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.
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:
(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.)