Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Ten years after

All good things come to an end, and all bad things, too, one supposes, and, as a matter of course, the noncommittal and the inconsequential… The More Things Change, Jim Murdoch 

This will be my last post. The last for a while in any case. A good while. Maybe forever. I’ve been doing this for ten years now—my first post was on 6th August 2007 following the death of Ingmar Bergman—which is a long time by anyone’s standards. Few things in my life have lasted longer than ten years: my childhood, being a dad, my current marriage, my love of Woody Allen films… nope, that about it. I get bored, other people get bored or things drift apart. Mostly things drift apart. I’m not sad. Actually that’s not true. I’m always sad. I told my good friend Ken Armstrong a while back that “sad was my thing.” So, yes, I’m sad but I’m no sadder than usual. Mostly I’m tired. Tired’s becoming my new thing and I’m better at being tired these days than I ever was at being sad. Everything’s an effort. This wasn’t always the case but it’s the way things are right now and have been for long enough for me to expect this is the way they’re going to continue unless I do something radical. I’ve tried cutting back. Now I’m cutting out. 

I began this blog with expectations. Ten years ago blogging was the thing to do. And it seemed like a good idea. Which it was. In practice, however, it was hard work and not always rewarding work at that. But I was in it for the long haul. So I girded my loins, put my shoulder to the wheel, my nose to the grindstone, gritted my teeth, dug in my heels, took a deep breath and stood my ground. Oh, and waited to be discovered. In the years that followed, my peers, one by one and then, it seemed, in droves, gave up the ghost, many for Facebook, some for the real world, one of two for the next. There’re only a handful of us old-timers left and my ego—I still have one of those tucked away for special occasions—would’ve liked to be the last writer standing but my common sense put her foot down. (Wonder why my common sense is female?) 

There’re several reasons blogs fail and the main ones are simple and obvious: no one (or next to no one) reads them and the blogger loses heart, they run out of things to say or they burn themselves out. Having experienced burnout-with-a-capital-b more than once I think I can tell the difference between being dog-tired and burnt out and I clearly haven’t run out of stuff to write about and could easily keep going for another two or three years so I guess it must be loss of heart. I do have a small band of readers and it’s so small I could most likely list them all by name but let’s say it’s a dozen people and it probably is although that makes them sound like apostles. They rarely comment but commenting’s a burden and so I content myself with whatever appears and always, always reply; I learned that trick right at the start. Before the Internet I never had anything like a dozen readers. A dozen readers is good. But even with my low ambitions starting this thing I did imagine after ten years I’d’ve managed to do better than that and I might have if someone hadn’t moved the goalposts. 

In the past you could get away with publishing a book and doing little or nothing to promote it because there weren’t that many books being written and mostly we only had access to what was published in our own country. Not so much these days now all the (virtual) borders have fallen. What you end up having to promote is you. If people take a shine to you there’s a much better chance they’ll read your book and tell people about it but you have to win them over first. With charm, wit and good looks don’t hurt. A couple of months back when I started drafting this post I read an article by someone called Jon over at Guest Blogging in which he talks about why his first attempts at blogging failed and what changed:
After about six months of licking my wounds and thinking about it, I finally decided to hire Chris Garrett (co-author of the Problogger book) to look at everything and tell me what I was doing wrong.
Here's what he told me:
Nobody knows who you are.
At first, I didn't get it. I said, "Yeah, but isn't that the point of publishing great content? You write lots of great stuff, and then the word spreads, and popular bloggers find out about you?"
"No," he said. "Popular bloggers find out about who you are, and THEN they read your content, and THEN they link to you. Connections come first. Great content comes second."
Located near the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt is an immense land art installation dug into the sands of the Sahara desert by the D.A.ST. Arteam back in 1997. It’s called Desert Breath and I wonder how many people have seen it other than in photos. 


