A Sonnet About Writing A Sonnet That Is More Pentametric Than It Is Iambic

To write a sonnet well is no mean feat
It is a testament to rhyming skills
Without overlooking a rhythmic beat
That endures for no less than fourteen lines
Though iambically it may be flawed
A pentameter can be maintained thus
So one should not find oneself overawed
Even Shakespeare had need to break the rules
Pentametric verse sounds more iambic
If performed aloud in a certain way
In conjunction with licence poetic
A technicality I oft abuse
Though my licence may well now have expired
In response to a sonnet uninspired

The September Sessions – 1 of 9

Hello and welcome to a very special edition of ‘Artist’s Corner’. You join me as I witness the creation of a masterpiece. Little Proclaims has permitted me to observe as she puts together the finishing touches to the ‘September Sessions’, a project that she began in earnest last week while feeling slightly unwell.

Although she is in much better health this week, we’ve already had our trip to the park and we have time to kill until lunch, so more art seemed to be the way to go.

It’s Sunday as I write this, though the post, will hit the blogosphere on Thursday, because that is the day that I have decided to publish these posts. I’m not sure why. I don’t really follow a particular schedule for the rest of my output, but for a while now Wednesdays have been ‘click-bait’ day and Thursdays have been ‘Artist’s Corner’ day. And the click-bait posts finished last week so the ‘Artist’s Corner’ posts are the only remaining indicator that I have any kind of coherent plan for my blog. Which I don’t.

But Little Proclaims has, thus far in September, produced 9 pieces for me to share with you. There may be more, but I can account for 9. I have photographed them (as my scanner still refuses to scan) and I intend to share them, one a week, for nine consecutive Thursdays. I’ll forego giving them titles and instead they will be known as 1 of 9, 2 of 9 etc. 7 of 9 will not be Star Trek related. But I may still use it as an excuse to write about Star Trek a bit.

The planned schedule should get us pretty much through to mid-November and who knows what the world will look like then?

Anyway, back to the live session and frankly it’s already over. I genuinely started writing while Little Proclaims was ensconced in producing art work but it all quickly descended into chaos. It’s no doubt part of her process but, much as I don’t want to crush her artistic spirit, it didn’t seem particularly safe to let her climb on the dining table.

So we stopped and had lunch.

Not at the dining table, for it is really only a notional ‘dining’ table. It’s really a large storage area where we keep recently aquired stuff that doesn’t yet have a home. It turns out that when you have a toddler, you consistently aquire stuff. Some of that stuff is useful and some of it is not, but it all requires ‘sorting’ and the dining table serves as a kind of holding bay until it has been sorted. By the time one lot of stuff is sorted, a new lot of stuff has taken its place so it really only gets used for ‘dining’ maybe once or twice a year.

But we had lunch anyway, and now Little Proclaims is napping.

And I’m writing this.

Although I appear to have finished writing now.

So here is the first of the nine pieces produced in ‘The September Sessions’:

A Villanelle About Trying To Write A Villanelle

I wanted to improve my poetry
So I tried to write a villanelle
I thought it would be easy

The first stanza went quite well
But I slowly began to see
It was difficult to foretell

How successful I might be
Whether I could really excel
Or was this form beyond me?

I knew I could construct the shell
Of any poem visually
But the themes would just unravel

Without the missing key
To unlock inspiration’s cell
And set my trapped muse free

And I tried my best to quell
This most poetic villainy
But it’s time to sound this poem’s knell
And the villanelle can go to Hell

I’ve Finally Achieved My Dream

James Proclaims (4)

Last week I disappeared from the blogosphere for a few days. You may not have noticed. Why would you? I’m not a blogger of any particular consequence. Besides, even though I wasn’t really around, my writing still was, as I made use of the rather helpful ‘scheduling’ feature on WordPress and my posts appeared everyday, almost as if I was posting them myself. They were all written in advance however, as indeed many of my posts are. That’s why they often appear at 5am. I am sometimes awake at 5am, but I’m either comforting a toddler who should really still be asleep, or I’m getting up stupidly early to do exercise. I’m certainly not blogging at 5am.

Since I’ve been back in work in the last fortnight, I’ve tended to exercise in the evenings.

But I still sometimes get up early, because I like to get to work early.

Well, technically that’s not true, I don’t like going to work at all. But if I have to go, then I tend to find it’s quite helpful, from a stress management perspective, if I get there early.

