it to go. This year, we’re in a great spot and I’m excited to use my fully implemented changes.

Series

The biggest change comes to series as I’ve now picked a few topics that will span the course of 4 months, the first being World Poetry Month for April. My Mental Health series was always meant to be a one-off but after scrambling to put it together last year for a second year in a row, I came to realize it’s important enough to make annual. The series take quite a lot of work to put together but this year I’m allowing for a little more planning as I get the articles ready months in advance.

After May I’ll have a series that I’m excited to debut focused around sustainability. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to cover in the past but never had the time or energy to talk about more outside of incorporating Dystopia Climate Change themes into my short stories. With the Oregon Wildfires last summer I realized I’d rather take the time to talk about it now than wait until I’m in some bunker waiting out the twilight of our planet. My research led to me understanding that there is no official world sustainability month and the most we’ve really ever gotten is Earth Day. One day dedicated to the planet, that’s it. As such, I decided I’ll give 4 weeks in July.

And closing out the year is October which I’m making my horror themed short story month as I want to do more experimentation with my writing. Last year saw some success and I’m hoping to expand upon what I built to make the series better and more lasting. Expect a combination of Sci-Fi and horror but we’ll talk about that more as we get closer.

Vacation Month

I’m playing around with a vacation month that I can simply take off every year. My schedule has been designed to work around my life so that I can avoid burnout and keep the blog going, indefinitely. Everything I write I enjoy writing and the blog has fallen into a nice rhythm over the last six years I’ve been writing. As such, having a month that I can simply take off without worrying about a status update would be nice. I wouldn’t mind writing every month but I think it’s important to design time around doing nothing. A month for trips, visits, and whatever comes my way. At the moment, August is looking like that month. It’ll be an experiment this year and if I feel good about it, I’ll make it routine in future years. I’ll be looking at the stats for the year and will let you know come June what the plan is.

Status Updates

So these are new. Over the last year, I’ve been playing around with the format and I think I’ve found what’ll stick. September, November, December, January, February, March, June. 7 months out of the year I will post an update, even if a lot of it might just be reiterating points I’ve made in other entries. It’s a time for me to collect my thoughts and allow me to check if the blog is in a good spot. 7 update articles strikes a nice balance between keeping the reader (you) in the loop without over saturating the year with update after update. Always optional to read, it’s designed to give structure to what would otherwise be a collection of poems, short stories, and articles. As such, I’m quite happy that I decided to start doing these.

This Month

This month is up in the air but I’m planning to write chapter 5 of New Horizon. This will be the body of the story and what will ultimately be the start of the climax before the journey winds down by chapter 10. This is my first short story series and I’ve been thrilled with the response. It’s been a blast creating my own world and seeing it come to life with each chapter. I plan to write more 10 chapter series so the fun will never end.

I have a video game article drafted and am working on making it fun, but less nerdy so that anyone can read it. If that’s not ready by the end of the month (or ever), then the second article will most likely be a poem.


And that’s that! The blog will be ramping up next month with World Poetry Month and Mental Health Awareness Month directly after that. We’ll meet back here in June. Any feedback, type below! And, if you want to donate to the blog, I’ll include the link to where you can do so:

Support this blog!

As always, thanks for reading!

September 2020 update: As the leaves turn

It is officially September, my favorite time of the year! Towards the end of August, nights start to become colder and the leaves begin to rustle, ushering in the month of September. September enjoys a mix of Summer and Autumn and represents a fresh start to the year. Many enjoy Spring, many enjoy Summer, I enjoy the Autumn months. September through November, there could not be a better time. It is also the month I was born, which means it’s a month for reflection and re-balancing.

What’s in Store?

As it stands, this month is going to be a lot of heavy lifting. The blog saw tremendous growth in April and May with June, July, and August being steady. The new format seems to be working well and I enjoy the update post with one to two posts a month format. Sharing, commenting, and liking have all helped the blog grow. I’ve begun to dive into promoting the blog through social media channels and while it is feasible, it will take a concentrated effort on my part to be successful. The other option would be to enlist the help of a colleague to help promote the blog but at the moment I have yet to hear a response.

Patreon

So far, Patreon is going well! I have a couple supporters now and the extra money helps. The goal is to have most money be generated from Ad revenue on the site and to have Patreon there for those who want to provide extra support. Over time, I will start publishing books and the hope is to use the income to live a life where I can choose whether or not I want to work from 9 to 5.