I wonder if more people went to see John the Baptist than’ve seen Desert Breath. I expect so. Because people spread the word and try as I might to convince myself and others the sad fact is I’m really not a people person. At the start, and for a good few years, I did genuinely try to make pals, support others and not do it with ulterior motives although one can’t help hoping others will reciprocate. And some did. And still do. But they were mostly the wrong people. If you’re looking to be discovered or even for a leg up. I’m not sure any of the “right people” are even online. Not in that way. I was certainly not one of them. For all the hours and hours I’ve spent writing thoughtful book reviews I have to wonder how many of my readers went out and bought that book because of what I wrote. Not many I bet. 

So I’m stopping. For a while. Maybe forever. We’ll see. A part of me feels I’m letting the side down but that’s just me. It’s in my nature to feel guilty even when I’m doing what’s best for me. I’ll get over it. Ten years ago Michael Allen (known to many as Grumpy Old Bookman) wrote a similar post to this one. He entitled it ‘Sabbatical’ and suggested after a necessary break he might be back. His next post was in 2012. I’m making no promises. But I would like to thank everyone who’s popped in here even if it was only for five minutes: your attendance was noted and very much appreciated. 

I feel I should leave you with some profundity, something to remember me by, but I’m drawing a blank. I’ve just got this picture in my head of a guy lying on his deathbed running his last words in his head over and over again to make sure he gets them word perfect because he knows he’ll only get one shot at it. He’s ready and realises the end is nigh—although not exactly how nigh—but decides it’s probably safe to take a wee kip and maybe things’ll be clearer when he wakes up but—you’re already ahead of me—he never does. 

Yeah. Nuff said.

23 comments:

Ken Armstrong said...

Bravo, Jim.
*Standing Ovation*
K

Tim Love said...

I started in May 2010, so as usual I'm a bit behind you, but I know how you feel. I hope you'll be back as soon as you feel you and the world are ready.

Marion McCready said...

Well done, Jim, for persevering so long! I miss the pre-facebook blogging days! You definitely deserve a rest - you've made your blog a huge commitment. I hope you feel energised soon.

Joseph Hutchison said...

Jim, I'm one of your reprobate followers who read you (ir)religiously but almost never comment. This even though you wrote the single best review any of my books has received. By "best," I don't mean it was full of praise; it was full of honest thought and feeling, as all of your posts have been, and I'm grateful for it. Did it sell any of my books? Was that the reason you wrote it? If so, I wish you'd told me in advance because I'd have told you not to bother. There are only a handful of publications whose reviews produce sales, and then only when other publications in that same echo chamber repeat the same opinions; the circle expands, if the stars align and the right MFA professors decide their students should read the latest masterpiece. The public at large, a small fraction of whose members read at most one or two books a year, are unscathed by these aesthetic enthusiasms. All that said, I believe you've accomplished a lot for a small number of us, and I want to thank you for that, too.

I have to add that I've read all your books (I think!) and have deeply enjoyed them all. It's also been wonderful to read the poems you've been posting lately (how many months now?), which I'll miss because poetry is my main passion. I generally don't read poetry for one-off masterpieces but for the sensibility that radiates from them, and the radiance of your sensibility has been a great gift. I hope you'll return sooner rather than later, and failing that at least let me and your other fans know as other books arrive.

Jim Murdoch said...

Sit down, Ken. You’re embarrassing me.

Jim Murdoch said...

It’s tough, Tim, coming up with new stuff to write about week in and week out. I’ve no idea how I managed it for so long. Not anymore. I simply can’t hold stuff in my head and poetry’s the worst; I really struggle to read poems these days. The only plan I have is to maximise the time I have available and as I was just saying to a friend on Facebook, “I have to ask what’s more important, a blog hardly anyone ever reads or novels hardly anyone ever reads? I’m going with the books.” I’m not giving the Internet up completely and your blogs are still there in my news feed. If I can think of something worthwhile to add I will but I make no promises.

Jim Murdoch said...

I think it’s a crying shame that blogging didn’t work out for most people, Marion. Facebook has its uses—it’s good for reminding people we’re still alive—but I always feel guilty for writing more than a few words there. It’s a lot more public than the blogs. Yes, there your comments are still in the public domain but people have to go out of their way to see them. Not so with Facebook who decides for us who gets to see what. I will be around. Don’t worry about that. As for feeling energised any day soon? Oh, I wish.

