Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Coda

A Coda

Maybe I should let the preceding weeks' blogs go without adding my comment, leaving them to stand alone for everyone who has read them - and anyone who might subsequently - to make up their own minds. Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

But then this is me, I could analyse the back of a tin of beans. And I know - from experience - how much I will forget. Those details that would be lost without the record. Not just of the events they describe, but also of the process that those blogs came to be here. Because it has been something of a blogging experiment. I shall want to remember that, whether it be for the giant book on blogging that I will one day write, or the memoirs, or just to amuse myself when I am old and grey(-er than I am now).

I arrived in Oxford muddy, possibly slightly smelly with a rucksack that meant I couldn't bend down properly without endangering the lives of everyone in a five metre radius. Once I'd jumped into a shower, put on clean-ish clothes and stopped carrying my life around with me as if I were a snail it hit me that I was computer-less for the next week. This initially led to something of a minor panic attack as I would not be able to obsessive-compulsively check my emails 25 times a day or change my Facebook status. After I'd calmed myself down with the aid of some chocolate the more worrying thing hit me - I would not be able to blog. During my time as a blogger I have - on more than one occasion - gone a period longer than a week without committing anything to linger forever in the realms of the internet. So it was not the actual time period that worried me. No, it was the fact that I knew - as I surveyed the room list and reality pressed down on me - that I needed to blog. That I would need to write this out of my system.

So I had a choice, I could write with total abandonment and then stick the results into the pages of my diary when I returned to Leeds. Or I could write with total abandonment and then blog them.

At the first opportunity I went and bought a (purple) notebook. I left it on the desk next to my bed, a pen within reach. I wrote in it every day. Early in the morning, those days when I just couldn't sleep and I was too alert to lie back and read. When I was alone as the last thing I would do before I went to bed, eyes barely open as my pen dashed across the page. I'd take whatever snatched moments I could - five minutes before I had to catch my bus, whilst eating breakfast and, on that final day, sitting on the top deck of the Oxford tube, unsure as to what exactly I was feeling.

There is no real structure to the contents of that notebook, only that I wrote and constructed as if they were to be read. There are the set pieces, with additions and changed words I have made when re-reading, lines from songs I have heard, words people have spoken and, on more than one occasion, the poetry of the boy who wafted through its pages. I puzzled how they would hold together as a story, what would go where. Somehow putting them together, constructing their narrative arc, kept me sane. It gave me some distance from everything that was going on, even on the day where I sat in a room barely bigger than a cupboard and cried harder than I can remember crying in a long time.

When I arrived back in Leeds almost immediately I begin to type up the contents of the notebook, mental notes made for what I was and was not happy to publish. But as I typed it became obvious that to publish in part would be only to tell half of the story. To hide those bits not just because of implications they might have for other people, but the implications they might have for me. I have always maintained that the one rule I have on DA is its honesty. But the honesty of what I was saying in these blogs? I felt, and still kind of feel, that I'm drowning in it in some of them. And to open myself up, to have all those recesses revealed, of things I am not entirely proud of, put up. It takes a leap.

I suspect that I would not have made this leap had it not been for the emails that flew during this period. For these blogs, and their existence on here, owe rather a lot to Billygean and Dean. Without their encouragement, kind (often ego inducing) words and, maybe most of all, their understanding, it is most likely that a number of the blogs I have published would have been moved discretely to the folder on George named 'Unblogged'. Equally, they rescued a couple of blogs whose fate I thought already decided. So I - and indeed DA - owe them a rather large debt of gratitude.

I did not know when I published 'And though I can accept that we're going nowhere' (the first entry in that purple notebook of mine) where, or how long, I would run with this. All the blogs were written at least one week before they were put up (and in one case, almost three months before) but I didn't know I was going to go through with some of them until the moment I hit 'publish'. On more than one occasion I sat starring at the screen, hesitation looming large.

It has been a new kind of blogging experience. More deliberate, more deliberated. Having a store of pre-written blogs has given me a prolific-ness not seen since I was revising for 12 hours a day and (consequently) going slightly insane. It has also made me more aware of their literary-ness (if, indeed that is a word). I have felt, on more than one occasion, that the experience has been similar to collating a poetry collection. For they are not chronologically arranged, weaving in and out of the narrative as they do, making room in one for a - much needed - Steam Cleaner. It is nice to know that my dramatic pretentious tendencies have not been reduced during all of this.

I would like to record the origins of all those titles, the music and words that soothed, and - in many cases - said it better than I ever could. So I have a debt to The Killers's 'All These Things That I've Done', PYFB's 'Last Request', Al Griffin's 'Naked', Ghosts's 'Stay The Night' [maybe, more than any other song, the one which conjures in my head the erstwhile blog creation of C], Green Day's 'Good Riddance', Sheryl Crow's 'My Favourite Mistake' and, as so often, [The Mighty] Snow Patrol, this time with 'Run'. If this were a low-budget Brit Flick (I would mostly like to be played by Sienna Boho-Princess - given that she dyes her hair and puts on the necessary weight - you are free to assign suitable actors/ actresses to the other characters) these songs would be the soundtrack, though I would push for the inclusion of Oasis's 'She's Electric', Kate Nash's 'Foundations' and James's 'Laid' because if I could have squeezed them in then they would be here too. There is also a significant debt to Sylvia Plath, though I feel that to explain would be to kill the piece, so I will refrain.

Finally - finally - there is a quote I found that, until about ten seconds before I published, was at the top of one of the blogs. I loved it, thought it explained everything brilliantly, and then realised, once it was sat proudly on top, that it made the whole thing i)too academic and ii)almost tipped the writing into arrogance. Neither of the things that I wanted. But I kept the quote in my handbag, it soothed me and it should be here, somewhere:

"What happens in the heart simply happens".

The words of Ted Hughes someone who, I suspect, knew everything and nothing about these things. And that is exactly how I would have it.

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