Sitting outside, down at the beach, on a green bench, the car’s ticking engine off behind me. Half an hour to sit and think a little bit, while Leila runs and plays up at playcentre. She doesn’t like it when I leave her there, even if only for a little while, but I think I need to try and resume our little breaks – especially if she is starting to resist naps!
I want to think about my writing. How I write, what I think of it, what I want to do with it. What I can make with it. Think about my blog – my blogs – the few short stories I’ve written, and the five or six long pieces that are drifting around, flawed but wonderful. Think about my mental attitude towards books, and the rarefied atmosphere of publishing, something for other, talented, literary, serious folk who know what they want to say. (Uh huh.)
And what to make of blogging? I feel a strong tie to my blog – started over ten years ago now (edit to add: good grief, has it been twelve years?), as a bit of a refuge from work. Now blogging is commercial, sponsored, marketed. I don’t much enjoy reading blogs these days. Especially ones with guest posts (to keep the posting rate up) and sponsored links. I hate feeling like I’m being sold something. So is there still room for me and my blog in the world of blogging? All this sharing, this oversharing. I think I have reached the point where I really don’t care all that much about looking at photos of other people’s kids, other people’s artfully-arranged table settings, styled reports on completed crafting, or curated anything. It’s all too artificial. Every man and his dog now has a lightbox set up so they get just the right lighting. It’s too perfect. I feel myself resisting.
But if this is the case, what do I have to add to the whirling plethora of information? Surely in the world of blogs, every subject under the sun has already been covered. Why try to even go there? And if so – what is left? A picture of my experience, snapshots of life…? Who for? Who is my audience? Why do I feel like I should continue to blog when I write still in my paper journals? Is it just because it’s still the thing to do? Where does the impulse come from?
You could argue that at least writing a blog is regular writing, and I’m not particularly regular at that. Perhaps the blog helps to keep me honest, in some shape or form. But is that what people like to read?
I have such a desire for the libraries of my youth, with card catalogs that held such secrets in their yellowed leaves. Poring over shelves, wondering at titles, cover illustrations, and author names. There are no secrets any more, not now in the world of Goodreads and google search. Has it taken all the surprises out of life?
And yet, and yet. At ten years old my blog has taken on a bit of an identity of its own. It’s hard to decide to pull the plug. I don’t think I’m quite able to do that. Instead I will apply layer upon layer, changed me on top of changed me, until it becomes a weird stratified pile of selves, that go away for a while, and come back again, still wondering at what this thing really is. But the compulsion to add to it, to add just one more stone on the pile, remains.
So too, does the desire and compulsion remain to make things up and write them down. To accrete pages, words, thoughts, meanderings. To pull out my barely-started novel (nearly 20,000 words) and discover what it holds. It’s novel #6, or something like that. I feel like I should have tried to publish one of these things by now. But the others are just too strange, too meandering. People now like hooks on first pages, and three-act structures that would make Syd Field blush. We like our information bullet-pointed. Is there room for strange stories about vampires during the gold rush, or clones in an alternate-New Zealand, or a necromancer who’s struggling with her own impending death? What about an intergalactic novel about the fight for water, and a computer who was once an actual pirate from the 1600s? I dunno. I need to pull it all together (not into one novel, obviously!) and do something with these things. Even just turn them into e-books and stick them up on my blog. Would I then feel like I was getting somewhere with all of this?
A seagull’s standing on a log nearby, watching me. Wondering, I suppose, if I have any food for it. I said hello and it opened its beak at me, wide. Wondering what on earth I have on my lap and why. It’s just about time to head back. Back in the car, back up to playcentre, to meet my little person with a huge body hug and have my hand grabbed and pulled in the direction of something interesting. Sweet little love. I’m here for you always. But at the same time I need to find a new direction for myself, in this current new-self that’s come back to the page.