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

Monday, 15 December 2008

There are too many words on the Internet


too_many_words Authors are as much works of fiction as their characters are. I suspect the online world suits most of us down to a T. After all we’re all used to spending our time with a load of fictional characters and, let’s face it, none of you are real, not really real. I have attributed characteristics and personalities to the many people I correspond with day to day but the fact is I know that it's all a fabrication. I even wrote ‘talk to’ and changed it because we don’t talk. I don't know you and you don't know me. There is no time for all of that and so we fill in the blanks – chasms of ignorance more like – with what we need to make our relationships seem more real. This is not a failing on any of our parts; this is simply the way things are in the world in which we live.

I’ve deliberately chosen to stay fairly anonymous when it comes to my online persona. It wouldn’t benefit me to be as secretive as some but, on the whole, I keep details of my private life to a minimum. And this post is not going to be so different but I thought it might be beneficial for people to be aware of some of the stuff that goes on in my head from day to day just in case any one of you out there is under the delusion that all of this is easy. That can be discouraging and really what I want to do is encourage people as much as I can, that no matter what you have to contend with – and we all have something to contend with – you can still make a go of things.

I don’t normally keep a diary – never have - but I started making these notes with the intention of picking the best bits for a blog and this is what I ended up with. I was going to scrap it all and just get on with a normal post but, what the heck. Make of it what you will.

11th November

Today I’m very tired. Of course by the time you read this several weeks will have passed since I was tired. Indeed two or three days, perhaps even a week will pass between this and the last sentence in this article. So, all of you who feel the need to rally round and say, "Buck up, Jim," really don't need to because I'll have either bucked up myself or just got on with it either way, more than likely a bit of both.

I don't often air my woes here. I have woes aplenty let me tell you, says he and then proceeds not to say any more because, let's face it, we all have woes. Today the woe that is attracting the most attention is tiredness. Tiredness shouldn't be an illness. It should be a consequence of all those late nights bevvying and listening to AC/DC. Yeah, right. I wish. What bothers me about the kind of tiredness I suffer from is that I don't get to enjoy myself to feel as tired as I do. I don't think I've ever enjoyed myself enough to feel as tired as I do. Suffice to say I'm tired and a good night's kip isn't going to fix it.

I’ll probably never post this. So, why am I bothering with this? Because it feels good to write. I’m tired but for some reason that tiredness hasn’t spread to my fingers. In fact they're clattering away good guns.

The thing I think I'm trying to say here is the fact that writing is what I turn to quite naturally when there is a problem. I know that the writing this won’t solve anything but it's something to do when there's nothing to do. And we humans don't like doing nothing, and so we pace, make endless cups of coffee, crack our knuckles, fiddle with our hair, etc. etc.

21st November

It's now 2:20 pm on the 21st of November. Hard to imagine that 10 days have passed since I wrote that bit above. I'm still tired. I never expected not to be. Fatigued is the right word but it just feels like a posh word for 'tired'. And, as imagined, I got on with it over the last few days, about 500 words on the novel – but more importantly a new direction – two poems and a blog about collecting things. Not much for ten days. And I've read half a collection of short stories – in spurts. Of course I've kept up with my e-mails and RSS feeds and that's a lot. Their relentlessness drags me down, every day more things to read and to comment on, to show an interest in.

Don't get me wrong, I like the fact that I’m part of a little group here. I even like to think I'm a focal point but my sensible side realises that if I dropped dead tomorrow, or just went AWOL again like I did ten years ago, people would just get on without me. I was just talking to Art about that, about the fact that the last time I dropped out of sight not one person enquired about me, not one solitary bugger. It certainly puts things into perspective. But this is less to do with people not caring than it is to do with the onslaught of information I have to contend with every ruddy day. Every day new things, new people, and I don't have time for them.

When I add an RSS feed these days I go through my list and find one I can delete. I feel quite mercenary but if I'm not getting enough from a particular site – and the 'enough' can be different from site to site – then they get the chop. Of course I then feel guilty.

