Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Caesura

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I know I’ve got the perspective police and my admiration for the stoic and my good, phlegmatic British blood. I know that I am not supposed to wail, because you all have your own wails to be going on with. I know that this is a public space and therefore I should expect slings and arrows; I know that my skin is stupidly thin and I should butch up. I know that I’m a bit over-tired just now, hazy with fret, and prone to taking things too much to heart.

But I had a comment yesterday which I am finding stupidly hard to deal with. It wasn’t horrid, really, or mean. There was, in fact a very nice compliment in it. My God, when I look at what people on newspapers have to put up with, it was milk and honey. Yet bash bash bash it went, into my fragile heart.

Anonymous wrote: ‘There are times when I find your blog maddening, but today your words are jewels of sensitivity and good judgment.’

You see? That’s very nice, in the second part. Really, really kind. But why did there have to be the maddening bit? What purpose does it achieve? May I just wave a magic wand and not be maddening? Is that what is expected?

This blog is free. I do it because I love it. No one forces anyone to read it. If someone asked you to tea, would you say: ‘Oh, these cucumber sandwiches are disgusting, but I really love the ham and cheese?’ Of course you would not. You might think the cucumber is revolting, but manners will stop you saying so. If you visit someone’s house, would you remark on the idiot mistake of choosing carmine red for the downstairs study, whilst congratulating them on the lovely sage green of the kitchen? No, you would not. You would damn well bite your tongue about the carmine, because it’s done, and it’s their choice, and to say so would only cause unnecessary hurt.

You would not march up to someone in the street and tell them that their hat was horrible or their hair a mess. There are things we do not do.

I fully accept that, as one reader remarked not long ago, I can be boring, although I try very hard to avoid dullness; I am sure I can be maddening, as I have now been told. But these observations are, apart from being disobliging, without utility. I write as best as I can, often after a long day. There are sometimes editing errors or non-sequiturs, moments of monomania, occasions when there is not much life in my prose, however hard I try. The readers’ wonderful liberal choice is not to read. They may come back on a better day, because everyone has off days.

Besides the lack of utility, the lack of specificity is not helpful. Maddening how? Maddening why? (Actually, please don’t tell me; it will only make me sadder.)

I really love this blog, and I love the variety of the readers and that they come from all over the world. I don’t expect to be told that I am fascinating or brilliant. The compliments, when they arrive, are always like getting a present, and make me feel humble. But I am not robust enough at the moment for what my mother calls personal remarks. Read, don’t read; find a writer who does not madden.

I try not to give in to weakness. I can usually talk myself down off the ceiling, count the blessings, take my iron tonic, shrug it off. But I’m a bit battered and tired now, so I’m buggering off for a bit. I’ll be back when the book is finished, I have had some sleep, and my armour is back on.

Oh, and PS. Last time I admitted to hurt, the Dear Readers were very kind and rallied, but I had the uncomfortable sense that the volume of comment felt a tiny bit like ganging up, although I know that was not at all how it was meant. This is, above all, a polite space. Don’t abuse Anonymous; they have the right to write exactly what they will. I have the right to take it or not take it. Just now, my very personal choice is: not.

67 comments:

  1. I search eagerly for your blog every day, I've never been disappointed by it. I love that you generously let me have a glimpse into your life and I can't wait to read what Red and Pigeon have been doing. Keep blogging, don't worry about what people think, you're a wonderful writer and I can't wait for the next book. Oh and I love the pictures too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annette - incredibly kind thing to say; thank you.

      Delete
  2. Nothing to add, as you've already said it all so well. Except this, you will be missed by those who love your writing no matter the subject. I hope you get your armor back soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy - what a generous comment; thank you.

      Delete
  3. Tania, have you ever stopped to think that 'maddening' might be a compliment, actually? You make people think---and sometimes thinking can be maddening. Can't speak for Anonymous, but sometimes I like to put my head down and not look at certain things. So when someone gets my interest on a usually-well-dodged subject, I get a good deal irritated, but I know they have done me a favor. As I said, no idea if that had the first thing to do with Anon's comment, but one bit is a fact of life: you never know really what your commenters are thinking or how they mean things. That remark could have been very dry humor. LOL, I have friends with that sort of humor and I'm always making a fool of myself by taking them seriously.

