Maybe it’s Fear, not Time or Money

Twice this weekend I’ve seen things – tears in the rain – that have made me wonder why not me? Why is life so unfair? Why am I failing? I have a scarcity mindset, and I’m trying really hard to turn that around into an abundant mindset. 

I was inspired to rush through from the kitchen, open a blank document, and start typing after reading Rob Hardy’s latest… what? Substack? Is that what we’re calling it now? His latest … trick? Cue sax! Newsletter? Email? Article? Man, Internetting is hard. His writing resonates. The first thing I found myself thinking was, ‘why am I whingeing and not working harder?’. But isn’t this work? The kind of work I want to be doing? You’re damn straight it is. 

I saw an Instagram post from Tony Polecastro yesterday informing me that Michael Watts is doing a guitar podcast for the Fretboard Journal. He just put one out with Tony McManus. And instead of being like, ‘yay, I can’t wait to listen to that’, my first thought was, ‘Fuck. That should’ve been me.’ I mean, what’s that all about? So I had a word with myself, while acknowledging that the feelings I was having were real, just not ‘justified’. Ken? Michael Watts is awesome and I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic interview. He’s in a much better position than I to make content like that.

And yes, I do make content like that, except that I sit on it and get in my own way with all my anguish and hand-wringing instead of putting it out. What’s that all about? I still have an interview with Hugh Burns on my hard drive. And it took me three years to get out the one I did with John Goldie. I guess it’s just not working. So why the sour grapes when I see someone else doing what I’d like to be doing? Yeah, that’s a sorry place to be. 

And yes, there was a time around 2018 when I wanted to be Tony Polecastro and I felt some sour grapes because he was doing it well and being successful while I was putting out inconsistent crap when my mood was up to it. 

And with Rob Hardy – he’s working so hard, pumping out well-written articles for 100 days, articles that make me want to rush through and open a blank document and start typing. So, although I feel like I’m doing okay most of the time, with my Morning Pages and my dog walks and my highly intermittent writing, I’m really not working that hard. I got fired up about writing a book on wokeism, wrote a few pages and then got lost in reading as a means of not writing. And it’s working – I’m not writing! So what I’d like to do is to show Rob that his stuff is actually changing my output and my life for the better. I can do that by showing up more, working more, writing more, reading less, walking, hiking, swimming, talking, making things based on my inputs, choosing my inputs carefully, discarding inputs that aren’t leading towards outputs. 

What I’d also be interested in doing is making sure that my inputs aren’t just things to get through, but are actually things I want to consume. Take the Putin book, for example: it’s great and I’m getting a lot from it, but it feels in some ways like a thing that I have to get through before the library return date of 23 February. This is true, but I have to make sure that it’s not just a thing I feel that I have to get through to check that box on Goodreads, but that it’s actually something that I really want to read. And it is. So there’s a weird dichotomy there. I’m not quite sure where that’s going; it’s just a feeling I have. Like reading the Oliver Boyd-Barrett Substacks – yep, I guess I am calling them that, like Hoovers and Kleenex – ugh! – I get through them, but I don’t really take in much of what he’s saying. I want to appear to be informed, but am I actually informed? I mean, at what level? And for what reason? So I can appear informed when I bump into Nickey on the farm track with our dogs? No, that’s just silly. But there is a desire to read about Russia. A strong desire. 

So we’re back to time management again. Nooooo. That’s where I always end up. Even more so than money management. But if we had money, I’d be able to manage time better. If I didn’t have to earn money by swapping it for time, I’d be reading about Russia and writing way more. 

These feelings might just be coming from being 51, seeing younger people doing amazing things, and feeling like my ship has sailed. That just dawned on me as I was playing some guitar and wondering what my life would’ve been like if I’d carried on with the fingerstyle passion that I had when the kids were born and learning guitar was an all-consuming thing to the exclusion of all other things. It was moving to Arran that killed that. What a fucking dumb move that was, seriously. Or will it eventually turn out to have been a good thing for reasons that I can’t yet see? Maybe. But yeah, middle age. I’d never really thought of that before. Have I just failed at lots of things because my mental health gets in the way? Probably. I could’ve been the next El McMeen, maybe. Or could I? I was always a copycat, never a creator. At least until fairly recently. Or is that being unkind and just not seeing when I was creative? Man, I’d like to finish reading Rick Rubin’s book. 

