Dispatches from a lapsed blogger

by Steve

I’ve been thinking about one of my old guilty pleasures, one I suspect I’ve talked about before on here, as (nearly) 11 years in I suspect I’ve exhausted all original thoughts or inspirations. And “guilty pleasures” is an odd concept anyway, one I’m pleased that seems to have subsided in recent years, as why should any pleasure really lead to guilt, unless that pleasure is inherently problematic or illegal? Or maybe every pleasure should be guilty? And there was/is also something a little performative about guilty pleasures anyway, the cracked-mirror-image of inverted snobbery, fun dulled by irony, rather than the sheer joy of finding good stuff wherever you might look.

Anyway. One (guilty) pleasure of mine was looking at those “How to blog” sites, that promise fame, fortune and a goodbye to the everyday grind if you just (give them some money ideally, then) read their easy guide to “monetization”. Spoiler warning: the advice generally points to setting up your own “How to blog” site and charging people for your secret – the pyramid scheme made modern and presented in superficially friendly but ultimately dead-eyed prose.

But anyway. One piece of advice among many that I remember was about stopping blogging. The advice was to not announce a break, and to not announce your resumption. This seems/seemed fundamentally sensible advice. Focus on the “content”. Plus, does anyone really want to read that you’re starting/stopping writing? Don’t they just want to read the actual writing? Probably.

And yet. I find when I read I actually prefer the writing that is away from the central “content”. I like the fragments, the episodic, the half-formed, the marginalia. The footnote rather than the main text. I find that kind of writing often more human, where the polish hasn’t yet removed the grit. It is unguarded, or less guarded, at least. And so, it feels OK to be writing this kind of mess. It is an excuse, and a kind of inspiration.

We went away recently and I wondered if I might read, or write, and I did little of either. But I did feel like I fully detached from the everyday, for a while. It is hard to escape, switch off, that kind of thing, and so it is really noticeable when it actually happens. In some way it has swept aside some of the nonsense of everyday life and offered a little more space to fill, somehow.

There is also a bit of a new start on the horizon  – some life changes that, while not necessarily dramatic, have the potential to be almost entirely good – changes that will hopefully offer more space for what matters. I hope. And I appreciate there is some novelty and luxury in being able to carve out that space. Essentially I may have more time, and that’s pretty precious. I don’t mean to be cryptic, but I also don’t want to jinx it.

And I guess that space and time may mean more writing. And writing has already been taking place.

I recently won the David Wangerin Writing Competition, held annually by When Saturday Comes magazine. The piece was then picked up by the Guardian, and you can read the whole thing here. I’m pretty proud of this achievement, and incredibly grateful of the support of my family in helping make it happen. Getting published it not something I thought would ever happen, and getting a piece published that actually means quite a lot to me is something really special.

I now plan to mull over what do do next, to see if I can build on this somehow, or to just accept it as my 15 minutes of fame. I would like to write in more places, but I also don’t want to stumble into hackery, or finding writing to be just a job, a chore. In the meantime I may use this place a little more to flex my writing muscles, as some kind of daybook, or scrapbook, the kind of blogging I used to really enjoy reading, but don’t see so much of now.

(cue: a flurry of posts, then another silence).