Wednesday, 19 May 2010

In which I return

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I am back. Actually, my little post-election rest came to an official end sharpish on Monday morning, and I have been writing three kinds of merry hell out of the new book since then, but for some obscure reason I have not posted anything on the blog. Sure, I could make excuses about having work, and my brain almost falling out after doing 3500 words in two days (not quite sure what happened there) and any number of other perfectly legitimate things, but it was not that. It took me a while to work out what it actually was.

It was: I was shy.

I know.

How can this be? We are a little band of bloggers, all for one and all that. Even when I am banging on, or galloping about on hobby horses, or talking about things in which some of you can have no possible interest, I have never been greeted with anything but generosity and kindness. (That element of the blogosphere is one of things I do bang on about, but it really does never cease to amaze me, and it was not at all what I expected when I began this enterprise.) I know that some people get properly ambitious for their blogs, and they are quite right to do so, but I rather love that this is a small get-up, existing quietly in an obscure corner of the internet, read by nice people who understand about the dog thing.

What, in any of that, could induce a sudden feeling of going into a party where you do not know a single human? (This does occasionally happen to me, and I get almost crippled with bashfulness. I do the things you are supposed to: plaster an interested look on my face, read myself little lectures in my head about how it's only a social occasion, not having your fingernails pulled out with pliers, bravely introduce myself, but it does not always work. Sometimes people really do not much want to talk to a complete stranger, however interested she might look.)

I can't quite put any of my fingers on it, but I have an inchoate sense that blogging works best when it is a kind of reflex, stitched into muscle memory. When I first started writing I took the advice of the great Dorothea Brande, who said that you should start every day by writing for twenty minutes without stopping or editing or even thinking. In this way, you build up the habit of writing so that it grows into a second nature rather than an onerous task. I almost think of it as training your fingers, and, if it does not sound too flaky, teaching your mind to go into your fingers. (Actually, that does sound perfectly kooky, but never mind.) In some ways, blogging for me is a little like that twenty minute exercise, except of course I do think as I do it. It keeps the muscles honed. So, the moment I stop doing it, I find myself tying up, stiff and uncertain, and it becomes oddly hard to get back into the rhythm of my stride.

I also think it might be something that does not bear to much thought. For an extrovert, that kind of person who loves to break into metaphorical tap dances at the drop of a top hat, there is no uncertainty in broadcasting thoughts to the world. For those of us more introverted, there is a faint whiff of presumption: why should anyone want to squander their precious time on my paltry thoughts on anything? This sounds like a very peculiar idea for a writer to have. After all, I have spent my life putting those thoughts on paper and hoping people will pay good money for them. But all the time I am acutely conscious that there is a kind of arrogance in it, and the moment I stop to think about that too much I become frozen in contradiction.

All of which is a very, very long way of saying: that is why I was away for rather longer than I expected.

I recognise there is an intrinsic absurdity to all this. It's only a tiny little blog, not particle physics or figuring out a way to pay down the deficit. It's not poor Mr Laws, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who arrived in his new department to find a note from Liam Byrne, his predecessor, saying: Sorry, there's no money left. (I am not making that up.) I really should stop thinking about it all so much and channel those determined women in the Nike ads and Just Do It.

Lovely to be back, my darlings. It sounds a most curious thing to say, but I did miss you.

Today's photograph is the view over my garden gate, in last night's evening light, which was worthy of Van Gogh, or some other excellent painterly person:

May 17th 010

(When I say Van Gogh, I mean the light, not my photography skills. It just made me think of Provence, even though I am high up in the north of Scotland.)


  1. Wow, I want to live there.
    Mostly I want to read what you write because you write it so well. You say many of the things I want to but... better. I got the book when it first came out but only discovered your blog a few weeks ago and it has very quickly become a favourite, so please do keep on keeping on. Also, it's the dog thing.

  2. Welcome back!
    Beautiful photograph. One of the things I like best about France and Scotland is how alike they are, in spite of differences of weather and temperature. Brittany particularly reminds me often of the north of Scotland. Or is that just me?

  3. I like your blog as it is well written, so whatever the subject matter, it is always engaging.

    I also like your pictures. They can cheer up a lunch break spent sat at my desk munching a sandwich while the phone rings and there are constant knocks at the door (I should probably let them all in)

  4. Hi again - I am a fairly heavy duty extrovert - it took me forever to get around to setting up my blog and i was hand held all the way by a blog guru ! I get serious bashful attacks - more actually with my fiction writing, I get shy sending things to my agent and have those mad neuroses at 3am asking myself why I bother with any of it ? Welcome back and thank you for a lovely photo xx

  5. I have blogger anxiety almost everyday - I'm not the most extroverted person, but certainly not the most introverted either but I do often wonder why I am doing it. I worry its massive self-indulgence! Coincidently I caught up with a friend last night who I haven't seen in years. She's currently writing her first novel and we talked about the writing process. Some of the things we said are echoed in this post. Ultimately we decided that if you have to write you should just write (push the anxiety aside) and the blogsphere is a wonderful opportunity to do that. My own romantic notion is that it democratises publishing! Anyway I just wanted to say I am so glad that you are back, I really enjoy reading your blog - it is so insightful and well written! xxx

  6. Thank you all so much, not least for utterly proving my point about the complete loveliness of my readers. Incredibly kind words; I feel very touched. What a glorious welcome back.

  7. I totally get the shyness thing. I hardly blog at all and only started as I felt it was rude to comment all over the shop and not have one even though I didn't expect anyone to actually read it.

    I am pretty new here but am liking what I read do far. The current affairs spots are great to see amongst the dogs and photos.


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