On Being Busy


Sometimes things clump.

That’s just the way the universe works. You wait for ages for a bus and then two or three come at once. You go weeks without a meeting then suddenly your schedule is so packed that the answer to everything else becomes “No!”. But this isn’t always a bad thing. Take this week for example.


Yesterday, for the first time in far too long I made it to a Tai Chi lesson. I cycled there in the light and back in the darkness. Between those journeys I learned the first few moves of a sword form, observed my failing balance in push hands and astonished myself by getting all the way through a long unpractised two person set.


Tomorrow I’m teaching. Actually no. Let me rephrase. Tomorrow I’m helping others to learn. It’s the first session of the Salt Spring Island WordPress Meetup Group. I’ll be setting up and talking about Social Media and WordPress. So today I’m preparing, and over preparing, with a side order of preparation.


Then Thursday is the Salt Spring Poetry Open Mic, run at the library once a month. This month the featured poet is Karen Shklanka.

With intoxicating fervour, Karen Shklanka’s new poetry collection, Ceremony of Touching, winds its way through time and place to bring you the stories of everyday people. From her real-life experience as a doctor trying her best to heal patients, to war-era Japan, and the devastation of Hiroshima, Shklanka’s poems beg us to witness and explore our own humanity: how we interact with one another, carry on in everyday life, love, grieve. Poems such as “Witness”, “Ceremonies for Despair”, and “One by One” are incredible examples of how Shklanka’s poems, while varied in both style and perspective, retain a powerful, captivating voice that creates a common thread, guiding the reader through the collection.

So it’s a busy week. And things clump together. But it’s not just a clumping of time, it’s also a clumping of ideas.

Karen, the poet, dances Tango. Inspired by this I chose the cover image for this post, and saw in it a similarity to a step in the sword form we make in order to sink before rising. I’ll publish this post in WordPress whose motto is “Code is Poetry”, and use it as an example in tomorrow’s MeetUp, in the same room where, the next day, I’ll hear Karen read.

Sometime good things clump together.

A Novel In A Month? It’s Totally Normal!


I just watched a Google Talk by Steve J. Martin describing ways in which small changes can produce big effects in persuading and influencing others. Communicating positive social norms seems to be important.

One example is HM Revenue & Customs, the UK’s tax authority, which wanted more citizens to pay their taxes on time. Rather than threats and television campaigns, it added a line to its letters. Appealing to herd mentality, it said a large number of people pay before the deadline. The result? Eighty-six per cent of respondents paid on time compared with 57 per cent the previous year. (Source: FT)

I’m thinking about how I can use this to help me get through NaNoWriMo. I’m going to try participating more in the forums, mixing with others who are trying to hit their targets. I was quite solitary in my last few attempts, and didn’t make it through to the end.

I’ll tell you in a month whether this change of practice helps me keep the momentum going. And in the meantime I’ll keep telling myself that it’s normal. Totally normal. Everyone does it.

BTW Steve’s book, which he co-wrote with Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini is “The small BIG: small changes that spark big influence“.