    Or perhaps Anon got tired of horse stories, but that's fine too. You know a legion of us love to hear about Red and her growing relationship with you, just as we love the Pigeon reports.

    My guess is that the pressure of writing and deadlines simply has you close to the edge. But this too will pass, if you just stay the course.

    By the way, who's your bet in the Derby?

    Bird

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bird - what a lovely optimistic thought. Skin too thin for anything at the moment. As for the Derby, I think anything of about four could win it. I'm not as mad for Camelot as everyone else; having said that, he will now trot up. Astrology ran very well at Chester, and Bonfire looks good. I've had a tiny outsider bet on Imperial Monarch, just for sport. It's hard to know what his last run means, but he did it the hard way, and I like that. Also, he is bred for it, by the great Galileo. Although they might switch him to the French Derby on Sunday, in which case all bets are off.

      Delete
    2. Having sadly lost track of the 3-year-olds in the last stressful month, I am clueless. So shall adopt yours and cross my fingers for Imperial Monarch, if he does not go to France. ;-)

      Bird

      Delete
    3. Well, with Imperial Monarch off to France, I shall hold good thoughts for Bonfire. Wishing you the best with whichever one you choose to shout for.

      Bird

      Delete
  4. PS Forgot to add - enjoy your break. ;-)

    Bird

    ReplyDelete
  5. What Bird said. That was my first thought, too.

    Take your break; you are under no contract to the Dear Readers; we will wait.

    And we'll do our best not to gang up on you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cassie - you are always so kind and reassuring. Although actually I meant gang up on the poor reader! Too tired to type coherently.

      Delete
  6. You know what? I'd take the 'maddening' word as a compliment. To me that means you spark a reaction, you inspire a response, you stir up a rejoinder - you don't just lie there all bland and stodgy like a rice pudding (my turn to apologise to anyone who adores rice pudding - I can't abide the stuff.)
    You are never boring Tania and never dull - I save up your blog posts and then treat myself to several at a time and I've never ever come away wanting.
    Sometimes your words are sheer poetry - and I read them and hug them to me and say YESSSSS! because I know exactly what you mean.
    But hey - you can't please all of the people, etc - and nor should you even try, because that way, definitely does lie blandness.
    Please pass on best wishes to Red from my boys and to the Pigeon from my girls. And keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GillyF - how very kind you are. And am SO glad am not like rice pudding. Will pass on the sweet wishes from yr boys and girls. :)

      Delete
  7. I want you to know that I look forward to reading your blog every day and am smitten with your stories, your style and your humor. I don't comment often and I don't intend to gang up on anyone. But I realize you must have many readers to love your blog and never tell you so.

    I'm sure with the book hanging over your head, it is sensible to have a break in your other writing, so I will bear up until you return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sparrow - what a lovely thing to say; very much appreciated, thank you.

      Delete
  8. Dear Tania. You are never boring! Your blog is like a bright jewel and you craft and hone each sentence so it sparkles. I will miss your blog but will catch up with the ones i have missed and await the publishing date of your new book. Love to you all and look forward to catching up on your news soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vanessa - how generous you are; thank you so much.

      Delete
  9. I've not commented for a while as life has been complicated here but I always find your blog fascinating and heartening and worth reading. I love you prose, even when you don't and really get so much from reading it. I have been particularly moved and helped by your writing about your own sadness when coping with my own and your general tendency to always see the good (or at least give it a jolly good try) has made me feel less lonely in my attempts to do so. So thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Siobhan - that is really so very touching and kind; thank you so much.

      Delete
  10. Dear Tania, I have your blog bookmarked on my iPad and I check in on you every day to hear how you are and to read all about Red and the Pigeon. I love your writing and the clarity of your vocabulary, it's brilliant! Please have a restful break, crack on with the book and we'll be waiting for you when you return. By the way, can't wait to read the book...I'm going to recommend it to my book club when it's published as I loved Backwards in High Heels.
    Best wishes,
    Sally

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sally - what a lovely comment; thank you.

      Delete
  11. I don't often comment but really enjoy reading your blog while I have my morning porridge. It brightens my day. I will miss it while you are away.