But blogging mostly occurs during holidays and weekends. And, as it turns out, during pandemics. But I didn’t know about that last one until around six months ago.

So, aside from a few intentional daily blogging streaks in the past, which were more about seeing if I could, rather fuelled by any belief that I should, I’ve always tended to post a little haphazardly. But the daily blogging streak that I started this year feels different. It feels like something I can maintain. As long as I don’t let things like ‘quality-control’ get in the way.

But the return of work proper has made me realise that it’s going to be quite difficult and require a lot of advance post-writing. Which is what I did last week.

So if you elected to comment on any of my posts, then I apologise for the late reply. Assuming I did reply. As I write this I haven’t replied to any comments for a few days, but I intend to rectify that momentarily. I also apologise if I haven’t visited your blog in a while. Assuming you have a blog of course. Which you probably do if you’re reading this, because my audience is primarily other bloggers. Well, other bloggers and repetitive algorithms. But I think it’s only the bloggers that actually read my posts. So apologies that I haven’t read your posts of late. I hope to rectify that too, but life appears to be quite busy at the moment.

If nothing else, the return to working at work has made me realise how much I lied to myself about the amount of work I was doing between March and September. I still think I did do quite a lot, but without other people to interact with, I suspect I was more efficient. Which did allow time for blogging. Now though, the government is keen for us all get back to our previous inefficiencies in the name of the economy;

So I will need to find some extra motivation to keep blogging.

And what better motivation could I have than the message I received from WordPress on Friday?

Which was this:

1,000 Follows!
Congratulations on getting 1,000 total follows on James Proclaims!!
Your current tally is 1,001.

Now if you’d told me back in May 2015, when I first started this blog, that by September 2020 I would have over 1000 followers, I would never have believed you.

Because back in May 2015 I assumed it would happen much more quickly than that. And I also believed that it would be 1000 real people who actually read my blog.

Whereas I obviously now know that that is not the case.

At all.

Still, 1000 followers, real or imaginary, is still a badge of honour of sorts. I mean WordPress have literally given me a badge so it must be significant.

Did I start this post by claiming that I’m not a blogger of any particular consequence?

Well clearly that isn’t true any longer.

Look out ‘big time’ – here I come!

Let’s Chalk It Up

Hello and welcome to Artist’s Corner. Regular readers will know that, of late, this has been the bit of my blog on which I have been posting the various artistic endeavours of my two-year-old daughter. And while she continues to enjoy putting washable felt-tip pen to paper, I’m not currently at home as much as I have been, what with the re-opening proper of schools in the UK. Even in the likely event that there is another spike in the infection rate and further school closures in the future, I’m still going to be pretty busy with school-related stuff for the foreseeable, which means that I’ll be seeing less of my daughter. Because I don’t really want to spend any of that time trying to get her to make ‘art’ for my blog (particularly as she would rather use that time to jump up and down on my back. And sometimes my head) I feared this might be the last Artist’s Corner for a while.

However, Little Proclaims wanted to continue. I mean her actual motivation is questionable given that she has no idea what a blog is, but she elected to be unwell this weekend just gone and because of the current climate, even though it was clearly just a common cold that ailed her, I felt it unwise to take her out in public. Trapped indoors on Sunday morning, she proved quite productive in her artistic endeavours, so much so that I have no end of pieces to share with the blogosphere. I’ll be dubbing them ‘The September Sessions’ and hopefully I’ll be posting the first of those next week. However, due to technical difficulties I’ve been unable to scan any of them for this week so instead I’ll share a different project from August when Little Proclaims was working in a new medium thanks to some oversized chalks she had for her birthday.

As ever, I’ll leave it to the regular art critics who frequent the comments section to interpret the meaning behind these pieces:

You’ll Never Get More Readers Without Doing This

James Proclaims (4)

Hello, I’m James and this is my blog, ‘James Proclaims’. Every Wednesday, for the last few months, I have been writing disingenuous posts with click-bait titles. While my motivation has always been fairly tongue-in-cheek, I did start doing this partly to see if it made any difference to my overall stats.

I don’t massively care about stats – I did once, I presume most bloggers do when they start out, but over time most of us realise that while a general upward trend is probably a good thing, having lots of new followers doesn’t necessarily translate to having lots of people actually reading your blog. It’s not always even clear if ‘likes’ are indicative of people having read anything.

Nonetheless, my stats do fascinate me because I’m never quite sure what influences them. It’s certainly not my writing.

