Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The First rule of blogging: never talk about the blog

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:

13 Dec 2 12-12-2011 15-54-44.ORF

13 Dec 3 12-12-2011 15-54-56.ORF

13 Dec 4 12-12-2011 15-53-57.ORF

13 Dec 5 08-12-2011 15-47-05.ORF

13 Dec 7 05-12-2011 15-43-57.ORF

The Pigeon:

13 Dec 10 09-12-2011 14-25-47

13 Dec 14 05-12-2011 15-45-43.ORF

Never done the hill in black and white before; it makes me think of Wuthering Heights, for some reason:

13 Dec 15 05-12-2011 15-37-31.ORF


  1. It is strange this blogging business - I think I'm properly addicted and not in a good way! I got slightly worried recently when a friend pointed out that I end most sentences with the words '...ooh that would be good for the blog.'

  2. I love the symphony in B&W.

    I understand the 'small, humming sense of duty'. My own equivalent is the Photo Of The Day that I publish to my Facebook friends: images of Norfolk countryside, performers taking bows after splendid local shows, the impressive meal in a Norwich cafe, the passing balloon that drifts over our village. But whatever it is, The Photo must be published. As a result, some of the inclusions are nothing if not obscure (a shopping list? a pot of seasonally-flavoured Christmas Pudding yoghurt?), although some I am reasonably proud of.

    But I've been running this tiny project without a break since March 2010, and I really don't feel right at all if I don't Give The Photo.

    And as for your blog, Tania, it's a daily joy. Thank you.

  3. That's not my age - I think that all the time. :)

    Cassie - you always leave such lovely comments. And I am so glad you have the same thing with The Photo.

  4. My sister sent me this link to Weasel Loveliness, and it's another example of why blogs are so randomly wonderful - they contain things like the Pidgeon and stumpy tailed mini-weasels:

  5. I too do not know anyone In Real Life who blogs. My far-flung family complains if I go a whole week without a post, and some friends will actually suggest topics (without actually ever visiting my blog) but no one seems to want to start one of their own. Maybe it looks too much like work to them. I don't deny it can be an effort some times, but it keeps me in contact with my family, and makes me really look at life around me in a way I did not before I started blogging.

    I really enjoy yours - it's a treat to peek into your life and see your lovely photos of your countryside.

  6. I don't talk about it either, no one I know, blogs and they all think i"m a freak.
    Serioulsy loving your dog, is it just me or is he as handsome as Jeff Bridges?

    Just me then....

  7. Blogging is strange - very few are compelling, even when written by people who are superb when being published normally. It occurs to me that only a writer who can edit herself, or is lucky enough to naturally write in graceful, pacy prose, can pull it off. So congratulations! Rachel

  8. I love the fact that you blog so well, your writing is incisive and compelling. I blog about food, but love the fact that I can read your blog, and someone's lifestyle blog, and another's blog about parenthood or the weather, and so on.
    And I love the dog photos, she is a beauty.
    And I hope you don't lose power, I would miss the lovely Pigeon.

  9. So glad you were pushed by the wild storm to break that very First rule, deliciously British in itself, if I may say.

    I love reading of your attempts to playing the whole thing down in the company of strangers, the cinematic description of the cramped desk, the blackness outside, the noisy rain.
    There is something very intimate and pleasurable that takes place between the writer/blogger and its readers: at its best it is a sort of sound bond, mutually beneficial.

    Since I am at it, I would also like to add something about your Titles: they are incisive, serious and precise, and I Always, always enjoy that first encounter. They remind me of the Latin Literature titles of my youth: they are clear, succint labels that tell you just enough to enter through the door open eyed.

    Unashamedly at one with your Beloved Cousin here: More Blog. Cristina :)

  10. Your hill always reminds me of Wuthering Heights. In a very good way.

    I wonder if, as a writer, the blog has formed a discipline that is simply part of your work day. Like a morning meeting but better: write blog, Pigeon, hill, gorgeous Scottish landscape, make Dear Readers very happy and so on. It's certainly part of my day xx

  11. For me, what sets your blog apart from others is the sheer honesty of it. You are a talented writer, no doubt about it...but it's not your way with words that brings me back every day. It is a rare thing indeed when a person puts his/her true self out there for everyone to see. You make me feel like all of my not-so-perfect bits aren't quite so bad! So thank you. I think you are the bee's knees.


  12. You've got the wry sense of humour and the determined understatement of it all beautifully. Thanks for saying it all.

  13. None of my friends writes a blog either - except, of course, the ones I have made through blogging. That has been its biggest surprise to me, and the happiest one; that I have met so many lovely people, some of them in real life. It'll be six years in a few weeks, I still enjoy blogging and connecting with people. And it's so useful, I can finally keep tabs on what happened to me and when.

  14. I don't comment very often but simply wanted to tell you that I'll feel as compelled to read you every day as you must feel compelled to write! I love dipping into your world, seeing Pigeon and the hill. I appreciate your humane, informed take on things. Oh, and your wonderful turn(s?) of phrase, such as "I may roam over any prairie of thought I choose". Thank you!

  15. My rules of blogging:

    1. Don't over-analyze. That's the first step towards not blogging.

    2. Keep the blog secret from family and co-workers. This allows freedom of speech and occasional whining about same.

    3. Blog when you have something to say. A forced post is as painful to read as it is to write.

    4. Fall in love with new blogs and bloggers, but do not change your writing style to mimic theirs. Your style is your personality, and it's why your readers keep coming back.

    That being said, I really enjoy your writing, your photos, Pidge and The Hill. Keep up the good work! 8-)

  16. Such incredibly kind and lovely comments. Thank you, thank you. :) :)

  17. Coming back after days away, I can only say I'm glad you're here, glad you're committed to it. I missed it more than I could have dreamed I'd miss a blog (for heaven's sake! a blog!).

    Not to go all groupie-like, but your blog is damn good. It never fails to breathe with life, whether you're writing about politics or racing, or living about as close to nature as one can without pitching a tent in a field, or whatever. It makes me think; that's about the highest compliment anyone can offer. And even on the days when I suspect you are just stressed to the max and could cheerfully chuck it for 24 hours, the pictures of The Pigeon and, increasinly, the beech avenue, make it worth a look.

    For me, it's a positive moment at the end of the day. And it's a great deal better for the soul than Tanqueray and an olive. ;-)



Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin