Posted by Tania Kindersley.
All right. I’ve worked out what it is. As long as I can work out what a thing is, I can deal with almost anything. What I hate is opacity and mystery; then I am at the mercy of unknown forces.
Yesterday, I could not understand why I was quite so upset about a reader being bored. I do have a morbid dread of being dull, but even so. I cannot tell you how doleful and heartsore I was for the whole day. It was such a small thing, in the great wide scheme. (As some of the Dear Readers sternly and sanely pointed out, with, I thought, a faint air of surprise.) Yet I was quite undone.
Then, just after midnight, I figured it out. It is because this is my safe place. That sounds so nuts I am hesitant even to write it. How can something that is out there on the internet for anyone to read be safe? And yet, that is what it has become.
Because it is not professional, because there is no money, no pitch, no editor, no critics, no bean counters, it is the purest, most untrammelled writing I have ever done. That is thrown into particular relief when I am really struggling with a book, as I am at the moment. Here, I do not have to poke and prod into a recalcitrant brain; I do not have to worry constantly about deadlines and publication. This stands just as it is: a thing I do for love.
You see, the thing that I love is writing. I adore putting words on a page. I have an idiot passion for the semi-colon. I like listening for rhythms, throwing in unexpected words, running off on little riffs. I even like the physical act of typing, the sound of the tap tap tap as my fingers dance over the keyboard. When, in my real work, the fingers are not dancing, but stomping through mud, here they shall still do the damn tango.
My agent would kill me for saying this, but I hate everything about writing which is not to do with writing. I hate the pitching, the meetings, the compromises. I particularly loathe the promoting of a book. I like to be alone in my room, thinking thoughts; I don’t want to go out like a huckster and sell myself. I can’t bear the dog and pony show aspects of being a writer, they feel so bogus and phoney.
That is fine, because everyone has part of their job they don’t like, but if you gave me a million quid, I should be very tempted never to go into book form again. I realise that all the ambitions I had when I was younger, of being on best-seller lists, or winning prizes, even getting the admiration of my peers, seem faintly meaningless to me now. I think how shallow all that striving is compared to the important things, like love and trees. All I really want is to be able to write a good sentence.
That is what I can do here. I may throw language up in the air and see where it falls. I may dance.
That’s why I became so sad. I had slipped the surly bonds, and then suddenly, there were all the things I had avoided: demands, criticism, suggestions. A suggestion is a tiny thing; it should not cause a storm of grief. But in this context it felt like a mighty invasion. That was why I lost perspective, and fell into a brown study.
This, I should stress, is what the shrinks call my stuff. It has nothing to do with the poor Dear Reader, who quite unwittingly hit a most fragile and vulnerable chord.
So, here is the thing. I love and respect the Dear Readers; I am keenly aware that you give your precious time to come here; I am profoundly touched that you do. I get a thrill of excitement when I turn the computer on and find that comments have come from New Zealand and Wales and North Carolina. But I say this with all humility and politeness and no edge or side or rancour: I am not doing it for you. (I wince as I write that; it goes against all muscle memory.) There are very few places in life where one gets to be completely selfish, and I’m afraid to say that this is one of them. And I am damn well going to milk that for every last drop of self-indulgent joy.
It turns out that I don’t want a huge, popular blog, which gets put on lists and turned into a book deal. (I might once have dreamed of that, when my dander was up and my competitive spirit was running riot.) I realise that idea ruins the whole point. If I lose readers, I lose readers, and that does not matter a whit. I don’t want a worldly success, in which I may count the mounting numbers, and stare beadily at rising graphs; I want a tiny, private thing, where I may do tap dancing if the mood takes me.
So my resolution is: I am going to stop apologising. I am bored of that. I suspect that is the dullest thing for you too. Fuck it: I am going to have the courage of my convictions. I am going to write about anything I want. You have the lovely, joyful choice of not reading.
One of my lines in Backwards was about following your own goofy little star, and bugger the consequences. I must follow my own goofy star, and, as some of you know, sometimes it is very goofy indeed.
I have lost a lot of loves in the last year; the two current loves of my life are my mare and my Pigeon. If I have learnt anything from my season of grief, it is that the loves must be celebrated, while they are still with us. If I put them down on the page, then they are kept; one day, when they are gone, I may take down the book, and slowly read. So I shall write about them, and I am not going to apologise for that.
Today, there was a glimmer, the faintest promise, the teasing glimpse of sun. I squinted and gazed in awe and wonder, and ran to get the camera.
The little pony:
She is so pretty I think we may have to show her in veteran's classes. Surely that face is too good not to share:
And talking of beautiful faces:
I love it when she gazes out to the horizon like that. I never quite know what she sees, but whatever it is, it is quite fascinating.
See the noble profile:
She is so much happier now she has her little friend. I cannot tell you the difference. She is all dozy and dopey and relaxed; I hardly need the headcollar at all, she just follows me about like an old dog. Amble, amble, amble we go, as if we have been together forever. My heart expands, as if to fit all the new love into it.
And talking of hearts:
One of the things that amazes me about this dog is that she is almost fourteen. Fourteen. I cannot quite believe how gracefully she ages. And she still chases her ball about like a three-year-old:
THE HILL. THE HILL. After five days sulking in the cloud, she is back, in all her stately glory:
I hope you have a lovely Friday, and get a glimpse of sun.