In The Meadow: A Haiku by Mike Cole

In the still meadow

A bird sat to sing a song

A tune unheard of.


It is national poetry month. A month of poetry starting with a Haiku. As part of the fun for this month, I thought I’d harken back to when I first started blogging and analyzed poems by famous poets, except this time, the poetry is written by me!

For Haiku’s, I typically start with a simple idea, an image I create in my head. The poetry itself is meant to tell a story since the word count and syllable count is so low. Rhyming becomes much more difficult, so typically I opt out of including it in the poem.

For this poem, it is meant to relax, a simple tale of a bird in a meadow. That is it. It is simply stating where the bird is, what it is doing, and the novelty of the experience. It has a hint that perhaps this is a remote part of the world, where man has rarely set foot or notes the beauty of the song itself.

November 2020 update: Winter Cometh

What a time to be alive. Rain has come and the months grow darker. November is the passageway from Autumn to Winter.

October

As part of my effort to expand the blog, October was dedicated to quite the treat. For the last month I wrote a short story a week, each around a different horror theme. Week one was “Hades” which focused on my limited knowledge of Greek Mythology. Week two was “The Church” which focused on an old, long forgotten church in the English countryside. Week three took us to “The Manor“. Set in Ireland and loosely inspired by Bly Manor (which I was watching at the time) I experimented with emphasizing room locations to add character. And for Week four we had “The Mirror” where I mixed mental health with horror. All were fun to write and “The Mirror” ended up being quite popular and one of my favorite short stories I’ve written thus far.

The future of October

As part of my general overhaul of this blog, I plan on making October an official spooky series month and in particular, dedicated to writing short stories. I already have a couple ideas for improvements for next year, such as making the short stories two-parters with cliffhangers and more engagement events focused around Twitter and Facebook.

Engagement

The last six months you may have seen quite a few changes from creating a Facebook page to an updated bio and contact page. Of the changes I’ve made thus far, the status updates have been my favorite. As far as major updates this month, I am pouring effort into Twitter. The goal ultimately being to draw in readers from platforms other than the WordPress reader. Ideally I would have liked to hire help for engagement but as it stands, it’s a job I can do and just means I’ll be extra tired.

On the blog itself, I’m trying to figure out the formula for encouraging people to comment and have fun with the blog outside of simply reading it. So far, I’ve simply been liking and commenting as best I can; I enjoy engagement and am hopeful that the blog will one day reach a level where readers will engage with one another.

Patreon and Ko-Fi

Slowly but surely I am getting better at navigating Patreon. I’ve received some feedback and made changes accordingly. The biggest change is updating the Patreon page itself with the newest posts. This, I have to do manually but it creates a better overall experience for both those who follow through the blog and those who are searching through Patreon. As of now the rewards are basic but the plan is to eventually have Patreon exclusive rewards that make each tier feel meaningful. This might be a free copy of a book (if I ever finish one), early access to a podcast (should I ever create one) and prints of artwork (yes, I want to eventually learn to paint and draw). I might fiddle around with Patreon exclusive writing down the road but since I am only one man, it would be nigh impossible to justify the time commitment at the moment. If you’re curious to see what the page looks like, you can check it out here. I’m proud of the changes and if you have any feedback, don’t forget my contact page is fully operational! Every message sent should get seen by me.

Artwork

With writing, blogging was started as a way to get practice communicating. Eight years later and I think I’ve gotten the hang of this whole “communication” thing. As I’ve begun beefing up my media presence and focused on marketing my content, I’ve begun to wonder if now would be a good time to expand once more. It’s hard for people to read articles from beginning to end. A painting or drawing is instant. You see color or the pencil lines, notice detail or minimalism, and make a judgement within seconds. I want to do it as I’ve heard it’s beneficial for mental but I’m also curious if that might be the missing ingredient for getting more people interested in my work.

The future of Series on the blog

Series are here to stay! Previously, I was going to designate April as Sustainability month on the blog but after this last month have decided to focus on poetry. I was also thinking of doing a hybrid poetry/sustainability month but have ultimately scrapped the idea. The reasoning behind this is simply my greatest strength is poetry. A lot of people follow the blog for poetry and I realized that I can write the occasional sustainability article to raise attention to the cause. Plan on Earth Day and my short stories to cover most of my thoughts on sustainability. The big cause and the month that will be article heavy is May, where I will once more be covering mental health.

