Sunday, December 26, 2010

Taking stock

A friend recently told me that she reckons that I engage with real life as little as I think I can get away with. Which is a devastatingly accurate assessment. Particularly as at the time I had just been caught doing something I shouldn't have and was temporising wildly with a view to bullshitting my way out of the corner I'd painted myself into*. I'm not awfully good at engaging with real life.

I think that I have been kidnapped and replaced by alien beings intent on spying on humankind. Having scared my workmates silly by being mellow and festive and stuff all Christmas Eve, I spent the day itself being avuncular at my family, topping it all by crying buckets at the ending to "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."

Which both lead me to the matter in hand.

Why am I writing any of this?

Some people blog because they're creative people wanting to work creatively and a blog is a good way of building a portfolio or practising their crafts or sharing and testing ideas. Some of the people in my blogroll are proper writers and poets, artists and authors and pretty damned good they are, too. Other people are instinctively chatty and sociable and use their blogs as just another social network, like the equivalent of having a chat with people while you're at the laundrette. And others are just exploring, wanting to know what this blogging business is and how it works.

I started blogging a few years back primarily to get a pile of lousy work-related stuff off my chest rather than continue to internalise it and do myself any further damage. Counsellors often suggest keeping a diary or journal of things that have hurt/annoyed or delighted because it helps to provide context and perspective and can also be a record of progress. I'm crap at keeping a diary but keeping a blog turned out to be within my powers, which is how the other blog came about. And that's mostly done the trick for me. This blog was always intended, in so far as I had any intentions at all, just to be a commonplace book where I put odds and ends, possibly for future use. That has changed over time - apologies to those of you who have been occasionally dismayed by the fruits of a combination of insomnia and a natural inclination to melancholia.

Which brings us, eventually, and about time too, to the matter in hand: "the blogging malaise."

I'm one of the people who's been complaining that blogging's been a bit of a struggle lately. And I've worked out why I'm struggling:
  • Time is a factor. As I've said elsewhere, there's only so often you can complain about a repetitive failure before the complaint becomes a repetitive failure in itself. Our train services are lamentable; icy pavements are slippery; some library managers couldn't run a bath - how often do these things need saying? Once, if at all. So the bar needs to be constantly reset.
  • I've lost my anonymity - I now have an audience. That's sounds a bit ungrateful; I don't mean it to be, I'm pathetically grateful that anyone bothers to pass by and have a read. It's just that there's a lot more freedom in scribbling on the wall of a virtual bus shelter for your own amusement. I'm more than happy to concede that freedom in return for the interplay and commentary.
  • And this is the one I've been hedging round: I really have lost my anonymity. Over the past year, both as Kevin and the bloke he masquerades as in real life, I've been taking down walls. I'll be honest: for me that's very scary indeed. I live with the constant fear of the Wizard of Oz moment where somebody pulls back the curtain and says: "oh look, it was only him all along." Hence all the flannel and walls and barriers and stuff. Well, some of you I'm friends with in real life; some of you are cyberbuddies with both of us; and some of you even know what address to use should a world-wide glut of dancing ladies need to be distributed to the poor. You'll have to forgive me for being nervous about that, it's in my nature. But I absolutely wouldn't change it, thanks for being friendly.
All of which change the dynamics of posting to my blogs. There are a series of self-limiting factors to be negotiated: topics I can't write about because however heavily-disguised the confidences, they're still identifiable if you have the context; comments or stories that could compromise desirable outcomes, that sort of thing. And I have to be a bit more careful about not frightening the horses unnecessarily because if I've learned nothing else over the years I've found that people in the blogging community worry about each other. None of which are insurmountable challenges.

So I'll be carrying on blogging in 2011 (online community starts gnashing teeth). I've no idea what I'll be withering on about, all I know is that it's going to be a year full of big changes and surprises whether I like them or not.

There are a few people I've lost contact with lately or who have left the blogosphere. In some cases it's because they've found new and exciting things (and people!) to do. For other people the causes are changes in circumstances and/or health. In any case, if you happen to be reading this make sure that you pick up one of those virtual sacks of best wishes in the corner over there.

In fact, there's a sack each for everyone, so don't go away empty handed. I'll try and make a better fist of keeping in contact with what everyone's doing and engaging with realities, including this virtual one. And you can nag me if I don't.

Has someone been putting something in my tea...?

*Well, you're wrong. But I'm not going to tell you what it was either. Serves you right for going straight for the smutty stuff.


Webrarian said...

Beautifully written, Kev.

Pat said...

I bloody well hope you ARE going to continue blogging!

savannah said...

you write, i'll read, sugar! :~D xoxoxoxox

nursemyra said...

As one who has erected several very high walls since Stephen died, I know where you're coming from. This year a couple of friends have made a concerted effort to dismantle said walls and force me to re-engage which has been both a scary and exhilarating experience.

I started blogging when I knew Stephen was going to die, but never mentioned it on the gimcrack until the final days. My son encouraged me to resume writing as a way to get me out of bed when the unbearable grief took over. I'm eternally grateful to him for that because I swear I wouldn't still be here if I hadn't been forced to do copious amounts of research for the esoteric posts.

The Corset Friday posts were always a homage to Stephen, they made me feel like I was still a sexual being though the only man I would ever want to sleep with was now beyond my reach.

I'm so glad you will be continuing to blog Kevin, as I started to read I thought it was going to be a farewell post. And in your words

"if I've learned nothing else over the years I've found that people in the blogging community worry about each other"

Yes we do. and I'm delighted to have shared your online company and to know that will continue in 2011

fairyhedgehog said...

Well, I'm glad you plan to keep on blogging.

I'm finding the walls of anonymity gradually coming down and like you I find it scary. Blogging is much easier when no one knows you!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Webrarian: thank you kind sir

Pat: [tugs where the forelock would have been]

Ta savannah!

nursemyra: Thanks for that. I'm at a lost to give a reply that does it justice. I'm glad you found a positive outlet, your son played a blinder there and he deserves a bit of praise, especially from those of us who drop by for the latest does of juicy historical gossip and esoteric whimsy. I can respect why you put the walls up; I hope you continue to escape their confines.

Are we due the Lupe Velez story yet?

Thanks fairyhedgehog! It is easier when anonymity gives you a licence to misbehave occasionally. :)

Scarlet Blue said...

Does a librarian need to be able to run a bath? Would end up with a very soggy index system.

Anyhow, let me relieve you of your sacks.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thank you Scarlet, you've made an old man very happy.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I'm thinking that losing one's anonymity is only a problem if if it compromises one professionally, but maybe I've missed the point. When I found out that Romanians with the same (fairly strict) religious standpoint as my wife's had started reading my blog, I just told them that it was all 'an enormous pile of nonsense', and I haven't heard from them since. I hope that you don't get any unwanted repercussions. Keep blogging, Kev - as you've said yourself, we do care about one another :-)

zmkc said...

You beat Simon Cowell for suspense - I really thought you were going to say you were stopping blogging. And I'm very glad that you're not. Now go away and stop fishing for compliments, that's your lot for 12 months, at least from me.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks Gadjo! I'm a secretive sort by nature but I'll get by. :)

zmkc: and thanks too! It seems to be my week for it. ;)

Major Tom D'Omo said...

You old sod. You had me going there.
In the words of a song from our salad days - "Don't stop/thinking about tomorrow / don't stop /it'll soon be here..."
etc. etc.

BrightenedBoy said...

I'm living proof that you can in fact have an audience and remain anonymous, though of course I've been rather more cautious than most.

If worst comes to worst you could always start anew under a different name.

So long as you're content to stay here, though, we'll be happy to keep reading.

You're actually a bit witty, you know.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Tom: thanks old lad.

Brightenedboy: many thanks!

Madame DeFarge said...

I would be slightly lost without both your blogs. I empathise with much of what you say, but we both need some anonymity these days. Take care.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Ta Madame! Keep smiling through.