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve always taken reviewing seriously, Joe. The one question I aim to answer is the one every author wants answered: “Yeah, but what did you really think?” It’s a hard question to answer but you’re not the first writer (or even publisher) to thank me for my observations even if, as one author noted (I’d like to think with a smile on his face), I often don’t provide a single useable quote. People also want to know their book’s actually been read. I’m sure, like me, you’ve read so-called reviews in newspapers where it’s pretty obvious all the so-called reviewer’s read has been the blurb on the back of the book. That is disrespectful. If you’re going to do a job do it properly. Which is why I still have three of your poetry books sitting on their sides on my poetry shelf. Because I fully intended to write about them but as I was telling Tim above, I’ve really been struggling with poetry of late. I can’t hold a whole book in my head the way I used to. Single poems—correction short single poems—are fine but that’s about my limit. Novels (the shorter the better) are different; the plots are a huge help.

I didn’t realise you’d read all my books. I don’t remember sending you any but I see I have your address—P.O. Box 266—so as I have to go to the post office on Tuesday I’ll send you a copy of The More Things Change. There’s no e-book yet. We’ve been very bad about that. It took us long enough to get the print version out and when you read it you’ll see why.

I’m a bit sad I’m having to cut short the poems on the blog. They weren’t always fun to write about—lot of history dredged up over the last wee while and so much more I never talked about—but just because every poem isn’t a masterpiece doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. I’ve a friend in New York who writes slight pieces and it’s easy to shrug off any one of them but when you read a group of them suddenly a bigger picture starts to come into focus. He’s a bit like Brautigan in that respect. And he writes with such ease!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

You have set a standard for excellence, Jim. A standard I have failed to match!

Still, thank you for reading my writing. I've read yours (not everything but not just a little), and I would not have without the internet and without your blog.

I started my Dare I Read blog because I had written a lot about my reading and that writing wasn't being seen by anybody. All I had to do was type it up -- free content! And some writers might see their work written about that otherwise wouldn't. But as is often the case with me, a simple typing exercise got elaborated into an exploration of a reading life, and soon a project far too huge to be fun.

Right now I am reading The Hidden Life of Trees. I glanced at Goodreads. There are 1,078 reviews of The Hidden Life of Trees at Goodreads. Nobody is going to care about my opinion or anything else I write about The Hidden Life of Trees if I post it at Goodreads, and nobody is going to find their way to my blog to read my HLoT thoughts.

There are a few obscure poets I might become the go-to source for an informed opinion. But I haven't devoted myself to that project.

I post on my blogs when I have something to say that amuses me and writing it up gives me pleasure. A few people read posts I share on Facebook. Otherwise, seemingly nobody.

Lately I have been concentrating on sending poems to literary magazines & ezines. Not much luck there either.

I do what I do because not doing it isn't doing something better.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Jim, I've always enjoyed your blog, since 2007 when we met and I reviewed your book for the Pod People. I do get it though. I left the Pod People due to burnout, but I went off to do the literary magazine thing for about 5 years before I burned out on that. I was writing flash fiction at the time and was rather successful at that, so the burnout wasn't the 'publishing wonderful stories' part of it, or the 'running a magazine' part, it was dealing with a certain type of nastiness in the writing world that caused the burnout. Plus, I've got one last novella in me, which I took a break from for 2 years so that I could focus on my second feral cat rehab. I did write about that on my blog for that year just to keep writing.

Now I am back to finish that novella, but that tired thing is real (I'm feeling it myself) and so this novella is probably my last.

Maybe I'll go back to writing about cats again, but I just wanted to say that I get it, and your blog will be missed.

martine said...

Some of my most interesting reads have been your recommendations. Thank you, and best wishes.

Jim Murdoch said...

Very well put, Glenn. In 1973 the BBC first broadcast a programme with the title Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? It ran for forty-two series. Now I like my TV as much as the next man (probably more) but I have absolutely no intention of turning into a couch potato. I need to do something. I’m constantly in search of the next something. In theory there’re an infinite number of somethings out there and I’m sure there are but not all somethings are created equal. When I was young I couldn’t understand how a great poet like Larkin could dry up like he did but now I’m old and dried up it starts to make sense to me. Authors are like singers, they have limits. There are the Isaac Asimovs (506 published works) and there are the Mariah Careys (five-octave range) and then there are the Boris Pasternaks (only published one novel) and the Jeff Buckleys (only released one album). If I dropped dead tomorrow I would not be ashamed of my output. I’m surprised I’ve written significantly more non-fiction than fiction but at least I was writing something. That mattered. I think we were all a bit naïve at the start. It seemed only logical if we kept producing quality work people would discover it and tell others and it would spur us on to greater things. We never anticipated just how much stuff the Internet would throw at us and with all the good intentions in the world none of us could cope with it. I used to subscribe to two hundred blogs. Two hundred! And I made a brave attempt to read them and comment on them. You didn’t need to be Nostradamus to see where it was all heading. Now there’re only a handful left. I’m still following yours. I have an app called Feedly which tells me when anyone posts anything new because I would never remember to go and check. Our eyes were bigger than our bellies when we started and we hoped for hundreds of readers, thousands. What we each got was a handful but like I said in my post, a dozen readers is not something to be sniffed at; a dozen readers is good. So keep at it, Glenn. There might not be much of a point to keeping at it but that’s not no point. We were never going to change the world but we supported and encouraged our peers and that’s something too.

Jim Murdoch said...

I had high hopes at the start, Cheryl, when it came to print on demand. It seemed such an elegant solution to a problem that’d faced authors from the jump. And e-books was a great idea. You can write a book on the most esoteric of topics and get it out there so the dozen or so people in the world who would just love to read it could get their hands on it. The problem was finding those dozen people in world where half the population’s online. I used to write reviews for Alma books—I was never that flattering and so they stopped sending me them—but I remember asking my contact what effect the online reviews had on their sales and she admitted she had no way of knowing; it just seemed to be the thing to do. I wonder if they still send out as many nowadays. A while back I started to look at the stats you can access via Google Analytics and the data it provided was eye-opening. Hundreds of people were accessing my blog every day but the majority left after a few seconds. I was literally writing for a dozen people or less. And I wasn’t alone. There must’ve been thousands of voices crying in the wilderness back then but gradually they’re got hoarse and finally lost their voices completely. I did actually sell a not disappointing number of copies of that first novel and I will always be grateful for your kind words but that was it. No one even reviewed my last book and no one bought it. We’re all in the process of slowly burning out. Some Sundays I don’t even read the Calvin and Hobbes strip because there’re too many words in it.

Writing is not everything. I know that seems such a sacrilegious thing for an author to say but it is true. How much left can we possibly have to say that needs to be said? But we all feel what we have to say is so damn important. It’s probably not. It’s why I write so little these days because I really have said pretty much all I have to say, all I want to say. There was a gap of two years in the middle of my third novel and longer in the middle of my fifth. Other things (although no feral cats I have to say) got in the road, things that mattered at the time. Other things matter as well as writing. It can be annoying that they do and inconvenient but that about sums up my experience of life, annoying and inconvenient.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by. I did wonder who’d show their face. I actually think I’ve passed a dozen now if you add in the Facebook comments.

Jim Murdoch said...

My Goodreads page is still there, Martine, and I do intend to keep reviewing books although I’m not reading much at the moment. I go through patches and at the moment I’m struggling. I’ve never been a voracious reader. I know so many writers who are. It’s almost de rigueur that we be. But I’ve always struggled, even when my head was clear. I think the problem in the past was I was trying to wade my way through books I felt I ought to read. I often look at these lists—1,000,000 books you need to read before you die, that sort of thing—and there are SO MANY books there that I know I’ll never get round to because I’ll never get round to all the books I DO want to read.