The blog originally started with a lot of self-help articles as I shared my advice that evolved from my application of business concepts in the real world. In 2018 I took that a step further and dedicated an entire month to the topic of mental health, a series that was meant to be a one off where I built up the courage to talk about my Father’s alcoholism and how it affected me. Last year, I wrote a couple articles in a mad scramble to express the importance of mental health. Over the last 6 months (or however long it’s been) I’ve focused the content I produce so there will be no more mad scrambles (yay). Since I’ve already talked about my deepest troubles, that frees up quite a bit to simply have fun with the series, much along the strand of what you saw in 2019. I already have a couple ideas drafted so we’ll see what comes.


And that’s a wrap. November will be a relatively quite month as I take a breather and organize my social media. As always, thanks for reading and expect a post most likely last week of November! If you have suggestions, always feel free to reach out!

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!

Deleted Posts and private posts: A 2020 musing

So today I felt like writing. Some days are like that. Roll out of bed, drink some coffee, and write. In honor of the 5 year anniversary of the blog, we’re going to be taking a look back and simply enjoy the stories that have been told throughout the years. Half a decade is a long time to be doing anything and I’ve been writing for the better part of 8 years. I’ve been a reader and a blogger throughout that time. I’ve watched blogs grow and die yet what you don’t see are the posts unseen. The articles made private and the ones deleted in the blink of an eye. I used to have a thousand drafts of articles never written, ideas never allowed to blossom. I tried a revival series once upon a time, taking my drafts and using the titles as prompts. Some were a few weeks old, others years old.


Writing is tough. If topics aren’t covered gracefully, people lose interest and at worst, you are offending people. One of my now deleted posts was one of my first posts on religion. Nothing crazy but a post I deleted nonetheless. Finding your footing is hard and all too often we’re afraid to stumble. Another discarded draft was on gun violence, back when people weren’t all too numb to the record setting shootings we have in the US. Another, a late night ramble made private concerning my relationship status, which is still very much single. We live in the information age and for the most part I’ve enjoyed what technology has brought to offer. I have a voice and that’s beautiful.


I always try to stray away from these ramble topics. I like content focused articles but honestly, ramble writing is therapeutic. In that sense, the blog hasn’t changed so much in the last 5 years. My writing has become more focused over time but a ramble is still a ramble. This post would be easy to delete, to stop half way through but I always find it an interesting perspective looking back. By keeping my posts, I’ve essentially created my very own time machine, where I can remember exact moments where I was in a given moment. My young adult life, well documented, for the world to see. So now, when I write, it’s with the intent to publish. And to be honest, I regret deleting my earlier posts. God and I have a complicated relationship but reading my thought process at a time when I was full blown atheist was fascinating. Over time, the article will fade into the abyss, but I have to wonder if I’ll ever tackle religion again in its full beauty. And gun violence? I wouldn’t even know where to start; it used to be a top concern for the US but years of inaction have left the point mute.


And that’s it! Just felt like writing today in a more relaxed tone. Over the coming months I’m getting an itch for poetry and short stories so we’ll see what happens later on this year. I’ll be trying out some writing workshops here and there as well, so we’ll see if there’s any noticeable change. And my book? still very much a work in progress, just a lot of research and fear of publishing but I’m committed. And if you like what I write, please like, follow, and share with others who might enjoy my writing! This year I’m making the push to grow the blog so I can eventually write full time. In a perfect world, I’d be traveling, writing, and learning. We’ve already surpassed 2019 in terms of everything, so we’re on the right track. The year is shaping up to look a lot like 2018 but I’m confident that we’ll surpass 2018. I have a lot planned for the year and I’m excited. Below is a link to my Patreon and Ko-Fi, I do everything on this blog by myself, so the donations help! Whether it’s a one time donation or a subscription, I cannot express how grateful I am for any support.

Support this blog!

And that’s it! Let me know what your thoughts are! I am always open to feedback!