Blog is an ugly word, often as not denoting an ugly product. In purely onomatopoeic terms, it would do perfectly well as a description of projectile vomiting, and sometimes I suspect that is what it amounts to. As with vitriolic internal e-mails (now there’s a phrase to conjure an image), there is an immediacy to blogging that encourages all manner of hasty and hugely regrettable evacuations, a tendency only exacerbated by the opportunity to express oneself anonymously.
Obviously, anonymous vitriol is not an option in my case. I use blogs as a way of giving a little extra to established readers (my mum’s very fond of them, persuaded that, now I’m on the Internet, I’ve really made it) and hopefully drawing in a few new ones. So, as I suggested last week, there wouldn’t be a lot of point to it if I kept my identity secret. Ooh, what a tease!
For similar reasons, I do my best to avoid the projectile vomiting aspect. I want to please and, though I don’t mind pissing off one or two people (who doubtless deserve pissing off if they can be pissed off by such an eminently amenable, right-on, and unpissing-off sort of guy as myself), I try to steer clear of indulging in mindless egotistical ranting, since it’s unlikely to garner me many new readers or gratify the few I’ve already got. Of course, I don’t try very hard – after all, my ranting is, by definition, so very mindful and modest it hardly counts as ranting at all.
Nonetheless, the lack of editorial control in a blog –impudent though editorial control can seem elsewhere– means there remains a real risk the blogger is going to make a complete prat of themselves, presenting the petty events and banal lucubrations of their humdrum little lives as if this is matter of the most vital importance. As it happens, if you write well enough, pretty much anything can be matter of the most vital importance, but as a general rule, the more time people spend contemplating themselves and the fabulous spectacle of that fascinating bit of fluff in their navel, the more tedious they become.
So, in what has probably been a largely futile attempt to avoid coming across as some self-obsessed dullard, I have to-date avoided the diary implications of the slightly less inelegant ‘weblog’ tag that gave birth to blogging. This is about to change, at least for the next few weeks. I don’t mean I’m going to surrender to my inner self-obsessed-dullard, no more than I do ordinarily at any rate, but I am going to have a crack at something closer to a daily journal.
For a number of years, we have been farm-sitting for friends in the South of France. Conditions are spartan verging on squalid, the set up chaotic at best, and barely a year goes by without some calamity or unruly farce unfolding during our stay. The regularity of these disasters has spawned a series of occasional ‘diaries’ detailing our trips, diaries that were subsequently circulated among a few friends and family members. Several people enjoyed reading the pieces so much that they recommended publication, either as newspaper articles or worked up into a book, but I’ve always resisted, insisting it was private and not something to be bandied about beyond a select circle.
Blogging has changed all that. I still have some scruples about exposing our friends’ rather haphazard domestic arrangements to ridicule, so their identities will be disguised, but the fact that blogs are gratis somehow diminishes the betrayal in my eyes. I’m not selling this to anyone, just recounting a few inconsequential events to a group of people that is almost as select as the friends and family who used to read the old diaries . . . in fact, the correspondence between the two groups maybe even closer than I care to imagine.
We’re due back on the farm in a few weeks. In the meantime, I propose posting four blogs of previous diary entries, the first of which partially earns its place on a writer’s page by virtue of the fact that it was written when I was working on what would become my first published novel. The rest are not only gratis, but gratuitous, too. Once we’re on the farm again, I will post one or two more diaries about this year’s disasters, always presuming there are some. As if!
Thereafter, business as usual . . . whatever that maybe.
Causes Charles Davis Supports
Oxfam, Amnesty International, Greenpeace