It pleases me that you’ve enjoyed some of the books I’ve recommended. I always took the job seriously. I wanted to be the kind of reviewer people could trust. It wasn’t an ego thing but it was important to me that I could be relied on and so I treated every book equally irrespective of whether it was published by one of the major publishing houses or an e-book someone sent me. I wish I could’ve done more to draw attention to some of those books but it was an impossible task. At least some of the authors who read my reviews could be satisfied that someone out there took their writing seriously. I think every writer’s the same when it comes to that: we’d like a million people to read our books but we could live with ourselves if just one person got them.

Elisabeth Hanscombe said...

Well Jim, I can well understand your disillusionment. But you were and still are one of the highlights of my week, most certainly over at my blog, which few people visit these days, but which I shall maintain out of some dogged determination to get my writing out there.

As for your wonderful efforts over the past ten years, they're there for posterity. They won't go away and those of us who read you and admire your work, we'll always remember you, your blog and your wonderful writing.

I take it you will continue to write, it's only blogging from which you're taking a sabbatical. at least I hope so. Have a good holiday and see you again online soon.

Brent Robison said...

Hi Jim -- Despite responding to your announcement some days ago on Facebook, it has taken me until today to actually read your final post. Such is the perverse nature of the over-busy life that has turned me into many things these last few years, but not a writer. If writers write and I only half-write, no, less than half... perhaps I'm a quarterwriter.

I relate 100% to your tiredness and the impression that there are no blog readers left anymore. I still occasionally crank out a post, usually book reviews of a sort, but months can go by in between. I do it for my own pleasure because evidently not a single person reads my blog (8.5 years old now) unless I promote it loudly, which I hate to do.

Which is why I admire the massive body of thoughtful, articulate work that you created on your blog and the high work ethic of cranking out those long posts every week. And while our sound-bite world needs the balance of long-form content, I reiterate that you've done your part and deserve a break. The kind of break that might result in more stuff like the several books of yours I have read and especially The More Things Change, which I enjoyed very much and about which I am, at a snail's pace, crafting some comments which will appear on my (unread, sorry) blog... soonish.

Also, maybe we'll have another opportunity to work/play together on The Strange Recital podcast. Give it some thought....

I enjoyed reading the comments here, and seeing Cheryl Anne Gardner's name (!) with whom I have not corresponded in a long time. I'm wondering... could it have been on her POD People blog back in the early exciting days of self-publishing, that we connected with each other? I don't remember.

Anyway, best wishes, my friend. The Internet will keep us connected.

Jim Murdoch said...

I think what finally pushed me over the edge I’ve been teetering on for such a long time, Lis, that finally decided me, were the virtually non-existent comments on my site over the last few weeks. I started drafting this post about two months ago although I’d been thinking about it for probably the last year. I understood when I was churning out the long twice-weekly articles that that was a lot for people to be asked to read, digest and respond to and yet more did then than have done in the last couple of years when all I’ve published have been poems with a short commentary that anyone could’ve added a few words to but few did and after a while even those few got caught away by the real world or some other concerns or maybe they’ve dropped dead and I’ve been maligning corpses in my head. If no one’s going to read my stuff I might as well write what interests me, stick it in the big red folder and be done with it. That’s worked for most of my life and if it ain’t broke as the saying goes.

Relationships online are not the same as in the real world. We act as if they are because we’ve never found a language to differentiate one from the other and that’s how we manage to let people hurt us more than they should be able to because we think of them as friends when they’re not. People have tried to set down rules to govern how we should behave and I read up on blog etiquette before I started and tried to adhere to spirit of the law. If someone commented on my blog I responded to their comment naturally but I would also see if they had a blog and read their latest post and leave a few words there. Quite often I would start to follow them and would only drop them years later when I realised all they’d been writing about for months was their pet tortoise. I may have mentioned my pet bird a few times in passing (mostly to make me come across as human) but I firmly struck to another thing we were advised to do: stay on topic. People started following me because I wrote about writerly stuff and that’s what they expected and so that’s what I provided. Somewhere along the line I stopped managing to hold their interest. It happens in the real world too but the signs are easier to pick up on here.

