About TheSupercargo website

About TheSupercargo website and all that it contains

This page presents an overview of TheSupercargo website. If you’re more interested in learning about me, John Nixon, please follow this link to About John Nixon the author. At the bottom of that page you can learn why I chose TheSupercargo as the name for the website and as my Internet handle.

Or you could go and Explore the website on your own. Be adventurous!

To learn more about the website in it’s current form, click on the labels below.

And if you are interested in keeping up to date with developments on the site, why not subscibe?

A Few Opening Words
TheSupercargo seagull against a blue sky
Seagull against a blue sky

I started writing material for TheSupercargo in 2008. My first published post here, A Few Opening Words, is actually a diary entry I wrote in July that year. In fact I didn’t publish that post on the Internet until January 2009, so it’s back-dated.

I set up TheSupercargo.com towards the end of 2008 on a (cheap) web hotel. That turned out to be a false economy and within about a year I had to migrate the site to its present home. In the move I lost a number of posts. I tried to recover them or rewrite them, but most were gone for good. (Though I still hope to stumble across them one day, in an overlooked corner of a backed-up hard disc.)

Growing the site
The site grew haphazardly and by fits and starts. Of course I thought I knew what I was about, but looking back across the years I can see how much I was stumbling. Not to claim I’m much more organised or goal-oriented now, but perhaps a little.

I’m writing this – and a few other pages – now to coincide with the move from an insecure http site to a more secure https site. My hope is to be able to impose a sort of order on all the material. To make it easier to find things or to explore the site. (And that link goes to the Explore page!)

This page is principally an introduction to the main categories of blog post on the site. But there are side-nods to a few important tags, and to some of the main pages too.

The original website had two categories: At the Quill and Reviews.

At the Quill
Quill pen
The Quill at the Quill

I named At the Quill in acknowledgement of a parting gift from one of my last classes of students (at Ållebergs gymnasium in Falköping). I was leaving, I told everyone, in order to write my historical novel. They gave me a quill pen and a bottle of ink. The quill itself features in some of the early illustrations on posts in this category. And here to the right.

At the Quill was always going to collect posts about writing. The first three posts on the website were writing diary entries and fell into this category. Nowadays it collects blog posts (and vlog posts) about the writing process, but also about independent publishing. (Another way of saying self-publishing. It’s not the same as vanity publishing, though there is a degree of overlap.)

Moving TheSupercargo to a more secure format marks a step on the road to making the site serve a more commercial purpose. I am starting to develop my firm, SC Words and Images, as a publishing venture. Posts about my experience and progress in this direction will also fall under the indie publishing sub-category.

TheSupercargo: A pile of books
No, I’ve not reviewed all these. Not yet.
Reviews was TheSupercargo’s second created category. It has several sub-categories including film, performance, exhibition and so on. My first reviews were of films I saw at the 2009 Gothenburg International Film Festival. My review of Derek – Tilda Swinton’s film about Derek Jarman – is really not more than a collection of notes, but it was my first review here. Later on there are a series of reviews of the earliest NT Live performances – theatre productions streamed live to our local cinema. The first, from June 2009, was Phaedre with Helen Mirren.

Most of the reviews, though, are book reviews and excerpts from my reading diary.

There is a degree of overlap between Reviews and At the Quill since I often read books about writers writing or discussing the writing process. Some of these I review and so they fall under both categories.

I also occasionally publish reviews here and on Good Reads. This is a link to my Good Reads page.

Plume bloom
Plume bloom

Chronologically, the next category I set up on TheSupercargo was Images. The first post here was Plume bloom in April 2010. I was establishing the site in it’s new and infinitely better web-hotel. From the beginning, Images were single photos (like Plume Bloom) and “postcard style” Manipulated images like Live, floss and prosper, which originally appeared in my Twitter stream. I also published my first gallery collection of photos – Lilac time at Färjenäs – in June 2010.

Images went through a very dry patch between 2012 and 2014. During that period I was posting daily photos from Gothenburg, the city where I live, on my photoblog GBG365. You can read more about that by clicking on the “Photographer” tab on the About John Nixon, TheSupercargo page.

From 2015 Image posts become more frequent and I added a new sub-category – Photo essay. Posts collected under Photo essay I often categorise also under Reviews or Stops and Stories. For example Overcoming photo block from the summer of 2015 or this post reviewing Steve McCurry’s photographs at the Bourse.

Under Images you’ll also find my illustrations – all my posts with pictures that aren’t just photographs. There’s quite a variety: doodles and collages, “postcards”, animations, scanned artwork.

TheSupercargo: Helmse inspects the body
Helmse inspects the body
Articulations is the category I introduced next after Images. This one collects all the creative writing on TheSupercargo. These are poems, short stories and flash fiction, extracts from longer pieces, translations and memoir. Memoir collects pieces of biography or autobiography that don’t feel appropriate under other categories.

My earliest Articulations are “Artwicutales” or “Twittertales” – very short stories composed in Twitter’s original 140 character format. Often they were inspired by trigger words in the Twitter word-of-the-day game Artwiculate. A good example is The Inglenook Incident – a Case for Sheerluck Helmse.

An early poem with the same provenance that I’m still quite pleased about is Wultan warrior. Later the poems got too long for Twitter: The Wordsmiths will Articulate Today.

The stories grew a bit longer too. Grendel the Stockbroker from 2013 is one I’m quite partial to. The Phrenological Conformatory is one of my more recent efforts.

The translations are few and far between. I work (for money) translating texts from Swedish to English, so I’m not always in the right frame of mind to translate literature. Also, to be honest, translating literature rather shows up my limitations as a translator. I think I should try to add to these few examples though – and make myself a better translator in the process. Let’s see what the future brings. In the meantime, here’s one translated poem I’m quite pleased with: A Whisper Heard in Babel.

Memoir and Elin’s Story
Swimming hands
Swimming hands

From time to time I find myself telling a story that comes straight out of memory. These can be from my personal experience (Learning to swim is a short one). Or they can be drawn from family stories like this one, mostly about my maternal grandfather: Bibliomania in the family.

Sometimes there’s a crossover with other categories. For example when in Stops and Stories I visited the town where I grew up: Antiques.

I’ve wondered back and forth about whether memoir should be a category of it’s own or if I should keep it as a sub-category of Articulations. That’s where it is at the moment.

Meanwhile, Elin’s Story has given me a similar headache but for other reasons. In 2008, when I turned 50 and left school-teaching behind, it was Elin’s Story I planned to write. My historical novel. The writing of Elin’s Story is the subject of a series of blog posts, mostly collected under At the Quill. But I’ve also published a number of extracts from the work-in-progress. For example: Right worshipful Husband.

In the spring of 2018 I took Elin’s Story to the Stockholm Writers’ Festival. There, I got some feedback of various sorts. In preparation for my visit I posted a Synopsis of The Long Way to London  and made up a page answering the most common questions I get asked about Elin: Elin’s FAQ. I still don’t really know where to put that page in the overall structure of TheSupercargo website.

Stops and Stories
En francaise - phonetically
jhuh vuh uhn nahvokah kee pahrl ohngleh

The next major category to mention is Stops and Stories. This collects all my posts about travelling. In 2015 my wife (“Mrs SC”) and I moved to Belgium for three years. Her employers, the Swedish Customs, seconded her to work at the World Customs Organisation HQ in Brussels. The move stimulated me to create a sub-domain called Stops and Stories to house my blog posts about life in Europe. (And Life in Mini-Europe!)

Towards the end of our time there, I came to regret having hived S+S off into a sub-domain. (I actually did the same with At the Quill and Articulations, but S+S was almost completely divorced from main site.) Since the second half of 2017 I’ve been reintegrating all three sub-domains back into TheSupercargo main site. This means that I’ve also looked back through earlier posts in other categories and found some that are more at home under S+S. For example this Letter from Sweden from 2010.

Among the more recent posts transferred from At the Quill is this one: En français – How helpful is phrasebook French? Meanwhile the first of the modern S+S posts is Welcome to Stops and Stories.

TheSupercargo celebrates New Year with Fireworks
Fierworks from a seasonal post from 2017. In the Commonplace category.

Finally the Commonplace category is one of the oldest categories on the site. A Commonplace Book is an old name for a scrapbook crossed with a journal. A common place for all the things you might want to keep a record of. Wikipedia explains they might be filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas.

WordPress provides a fallback category called Uncategorised. I didn’t like that as a name, and early on I change it to Commonplace. When I can’t think of how to categorise something I’ve written, I put it into Commonplace and hope I’ll come up with a better place for it later.

The End

So that brings me to the end of this round-up and overview of TheSupercargo and all its categories. For the current relaunch I’ve put two categories to rest. (See the pages Website Construction and Artwiculate Round-up to learn a bit more.)

This is the state of the website now, at mid-September in 2019.

John Nixon, TheSupercargo