    I have also just started to read "Nothing to Love" which I borrowed from the Whangarei Library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan Heather - thought of my book being in the Whangarei library is giving me intense pleasure. Thank you. :)

      Delete
  12. I check the blog, always the first of many, whilst eating my breakfast too, Susan. When I read the maddening comment I wondered why anyone would say that other than to be deliberately irksome. If that was not Anon's intention at all then very poor choice of vocab, I think.

    You will be missed, Tania, but head down, get the book licked and come back to us as soon as you feel comfortable doing so.
    Your blog is very much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maxine - you are so kind; thank you.

      Delete
  13. Oh God please don't stay away for long. I couldn't bear it; it would render my life unbalanced (how maddening! haha). I too am a daily reader, I rely on you. Get that armour on and return anon. L x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lou - always so lovely to hear from you. Drawing on armour as we speak.

      Delete
  14. I agree with Tania; Anonymous' manners could do with some improvement. I hate anonymous comments anyway; if you can't be bothered to sign your name (or at least make up an entertaining nom d plume) maybe you should rethink chiming in at all. . .I will miss your posts too, but if you promise to go on taking pictures of Red and Pigeon in the meantime, to be posted later, I will console myself with wishing you godspeed on the book.

    Be well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marnilla - the pictures SHALL be taken. :)

      Delete
  15. Oh Tania, by all means take the time and focus on your book and life and *things*. But you will be missed. Can I selfishly say, please don't be too long...
    I wrote under the anonymous comment yesterday and my reaction to it was exactly like yours. I originally responded to it and then deleted it hoping you might not notice it! I understand your hurt. A backhanded compliment is really not a compliment. I hope you see and trust that in this funny old internet world there are those of us who love your words and pictures, and thoroughly appreciate the time you spend with us each day.
    Do take best care of yourself. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Em - you always say the most lovely things; won't be too long; know you will miss the Pidge!

      Delete
  16. Bugger. Similar to Em. I saw it yesterday and wrote "way to go with the backhanded compliment anonymous" then deleted it, because I remembered your great politeness and generosity last time and didn't want you to think I was being rude. So instead I sat and fumed. I'm so sorry it's had this understandable reaction from you, as it would from me, I just don't understand why people who have an issue with reading the blog CONTINUE to read the fecking blog. It's like whining about not liking a television programme, SWITCH IT OFF THEN YOU EEJIT! Sorry, sorry, sorry. My manners got away from me there and you didn't want ganging up. I just think the world of you and as someone with a wafer-thin skin myself I hate you being crushed. Please come back soon and know that in the meantime you are being thought of ever so kindly in this little enclave of West Yorkshire.
    Anne.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne - really the most lovely comment; reminded me of my dear old dad whose worst insult was eejit. Thank you so much for the special Yorkshire kindness. :)

      Delete
  17. I have been angry for weeks about a list that an Irish man put together about all of the things he hates about America. Item the first was "You all are so damn sensitive!" Which effectively neutralizes anything "we all" might think about the next 16 reasons why America is the most awful place in the world. The second thing he complained about is how polite we all were. Germans, he said, told him he smelled bad when he smelled bad and by hell, he appreciated it. Americans, he said, would just hold their noses and smile and smile. I regale you with my little personal complaint only to say two things: if somebody had written to me what they wrote to you, I'd be destroyed, absolutely destroyed-- this man wrote nasty things about a country for which I have very complex and not always positive feelings, but it is damn well MINE-- if he had said as much about my writing, I might never get out of bed again. Secondly, I would like to suggest that this idea that we have that we "should not be so sensitive" is nothing more than a subtle form of bullying-- sometimes others bully us, and sometimes we bully ourselves because we think we should. Remember that we love your blog, and your dog, and your horse. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellie - oh, oh the ghastly lists. That fellow sounds absolutely awful. And your take on the whole sensitivity thing is very wise; I shall remember.

      Delete
  18. No ganging up here, but I wanted to add my voice to the others above. This corner of the internet is positive and affirming, and it's a shame this should happen. But please take heart from how your Dear Readers are compelled to support you.

    I often read through the comments after I've read your post, and smile, which I can't say I do with any other blog. But you've created such a kind, thoughtful and (overwhelmingly) positive community that sometimes the blog seems less of a broadcast and more of a open front door.

    It's hard to say more without it tipping over into 'ganging up' so I'll stop. But I hope the break does you good, and that you return feeling better for it. I'll be looking forward to its return EVER so much. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hannah - that really is a wonderful thing to say; making me smile.