In my earliest drafts of this blog I let my hurt show. That got edited out. This is a wake and no place for the venting of spleens. We’re polite; you say nice things and I say nice things back. That’s what civilised people do. I’m going out with my head held high. I played by the rules. Now the game’s over and I don’t owe anyone anything. If I write or don’t write you’ll never know (“you” in the plural) because I’m not blogging and hate Facebook with a vengeance.

Jim Murdoch said...

Even a quarterwriter is better than nothing, Brent. I could live with being a quarterwriter. I have no need to write screeds and screeds. In the past if I managed a poem a month that took the edge off. The problem with blogging is although it taught me many things it also was a terrible distraction. I knew that was a danger but I believed the trade-off would be worthwhile because I would earn the respect of my readers who would encourage others, all of whom would finally find their way to my fiction. Well I did earn the respect of my peers, some of my peers at least, and that means everything to me: I could hold my own in the company of real writers. The problem was the readers, the readers who aren’t writers too. Reading’s merely something they do. Books aren’t their life. They don’t care and we have no right to demand they do.

The thing about readers—and the same goes for film watchers and music listeners—is they really don’t have much interest in searching for stuff. They look around and pick from whatever catches their eye on the side of a bus or in The Metro (a free paper you can pick up on buses on in train stations) or they hear about on some inane chat show. (Don’t get me started on the death of the television talk show.) I, too, tried to promote my work at the start but the return on investment was miniscule and it was exhausting.

In the end I resigned myself to the fact I was writing for a dozen people and that was that and there’s something intimate about that. If I found myself in front of an audience at a book reading and there were twelve people scattered around the seats the first thing I’d do would be to encourage them to come up to the front where we could chat like friends and I wouldn’t have to shout to be heard. I’d get down from the podium and sit on a chair in the middle of them. That would be nice. I would like that. But imagine after going to all that effort when you ask, “Any questions?” they all just sat there and never said a word and when you thanked them for coming they all upped and left without buying your book or asking you to sign their left tit?

I’m getting tired, Brent. I kinda hope yours is the last comment because I’m finding it hard to keep smiling. I want to be done. I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say about The More Things Change which I won’t promote here—the line has been drawn—but I’ll probably say something about on Facebook for all the good that does. I’m glad you enjoyed it. A ridiculous amount of work went into it. As for when we first met… I honestly can’t remember. One of us wrote to the other asking them to review his book. I think it was as simple as that. How that one heard about the other God alone knows.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

There was so much bad advice about blogging out there, as much as there is about writing. I stayed on topic at the Pod People site since it was specific, but on my own blog, when I post, I am all over the place. I do what I want, and frankly, talking about writing was boring me to death.

When I took a two year break from my manuscript to work a feral cat rehab, I decided to write about it on my blog. Not really for anyone in particular, but more to keep writing during my break and to document the process for anyone else who might endeavor to do such a thing. Weirdly, I got more followers (a small amount) and I got interviewed for the NY Times for a cat article, and I sold a few books too. Nothing to brag about sales wise, but an interesting turn of events none the less.

I made a connection with a different group of people, and it's been wonderful.

I like readers and writers, but I find that there is such a limited frame of focus. Writing became my tortoise. So I stopped blathering about it. And my own writing, which always felt like I was talking about myself in a uppity intellectual sort of way.

Now I let the blog take its organic twists and turns. I might talk about a book, or a movie, or some music, the cats, and I've written a bunch on the mundane but somehow satisfying chore of making your own homemade laundry detergent. (Prompted by the cat's allergies of course.)I get more comments on the cat stuff. But still, people are reticent to comment and I attribute that to the general hostility that permeates the interwebz.

I don't post often, but when I do, I just keep it light. I'm not a famous writer. Never set out to be, so the idea of a platform and a brand and all that really impersonal shit you're supposed to do as a writer, well, I took that and chucked it.

I think the seriousness of it all was making me tired. I've adopted a lighter approach, and it seems to be working for me. I think that's the "giving less f*?!ks approach."