And yes, there’s part of me that wonders why I didn’t get involved with music in my youth. I skirted around it – singing in a band in the army, aged 17, playing in Sunday afternoon sessions with Paulo at Flanagan’s in Prestwick – although I think that was really more about the bevvy, camp-fire singing at St Andrews, that one gig in a St Andrews pub as a lead singer in a covers band. But back when we were listening to Licensed to Ill and the Pogues and the charts … but yeah, we had BMX and skating. They were creative things, although, again, copycat city, ha ha. And fear, the thing that held me back from ever getting any kind of air. So, is the root of my angst not time or money, but fear? I know I’ve thought that in the past. It doesn’t have to be now though, right? Isn’t that one of the benefits of getting older? Giving fewer fucks? Maybe. But how does that translate? I dunno. Maybe answering Rob’s questions would be as good a place as any to start figuring it out. They’re certainly better questions for me than what August Bradley set out in his annual review template. 

Patrick Deneen and the Russian Revolution of the 1890s

Here’s an interesting connection that came into my world today as I researched a book I’m writing on wokeism.
I listened to Patrick Deneen on a podcast called The Ezra Klein Show today. They were discussing liberal vs progressive politics, and Patrick’s thesis was that change doesn’t come from the proletariat alone; it has to be coupled with whistleblowers in the elite before revolution is fomented.

Patrick says:

But I also think that it’s not unlikely — and I guess I would place myself in this category — it’s not unlikely we will see something of a rebellion from within the elites. And this is always the case in revolutionary moments. Revolutions aren’t just the people picking up pitchforks and overthrowing the elites. It’s someone like a Lenin, who grew up as an elite, who becomes a kind of class traitor and calls out the deficiencies of his own class.
And I do think that there are growing number of voices from the managerial elite who are deeply concerned about the corruptions that we’re seeing in our own institutions, and are calling for and demanding and amplifying, I think, the charges that you’re seeing coming from the populist direction. So I think, in some ways — again, I can’t say what the mechanism will be, but I think if there is going to be some kind of improvement rather than a kind of devolution, it’s probably going to come — it would have to come from both directions.

Meanwhile, I got an email from my local library to say that the two books I had requested on interlibrary loan had come on. One of them was Revolutionary Russia, 1891–1991, by Orlando Figes. In the first chapter, it says:

When does a ‘revolutionary crisis’ start? Trotsky answered this by distinguishing between the objective factors (human misery) that make a revolution possible and the subjective factors (human agency) that bring one about. In the Russian case, the famine by itself was not enough. There were no peasant uprisings as a consequence of it, and even if there had been, by themselves they would not have been a major threat to the tsarist state. It was the expectations of the upper classes — and the Tsar’s refusal to compromise with them — that made the famine crisis revolutionary.

I love it when connections like this are made. On any other day, this wouldn’t have happened. Is it time for me to learn how to use the graph or canvas in Obsidian? I wonder … Maybe there’s something to this Zettlekasten idea after all!

Word Soup

I have a new keyboard that I love.

DuckyOne 3 Fuji

I went with Hamish to one of my favourite shops, Kustom PCs in Ayr, to get him a new keyboard and mouse. It was a really good day out and, while we were there, I kind of fell in love with this keyboard. I already have a DuckyOne 3 with silent red cherry switches and I love it, but this one in the shop had silver speed switches and it felt great. I certainly didn’t need another keyboard though, and we’re totally skint, like beyond skint, so I exercised some restraint and said no.

As I walked away, I started feeling that sense of obsessiveness that plagues me. The keyboard looked so cool, and the feel of the keys and switches started to grow into something quite irresistible in my head. I kept talking about it with Hamish, to which his response was, “Dad. Remember – it isn’t even backlit.”

And I was like, “Oh yeah. That wouldn’t really work, would it?”

But I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Then I remembered that I’d ordered a fountain pen to mark my 6000 days of recovery and, when it still hadn’t arrived after nearly six months, I cancelled the order.

Aha. Justification!

