Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Save Me From Boredom, Blogdom!

The wound in my foot was healing fine until Gabby insisted on swabbing it down with potato gin. Forget gauze pads and sterile environments. My little Romanian miracle worker dragged my leg up onto the coffee table, swigged back a mouthful of her latest brew, and spat it all over my foot. She promised it would kill bacteria. I only know that I can’t feel my toes and the carpet has started to turn white. It’s all worrying but Gabby tells me that’s only natural and swears she can’t remember the last time she had any feeling in her tongue.

This is how you find me, today, Wednesday, my Thonglateers. I’m Bangor’s sexist invalid, hobbling naked around my flat and trying to find something productive to do. I’m not even thinking about how much it is going to cost me to get Romania’s answer to Pam Ayres into print.

As I type this, Gabby is out haggling with Bangor’s stationers; bulk-buying notebooks ahead of her next assault on the north face of Mount Parnassus. This morning, she left me this bit of doggerel to post in her absence. I’ve only agreed to do so knowing that it’s sure to gain me your pity…

My Fun Tuesday

Gabby shot sparrow; Gabby shot a thrush,
Chippy picked gun up and shot himself in foot.
His blood was real messy and such a sight to see,
Before we all went off to Accident and Emergency.
Chippy now is crippled, like bus run over dog,
And makes groany noises like half squished frog.
I could put him out of misery, since he’s lost all sense of fun,
But Gabby must suffer because Chippy’s hidden her gun.
© Gabby, 2007.

In all honesty, can any one of you out there blame me for trying to escaping from reality?

In desperation, I picked up ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys, which is part of the reading list for my FE class. After only half an hour and ten pages, I felt like shooting myself in my other foot just to end the tedium. It was an act of restraint just throwing the book out the window. I have since spent the rest of my time browsing the day’s blogs, which is where I found some slight relief by considering the problems of blog publishing.

Clare, at the Girl Friday blog, distracted me from the pain with a link to a piece in The Guardian by ‘The Girl With A One Track Mind’ about turning blogs to books. Naturally, it attracted my attention. I’m a man with more than one unpublished novel to my name, so I know more than most what it’s like to be at the bottom of the world’s slush piles. Yet it also makes it hard to be objective about The Girl’s conclusions. She thinks that blogging is a wonderful thing, given that ‘the very act of writing online allows for quality material and this is down to one main factor - the readers' comments.’ Perhaps The Wife in the North would share the same sentiments, but I’m sure that I don’t.

For me, the fallacy of blogging is the notion that we can be discovered in a more fair or practical way than the old methods of going about such things. To take Gabby as an example: is there any coincidence in the fact that her genius is only coming to light because others see something in her poetry that I can’t? Her inarticulate nonsense is perfect for a medium which doesn’t suite any kind of thought-out writing. Writers who write literary novels can never hope to be discovered through a blog because their skill takes take time to get just right through rewriting. The same is true of thrillers, comedy novels, and whodunits. Somebody recently asked me to help them write a detective novel online, which, to my way of thinking, just couldn’t work, or at least, not as a blog containing the work in progress.

Blogs are an effective for writers who just want to put work out there, without having to worry about being accepted. Rarely is it about quality. Those that find the most success seem to find it through those same qualities that make other things successful on the web. They tend to be victories for the values of the obscene freak-show. For all its popularity and success, ‘The Girl With A One Track Mind’ represents a height of sub-literary prurience; a single joke that has probably run well beyond itself in terms of originality, but retaining readership because, given the size of the web, there are always people to whom it is new, dangerous, or (mildly) erotic. I don't know how much mileage is left in my thongs but I hope there's more to me than the contents of my posing pouch.

What can I say?

I’m in pain and it’s raining outside. My foot is beginning to ache and I’m only thankful that I can feel my toes again.

And now I can hear a key in the door. I better post this before my Romanian bard comes in and demands that I include the dozen or so poems she’s sure to have written in the space of the last hour.

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