Everyone is selling something. Mostly they don’t want my money though some of them want that too. But they all want my time: read my blog, reassure me. And I’m no different: read my blog, buy my book. I hate selling.

23rd November

Some online journal has asked me to write a weekly column. There's no way I could commit to that but I've not replied yet. I'd like to say I could do one a month but even the thought of that tires me. I'm finding the Web very needy at the moment. There is so much to read and I feel that everyone is looking for something from me. It's very draining. I go through my feeds and hardly read anything. There are too many words. I keep coming back to that sentence. It keeps popping into my head as has been doing for weeks, months possibly: there are too many words.

I'm not reading much at the moment. I've been buying books and piling them up beside the chair in my office but I'm struggling simply to get through a book of short stories at the moment. I've never been able to devour books like I know some can. There's one site I subscribe to when the girl posts a blog every time she finishes a book and the entries just keep coming and coming. There's a lot about the Internet that inspires me but it also exhausts me. Every day there are more and more things to attend to. I should be glad for the attention. That is the name of the game isn't it? I'm here to attract readers.

I want to write but I have a headache. I slept badly again but I managed another 300 words in the early hours. All dialogue so it feels like more. I'm not writing enough.

24th November

John Baker's posted another section of Out Stealing Timber. I’ve marked it as unread because I feel guilty skipping over it. I can't remember much about what he's written so far and feel bad about it. I like reading his stuff. I just wish it stuck. It's not his fault. And Ani has something new up but there are too many words in it. I'll read it later.

People are starting to comment on my post on Jena's site, the one about inspiration. Ken thinks he can see more of the real me in it. I don't think the real me wrote it. This certainly feels more like the real me today, what passes for the real me these days. I listened to the 2003 version of Tubular Bells this morning and realised that the comment I made about John Cleese in my blog on collecting was wrong. I'll need to fix that but there's no rush.

I'm not sure what to do with this 'diary' blog. I know other people post things like this all the time. I'm just not sure why I should. It's not going in the kind of direction I hoped it might. I'm just rambling. What good would it do? I need to start work on a real post; I'm running out; I've been lazy. My stockpile was to give me time to work on my book but I wasn't expecting this bad turn to last so long. That wasn't a part of the plan.

1st December

I have no idea where this post is going. Part of me wants to bin it. It feels self-indulgent and it probably is. I’ve always tried to ensure that my posts were there to educate people before anything else and I keep asking myself what would people learn from this? That I’m human? We’re all human and we all have bad days. I don’t think it’s wrong to keep that side of me away from the public gaze. That said, I’ve had to encourage two bloggers over the last couple of days both of whom are suffering from depression and the only way I could think to do so was to talk about my own experiences and the fact that you can work around these things. For a long time I’ve kept the mindset that you may not be able to work on what you want (e.g. my book at the moment) so you work on what you can (i.e. this blog).

I wrote to that site today and told them I wasn’t up to do a weekly blog and they were very nice about it and the door’s still open. I should send them some poems and I will when I can be bothered. Only one short story to go in that book and then maybe I’ll think about writing a review. That shouldn’t strain me too much. I think I might take a few days off over Christmas. Other people take breaks so why not me?

My neck hurts. I'll need to stop this. God, pain can be such a pain.

I think that’s enough of me moaning. You get the idea.

So, how much truth is in these diary entries? Some. They’ve been edited of course, cleaned up, bits added in and shuffled around. Like everything I post they’re lies wrapped around truths. I could have posted them unedited but they wouldn’t have been more truthful, simply harder to make sense of.

I did want to get across the fact that my posts don’t just trip off my tongue. They all take weeks to write, a line or two here, a paragraph there. Some are easier than others. This one wasn’t very easy at all. And while I've been working on it I've used up half of my stockpile of posts which I was saving for a bad spell. Just like this one.


Dave King said...

I take your point about the way we attribute chracteristics to fabricate characters for the people we communicate with. I find that the photographs they provide are very powerful in that direction, misleading I have no doubt, but what about an on-line persona is reliable?
Even so, it is better, I think, to have an imagined audience than a great blank, with no idea about the folk out there, more inspirational, I feel.