So as well as being a project to amuse myself with, the click-bait titles did serve as a kind of barometer with which to gauge my stats. What I learned, if I learned anything, was that when a click-bait title pertained to blogging it did really seem to have a measurable impact. Other titles fared less well, although some were more impactful than others.

This makes sense, the people most likely to come across my blog are inevitably going to be other bloggers and we all want to know how to be better bloggers don’t we? Even people who pretend not to care, like me, secretly crave the magic elixir, which will lead to blogging greatness.

Sadly that elixir still eludes me, and I started to bore myself with the click-bait titles a while back. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve kept going with them for so long.

So this is my last one.

If you clicked here looking the secret to getting new readers then I’m afraid it remains a secret to me too. Although an eye-catching title is probably a good thing. As long as you’re not peddling a lie.

Exclusive! An Interview With James Proclaims

James Proclaims (4)

For the last five years, little has been known about the mysterious figure behind the multi-award nominated blog, ‘James Proclaims’. Apart from the blog posts of course. But what can you really tell about a person from a blog post? Well, possibly quite a lot. Or maybe nothing at all. Have the utterings of the last five years been a heart-felt cry for help from an apparently quite disturbed individual? Or have they been a finely weaved tissue of lies? Today, for the first time, we might be able to find out the truth. Because today James off of ‘James Proclaims’ has finally agreed to be interviewed. By me.

Now, I appreciate there is a slight conflict of interests here given that I am James off of James Proclaims. But I can assure you that this will be the hardest hitting of interviews. I will leave no stone uncovered in my search for the truth. And to create the illusion that this is a conversation between two distinct personalities, I made the badly edited image above of two versions of myself apparently in the same room. I’ll leave it to you to work out which James is which.

James: On behalf of the readers of ‘James Proclaims’ I’d just like to express my thanks to you for finally agreeing to this interview.

James: What about the bots?

James: I’m sorry?

James: The bots. Are they saying thank you too? Because they like a lot of my posts.

James: If it’s important to you then yes. I’d like to thank you on behalf of the bots too. Bit of a weird thing to mention though.

James: Not at all. A lot of the foundation of my success has been my innate ability to give the bots what they want.

James: Actually, on the subject of success, what is it that makes you think that this blog has, in any way, been successful.

James: Just the fact that it’s still here after five years is reason enough. But actually, in spite of all the bots and fake followers, it does appear that some people actually do read it. And that has always been my criteria for success.

James: That’s not exactly true though is it?

James: Not at all, no. Obviously it’s nice that some people read it, but I really would like a lot more people to read it. And ideally I’d like to give up work and live off the proceeds of the blog.

James: That doesn’t seem at all realistic – how much money does the blog currently make?

James: It clearly doesn’t make any money. If anything it costs me money. And I obviously don’t expect it to make any money. But in an ideal world it would. It’s not my fault we don’t live in an ideal world.

James: Some people make money from blogging though…

James: Do they? Really?

James: Yes, you met someone once remember?

James: That’s right, I did. But they wrote a travel blog, and they started years ago, when blogging was still quite new. So it had a commercially-friendly purpose and quite a lot less competition. Plus they supplemented their blog-income by leading disingenuous training courses on how to make money from blogging. So really they made their money from allowing other people to believe that they could make money from blogging. In any case, whether or not it is possible to make money from blogging, no-one in their right mind would pay money for this nonsense. I mean I’m literally interviewing myself at the moment.

James: In some respects it’s a shame you didn’t think about starting a blog when you lived in Paris back in the early noughties, which was, in many ways, both the right time and the right place to start writing a commercially viable blog.

James: Yes that does now seem like a bit of an oversight.

James: Particularly as you were, at the time, writing lots of blog-post style emails home to your friends and family.

James: I feel like you’re rubbing salt into the wounds a bit.

James: So given that you are never going to make any money, why do you persist in blogging?

James: I quite enjoy it.

James: Do you? I only ask because a lot of your recent posts appear to have been quite cynical about this whole blogging malarkey. Almost as if you’re getting a bit fed up with it.

James: No, I really do enjoy it. But at the same time I find it a little bizarre at times. There are some genuinely perplexing elements to blogging, and while I do really like reading the blogs of other people, there are some people, quite a lot of people, who seem to take it all very seriously. And as I take very little seriously, it behooves me to make fun of it all a bit.

James: Is that why you do stupid things like pretending to interview yourself?

