Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Write, right?..............

Hullo ma wee blog,

When I started blogging, like most of us I suppose, I was looking for an outlet, a means of getting something out there. At the time I had just had huge upheaval in my life as Dad had recently died after the most intense 18 months of effort and emotion that my brother, G and I had ever expended to keep him independent but safe and supported as his health visibly declined. Then, to top that all off, two weeks later I was made redundant, out of the blue and in what I was later able to prove was an unfair manner. This in turn led me to a battle with my employer, initially forcing them to delay redundancy for almost two months after most of my colleagues had bitten the dust and then on through an unfair redundancy claim and legal battle on the road to an industrial tribunal.

Oh, and I was looking for a job.

At the time I started blogging I needed something to give me a release from the pressure I was feeling, a diversion away from the problems and a way of expressing myself as I quickly came to realise that in my working life I had foolishly sacrificed much that I shouldn't have; friendships, contact, diversity, outside interests and the like. Slowly over time I had let slip people I had loved, liked and respected, things I had enjoyed and looked forward to. Things that had fulfilled me in lots of ways. In their place I had transplanted huge amounts of work and work based relationships. Luckily I had also found someone who could love me and see things in me that perhaps I couldn't see myself. In losing perspective of this work/life balance I was setting myself up to suffer horribly when the work aspect of it was cut off without warning. To a large extent, I let my job validate who I was. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I know, but hindsight truly is a wonderful thing.

Turning to blogging, which I could switch on switch off at whim, gave me the ability to launch stuff out there without having to even think if it was read or not, or by whom. It was an opportunity I thought, to ditch some of the fear, anger, worry and disgust immediately, at little risk to either me personally or certainly to my home life. It could give me a place to vent while protecting the lovely G from some, and only some, of the nonsense that was going on inside.

I started by saying that I would treat the blog like an imaginary friend and that's what I have tried to do. It's why every, or every 'personal' post starts off with "Hullo ma wee blog" and ends with "see you later". I have found that it's been a good friend. It's been non judgemental for a start and you can't believe how important that has been. I've tried to be truthful in postings and I don't think I have ever written a post and not published. Many times I have switched on the blog and not had a scooby what I was going to write and at the end, after a wee bit of an edit and letting spellcheck work its limited magic, have sat back and thought "Jings!" Where did that come from?"

What has satisfied me most about the blog, or rather 'my' relationship with it, is that I haven't predominantly used it to rage. I haven't used it to be an angry, venomous, vicious and bitter man - or at least I don't think so. Almost immediately the medium of the blog showed me that I am far from negative. I have a sense of humour, of the ironic and the absurd. I'm not completely self centered. I can see things in perspective and often see the best in situations. That was an important lesson to learn, especially at that time. It showed too that I can be completely in awe of simple things; a sunny day, morning, drunken butterflies, the local farm coming to life, or a blogger with a greater grasp of a concept, language, grammar, punctuation or a million other tiny things. I can be grumpy and still have fun. I think in reality that the blog has focused me on these things to the exclusion of the more negative aspects of my situation. That's helped enormously. I'm not saying it's made me perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it's made me realise that I naturally stop and think, observe and consider things which in the past would have fleetingly passed during a car journey or a working day to be left in the moment, forgotten and never mentioned again. It's reaffirmed how analytical I can be. Having the blog has let me savour some things, understand how I value them and a myriad others, often inconsequential and insignificant, by describing them to ma wee bloggy pal. This has in turn has led me to find a way, a means, a style of communicating things.

It's helped me find a voice.

It may not be big and it certainly may not be important in the big scheme of things but I have found a voice for the blog and it's just mine.

{Over time, as I have played around with subjects or interpretation of my reminiscences, interests or reactions to what is going on around me, I have developed a personality in the way I get stuff down on to the {virtual} page. My blog feels slower to me than speaking, probably due to the way I type which is another improving aspect of my blogging journey. I seem to have found a way which at times evokes a quite profound reaction in those of you that follow the output of my brain cell. I'm not sure if over time the voice has been changed in turn by those {helpful and encouraging} comments and feedback or vice versa but I can see looking back at some of the earliest posts that things have changed.}

It's great when someone takes the time to let you know you have moved them though.

The overriding facet of the blog for me is that I really, truly am enjoying it. I've never written anything before, even my teenage attempts at keeping a diary only ran to two weeks of embarrassing largely pubescent angst and drivel. {the whole episode reminded to me years later by Mum who gave me back my attempt at a diary with a knowing smile and a comment that she had found it when clearing out cupboards} I've never been able to sustain anything like the blog. It's surprising. I thought that it might be a bit cathartic, but I also thought that I would probably last for a few weeks and then it would peter out to die a natural death, that it wouldn't really be 'my kind of thing'. I don't think I ever really expected to be still punting stuff out almost a year later or that I would have posted almost one hundred and fifty articles and be having fun doing it.

In the beginning I didn't say to the lovely G what I was doing. She had seen me look at blogs a couple of times and had been dismissive. When I started I just kept schtuum. It wasn't until about six weeks into it that I told her and she was sceptical to say the least. She insisted that I didn't post any photos of her, which wasn't something I had considered and removed the only example that was there - it was actually a photo of one of the cats in truth. That rule has more than comfortably continued and to date there are no photos of either of us on the blog. With that sole proviso she left me to it, thinking no doubt that it would die the natural death of all phases and new year resolutions, the death of neglect. Shortly she came to realise that booting up the laptop was the first thing I did in the morning and that oft times during the night I would be blogging away when insomnia or worry kept me from her side. {Being a woman} Eventually suspicion or nosiness forced her to have a look at what I was writing and at first she didn't believe it was me. The reason? "Because it was good".