Kit Courteney said...

Sometimes I think it's just nice to know these things.

Rachel Fox said...

Hey what's wrong with a bit of rambling! You don't ALWAYS have to be educational. Blogging shouldn't be a pressure on the writer, I don't think. I feel the pressures elsewhere (to be a good Mum, to - oh god - fit in) and it's blogging where I sometimes feel most free right now. Hell, that's weird! However I suspect you are a person who is very good at putting pressure on himself. Am I wrong?

As for writing- it's a shit occupation in some ways (even for the very successful) yet once you have the taste for it it's hard to give it up. And there are worse things.

Also I was wondering not long ago about blogging friends and what would happen if I, for example, posted that I was (seriously) suicidal. Would anyone get in a car, a bus, a plane and go through the streets of Montrose calling 'Rachel Fox, don't give up hope!'. I wasn't feeling that way, you understand (and they'd be wasting their time as I live outside the town), I was just wondering about the nature of the blog relationship. Who would I go to help in a similar situation? I should think someone's already written a short story (or something) along similar lines.


Jim Murdoch said...

Dave, I agree the photos are a help but there are a few out there who I've got friendly with and I really have no idea what they look like and let's face it, appearances – so we're told – can be deceptive. I don't think anyone has caught me smiling on camera since I was at primary school, certainly whenever I see one aimed in my general direction my serious head goes on. Personally I wouldn't even have one on my website other than the fact I'm trying to promote myself and it's hard to promote someone without a face we've become such image-centric society.

And, Kit, yes, it is sometimes just nice to know things for the sheer heck of it. It shouldn't make an iota of difference but we let it. I was just noticing when I wrote this how we do seem to need to fabricate personalities around what scraps of information we glean from people's article, from what I was going to write, people let slip.

Oh, Rachel, I'm nowt but an amateur rambler compared to you but I do try.

You are quite right when you talk about self-inflicted pressure though. I have never been able to live up to the standards I set which means I'm always ultimately disappointed with what I do. I'm better than I used to be but I do still make a rod for my own back. I feel a terrible responsibility to keep up my end of any relationship. And I really don't have that many. You could probably list them off without much trouble but I won't provide a list in case I embarrass anyone. I really do feel I should read and comment on as many of my friends' posts as I can. The fact is I find that I'm already stretched about as far as I'm capable of being stretched.

The point you make in your last paragraph is very valid and something that has preoccupied me for a long time. I've known a few people online who one day simply weren't there and I had no way of knowing if they were dead or what. I would hope when I die someone would put up a post letting people know but I'll be dead and they can do or forget to do whatever they like.

Someone whose blog I read regularly hadn't been around much for a while and a week or so back she turned up and let it all pour. Now, the last thing I could be bothered with that day was offering some wise words of wisdom but I got my act together and left a pretty decent alternative perspective and not a word of thanks, sod all in fact, and one has to wonder.

This is why for the main part I've tried to keep my blog on a professional albeit casual level and not give in to self-indulgence, not often anyway. Normal service will be resumed next post.

Ken Armstrong said...

Great post, Jim. Really.

Jim said (among other things)

"I’ve always tried to ensure that my posts were there to educate people before anything else and I keep asking myself what would people learn from this?"

People might learn something valuable from this. Possibly that they are not alone in their sometime-feelings of inadequateness, isolation, and expendability.

In my experience, many people who express their negative emotions suffer from the misapprehension that they have some kind of monopoly on pain. You don't. That makes for a valuable perspective, I think.

And if you weren't here, I think I would need to find out where you had gone. I would also run through the streets of Montrose calling 'Rachel, Rachel', even if she does live outside of the bloody town.

I guess I've come to care a little about these fictions we have created for ourselves - these microcosms of identity who live and die so very easily.

I don't think I'm selling to you, Jim (although I have empathy with that point of view). I don't really think that you are selling to anybody else either. We're just seeking to express ourselves, I think. It's not such a bad thing, really.

(BTW Rab C is coming back!)

