And so, gentle reader, we draw the curtains on 26 days of alphabet-prompted writing and cosy up once more beneath the duvet of sporadic blogging.

This month has been a good reminder of the pleasures and annoyances of writing to a schedule. I was going to write joys, and I suppose there is a bit of that, but the correct partner then would be pains (sunshine, rain), and that would make for a somewhat overstated representation of the process. Some of the posts cracked a direct line into my favoured seams of inspiration… some seemed rather like I was forcing water into the fissures a little, but not many, though, not really.

That aspect of going through the motions was a prime mover in stopping blogging last time I stopped, and managing to avoid that was positive. Finding suitable subjects was mostly fun. There were some topics I was interested in exploring that I abandoned for a complex of reasons, mainly because I didn’t have an appropriate amount of time to potter about in them to a satisfactory level.

Getting a smattering of chatter from pals has been good too. Sharing views… It – The Process (dramatically sincere and emphatic voice) – has whetted my appetite for producing more regular discursive whimsy in this or similar outlet.

It’ll probably more than likely be a newsletter in some form, although there’s an element of them being a bit five minutes ago. So it goes. Who knows what innovation waits round the corner… personal websites and… blogging?

Imagine. Right now, o thrice-blessed reader, I’ve careered through bedtime and it’s time for lights out on this month’s endeavours.

Having not been active in this space for (checks calendar) some time, what better opportunity than the hothouse spring schedule of A to Z blogging month to reconnect with online publishing?

The last post here was characteristic of this writer’s then mindset of disillusionment, cynicism and fatigue – which nest of deixis might be taken to indicate a certain kind of distancing. Such a reading would not be mistaken. The times they are always a-changing. Something about words I can’t quite shake off, though.

Yes, because words are very devils. Such was the sentiment guiding my abrupt abandonment of writing here. I was enjoying detailing movements in the garden, for example, but it became obvious that this was a process secondary to and less enjoyable than the actual gardening.

Broccoli, swedes, beans, rocket… Sort of autumn time.

… I’m conscious of sounding like I’m assuming some sort of horny-handed son of the soil pose of social superiority. I found I was drawing more enjoyment from the digging, and the words accompanying seemed superfluous. But, anyway, a toes in the mud sort of thing… and an equally obvious, trending, move away from being ‘online’ all the time. Not quite smashing the Spinning Jennies, but limiting my reliance on habitual info sources, turning off notifications, exploring other media. Writing, but longhand, and not for sharing. Reading and reflection. Kids to raise. Job to hold down; schemes of work to maintain. Tones to clip.

Yet, here we are, among the words again.

With that in mind, this A to Z is likely to follow a few threads on the lines of preoccupations, new and enduring. Tomorrow: Books.

Coming up in April, The Mortal Bath will be participating in the A-to-Z Challenge.

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For the challenge, every day in April is assigned a letter of the alphabet, except for Sundays, which are an A-to-Z day off. So, April 1st = A, etc. Don’t fret, I’ll still be publishing Sunday in the Garden, horticulture fans. Alphabetical blog posts can be thematically coherent, or not, as long as the letters are on the right days.

Part of me is a bit suspicious of this sort of activity. The rules, I suppose, the ‘Hey, how about this idea?’ something-to-do-ness, keep ’em busy type thing. The part of me that’s an English teacher who on occasion plans “writing lessons”, if you know what I mean.

However, it’s a very small Gollum, muttering in the corner and braining fish. The A to Z project is something I’m looking forward to for a number of reasons.

Having developed bloggy momentum through the first three months of this year, I feel quite comfortable that the challenge is not so much in sustaining a daily output… although that is of course Still A Thing. The tough aspect foe me is definitely that it’s as much and maybe more the external deadlines – trying to set the posts to go out on the right day in different time zones, for example – and the structure.

Actually, though, the “letter days” aspect is something I have found really quite helpful for planning purposes. I dug out a yearly planner I’ve not been in since October and sketched out the month’s posts in advance. This might seem obvious practice for some, but it’s a novelty for me to attempt this much organization with The Writing, and I’m – blush – kinda liking it.

As a prompt, I decided to use a Birthday Book we have.

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A quality little item, as you’d perhaps expect from a hotel revelling in its majesty. It has a poetic quotation for each day, some of which chime with the letter of the day, so I’ll be using it for that, and there are some birthday-linked posts in there as well.

So, let the sequence commence!

If he allowed it, I’d embed some Prince here – yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahhhh – but you can have an Alphabet Treat from Cypress Hill instead: A to the NSFW musical link

Today I received an alert from WordPress congratulating me on having signed up with the platform seven years ago.

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Pop! Zwing! Trumpets! [FX: the sound of ‘Fiesta’ by The Pogues]

OK, I am being a little sarky there. But it’s a fair chunk of time, not what one would call a dalliance. It’s been a busy period.

Seven’s a busy number. While there may be no truth to the story that the human body has fully renewed all its cells every seven years, making us a ‘new person’, we’ve got a bunch of other affinities with the digit. Days of the week, Deadly Sins, Basic Plots, Steiner’s developmental stages, Ages of Man, Sages (of the Bamboo Grove), years after which relationships develop an itch, hills of Rome, Wonders of the World, Classical planets, revelatory Seals, Sisters in the stars (Pleiades), chakras… plus stock market fluctuations, religious significance, gematric/numerological symbolism…

If man is five,
then the devil is six…
and if the devil is six
then GOD is seven…

Which is of course Monkey Gone To Heaven by Pixies, and if you check out the genius page for the song, you’ll find Frank Black’s somewhat dry comments that give us this post’s title.

Black Francis glosses a little, though, maybe. There’s something about the number. There’s something about all the numbers, obviously, if you’re looking for it, but seven seems attached particularly to groups, cycles and changes.

This seventh year I have begun writing and blogging a lot more frequently than I have previously. And, in a neat coincidink/sync event, I got my Power of Seven blogging award and was contemplating this change in method at the same time I encountered the song below.

So, while I go off and basic plot a ‘seven’ themed playlist (Pixies, Iron Maiden, Madness, Prince, Culture, The Clash, The Shins, for seven starters), here is a just fantastic version of Black Sabbath’s Changes, by Charles Bradley, with which I fell in love today.

“Times 111…”