So I jumped on Kustom PC’s website and ordered the keyboard. It’s been with me for a week now, and honestly, it’s so good. I absolutely love it. And honestly, that’s why I’m on my old website writing a post, as a way to use the keyboard.

My idea is that this website is pretty much redundant in that it has no readers whatsoever, so I’m going to use it as a playground to post word-soup posts, just for fun and to see what comes out. No structure, no SEO, nothing like that. I WANT to write, but I don’t know WHAT to write, so I’m hopeful that by using this as my stream-of-consciousness typing place, I’ll maybe come up with some decent ideas that might lead to something.

I’m going to be taking part in a writing group in January over at Foster, so maybe this could be a place for that? I don’t know; all I know is I love this keyboard, and I want to have a place to write things with it on top of my morning pages that goes out over at and on my Patreon and my Substack. That, by the way, is an experiment of its own to see if one platform picks up over the others and as a way of providing something to the few people that do pay a monthly subscription on my Patreon.

My Morning Pages are quite important to me as it gets me doing something creative with my first cup of coffee of the day and also as a way to use my beloved fountain pens.

So, that’s that. Thankfully I kept Sunbane going after almost not renewing the domain name — although I suppose this kind of rambling could go out on Tumblr or elsewhere too. It’s kind of nice to have it all on Sunbane though, as that’s the blog that’s been with me the longest, since Web 2.0 was an exciting thing and WordPress was still basically unusable if it even existed.

Mental Health Trinity of Looseness

There was a moment there where I thought I was going to write my morning pages right here on Sunbane every morning. Imagine! I have spared you that, instead choosing to handwrite my 3 pages in an A5 notebook with my fountain pens. I’ve been doing it daily since 13 January and I’m really enjoying how it’s making me feel. I think doing that, coupled with exercising every day by taking Clovey up the Hill of Beans, are going a long way to making me feel a little looser, a little more connected, a little less depressed.

The Hill of Beans challenge was a 28-day challenge to get to the top every day in January. Yes, January, on Arran, which means storm city. Some days I got absolutely drenched, but I kept it going and it has now become a habit that continued right the way through February. There were a couple of stormy days in February that I elected not to go, but I was okay with that.

It’s a place where I feel at my most creative and my least fearful. I rarely meet anyone else; I’m in nature; I’m getting my heart going so that I can actually hear my pulse; I’m watching Clovey enjoying the walk. And it’s where I often feel inspired to whip out my phone and record a video for my YouTube channel.

I’m enjoying the overall feeling of looseness that I get on the Hill of Beans. If I could just find a time of the day to practice meditation every day. I haven’t quite found a routine time to do that yet and I’m not sure why that is. I think that the morning pages, the Hill of Beans and meditation would make a really nice mental health trinity of looseness.

Back to School

School’s back. Ugh. I woke up after dreaming that I was playing a gig with Donal and he’d plugged his guitar into the wrong thing. I must be anxious about Saturday. In fact I know I’m anxious about Saturday. I should watch Get Back and remind myself that I love playing.

It’s fucking pelting down today. I got up around 8 because school starts back today for Hamish and he said he’d have boiled eggs. Len got him out in the car and just texted to say that she’s stuck at the pharmacy with a flat battery. I asked if she wanted me to call Chris to come out and jump it, but she said no because it’s raining. She’s the boss. So she’s going to walk home in the rain (without her big jacket) and go via the post office to post lateral flow tests to her mum. That’s why she was at the pharmacy. I think it’s her third attempt to get them but it’s been closed because of the fucking Christmas bollocks. At least that’s all by now. Thank FUCK for that.

I sent my virtual assitant, Anri, a couple of messages on Slack about her scriptwriting and she’s responded that she’s going to start moving them into GMT. I thought she’d already done that. God, I’m such a crap manager. I just want to be left alone but still have everything done for me just as I like it. That’s just silly, isn’t it? It’s time for me to step up.

Stew from Foster put up an annual review and linked to the template he used. It’s really fucking long. It’s by Anthony Gustin and is here. So I continued going through my DayOne and making notes. I got to the first week in March. Long way to go, although I think my long-form writing started dwindling round about then. There is a bunch of hand-written ones coming up though, when I was sitting out on the porch in the good weather. God, that seems unimaginable right now.

I’m enjoying going through Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. I’m on day 3 now and am pretty sure that I’m going to buy a subscription. But speaking of subscriptions, I had to withdraw £1k from the ISA yesterday because we’re about to go overdrawn. Can I just remind you how much I fucking hate Christmas? Yep, January, the dark month, storms and credit card bills and tax payments.

Anyway, I’m in the present now. I don’t need to dwell on that, do I? I need to dwell on getting through my to-dos and making some money on GMT. I almost started editing a video yesterday, then discovered that Anri had mixed up the JBL soundbars and also there was no video asset for it, so I bailed on it and played Rock School instead. Then I decided to write to her and let her know about the mix up, so that’s a growth thing for me, then put it on ice and start to work on the next one. I didn’t actually start work on the next one, but at least I know what I’m doing today.

I wish I knew how to change the notification email address for GMT. Right now they’re coming into my gmail and it’s a pain in the arse because I keep thinking that my main channel is growing and it isn’t. I’ll look into that again once I get off this writing session. Let’s BuJo it.

I managed to get through another day of keto yesterday and this morning my sugar was 8, so higher than yesterday. And I got up the hill.

Nickey Sketchley, the diabetic nurse, didn’t give me any grief at my appointment yesterday so I’m pretty pleased about that. I was sure she would mention it. It was a pretty standard appointment really. I won’t get the results till next week. Wednesday I think we agreed. How come it takes so long?

Ealána texted to ask about how to pay me for the guitar strings and said she’s looking forward to Saturday. I’m expecting them to cancel it, but maybe not. It’s going to be a quiet one for sure. I think my last gig before lockdown 1.0 was in January and it was pretty busy, but then it wasn’t pandemic time.

It’s nice not feeling depressed. I think doing the Sam Harris meditation when Hamish goes out to school is a good time.

It’s going to be challenging working while Freya’s home. I might have to hunt Len into the bedroom so I can record. That’s going to be just the kind of thing that makes me not produce anything. Honestly, any little thing. I should really have been recording a voiceover this morning so I can edit, but I daren’t start now as she’ll be coming in the door any minute.

12:33 I got the next voiceover done like a boss! Len actually came in the door as I was about to record the last couple of paragraphs, but she went out into the garden to clear the grass and I just got it done! Then I spent about an hour trying to change the notification email address for my GMT videos, added my GMT email to the Windows mail app and then had breakfast. I did get the email changed. Uncofirmed as yet, as I’ve not had any new subs since I fixed it, but I’m confident it’ll work.

Prianka’s been putting out business videos and I find them inspiring. Not so much the content, but her workflow and how she goes all-in. She doesn’t seem to let her mood or her introversion stand in her way of just doing the thing. Having her as a friend is one of the best things that came out of last year.

Okay, time to take Clovey up the hill. It’s clearing up a bit outside, thank God. It was brutal earlier.

Looking down at my wet boots next to a flow of water over what's normally the path up the hill.
God bless Gore-Tex!

Ludovico Einaudi

I spent much of yesterday listening to Ludovico Einaudi on YouTube and was blown away. The music feels like it’s touching my very soul and opening up a channel to source.

This morning I sat out on the porch listening to a podcast called Experience: The Ludovico Einaudi Story, and it was a beautiful and memorable moment. I feel connected to the world after listening to that.

Highly recommended!


I’m working hard to get my week on track and so far it’s kind of working. My to-dos are getting ticked, but now I’m facing two big ones and I’m not sure what it is that’s holding me back. Those are:

1. Script my next YouTube video
2. Practice my Fred Noad guitar book.

These are things that I want to do, so why am I not doing them? Are they too difficult? Is it resistance? Almost certainly it is.

Can I write my way into ‘doing the thing?’. I guess the script is has the most amount of resistance. I can almost feel myself reaching for the guitar and not opening my script document, so why not do two pomodoros right here, right now? One guitar, one scripting? Okay, let’s try that …

Graham Stephan on Thumbnails and Titles

Graham Stephan is crushing YouTube. And he’s not shy about sharing his strategy, which is awesome. If you’re looking at growing a YouTube channel, you really ought to watch this video. Seriously. It’s jam-packed with value.

In this video, Graham talks about his strategy, including going into his titles and thumbnails.


Start with the title. I keep hearing this from content creators.

If I can’t get a good title for a video, I don’t make the video.

Graham Stephan

Graham spends hours a day thinking of topics, going through subreddits, watching YouTube videos, then, once he has a topic idea, he thinks about the title. Then he makes the video.


Graham works as hard on the thumbnails as he does on titles and topics. Again, this is something I keep hearing.

The thumbnail is probably the thing that we spend the most amount of time on. We know that if we miss the mark on the thumbnail, all the work is going to be for nothing.

This is where I am falling down in a big way. What I should do is look at successful channels and see what they are doing with the thumbnails.

One bad thumbnail is like you made a bad chess move and they take one of your pieces.

Oh man. That’s an awesome way to think of it. But I still don’t know how to make good thumbnails of my own content!

Without uploading it’s going to be impossible to grow. Thats’ why I keep uploading consistently. I don’t want to miss an upload.

Now this I can do. That’s one thing I can control.


I’m very selective about the sponsors I do. Every time I do a sponsor, it takes my video down from a 10 to like an 8.5.

Graham talks about revenue. It’s like 50% Adsense, 25% affiliate income and 25% sponsors. He gets into this at around the 1h mark.

I’m blown away by how generous Graham is with his information, particularly where the numbers are concerned.

New Channel Artwork

My good friend and accountability buddy Esther helped me out last week with my new channel artwork for my YouTube channel. I just repurposed it for my podcast, Quoth the Camser. I really like it!

What do you think? Does it make you want to listen to my podcast?

Austin Kleon’s Curious Elder

Image nicked off Ali’s Website

I heard about Austin Kleon’s curious elder in Ali Abdaal’s podcast, Not Overthinking, the episode entitled Austin Kleon on Writing, Creativity and the Importance of Idleness.

It’s one of Ali’s deep dives, where he talks to creative people he admires in industry. Interestingly, Ali touches upon what these deep dives are in response to Austin’s talking about what he finds to be the best thing about doing what he does: getting to hang with like-minded people from all over the world! I can relate, as indeed I will later on in this post.

Austin Kleon is the author of Show Your Work!, Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going, three books that have become very popular with artists and creative people of all types. I’ve read Show Your Work!, and just bought the other two this morning. I can’t wait to get into them!

As I listened to the conversation, I sat with Roam open on my desktop and made notes. There were so many takeaways and a lot of the conversation snippets inspired thoughts in me, so I’m going to explore that a bit here. Some of the quotes won’t be word-for-word, as I was paraphrasing in my notes, but as jumping off points, they’ll do just fine.

The Curious Elder

This is such a good turn of phrase. That guy should be a writer! Oh, wait…

I’m only 37 but I’m basically an old dad in Internet years. I’m going to have to flip the switch and be like a curious elder now.

Austin kleon

So if he’s an old dad at 37, I guess I’m a granddad, right?

I’m definitely a curious elder too, but do I really have to take my cues on what’s culturally relevant from the young whippersnappers who are crushing it in the knowledge space right now?

Well, yes and no. A LOT of what they come up with is actually really helpful, or really entertaining, or really inspiring, and is sometimes all of those things at the same time.

You do you!

Gary vaynerchuck

GaryVee has the right of it. I can take inspiration from the creators whose content I enjoy and spin it into my own thing. Austin talks about this a lot in the conversation, and he should know as he literally wrote the book on it!

So I will be doing just that: taking inspiration and filtering it through my own points of view and experience and ‘doing me’.

I’m the lucky position at having failed at a lot of things and having learned what I DON’T want to do.

I also now have the time and the support of my family to explore new ideas without being encumbered by working a job that I hate. I feel at the peak of happiness in a lot of ways, and now is the time for me to start exploring and experimenting.

That’s the kind of thing I get from listening to such conversations as Ali and Austin’s.

What else came to mind?

Guitar People

And that is the best thing. I’m in touch with all these people that care about the same stuff that I do.

Austin Kleon

Back in 2005 I flew to Atlanta for my first Little Brother Jam. I got to meet a whole load of guitar nerds that I’d only ever spoken to online and had the time of my life. I went annually for the next few years, and also started attending a similar thing in the UK.

In 2018 I flew to Krakow in Poland to meet the DDaily crew, a bunch of creators who were publishing content on the Steem blockchain and are now active on the Hive platforms.

These events have been some of the most rewarding trips of my life and they have enriched my life in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I guess that’s what Austin is talking about too.


In writing every day, you find out what you have to say. Writing is not just a way of communicating with the world, it’s a way of communicating with yourself. You are creating space in the day to connect with what’s here and what’s going on and figure out what you really think and feel.

Austin Kleon

This ties in nicely with a fantastic blog post I read by Scott Adams:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

Together, these two quotes tell me what I need to do: I need to write. So that is what I’m doing!

Life-long Learner

Take the attitude that you’re a life-long learner.

Austin kleon

I’ve always had this attitude, sometimes to the detriment of producing anything. For example I have a course on the go right now and am about to start another one, both with my eye on becoming the person I want to be and finally get beyond my own limitations.

This is something I will be exploring more in my writing and video making.


I think of myself as a writer who does other things – eg. drawing. ‘Writer’ is my identity, but you can have something that’s the core and have other skills on top that make you stand out. There just weren’t that many writers who knew Internet stuff when I started. Blogs in 2005 were still kind of new. You needed some expertise to do it then. I would draw famous writers as they were doing their readings and then send them to them. How do I keep all the things in my life that I’m interested in and get them to talk to each other? What kind of life can come out of this?

Austin Kleon

This was like music to my ears. Of late I’ve been pondering why I never became a more prolific writer, a photographer, a musician, a video maker. I’ve been doing all of those things most of my adult life. I remember actually making the decision to quit taking photos because it was diluting the time I had for my music. Austin had this to say:

Steven Tomlinson told a story that’s in Steal Like an Artist – he went to his adviser and said ‘I love God; I love theatre and I also love business and being an entrepreneur. Which one should I choose?’ His adviser said ‘if you love all these things, your work is to figure out a way to keep all these things in your life. You might not have a career, but you’ll have a life.’ There will always be a phantom limb kind of feeling if you cut something out that you’re really into.

He was right – there was a phantom limb feeling when I wasn’t taking photos and I soon picked up the camera again. Now I understand that my job is to figure out how to keep the things I love and put them all together in some way and see what comes out. I mean it seems pretty obvious now, but now that I feel like I have the permission, it’ll help me a bit with the whole mindset thing.

Cyclical Seasons

This was another bit of the conversation I really enjoyed, the idea that work and creativity are cyclical, or ‘circular’ rather than ‘linear’.

When I’m thinking too linearly about life, eg. where will I be in five years, I like to read more eastern philosophy or Thoreau. I’ve almost abandoned linear thinking. I operate more on cycles. Stories are artificial to a certain extent. Cycles are not artificial. The earth goes around the sun, the moon goes around the earth. There are natural metaphors for our lives. The structures that our culture has given us – we need a reprieve from that. Is thinking about five years from now really the right thing? Do you see a timeline or do you see loops?

This was new to me and it makes sense. A lot of the online gurus I’m studying with now or have in the past get you to start out by imagining where you’ll be in x years’ time. Austin has got me questioning that approach now. I feel like, having reached the age of 49 and had a very varied life, I can see how making five year plans will never really work out. You could ask V.I. Lenin for his thoughts on that if he were here!

Austin goes deeper still on the concept of goals and questions the metaphors that we live our lives by. This is a fascinating topic and I hope he writes more on this. But if he doesn’t, maybe I will! Why the hell not – I have enough life experience to have shown me how living according to cultural metaphors has worked out for me and my family.

He gives some examples of authors that I can look at and talks about how women work with different metaphors than men. With men it’s all about competition and war and zero-sum games, whereas women don’t think so much in those terms.

Shall I Write?

Well, yes. Listening to conversations like this one really inspires me to believe that I can actually do this. This time it feels different, like I’ve given myself the permission to do this. I know I’ve been through cycles like this before and that they have petered out, but now I know that that’s okay.

I’m also learning about systems thinking with August Bradley and that will go a long way to helping me figure out what to do between the cycles, or how to link different parts of the cycle with something new – I’ve just learned that that is called emergence, and I’m really excited to see what emerges!

Resources Mentioned

Austin Kleon’s Books

Other Resources