James: Essentially yes. I tend to see the blog as a place to practise in the hope that one day I may actually write something of merit. Consequently, regardless of how good or bad something might be, I post pretty much everything that pops into my head. I don’t really expect anyone to read any of it. It’s mostly stuff that amuses me. If it amuses someone else then that’s never a bad thing, and obviously it’s good for my fragile ego when people take the time to ‘like’ and comment on my posts. Even the bots. Especially the bots. Honestly, I’m not really pitching this stuff at algorithms so I really appreciate it when they take the time to ‘like’ my posts.

James: So, is any of this real? Do any of the posts represent the ‘authentic’ James.

James: A lot of what I write is obviously just facetious nonsense, and I rarely intend for much of it to be taken too seriously, but if you were to read all of my posts then you’d probably have a fairly good idea of who I am. If you like my posts then you’d probably like me in real life. And if you don’t like them then why would you bother reading them?

James: So you never read the blogs of people you don’t like then?

James: Not intentionally no. I did once ‘follow’ a blogger who, as it turns out, was bit of a right-wing extremist. I just thought everything he wrote was satire and quite brilliant satire at that. But it slowly dawned on me that it wasn’t satire and that he meant everything he was saying. Which made the posts a lot less enjoyable. But generally I only read the blogs of people who I find entertaining.

James: You’re quite inconsistent with your blogging aren’t you? I know you’re currently posting every day but that hasn’t always been the case.

James: No, I never really intended to post daily, but I find that if I don’t make an effort to update the blog regularly then I have a tendency to disappear for weeks on end. And sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get going again. So lately I’ve been of the view that it’s good to post daily because while some days it can be hard to think of anything to write, I tend to find blogging more enjoyable when I’m doing it regularly. Plus it’s been quite a good distraction from recent world events.

James: Blogging daily does impact on the overall quality of your posts though doesn’t it?

James: Possibly. I mean this post is clearly evidence of my total lack of filter, but I like to believe that in amongst all of the detritus is the odd little gem.

James: This post is definitely not a gem though.

James: Absolutely not. I can’t imagine why anyone would still be reading at this point.

James: So, what does the future hold for the blog?

James: Do you mean this blog? Or are you speaking about ‘The Blog’ in a more conceptual sense?

James: Interpret it however you like.

James: Well, I think blogging will probably carry on being a thing. Podcasts, Vlogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram haven’t killed it yet, so it’s hard to see what will. As for this blog, I’ll probably keep trying to post every day until life gets in the way. Which it no doubt will fairly soon. There will probably be a lot of haikus. Maybe the odd limerick. I don’t think I’ll do another interview with myself.

James: No, I think we’re both regretting this decision.

James: Although that regret won’t actually stop me from posting this.

James: Well, you did go to all the trouble of making the picture.

At this point we had to cut the interview short because James was boring himself.

My Toddler Still Thinks I’m An Idiot

James Proclaims (4)

Back in June I wrote a post called My Toddler Thinks I’m An Idiot. Essentially I recounted how my wife and I were attempting to bring our daughter up to be bilingual in French and English. We were always quietly confident about the English bit of that particular ambition, what with English being our first language and the fact that we live in England. Indeed, barring any developmental difficulties for Little Proclaims, we would be somewhat remiss were we not to provide her with the capacity to communicate in our native tongue. Our ambitions for French stem from the fact that both Mrs Proclaims and I can speak French (though she far better than I) and we thought it was worth a go.

And back in June it all seemed to being proceeding rather well. Little Proclaims was actually demonstrating a greater knowledge of French than English, partially I think because lockdown had removed much of her access to friends and family and so she was stuck with just her parents for company. And we were speaking to her in French a lot.

Nonetheless, the odd English word was slipping into her babbling and it had become apparent to me that those little English cameos appeared to be more common when she was in my company.

And I used that as the premise for the aforementioned blog post.

But I didn’t really believe in my heart of hearts that Little Proclaims genuinely thought I was an idiot.

Fast forward several months and, like it or not, the UK is starting to return to something that isn’t quite normality but is more normal than before. A state of affairs that has been dubbed by some as ‘the new normal’ but it might be more accurately dubbed as ‘the state of affairs that results when a government massively misjudges the appropriate response to a pandemic and then panics about the economy’. Anyway, as a result of this quasi-normality, Little Proclaims has been exposed to lots of English again and consequently her conversational skills in her native language have caught up with those of the language we have rather forced upon her. And although she is still only two-years old, her verbal communication skills are coming on really well.

And obviously, as a proud father, I’m delighted with this development.

Except it has now become quite apparent that she genuinely thinks I can’t speak French. Because she only ever speaks to me in English. Literally she will say something to me. Something like “look daddy, look at the dog” and then she’ll turn to her mother and say the exact same thing in French “regardes maman, regardes le chien”.

And yes, this is impressive. But it’s also a little heartbreaking.

Because my toddler really does think I’m an idiot.

Although it occurred to me that she never, ever speaks to Mrs Proclaims in English.

So presumably she thinks my wife can’t speak English any more than she thinks I can speak French.

So, as my wife was gently mocking me about this the other day I turned to her and grinned

“It’s ok, she thinks you’re an idiot too.”

Pink

Hello and welcome to another Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog that I’m currently loaning out to my two-year-old daughter so that she has a forum in which to share her artistic endeavors. Ever the innovator, this week she has moved from white A4 paper to expressing herself on pink A4 paper.

As always, the results are as challenging as they are technically proficient.

I look forward to reading the critiques in the comments below.

The World’s Most Difficult Riddle? Only 10% Of People Who Tried This Could Solve It

James Proclaims (4)

Hello, I’m James and this is my blog, ‘James Proclaims’.

I enjoy a riddle as much as anyone, but you won’t find one here.

Certainly you won’t find the ‘World’s Most Difficult Riddle’. I don’t know what that is. But I would imagine that if 10% of people can solve a riddle then it would be unlikely to be the world’s most difficult. If only 10% of people can solve something then it probably is quite difficult but anyone with even the most rudimentary grasp of statistics would know that 10% of people is still quite a lot of people.

One would imagine that the world’s hardest riddle would be virtually impossible to all but a very select few. I wouldn’t want to guess at the percentage, but the most difficult concepts are probably only accessible to people who are even smarter than me. If you can believe that such people exist.

Maybe there isn’t even a ‘World’s Most Difficult Riddle’. Maybe there are a few riddles that are equally hard. Maybe certain kinds of riddles are easier for certain types of people than they are for others, but if you had a different kind of riddle then it would be different people who find that easy or difficult respectively.

I don’t really care to be honest. I’m just writing this so that there is a post to go with my ‘click-bait’ title. Because writing click-bait titles once a week is a thing I currently do.

I don’t know why.

Maybe that is the ‘World’s Most Difficult Riddle’.

Although it obviously isn’t.

All Blog And No Blog Makes Blog A Blog Blog

James Proclaims (4)

Happy September everyone!

It’s not actually September as I write this, but I am planning on posting this on the first day of September. Because, without wishing to ruin the magic for anyone, sometimes I write my posts ahead of time.

Anyway, although I’m writing this on the 29th August 2020, it will be September 2020 (or possibly even later than September 2020) by the time you read this. Assuming you ever do read it. Which I suppose depends on who ‘you’ are. If you are me, then you actually did get to read it before September 2020, because you sort of read it while you were writing it, and then you definitely ‘proof read’ it several times afterwards.

But there is a chance that you might not be me. In which case I would like to welcome you to my blog. Unless you’re a regular reader. If you’re a regular reader then I pretty much take you for granted and extend you no such courtesies. But if you’re new then please feel very welcome. I value each and every one of my readers. Especially the new ones like you.

And if you are new, then you couldn’t be joining the ‘James Proclaims’ family at a better time. For, in reviewing my monthly stats, as all good bloggers should, I have discovered that, for the third month running, I have just had my most successful month since I started this whole blogging malarkey back in May 2015. According to all of the data that WordPress deems important, August 2020 was better than July 2020.

And July 2020 was better than June 2020.

And June 2020 was better than all of the other months I’ve been doing this for. By quite some way.

The only month before June 2020 that even came close was August 2015, and that has always been the exception that proves the rule that statistically I’m not really very good at blogging.

Of course, prior to June 2020, I would have told you that stats don’t matter, that they are meaningless and the only purpose to blogging is to enjoy yourself.

But that was back when I was a loser.

Now I’m on the up, and I recognise that not only do blogging stats matter, but they are more important than anything else in the world. And so my goal is to continue the upward curve and make September 2020 even better than August 2020. And then make October 2020 even betterer than that. And November 2020 even bettererer. And so on and so forth.

The only issue with this plan is that I have absolutely no idea why the last three months have been more popular than the preceding five years. I haven’t actually done anything all that different. I’m blogging a lot more than I have for a while, but this is by no means the only time I’ve done that, and the last time I was producing posts at this rate I didn’t experience anything like the same spike in my stats.

So, there is a chance that things will settle down and I’ll go back to being the inconsequential blogger I was before, producing nonsense that a small number of people enjoy and most people ignore.

And I could pretend to be happy with that.

But I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I don’t make a real effort to sustain this success that I will regret it.

So, I think it’s time to start tapping into one of the more lucrative blogging streams.

I’ve done my research and, as of tomorrow, I will be mostly writing about vitamins.

James Explains How To Blog

Hello bloggers and bots, it’s James here, off of the multi-award nominated blog, ‘James Proclaims’.

I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for over five years now (if we ignore all the blogs I started and then abandoned in the preceding years. Of which there were a few) so I’m something of an expert. Indeed after five years of blogging I’ve achieved the highest level of expertise that it’s possible to have. Because it takes exactly five years to achieve that.

If I’d been blogging for six years, I’d still only be as good as a blogger who had been blogging for five years because that is the highest level of blogging that it’s possible to achieve.

If I’d been blogging for seven years, I’d still only be as good as a blogger who had been blogging for five years because that is the highest level of blogging that it’s possible to achieve.

If I’d been blogging for eight years, I’d still only be as good as a blogger who had been blogging for five years because that is the highest level of blogging that it’s possible to achieve.

Five years is what it takes.

Have I made that clear?

If I’d been blogging for nine years, I’d still only be as good as a blogger who had been blogging for five years because that is the highest level of blogging that it’s possible to achieve.

So I am officially and legally an expert blogger.

But it occurs to me that some of you less experienced bloggers don’t really know how to blog properly.

And you need help.

Help that only I can provide.

So, if you want to stop having a rubbish blog and start having a good blog like this one, then you need to do the following immediately:

Step 1: Blog on WordPress. I assume that most of you have already got this bit right, because you’ve managed to find this amazing post and that’s much easier to do if you’re already on WordPress. But sometimes I do get visitors from places like Blogger.

Seriously, Blogger!

WordPress is better than Blogger for many reasons. Many many reasons. But we don’t have time to deal with those now. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can pay them money for things to make your blog better and you should do this because you don’t want to have a rubbish blog. Pay them whatever they want and don’t ask stupid questions. Also something about blocks.

Step 2: Get lots of followers. This is the absolutely most important bit about blogging. The best way to get new followers is to follow lots of other people and ‘like’ all of their posts. Don’t worry if that sounds like a lot of work because it isn’t. You don’t really need to read their posts. At all. However, if someone is being particularly stubborn and not following you back, then occasionally commenting on their blog with things like “Great blog!” or “Nice post!” will definitely win them over. So do that.

Step 3: Don’t attempt to be creative. Blogs aren’t for that. You’re part of a community now so just write things that other people will like. Whatever everyone else is talking about, make sure you talk about it too. And definitely make sure you agree with all the people in your community – they’ll be the ones that you are reciprocally following. It’s really important to try and sound like you might be saying something controversial and important while actually regurgitating what everyone else is saying.

Step 4: Your blog must have a purpose. Make sure that is clear. Otherwise you’ll never make any of the freely available money that is available to bloggers everywhere. Except for those chumps over on Blogger.

Blogger! Ha!

Step 5: Whatever the purpose of your blog is, ultimately the main purpose of your blog is to blog about blogging. If you’re new to blogging it’s really important to let everyone know how super excited you are to be blogging and how grateful you are to all of the bots who have decided to follow you. Then after a couple of years you might want to start mixing it up a bit and start being a bit snarky about certain ‘types’ of bloggers. And maybe start using words like snarky even though you don’t really know what they mean.

Step 6: When you’ve been at it a while you can start lamenting about how blogging isn’t as good as it used to be and how you really feel like giving up. But don’t actually give up. Just keep endlessly writing posts that suggest that you will.

Step 7: You’ve made it! You’re a proper blogger with all of the requisite skills. Now you have to pass on what you have learnt and dedicate your blog to making other people into better bloggers.

Ok, follow all those steps and you might one day have a blog that is almost as good as this one.

Why not tell me how helpful you found the advice in the comments section?

Oh and in case you were wondering – if I’d been blogging for ten years, I’d still only be as good as a blogger who had been blogging for five years because that is the highest level of blogging that it’s possible to achieve.