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff, Jim, especially the references to identity. I don't believe we know anyone, on- or off-line. That relationship is never simple with or without a photograph because every scrap of info we let go is filtered in some way, often unconsciously, because the me that I'm in the process of selling is a fabrication made up of scraps of personal history, genetic flotsam and the bits that rubbed off my teachers before they were obliterated in Daddy's war.
And that's before I even begin on everything my fantasy shrink calls denial.
I recognise the tiredness though, it's because there's more going on in and around me than I can cope with.


Oh, dear! That jerk creep was me, wasn't it?! I'm so sorry. I am very bad about many things and timely responses is one of them. I appreciated your comment on my blog post and intend (still) to respond. And I thank you for this reminder that common courtesy is not so common nowadays. While I pride myself on being somewhat uncommon, I cannot take pride in my lack of courtesy. Please accept my apology and know that I appreciate and admire you.

Jim Murdoch said...

Ken, I am painfully aware that I do not have a monopoly on pain. My reason for deciding to post this ramble was – once again I feel – to put me in perspective. You've probably noticed how uncomfortable I get when people try and compliment me. It's not that I'm unaware of my good points but I've spent a lifetime fending off people's illusions of me. It is interesting that in an environment which embodies artificiality I'd try and take a stand on this.

Good news about Rab C by the way.

John, you are perfectly right, we filter everything, even the absolute 100% pure undiluted and irrefutable truth we take and place a question mark over it if it suits us. I didn't call my blog 'The Truth About Lies' on a whim. It embodies my whole philosophy of life. I used to be preoccupied with finding out the truth about things and if you dig deep enough you'll get to the truth; the thing about buried things is that they go off in time and they really shouldn't be dug up.

And, Susan, yes, you were the guilty party. And I would love to say I don't let things get to me but they do. And so we're back onto the whole fabrication thing. Pretending to be what I'm not or aspiring to be more than I am - there's a fine line between the two and sometimes I get the two mixed up.

Marion McCready said...

I think the very nature of blogging means that many of us are probably far more 'real' in our blogger identity than with many of the people we interact with in our day-to-day life. I'm a very visual reader, sometimes after reading a book I think to myself what was that film I watched the other week and then I remember it was a book I had read.

I have whole little personas in my head of all the bloggers I regularly converse with and I don't think they're as inaccurate as you might suppose. It's about reading inbetween the lines as well as the blog post. Nothing in this post is out character from your other posts, though I'm constantly amazed by your stock-piling of posts - the effort and dedication!


I am glad that you said what you did about my lack of consideration. I needed to hear (read) it. And it was commendable that you did not use my name. I truly appreciate that. Of course, I've gone and spilled the beans on myself, but at least it's among(st) friends.

You are a good man, Jim Murdoch. You'll never be able to mask that. :)

McGuire said...

A frank and sincere post and private window into your worry and insecurities. I appreciate it very much. You see, I find rambling quite educational, it allows is to 'splash our real think' in a way that allows us to write without 'imperative direction.' Best summed up in this line 'when I draw I just start drawing and don't know what it will be until it is done' - there is a lot to be said about the truth of untamed words, of relaxing and informally, revealing yourself.

What do we matter, finally! Mere poets and wordsmiths, possibly of mediocre calibre, but we keep on, out of necessity, routine, habit and desire.

As kit courteney says, sometimes its just right to know what people think, they are out their, there is reciprocal understanding.

thoughtful, as ever.

Anonymous said...

Every blog is a performance. Most all of the experiences you have described here I can relate to. Especially the too too many words bit and not wanting to let anyone down. A human being can only manage five or six genuine relationships at a time and I try very hard not to conduct any of mine over the internet. It's a tool not a life.

Art Durkee said...

I actually like this post as an example of layers within writing; which I'll get to more later. Some blogs that are basically diaries are more overtly personal than others. Most diary entries are similarly momentary, rather than enduring. But it's useful as a record for oneself, if one later wishes to go back and review one's older selves.

I have kept a written journal (not a diary, because not daily and because not often recording events of daily life) since 1980 or so. The handwritten volumes, all preceding blogging or even my Road Journal on my main website, which is not a blog although it's been mistaken for one, number in the 20s. I have been going back through the last three or four volumes, mining them for poetic bits I never chanced to transcribe before. This was prompted by a poetry editor asking me for a poem in a certain style, which I had to go back to the journals to find; which led to general re-reading and re-mining of those volumes. There are some notes in there towards other projects I still need to transcribe before putting them back in storage.

But there are a lot of very personal bits of rant and desire in those written journals that no one will ever read. Nor do I believe that anyone would be interested in them. Who needs to know that stuff? who cares? No one.

I still keep a written journal. But I mainly write in it when I'm on a road trip, camping in the wilderness, or stopping by waysides on an autumn evening. Most of that gets transcribed later into the Road Journal, along with photos taken along the journey. (Again, some remains private.)

What your post makes me think of is how I have evolved this division of labor between where I post what, and when. I think the division of labor is very useful. That's why I keep more than one kind of writing going.

I subscribe to the practice of journaling as both a cheap form of inner-work, self-therapy if you will, and as a place to work out creative ideas; while at the same time not regarding most of what gets written therein as artistic. Therapy-poems are very helpful and healthy to write—but they are not automatically good poems, AS poems.

The Road Journal tends to be looser and more personal than the Dragoncave blog; the latter was originally started as a repository for finished essays and poems. It's gotten looser over time, but that's still its main function, and I almost never post diary-like random thoughts there. When I post a set of photos, the poems that appear with them are often written in that moment, brand new from looking at the pics. The Road Journal will contain things that I view as more personal, that I am still setting down because I choose to, but those things are not necessarily what I would call either finished essays or poems. Some do get rewritten into finished pieces, and later appear on the Dragoncave; so there's a small overlap. But the Dragoncave doesn't need to be a place where I ramble, or rant, since I can do that elsewhere. One of the uses I've had for the Road Journal of late is watch my own process of grief and recovery, in the wake of everything that's changed in my life in the past few years; I actually began the Road Journal just as that major process of change began in my life, so it is written, for me, as a record of changes, for me to remember where I've been, and who I've become, over time. But that's a kind of personal writing that I don't want to put on the Dragoncave, which is a more public venue by far. (Or anyway I think it is.)

And now I'm rambling here. Ugh. Hope some of that made some smidgeon of sense.

Rachel Fox said...

On good men...and women...I think that is ultimately what determines whether I continue reading a blog regularly or not. There are other criteria but that's probably a big deciding factor. Jim is like most of us...a good person who could do with lightening up on himself a little sometimes!

Thanks Ken, by the way. It might take me quite a long time to get to your part of the world (if you ever needed me to run through the streets shouting) but I know I would do it if I really had to.

Now we are turning into a Xmas episode of ER or something. Is that snow I can see? Do I hear angels singing?

Jena Isle said...

Hi Jim,

We do try to protect as much as possible our privacy and our anonymity. But somehow, somewhere, there will always be something that would tell/show our readers a little of us in our posts.

Our articles are influenced by what we perceive around us. Truth is relative (did I get that from your book?) and so is perception. Much as we try to hide the real us, there will always be snippets of our personality coming out in what we have written.

It is not bad to ramble, there will always be lessons learned from any written material. Perception counts a lot.

I remember what Master Yoda said in Star Wars (do you watch these movies , Jim?), when you believe it can happen - it can. "Do, there is no try!".

Knowing this would help us get on with life in spite of these few "ramblings."

All the best.

And yes, I would be one of those who would be interested to know where you've gone in case you "disappear". Cheers.

Jena Isle said...

And yes Jim,

I hope too that when I die, someone would post an article informing others that I am

Happy blogging.

Liz said...

Hi Jim,
Interesting post.
I like a combination of the personal and the informative in a blog's nice to be able to get a glimpse of 'the person' too...from having met some online friends after having got to know them online first, I think an online persona can be pretty reliable...: )

Jim Murdoch said...

You have a point, Sorlil, but only up to a point. I realise that the veil of relative anonymity that the Web provides us with – and that veil is thicker with some – enables a freedom of speech that we may not have in the real world or that could be read as a freedom to pretend. And I'm not saying pretence is necessarily a bad thing. It's what Susan was talking about in her post, since she's chosen to reveal herself in these comments, and really that's how I began this blog right at the start by pretending to be a writer. Okay I've written a lot but I didn't feel as if I deserved the moniker Writer so I tried it on for a few months to see if I could get used to it and it's not too bad a fit but I doubt I'll ever be comfortable with it.

Unlike you I'm not an especially visual reader and I really don't have very elaborate personas in my head for my online friends. The wee icons we use help me remember people – my visual memory is not as bad as my verbal memory – but that's all. And, yes, well all read between the lines. It's tempting to read into things though. I used to be far more curious about people but now I find I can get by with very little.

As for my posts, it's basically just research. I've forgotten most of it already. I wish I could retain more but I can't. So, there's nothing to be amazed over. I'm just quite good at organising my thoughts around specific topics. I'm no expert. I'm not even very well read.

Susan, I really swithered about mentioning that. You did give me something to thing about though and the best cure for feeling sorry for oneself is to focus outward rather than inward. 'Good' is such an arbitrary expression. As I recall Jesus said that no one was good bar God. If I was so good I'd never have looked for any feedback but I'm not. When I open a door for a woman in a store and she just walks through without acknowledging me I let myself get hurt, even annoyed. So, I'm not good but I try, that much I'll concede.

McGuire, "'splash our real think' … without 'imperative direction'"? I like it. Not quite sure I get it. I'm not sure I agree that you get a better quality truth by simply letting your pen take itself for a walk. Perhaps, I'll concede, you might get closer to an emotional truth, how I felt at that moment, but that's about it. I prefer considered truths.

Paul, five or six genuine friendships you say? I can see that. And you are so right when you say that the Internet is a tool not a life. For some of us it does get perilously close to the latter. One of the good things I find about it – for me anyway – is that there's precious little frivolity about it. We say what we have to say, get to the point and bugger off. Real life is so much more leisurely and … well, inefficient. This is perhaps part of what Sorlil was getting at, the fact that we find we can open up with much greater speed and ease online that we often do with our real friends and family.

Art, it's good I believe to compartmentalise ones writing life which is why I thought twice about actually posting this in the first place. The reason I chose to was to provide the rest of the writing with a bit of perspective. I've always been jealous of those writers who work (at least it seems to me) effortlessly. The fact of the matter is that we never see the effort only the finished product and we have no idea what the writer has gone through to get to that point. I notice this when I watch biographies on the tele where they'll skip over a period of several years when a writer has been unable to work as if it's nothing rather than the living hell it probably was for him at the time. I don't want anyone reading this blog to assume I write with consummate ease. Yes, it is easier than it once was – practice does that – but I think it's as easy as it is going to get for me. Knowing that might put some people off. Good. Life is short. If writing's not for them then the sooner they discover that and find out what is the better.

Rachel, my goodness aside, there is a reason I don't let up on myself. I get nothing done. And really I'm nowhere near as hard on myself as you might imagine. Not these days. I don't have the stamina I once had and, looking back, I'm annoyed with myself that I wasn't harder on myself then when I could take it. Now I crumple.

Jena, I never had you down as a Star Wars fan. I've seen all the live action films bar the last one but I've never got into it in the same way as Star Trek. Master Yoda's comment reminds me of one of my father's favourite expressions when I was growing up – "Can't means won't" – and although I understand where he was coming from with that I'm not sure the good that little expression did will outweigh the damage. As I've grown older my body had reminded me, forcibly on occasion, that I have limits. I've deliberately and knowingly pushed myself beyond them assuming that I would bounce back which for years I have but one can only keep that up for so long. In time the body calls time. So now I try. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I have to bookmark it and try it later or decide it isn't so important.

And, Liz, I've only met two online friends in the real world, one of whom I married. The other was really a friend of Carrie's. On the whole I've found that people mostly are nice at least in small doses so I doubt there's anyone I talk to online I wouldn't get on with for an hour or two in the real world. After that I'd get tired. The good thing about online is that I can respond to people when my mind is clear even if that might be at three in the morning. So I suppose you get the best of me that way.

j said...

