The year in review
A collection of climate stories mostly
A Merry Christmas from me and Mrs H. at Somerset House
This year, 2022, has seen my weekly newsletter polarise towards climate change. Injustice, misrepresentation and stupidity have always tended to energise me. One reason for my modicum of business success, after failed attempts was to keep trying. The unsavoury thought of returning to work for a politically savvy, not so smart boss, was incentive enough.
Only last week, I was reminded by one reader and friend, that my best writing comes from the personal experiences I share, not the fact finding reports, associated with a warming planet.
They tap into different skills. I enjoy both and hope the variety helps me become a better allrounder.
Part of writing a weekly missive, is to strengthen the muscles needed to start and finish writing books, whether that happens or not. The discipline of sitting down for hours, enjoying the process, is an important skill to discover. Loving to practice is essential, whatever the subject matter. Writing faster as a result, still seems to be beyond me.
The Last Tree in Rochina, Brazil! by Luis Bhering
I introduced a new format in October with The Last Tree. Rather than write one story a week, I decided to go shorter and broader, under three new headings.
Brands behaving badly - Green Discovery - Be Happy
The problem with climate abuse, apart from the destruction, is it’s easy to find people and brands who don’t care. The worst offenders and more galling stories, are the ones who pretend they do. Either way, it’s all reassuringly depressing to see how shallow and self-interested, humans can be.
Which is why the other two headings are dedicated to hope and optimism. I want to spend more time finding stories of humanity being ingenious, behaving honourably, trying to do the right thing. Better still if I can shine a light on good government. But that would be a rare thing - a government with a moral compass.
How do I really write?
My goal is still to write in advance. To be a month ahead of myself would be wonderful, though unlikely. The thought of more time to plan stories, with content neatly stacked, taking care of spontaneity, holidays and general laziness, does not appear to be how I work, despite the benefits.
When I wrote this piece last year, I talked about mind maps and even used one to illustrate the process. It didn’t last.
I find it much easier to jot a few thoughts down on a blank sheet to give some sense of direction. Often, I find an interesting subject and just start writing. Where I get to is not something I worry about at the time. I trust the process knowing I will always find a way to reach an end. The important discovery was to always start early.
There have been improvements. I start thinking and reading earlier in the week. I never start writing on Thursday for a Friday deadline anymore. I don’t trust myself to focus for that long. It’s also too much like hard work.
I now know that little and often suits me better. I write in blocks. Before I start a fresh one, I read what’s written. My warm-up before continuing, is to edit. With more topics to cover now, brevity is important. Even with whole stories like Buying a Tesla Model Y and Let Sleeping Dogs Die, I push for constraint.
It rarely takes more than ten minutes to recap, by which time, I’m back in the flow and ready to write more.
What was popular this year?
Going All in, from February had 318 total views. With a smaller mailing list than now, it was LinkedIn which boosted the readership. It was about my CitNOW journey which LinkedIn followers would still find interesting.
Let Sleeping Dogs Die, was the saddest post I wrote several weeks ago. It described the final days of our Portuguese Waterdog, Pogo, who’d been part of the family for 12 years. It’s already had 195 views and is a worthy second.
A surprising third was Back in the USSR with 178 views at the beginning of March. It’s a good title. The story describes my adventures in communist Ukraine when I was 18 and whether the country was heading back to that depressing time again?
Once written, I post the newsletter to Substack and Medium, which are popular publishing platforms. I currently have 69 email subscribers on Substack, up from 46 at the beginning of the year. I have 52 followers on Medium up 20 over the same period. I expect my Medium numbers will overtake Substack in 2023. It’s more of a reader’s platform. Individuals pay to access content, making them more likely to seek out new writers and subjects of interest.
Friends and family get their weekly letter via email, courtesy of Substack, although numbers are well beyond my close circle now. My Medium followers are all strangers. I’m very grateful to all of you.
I also post links on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Hacker News, to draw more interest.
I love it when a new reader signs up after they’ve read an article. It gives me a real buzz that it’s good enough to create a connection and their action to request more. I’m also in the enviable position of being able to focus on the writing. This is not a business and I don’t spend time trying to grow the audience quickly.
I’ve neglected books this year, only writing about Jane Goodall’s Book of Hope in March. I have another in mind, which will be my Christmas read as soon as I’ve finished Hilary Mantel’s, Bring Up the Bodies. Expect at least two book reviews next year.
I have more subscriptions now including a recent purchase of Ethical Consumer. They give me plenty of ideas to look into.
Aside from writing about climate change, I try to behave more responsibly with my purchases and life decisions.
The power to punish unethical behaviour driven by greed, unseemly profit, or not giving a crap, is something anyone can sign up for.
Thank you once again for reading this newsletter. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I’m back on Friday 6th January, 2023, in your inbox.
Congratulations on another year of great stories! 😊
I'm looking forward to reading you again next year. You mentioned writing books. Do you have any ideas in place yet?