James Explains How To Comment

Hello fellow bloggers, bots and the unlikely but still plausible person who reads this and is neither a blogger nor a bot. Today I’d like to talk about commenting on blogs. Because I’ve noticed that some people are prone to do so on this blog and, to put it bluntly, not everyone is getting it quite right.

So, at the risk of alienating some of my readers, I think it’s time we established some basic rules for commenting on my posts. Although if any of the ensuing advice does offend you then it’s probably because this blog isn’t for you. And that’s ok. Not everyone is going to be intellectually capable of accessing this material, so don’t beat yourself up. Some people have to be ‘below average’. That’s just how averages work. And as long as you can read words, there is bound to be a blog out there for you to enjoy. It’s probably just not this one.

Anyway, if you’re determined to stick around and worse still you absolutely have to write a comment, then please do consider the following advice before posting that comment:

  1. When you comment, you’re pretty much obliging me to reply. So think about that before you comment. Is it worth my time? I don’t mind replying to good comments but I do expect you to proof read it several times before you post it. Maybe get a friend to check it. If you take a few extra moments to focus on producing quality content then we’ll all reap the benefits.
  2. Despite my insistence on high quality comments, I would urge you to avoid posting comments that are better than the blog post itself. This sort of thing is happening far too often, and frankly it’s just showboating.
  3. If you’d like to give me some helpful advice on blogging, I would urge you to consider whether I really seem like the sort of person who would welcome advice on blogging.
  4. If the only reason for your comment is to shamelessly self-promote your own blog, then be my guest. It’s fundamentally the only reason I ever comment on anyone else’s blog. Ever. Nonetheless, I would urge you to focus your self-promotion efforts on enticing my other readers rather than me. If you happen to have written a post that you think I will enjoy, then inviting me to ‘check it out’ in the comments section of my blog will likely result in me clicking on the link and ‘liking’ your post just to shut you up, but I will never actually read it. Just out of spite.
  5. The best kind of comments are the ones that essentially recognise that I am the greatest writer of this, or indeed any other, era. If you’re not entirely of the view that this blog is the best blog that ever was and ever will be, then it’s questionable whether you should be commenting at all.
  6. If points 1-5 have left you with a bitter taste, then you might want to try consuming them again with a pinch of salt.

I do hope that has cleared everything up and I look forward to reading the well-written and predominantly sycophantic comments below.

Playing With Fire?

Welcome to another Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog where I have handed over my incredibly influential and important digital platform to showcase the artistic talents of my two-year-old daughter.

After last week’s mostly blue efforts, she has gone with some other colours this week. Just to highlight her range. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I found it strangely evocative of fire. But, as ever, I await the views of the true experts in the comments sections.

The Last Post: Why I’m Giving Up Blogging Forever

James Proclaims (4)

Hello, I’m James and this is my blog, ‘James Proclaims’. This is my 757th post on this particular blog. I thought it was going to be my 750th but I appear to have overshot by a week. Last Wednesday’s post, entitled ‘The Insurance Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About This Simple Life Hack Which Could Save You Thousands‘ was actually my 750th post. It was one of my much-beloved ‘click-bait’ posts in which the content has little to do with the title. It was relatively well-received but frankly it wasn’t really how I wanted to mark the occasion. I wanted to mark the occasion of my 750th post by writing a disingenuous (and somewhat inapt) title which suggested I was giving up blogging forever.

I’m not giving up blogging. I will continue to write the same sort of malarkey that I have been producing with inconsistent consistency for the last five years. Lately I have been posting on a daily basis but I doubt that is going to be sustainable forever. I might blog less often in the future. I might disappear for a few weeks. Maybe even a few months. But eventually I will always be back to trouble the blogosphere with more of my inanities.

I have a feeling I would probably do this even if no-one was reading the stuff I write. But for some bizarre reason people are reading it. And apparently liking it. Or at least ‘liking’ it. Although it’s not entirely certain that people who click the ‘like’ button have read any of the words. But the people who comment generally seem to have read some of the words. Often in the right order.

Long time visitors of my blog might have noticed that I’ve updated it a bit aesthetically. The picture of me that was previously on the blog was taken in 2013, so it was already two years old when I wrote my first post. It still looked like me then, and really it still looks like me now. Nonetheless, I thought it might be nice to update it to a picture that was taken more recently. The new picture was taken yesterday so it’s quite an accurate representation of my current face.

I’ve also updated the blog’s overall look. I was quite fond of how the blog used to look but apparently the WordPress theme I was using had been discontinued and wasn’t massively compatible with the new (and widely acclaimed…) WordPress editor. So I changed it to a new theme, and tried to make it look as much like the old theme as I could. I have also updated the page that I like to call ‘Vintage Proclamations!‘ which is meant to be a kind of ‘best of’ section. Until recently if you’d visited there you’d be forgiven for thinking that my favourite posts were the ones I wrote in my first few months of blogging, which is probably not the best look all things considered.

I’ve also added a new page called ‘The Trove Of Proclamations‘ which is an archive of all of the posts I’ve written (currently 757), because it occurred to me that it was quite difficult to find my old posts using the built-in archive that WordPress provides. I don’t really imagine that anyone visiting my blog is going to want to read all of my old posts, but it occurred to me that I might occasionally want to revisit them for nostalgic reasons. That is much easier to do now, and indeed I have spent the last few days trawling through some of my old stuff. I quite enjoyed it if I’m honest. I’d completely forgotten about some of the older posts and it was like reading something that was written by someone else. It turns out that I’m actually quite a fan of my own writing. Which might be narcissistic but a bit of narcissism ultimately bodes well for a blogger I think.

Anyway, that’s it for the 757th post. There will definitely be a 758th post because I already have some posts scheduled to be published on here later in the year. But I might write something tomorrow. In which case that post will be my 758th, because that’s how the counting of blogposts works.

An Urgent Appeal On Behalf Of The James Proclaims Foundation

At this difficult time, it is easy to forget those less fortunate than ourselves, but here at The James Proclaims Foundation, we refuse to abandon those who are in need of our support.

Over the last few months we have been working tirelessly to continue to provide essential services to people like ‘James’.

James is a 41-year-old man who desperately needs money to pay for things that many of us take for granted such as:

  • A roof over his head
  • Food for his family
  • Subscriptions to various streaming services
  • The slightly more expensive coffee in Waitrose
  • Beer. Quite a lot of beer actually.
  • Really cool trainers.

For the last couple of decades, in order to pay for these basic necessities, James has been forced to go out and earn money by having a moderately well-paid job. But, even though James is apparently ‘lucky’ insofar as he has a job which is relatively secure and unlikely to be at risk during the post-lockdown economic crisis, we, at The James Proclaims Foundation, feel that James should not have to work every day like a chump in order to have a decent cup of coffee or to get mildly inebriated when he is looking after his two-year-old daughter.

We think James deserves to live the life of one of those ‘celebrities’ who is essentially only famous for being related to someone else who is famous and who has never had to do a decent day’s work in their lives.

We know that if we could raise enough money, then someone like James could thrive as a brand ambassador for any number of companies that wanted to pay him for using their products or (to demonstrate his versatility) he would happily get intoxicated and behave badly in public in order to help generate some much-needed tabloid headlines.

But James currently does not have these opportunities and continues to work tirelessly in a job which only really remunerates him well enough to meet his mortgage payments, settle all of his bills on time and buy the nice coffee from Tesco. Which probably isn’t quite as nice as the nice coffee from Waitrose. Although maybe it is.

But you can help to change that. By donating just a small percentage of your income, you could help James to give up ‘having to go to work’ and help him to live a vacuous, meaningless existence in relative luxury.

We know you might not be able to give much, but really, every penny counts.

So please, give generously and help to make James’ dream of ‘contributing nothing of value to society’ a reality.

A Poem About How Toilet Roll Went Away (Lest We Forget)

So rare once upon a time
Now in plentiful supply
Your absence was a real crime

It never made much sense why
You vanished from all the stores
Scarcity that made us cry

And long queues outside shop doors
After panic most undue
Caused multiple bog roll wars

So it’s true that we missed you
Because many things may change
But we’ll always need the loo

Much A-Blue About Something

Hello and welcome to a very special Artist’s corner. As you will know if you read last week’s powerful and moving piece, I am no longer a contributor to this feature due to having been usurped by my two-year-old daughter. Although our collaborations over the last few weeks have achieved great acclaim, it has been obvious, for some time, that she is the true talent in our partnership and so I have taken the difficult decision to yield the stage to her.

Unfortunately, being a toddler, she is unable to share any real insight about her motivation for the following piece, but she can say her colours. And this one does contain a lot of blue. Although there are hints of some other colours. Which may be important.

I’ll leave it to the more erudite critics to assess the complex message behind the work in the comments section but for now just enjoy the beauty of ‘Mostly Blue’:

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