Writing is what I turn to when I need to figure something out, to determine how I'm really feeling, to untangle the various intellectual and emotional knots in my brain. Sometimes it helps to put this stuff (personal, hopefully not overly self-indulgent, maybe of use to someone) out on the blog and then await responses from these far flung people that I know on a very limited basis. And yes, I make choices on how I present myself, the fiction of me.

There is a relentlessness to keeping up with the rest of the blogging world, reading stuff, commenting, trying to stay connected through the ether. And here I comment, not sure what exactly to focus on, but wanting to toss out my thoughts.

Anyway, I'd miss The Truth About Lies if it disappeared.

McGuire said...

I mean that sometimes to go with whim and fancy can show us more about ourselves, can tell us more about the world, the working of the mind than boiling over precise words and considered truth.

Both are not mutually exclusive. I too have much time for slow considered truth and writing. Indeed, perhaps you think I am merely a poet of slapdashery and whim and nothing else, but the belies the fact I actually boil over the words and edit bit by bit over months if not years on certian poems. I love to appear careless, but care immensely.

I suppose in the spirit of the child I'm saying sometimes 'the playful act before understanding' (like scribbling or just being playful) can be the cathartic release we need before hunkering down to real business.
McGuire, "'splash our real think' … without 'imperative direction'"? I like it. Not quite sure I get it. I'm not sure I agree that you get a better quality truth by simply letting your pen take itself for a walk. Perhaps, I'll concede, you might get closer to an emotional truth, how I felt at that moment, but that's about it. I prefer considered truths.

Jim Murdoch said...

I've just looked at your blog, Jennifer, and found myself with three posts I'd not read. I've not been putting as much effort into Entrecard of late and that's when I usually catch your blog. Anyway I've added you to my favourites so that doesn't happen again. It's strange how easily I can feel guilty about something, e.g. I've not read your blog for a week = I'm a bad person.

I suppose I use my blog in a similar way to you but I limit its scope. I only focus on writerly issues because there is a whole world of different experience out there and I'm keen to learn from it. What I do find is that writers can actually be extremely inarticulate at times; they don't have the words to explain how they work, why they do things this way or that.

Don't worry though, I'm not ready to pack in the site just yet. I still have a small stockpile of posts and I'm working on a couple of new ones so we're okay for the next month at least and hopefully in the interim my head will start to clear and I won't be feeling the pressure as much.

And, McGuire, I see where your coming from and I don't mean to dismiss it out of hand. I find myself when I left my pen go for a walk like that I wind up with more questions than answers. Also, I find it hard to go off on one. I'm not that kind of writer. I'm always going back and rereading to make sure the thing flows up to that point. If I find a ragged paragraph then I'll add in a sentence or two to smooth it out. I have sat down and just scribbled but I don't think anything ever useable has been produced on those occasions.

Writing is always 'work' to me, not play. It's enjoyable work but work nevertheless. I expect my writing to produce something at the end of the day, a product; there's real satisfaction in that. I guess I've never been one for playing. Certainly from about the age of twelve all I can remember were projects of one sort of another.

j said...

Jim -- I have a love/hate relationship with Entrecard. If I get caught up in the clicking, I don't read as much of the interesting stuff out there, but there is something satisfying (in an empty way!) of acquiring those points and pulling in visitors. It seems to contribute to a sense of blogging obligation to me, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

I understand the guilt factor -- though I don't think you need to feel guilty! I often feel the same way when I haven't checked in with some of my regular blogs. With my blog as one of your favorites, there will be no need to be haunted by that sense of guilt again! :)

Glad to hear you're not shuttering the blog.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, Jennifer, I like the expression 'blogging obligation', and that is what promoting a site is like but if you want the visitors then you need to do your chores.

We'll have to see what the new year brings. I am going to take a wee break over the holidays. I think I need it. I'm on some new meds at the moment and they're sucking all the life out of me. Hopefully once I've got used to them it'll be business as usual.

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