Over time she has become a fan and I have just recently found that this very private person has been dropping the blog into conversations at work, with her clients and practically anyone she talks to and as a result one or two more potential regulars are hovering in the background.

I've tried to stay true to what I would call the mission statement of the blog too - the blurb under the header - I don't deliberately try to offend, but it's done to my taste and no one elses, so I'm not deliberately trying not to offend either. Luckily also to date I haven't had one comment which indicates twit, twat or twaddle, so that's all to the good too. Without exception comments I've received from other bloggers have all been generous, positive and encouraging, which seems to be the way of bloggers as I have found nothing abusive on any comments board I have visited. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have found or been led to a group of people with hugely diverse interests and backgrounds, to blogs which are vastly different in style, emotion and content, but which have their own distinct personality or voice as I call it.

In the course of comment 'conversations' there have been a few who suggested that some of the posts what I wrote {sorry Little Ern, couldn't resist!} were of such good quality that I should think about writing something more. Although 'everyone has a book in them' {allegedly even Scudder has been writing one for who knows how long} it never crossed my mind that my middle of the night meanderings would generate that kind of comment. My lovely G too has continued to heap praise on me about how really impressed she is with the blog and that perhaps I should do something about it. {Sounds suspiciously like a plan to make me work don't you think?}

I see the blog and writing as a bit of fun. It keeps me interested and can certainly eat up hours of night time when I need to be quiet for sure. Could I ever produce something of such consistent quality as warrant publishing? I'm not sure. What I do know is that the lovely G has stumped up several hundred precious bawbees to enrol me onto a writing course to help me understand what kind of opportunities there might be, to find out if I can write consistent, lengthy, good quality stuff and what kind of writing suits me best and to get me critical, professional feedback on the possibility that there may be something to this writing caper.

Back to school for me then...........{and it's all your fault}

Crivens! Jings! Help ma Blog!

At least hopefully the punctuation might improve!

see you later.......

Listening to Talking Heads, 'Lifetime Piling Up'


Unknown said...

Oh Yes! I do agree, your wife is brilliant. You should write. I very much enjoy your postings. It feels like a cosy conversation, don't let them train that out of you.
As for back to school, you might enjoy it. I hope so.

Big Swifty said...

Al, there are so many discussion points in this posting. Phew. But I will say this for now. You are already a good writer, and you will hugely enjoy and benefit from the course. What a great opportunity, what a great wife!
As for the topic "why we blog", there's not enough space left in this little white box......

Alistair said...

Thanks guys,

I'm looking forward to it......

Morning's Minion said...

As you know, my opportunity to read and comment via the internet is limited just now to what I can manage with the laptop connected at the motels where we stop for the night.
I have to respond however briefly to this about a writing "voice."
I suspect that my style of writing hasn't changed a lot over the years. I've always written voluminous letters, kept a sort of journal off and on.
The problems I identify [likely there are others] is a tendancy to sound a bit pompous or cliched.
On the plus side, my youngest sister has just started reading my blog and informs me that I am funnier in writing than in person.
From childhood I've had this running commentary in my head--whatever I'm seeing, hearing or experiencing, I'm simultaneously trying out the best phrases to convey either emotions or to describe a scene so that others could visualize.
Writing is addictive, and I think most of the participants in our little "community" of regular writers and reader/commentors have very interesting and individual styles.
I'm behind on reading your WWII postings, but I recognize the quality of research which has gone into them. When I transcribed my g-uncle's WWI letters in the winter of '08 I was amazed at the emotional involvement I experienc
ed. Whereas you have detailed specific history of the war as it pertained to your father's participation, I became more interested in the family details I could dredge up about my uncle's extended family--what was going on "back home" during and after the war.
Either way, it can be difficult to detach and come back to the reality of the present after hours of evoking the past.
When I have a home base again, I'll start back at the beginning of your war stories and read right through. I like your "voice!"

Alistair said...

Thanks MM, hope all goes well in your search.....

Aaron John Curtis said...

I paraphrase John Dufresne: if you want to change the world, stop writing immediately. If you want to change yourself, have at it.

On the other hand, I always enjoy thoughtful posts like these. I think your readers are glad you've chosen blogging as a means to process what you're going through.

I know I am.

Kate said...

Yes yes yes should continue on your road, who knows where it may lead - you know within yourself that you have it in you to write and I for one look forward to reading the results in due course. I do sooo wish I had 'it' I try, but the original spurt I had at the beginning of writing 'my wee blog' has fizzled out somewhat and I have latterly been reduced to reposting emails and making 'sometimes' daft comments . I keep threatening to stop blogging, but to be honest it does give me 'something' which I would miss.

This life of retirement ain't what it is made out to be - it's boring and mind numbing, my wee blog at least keeps 'some' of my remaining brain cells (or cell) going even if it is with help from my two elbow crutches.

Thanks for the smiles and laughter.. your enforced retirement was meant to be and led you here, so continue onwards !

Kate x.

Alistair said...

Thanks for the encouragement Kate. Your comment made me come back here and read this again, almost another year later, and I'm still amazed that I'm doing the same {and that I'm still unemployed - but that's another story too} The blog is an important place for me; an escape probably, but I can't see me not doing it.

Thanks again.......Al

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