No need to reply to this comment, Jim. I know you want to be done, so I hope you find your zen, with or without the blog. I am on Facebook as well, and I rarely ever talk about writing.

Kass said...

JIM, WHEN I GET TIME, I WILL GO BACK AND READ EVERYONE'S COMMENTS ...and yours. As you've probably gathered, I don't check my blog sidebar regularly, so the fact that you're quitting came as a shock to me.

I've been busy working on my ONE WOMAN SHOW. Most recently, I went to a songwriter's workshop and came out with a very simple song. I'm not one who has melodies running around in my head so it was a real stretch. A few weeks ago, I went to Nashville again and recorded it. One version is just the background accompaniment (to use in the show) and the other is the full version of voice, guitar and background voice. I need to tell you that when trying to write lyrics, I went back and read ALL your poetry for inspiration. It's so clear and unadorned.

I say this with all seriousness, if you're ever in the states, you're welcome at my home or cabin.

Again, you've been an inspiration to me.
Hope we can keep in touch.
Kathy

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve written a few songs over the years, Kathy, but it’s been a while now. At the start I’d write the melodies too and I enjoyed that immensely event though I can’t sing to save myself. The best one from those early days was ‘Superman’ in which I imagine an old Superman living in a world where superheroes have been banned and the only time he gets to fly is at night when no one can see him. It’s a rather sad wee song. The chorus goes:

      And if I really try
      I still know how to fly
      Cos I’m a superman, a super-man.

I always imagined Elton John recording it because it’s a bit reminiscent of ‘Rocket Man’ but I never had the nerve to send it to him. In the nineties I started writing lyrics for a friend and she’d put them to music and that was fun for a while until I fell ill. The last song I never passed on to her for some reason so I’ve sent it to you to play with.

I did wonder why I hadn’t heard from you when I closed the blog. And that’s the big problem with this online world. We’d have to rely on one of our relatives thinking to tell everyone and they might not have passwords to get into blogs or Facebook or even know who was important enough to contact.

The one woman show sounds scary. I’m not a performer. Everything like that sounds scary to me. But I hope you enjoy it. And that’s the main thing.

Don’t expect me knocking at your door any day soon though. My passport expired years ago and I’ve no intention of renewing it. I went to the States once to let Carrie’s family see I wasn’t an axe murderer and that was enough for me. I wasn’t fond of the place, well, I wasn’t fond of California but I did like the ice cream sandwiches which you can’t get here.

You take care.

Kass said...

I love the idea of your Superman song. Aging superheroes....sad?, funny?, only flying at night...

Someone told me yesterday that there are more dead people on Facebook than living ones because no one knows their passwords to get in and delete the accounts. I remember when Dave King died 3 years ago, you posted this poem you wrote for him (thanking you again for it):


The Human Face

(for Dave King)

I can’t dredge up much
these days: names, dates,
places have lost
their meaning for me.

I can remember
some things, of course—
oh, trifling stuff that
won’t change the world.

Makes me wonder if
all that really
matters is what we
see reflected in the

the bathroom mirror.
Moments when we
were truly alive
all leave their mark—

the cartography
of a life lived
without compromise—
creases, wrinkles

and such splendid scars.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yeah, that’s not a bad poem even if I have to say so myself, Kathy. And I’m glad Dave got to read it before he died. I kinda wish I’d been able to get to know him a bit better. There’s a lot good about the Internet but it’s frustrating too. We finally get to meet like-minded people only to discover they live thousands of miles away. That was how I felt when I met Carrie. She wasn’t just on the other side of the Atlantic; she was on the other side of the USA. I guess that was why it was so easy to open up to her because what were the chances of her getting on a plane and coming here to live with me? Yeah, still trying to figure out how that happened.

I suppose it’ll only be a matter of time before Facebook and all the other social networking sites start to delete users who haven’t been active in x number of years. The same with blogs. One day Dave’s blog will vanish. One day mine will. And no one will notice. But that’s the way it’s always been.

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