      Delete
  19. aw...i've just found your blog. one of the many reasons i love it (slong with your glorious horse and dog stories) is that you're so real and funny....you dance off the page. chin chin, tania! you absolutely rock. keep at it! x janelle from tanzania.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janelle - have been meaning to say how excited I am to have a new reader all the way from Tanzania. Really is thrilling. AND you leave such kind comments; welcome and thank you.

      Delete
  20. Oh just continue the way you do. Ignore them and please continue in just the same style. As I've said before it makes me smile to read your blog sometimes at the end of a very long day and I think that is what is important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mystica - always so lovely to hear from you, and to picture you reading, so far away.

      Delete
  21. If I were Empress of the Universe and could do away with whatever I liked, very high on the list should be people who make a virtue of 'I speak as I find'. It seems to me that 90% of the time it's code for 'I am about to be unspeakably rude and, if you don't like it, it's your fault because you WERE warned'. You shall be missed. Please don't disappear from Twitter too - I'm not sure I could take it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly what I really meant to say.

      Delete
    2. Samantha - I really would vote for you as empress.

      Delete
  22. Just to say, I will really miss your blog which is a daily treat. Your thoughts on Assad were absolutely brilliant - but love the stories about Pigeon, Red and the pony too. Come back soon but only when you feel like it. Rachel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachel - such a very kind comment; thank you.

      Delete
  23. I hope this cheers you up : ). For the few kooks out there who don't enjoy your writing there are others for whom it has meant a HUGE amount.

    I love books - all books and I am insatiable when it comes to reading. However I never re-read a book with one notable exception. I periodically return to your book "Don't ask me why." When I first read it I had just finished my first year in university and I felt as though the book was written for me - it was as if you were inside my head wirting Ash.

    Each time I returned to the book I expected my enjoyment to be less as I was at a different stage in my life. However at each re-read my life tracked the arc of Ash's life and she mirrored my feelings to a tee each time. Some of the lines came right out of my own life.

    At one point I loaned the book to a colleague (never will I loan it to anyone again) and it was lost. My best friend went to the end's of the earth to get me a replacement and being the star that she is, the replaement is one from the first print run to make it extra special.

    If you are anohter poster reading this post and you have not read the book
    1. Go and buy it now
    2. STOP READING THIS POST NOW as I'm about to give the end away.

    So when about four years ago I read the book and I had reached the point in my own life when I was settled into a steady job, it was with genuine sadness that I felt it was the last time that I would read the book and move onto a new stage with Ash.

    However this was not to be the case.

    Three years ago my best friend died of cancer and as we had moved through all those stages with Ash and Virge I again went back to the book and again you magically managed to write exactly what I was going through. How I thought and how I felt.

    Thank you for all the happiness this book has brought me. No other book has touched me in the same way xxx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon - am so amazingly touched by this comment I'm speechless. Thank you so very much for telling me this story; it really does mean an awful lot.

      Delete
  24. Tania - I am one of the Dear Readers who has been lurking about for some time, but who selfishly has never bothered to comment. I must also start with an admission - I don't always read every word you write. Sometimes I am busy or tired or otherwise indisposed, and they just don't quite have the desired effect. But then, I have been known to skim great reams of Dickens, and to occasionally, though I try very hard not to, pay less-than-adequate attention to a friend who is speaking to me. All of this to say: it is not personal.

    However, there is a thing about blogs that is very special, and which is not like reading a book or speaking to friends. Last weekend I was in London and visiting the British Museum. They currently have a temporary exhibition on the history of horses, with a large section on racing. And it reminded me of you. I am a Canadian graduate student living in New York, studying British history (which by-the-by means that I am very eager for your deadline to pass so you have the brain space for political commentary again), and as I wandered through glass cases of racing uniforms and gold trophies, knowing diddly-squat about horses beyond what I've read on this blog, I thought of a woman who I have not and probably never will meet, who lives thousands of miles away, and thought, "I bet she would like this." Surely, that has something to do with the point of it all.

    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicole - there is almost nothing that thrills me more than the international nature of the dear readers. And your British museum story is just wonderful; it has made me smile and smile. Thank you.

