Image Credit:- Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Images of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing kindly supplied by Wendy H. Jones.
Images from the Share Your Story Writing Summit kindly supplied by the organiser, Larissa Russell.
Screenshot from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival taken by me, Allison Symes. My author pic taken by Adrian Symes. (Bit tricky to do those myself!).
And with that welcome to October!
Pinch, punch, the first of the month is one of those peculiar sayings most of us picked up on during childhood. And yes it was followed up with the pinch and the punch. (I suspect the rougher the school, the harder the pinch and the punch too).
The idea behind this phrase, and the one that often follows it (”white rabbits”), is that by saying it, we are meant to have good luck for the month in question. Naturally you wouldn’t want to miss out on said good luck so the moment the calendar shows it is the first again, out comes the saying again.
There are two theories to the origin of the phrase. The British one refers to the pinching of salt as it was believed throwing salt at witches was believed to weaken them, and you would take up a pinch of salt between your fingers ready to throw. The follow up with the punch was meant to banish the witch.
(Doesn’t explain why you had to keep saying the phrase every month then and I would have thought the punch would be more likely to knock the witch out. It would certainly annoy her and make her much more likely to curse you, I would have thought).
The American origin of the phrase refers to George Washington who used to meet Native American tribes on the first of each month. He would supply fruit punch with a pinch of salt added to it. Hence pinch and punch on the first of the month. I prefer the American version and like the sound of the fruit punch too.
The Most Famous First of the Month
This has to be 1st January as we stand at the “gate of the year”, looking back at the year that has just gone and looking ahead to the brand new one ahead of us. Mind you, didn’t 2020 turn out to be disappointing! The days when I used to stay up and see the New Year in have long gone. I do appreciate my sleep more (!) and I figure the world and the calendar can carry on perfectly well without me while I get some shut-eye!
The days when I enjoyed the fireworks have gone – being a dog owner tends to put paid to that as, while Lady is okay about them, my other two dogs, Gracie and Mabel, were petrified by them. I do like the poem “The Man at the Gate of the Year” which was made famous thanks to King George VI using it as the basis for his 1939 Christmas Day message.
I suppose the “fuss” around New Year is because it does make people take time out to reflect on how well, or otherwise, they spent the last 12 months. But we could use the first of each month as a chance to hit the reset button and make the most of the time we have for whatever remains of the year.
What the First of the Month means to me
For me, the first of the month is the date I choose to send out my author newsletter. It’s an easy date to remember and it gives me a month to compile material to share in the newsletter. I had been toying with the idea of having a newsletter for some time, many authors I know have one, but it was taking part in the Share Your Story Writing summit earlier this year that made me finally get around to doing something about it.
I needed to have a giveaway for the summit, all the writers taking part were offering different things here, but for that I needed to have an email list to be able to send that giveaway out. The only way to legally have an email list (and not break data protection rules) is to have your own author newsletter where recipients have to actively opt in to receive it.
I use Mailchimp but there are other companies available (including the other major one, Mailer Lite). I am using a free plan at the moment and this will meet my needs for some time as I can have up to 2,000 contacts, 10,000 sends per month, and a daily send limit of 2,000.
I am well under that limit and suspect I always will be! I don’t have so many templates open to me as I am on the free plan but what there is more than meets my requirements. I often, when trying things out which may help with the writing, go for the free trials and plans and, if I find I need more later, I upgrade later. Most of the time the free plan is sufficient.
Why the Newsletter?
Other than needing it for the summit, I have found the newsletter useful. I can share exclusive stories and writing tips here and it is a direct way of engaging with readers. I can share links to my website, Chandler’s Ford Today (have done that a few times!), and it is a great way of summarising once a month what I write where. And yes, it is part of my overall marketing strategy.
I can also flag up events I am taking part in (such as the Brechin/Angus Book Fest I will be taking part in later this year) and any special offers or publication events. (The most recent of those was flagging up Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing, edited and compiled by Wendy H Jones, which contained my chapter on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories).
And it doesn’t take too long to put together and I can share links to it on social media. (If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, please head over to my website).
The important thing with any newsletter like this is subscribers opt in and can unsubscribe at any time. At the end of each newsletter, there is an “unsubscribe” link to make it easy for people to do that if they wish.
Since starting the newsletter earlier this year, I have attracted subscribers to it but also then found some people change their mind a month or two later. This is par for the course. I receive a notice telling me about unsubscribes and Mailchimp provide a Reports section where I can keep an eye on “open” and “click” rates as well as audience figures.
What I hope to do when I get to go to Brechin is to take a newsletter sign-up form for people to leave their email addresses. I’ve seen this done at many author events I’ve been to and I hadn’t expected to be doing this myself at some point. But it all helps spread the word about my writing.
Yes, it takes a bit of time, but all marketing does and every writer has to decide what kind of marketing they are going to do. What matters is being consistent and sticking to the first of the month for a newsletter release is part of that.
So do dates on the calendar really matter then?
Well, some do such as anniversaries as I discussed last week. There’d probably be grief if you forgot a birthday for someone significant to you. But dates on the calendar generally mean for me getting this writing done by this date, drafting something else to edit in a couple of weeks or so, and planning out what I am doing and when. It boils down to making the most of the time I have, I suppose.
But I am not at all sorry I have stopped being pinched and punched for the first of the month. It wasn’t that nice an idea and I still have no clue as to why people think saying white rabbits in response is meant to bring good luck.
What is lucky about white rabbits? Why not brown ones, black ones etc? Any thoughts on that one, anyone?
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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