Medium and Outward expansion

Last month I looked into Medium as a potential outlet for other forms of writing such as business, politics, and social issues. While Medium might work for some, I ultimately decided I don’t think it would work for me. My whole approach to my blog has been building a community that will enjoy whatever I choose to write about and Medium has a focus on writing “one stellar article to end all articles”. Over time, you get funneled one direction or the other as the algorithm decides what articles you see. I also realized that while I enjoy reading the New York Times to stay informed, I don’t particularly enjoy talking about politics. They are good to discuss with friends but to dedicate time to writing about them? Not my cup of tea. So WordPress gets my full, undivided attention.

Linkedin

As for my professional career, that has taken a pause at the moment. In college, I thought Linkedin to be the “end all, be all” but to date it has led to zero full-time positions. Writing business related articles on the platform seemed like a great idea a few months back, but ultimately it is a lot of effort for little payoff. Even posting on Linkedin has become a chore. I’ve shifted my focus to more writing oriented roles but it is extremely difficult in this hyper-competitive world we live in. The issue isn’t doing a job and doing it well, it’s that you need a skill set just to get an interview and most desirable roles don’t even get posted in the first place. As such, most of my focus will be on this blog and looking at growth and engagement, so ultimately my frustrations with Linkedin will be a net positive.

The Month Ahead

We will be ramping up! I’ve decided to keep the update simple; it’s either going to be a poem, short story, or article. Typically the posts depend on my mood, so I can’t say what I want quite yet this month. I also think I’ve found a way to write more gaming related articles in the form of Fan Fiction, a subject I never thought I would write but did extremely well with my Stardew Valley article. My other gaming articles didn’t fair so well but that’s expected when coming into your stride. If I do write a Fan Fiction this month, I’ve been playing around with Animal Crossing and am excited just thinking about the potential. I also have some ideas for Chapter four of “New Horizon” so that might come together by the end of the month. No promises but all in all we’re in good shape.


And that’s a wrap! The update for this month was fairly long and I didn’t quite cover everything I had planned. I’m already thinking ahead to October and a spooky theme. Think Mental Health Awareness month except light-hearted and fun. An article a week focused around ghosts and all that goes bump in the night. I think it’ll provide a nice balance between the more serious Mental Health series and the planned Earth Month series (planned for April, although it might conflict with Poetry month). Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!

July 2020 update: Oh my God, we made it

2020, what a start to a new decade. As I edge closer to the twilight of my twenties this year went from an exciting start to a bizarre limbo and an uncertain end. I run on the side of hope, that all will eventually balance out.

The Coming Month

Part of the goal with these start-of-the-month updates is a chance to better connect with the community and lay long term infrastructure for the blog. If I ever need to take a break from writing, I can update in this post rather than just randomly go off the grid, like I’ve done in the past. A lot of my posts I add the occasional life update but with a monthly update I can do life updates all in one place, without tacking it onto an article; this will help articles keep their focus. This month for our two articles we’re looking at a poem and the third chapter of New Horizon, which has not been seen since 2018. I want to do the third chapter right, so expect this post to be the last week of the month. As for the poem, that’ll be next week.

Other Updates

This year I’m focused on growth but more importantly, sustainable growth. What I like about WordPress is the sense of community. Before I was a writer, I was a reader and nowhere else have I felt more at home. In the past, I’ve shied away from active promotion and have preferred organic growth; however, I’ve come to realize these two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Simply put, I want more people to see my content and enjoy what I have to share with the world. Instead of simply waiting for more people to come, it helps to simply say “hey, by the way, it’d be great if you joined the community.” Simple, yet effective.

No more weekend posts

Sometimes I get excited and want to post right away. As I’ve found over my years of writing, while the time of a post typically doesn’t matter, the day does. Weekend posts have historically gotten no traffic, regardless of topic. Fridays and Mondays are also fairly slow. So as I organize the blog and look at reach, you can expect to see posts on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. All this really means for you is more consistency, which is good.

Updated Contact and About page

Long overdue, I finally got around to updating my About and Contact page. I gave both pages an updated look, making it easier to find information about me and to reach out. Links are above if you’re curious what the pages look like.

Looking Ahead

I am currently researching podcasts and already have a draft of a first season planned. If I do create podcasts, I’ll post the content on my Patreon for everyone’s viewing pleasure. My first book is nearing completion and you should hear more within the coming months.


That’s it! Like, share, and follow if you enjoy my content. I’m excited for the coming weeks as I delve back into poetry and short stories. As always, feel free to comment below!