      Delete
  25. Tania,

    The famous basketball player, Michael Jordan, said this:

    "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

    Honors he achieved: Six-time NBA champion (1991-93, 1996-98); MVP (1988, '91, '92, '96, '98); 10-time All-NBA First Team (1987-93, 1996-98); All-NBA Second Team (1985); Defensive Player of the Year (1988); Nine-time All-Defensive First Team (1988-93, 1996-98); Rookie of the Year (1985); 14-time All-Star; All-Star MVP (1988, '96, '98); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96); Olympic gold medalist (1984, '92).

    To put this in perspective, you complain about one not so very bad comment, and receive thirty or forty or fifty supportive comments. The average comments on my blog on any given day is something like 5. If I'm lucky.

    So you see, you're doing pretty well after all. Love to Red, the wee pony, and The Pidge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marcheline - that is good Jordan wisdom, and I take heed. Thank you.

      Delete
  26. i too read your comments yesterday and was crankled by the maddening reference...it put me in mind of my gran, she used say that if you hadn't anything nice to say, you should keep your breath to cool your porridge...wise words (that i often fail to live up to!)

    but as you said 2 posts ago (and i shouted with laughter when i read it) "on we bloody well bash" - hope your sojourn is soothing, will miss your wise funny words and lovely stories and photos, come back soon, please!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angie - love the word crankled, and your gran sounds magnificent.

      Delete
  27. "Lost" (again!) a day this week -- which happened to be yesterday, so coming late as usual to the aftermath...

    A favorite cartoonist Sandra Boyton, who wrote, illustrated and -- in her words -- overresearched the book Chocolate: The Consuming Passion, may -- or may not have been the one to first utter the statement: "Don't let the turkeys get you down."
    In any case, I just read the acknowledgment on her chocolate book (published in 1983) and it seems applicable here: "There are many without whom this book would have been impossible. There are many others without whom it would have been a heck of a lot easier."

    Waiting your return!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat - I love the sound of Sandra Boynton; thank you for telling me.

      Delete
  28. Dear Tania

    Three weeks ago I took up proper technical riding lessons, aged very nearly 55, as a retirment hobby, almost entirely as a result of so enjoying your writing about your love for Red and the geegees in general. Today is my actual birthday, my husband has got me my very own riding hat, and we are about to order some beautiful leather boots to go with the jodphurs I got myself a couple of weeks ago. I rode as a kid but it was all jeans and wellies and falling off and getting back on again. This time I am learning to ride with much less anxiety and tension. It is a revelation, to learn to relax in the saddle, and not have pain for days afterwards.

    This would NOT have happened without you.

    THANK YOU

    I am not maddened. I am inspired. And grateful, and very sorry indeed that you should have been stung into even temporary silence by someone's unthinking waspishness.

    Keep on buggering on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goldenoldenlady - that is the best BEST thing; I am so happy and pleased and amazed and touched. Will you let me know how you go on?

      Delete
    2. Indeed I shall. It's wonderful to acquire or hone a new set of physical skills in later life. But the thing I like best about it is that it is a form of exercise one takes sitting down (or so I joke) to go with my other favourite, swimming, which one does lying down...

      Delete
  29. Happy Birthday, Goldenoldenlady! May you have many. many. many more wonderful (painless) years in the saddle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy belated birthday Goldenoldenlady. I do love that you taking riding lessons. And especially that you see it as a form of exercise sitting down :) Made me laugh!

      Delete
  30. Happy Birthday, Goldenoldenlady! Love that you have gone back to riding. And thanks to Tania and Red for the inspiration.

    Bird

    ReplyDelete
  31. Aboyne Music Lover1 June 2012 at 19:17

    To cheer you up: your beautiful cotinus is bound to be more beautiful than mine this year because mine has been badly nipped by the frost.

    Aboyne Music Lover

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AML - the cotinus is new, so I am dearly hoping it will thrive!

      Delete
  32. I'm one of those poor abused newspaper journalists, and I say hang them all. I've grown the hide of an alligator, but it took me 35 years. Furthermore you are spot on about the uselessness of that "maddening" comment. You're a doll, dear Tania, with such a splendidly skewed view of most everything (well, skewed from my view). I love that about your blog. To quote Billy Joel, "Don't go changing!"

    ReplyDelete

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

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin