Posted by Tania Kindersley.
The gales rage and surge and shudder and push about the house. When I go out for a walk, I am quite afraid that a tree will fall on me and squash me. I think, instinctively: what will happen to the blog then? What will the Dear Readers think? The lights flicker and dip, and I hunker down and pray the power lines will hold out. (Because otherwise: what will happen to the blog?)
I still think the only rule about the blog is never to talk about the blog. The serpent is in danger of eating its own tail, when that happens. It is supposed to be an outward-looking thing: here is my tiny slice of the world, which I am sending out into the wider world. (The writer in me wanted to find another word for world there, because the repetition does not work, but planet just sounds grandiose and stupid, and I’ve never much liked globe. If I ever use universe, please stage an intervention.)
But sometimes, as the older readers will know, I do dare talk about the blog. Then, usually, I go and hide in a cupboard afterwards.
It just strikes me as strange that it has become such a thing. It’s not like my entire cohort is blogging. I don’t know anyone else in life who does it. Those of you who have been doing it for a while will know the special, slightly quizzical emphasis that friends and family sometimes use when they ask after it. I have found that there are one or two who really get it (my friend The Playwright speaks of it as if I am writing The Diary of an Edwardian Lady in daily episodes) but mostly it is regarded as a mysterious, mildly amusing, niche exercise.
If I try to explain it to someone, I switch into full British self-deprecation mode: oh, you know, I say, it’s mostly dog pictures. The poor readers, I say, shrugging and ducking my head, what they have to put up with, with all the dog pictures. Even The Pigeon can look a bit eye-rolly when she has to pose for her twentieth picture of the day.
Perhaps it is because, as a still new medium, it is teetering on the Rolf Harris conundrum: can you tell what it is yet? No one can quite seem to work out whether it is still a remote, geekish thing, or a mainstream enterprise. Is it sheer narcissism and self-indulgence, or a valuable contribution to the national discourse? The big ones that get folded into newspaper and magazine websites almost don’t count as blogs, in my book; they stand as part of the wider comments section. Perhaps the reason that there is still the whiff of raised eyebrow is that there is something a little odd, in this rushing commercial age, about a single person in a room giving away words for free.
Oddly, that’s the thing I like most about the whole shooting match. I love that the good ones are labours of love. I like the fact that they are the work of amateurs, in the true sense of the word, going back to its Latin and Middle French roots. When I think of the process, I think of Mrs Woolf, saying that what the writing woman needs is a room of her own.
I like that there is a sense of barter: I give you my blog, you give me yours; or your comments, or, more precious still, your time. I like that I learn things, from the Dear Readers, scattered as they are all over the world. I like the daily discipline. I love that there is no editor, no commercial imperative, no rules, no sense of confinement. I may sit, as I am now, with the sky black as pitch outside the window and the rain smashing against the window and my cup of coffee, and let my fingers type what they will.
Within this small room, on this cramped keyboard, I may roam over any prairie of thought I choose. (Within limits, of course, I am keenly aware that I must not send you all into a coma of boredom.) I like the fact that there is a small, humming sense of duty. That last is the strangest one of all: it really could not matter, in the gaudy scheme of things, if I took a day off. Yet my single daily imperative is: must do the blog.
It’s all still a bit of a surprise. I’m still not quite sure how I got to the stage where my first thought is, when contemplating death by falling tree: what about the blog? But still, one must take one’s pleasures where one may. And it turns out that this is my pleasure.
Too stormy to take the camera out today, so here is a little symphony in black and white from the past week:
Never done the hill in black and white before; it makes me think of Wuthering Heights, for some reason: