Sunday, January 27, 2008

Once Upon A Time...

Once Upon A Time...

"You've been very quiet online" Val says as we drive towards the venue where we will not quite believe that John Barrowman will be appearing in.

I take a deep breath. "I've just not felt like blogging".

It's not the first time that this has happened, but certainly it's never had the intensity I've felt in the last few months. I have, in a slight secret moment, even wondered if this was my cue to stop.
I try and continue. "I've been really busy at work and when I haven't I've been writing so there hasn't seemed to be time to blog".

"It would be a shame if you stopped".

"Yes". I see that. DA exists as this wonderful record of all the things I might not remember had I not thought to start it in a blue plaqued house in Oxford in the weeks leading up to Some Sort of Beautiful's production. "Maybe after a break I'll be fine - I mean I've been ill, and work's manic and when I've had some time...I might get the urge again".

I do not know if I say this to persuade myself or the imaginary audience in my head.

***

It's several weeks ago, trapped in the midst of my final NaNo push on a day when my consumption had decided to lighten up a bit, and I'm perched on a stool at 2.30am. It's not Sela this time - for we have been unceremoniously asked to leave my usual haunt on account of it inexplicably wanting to close - but a bar with a bigger cocktail menu and more expensive prices. Not that the expensive prices matter, I've just made History Boy pay. On account of the fact that I was working until midnight I am pleasantly merry as opposed to the outright drunkeness of my companions. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

I don't know how come we've ended up at this conversation, faffing as I am with balancing my overly full handbag on a tiny table.

"The thing you've got to watch with Corinne" - the paddington loses my attention as I hear my name "is that anything you say or do may be written about".

Vintage Queen looks at me, waiting for me to confirm or deny History Boy's statement. I could, of course, lie. But it would be the biggest lie (other than possibly the time I told a hotel receptionist in Middlesbrough that I'd come all the way from Southampton) that I have ever told.

"It's true" I pause. "Anything may be used". If, of course, I deem it funny, or idiosyncratic, or odd enough. Or really, if it just sits nicely with the narrative arc I'm peddling at a particular point. It is not true, in reality, to say 'I have an idea for a [delete as appropriate] novel/play/blog'. Each is made up of lots and lots of ideas, many of which I steal from people I know. I cannot help it. It is what I have always done. It is what I will always do. It is what all the literature I really, really love does.

"But you haven't written about me" Vintage Queen says with almost touching naivety.

It seems almost harsh to disabuse her of such a notion. "Oh, but I have".

"When?"

This is, at least, easy. "You're called Vintage Queen. I blogged about being in the van after the comedy night and about the first aid course when I was being overly dramatic". I know I need to underline something here. "Really, it's just in passing when I'm blogging about stupid things that I've done". Little does she guess, having only read a few of my more questionable blogs, that 'stupid things I've done' would probably be a good description of much of the last year's output.

Vintage Queen is drunk enough, I have decided, that I can get away with this. That it will not lead to questions which are more difficult to answer. And, luck would have it, I am proved right.

***

Later, much later, when I have been the responsible person and, with some smugness, deposited a fairly drunk History Boy into a waiting taxi the conversation returns to me as I check my blog stats and see what someone has been searching for. A name - not one that I would ever use on here, a name I hardly ever use in real life accustomed as I am to the half-ironic nickname, but a name that immediately makes me take a second glance. It bothers me that someone, someone who must know about the twists and turns of my life in the last five months would want to see if I had written about this person. That I have covered my tracks enough that their search directs them only to some old theatre reviews that have nothing to do with the present story is only half comforting. The same half comforting of the curiosity of what those messages on Facebook that I get regular hits from are about.

Until fairly recently I had few scruples about who might be reading. Then, when I found myself refusing to tell people I know DA's address I knew something was beginning to change. The morning I arrived home and removed, with undue haste, my blog address from my Facebook account I knew something fundamental had changed.

Life has, as it seems inclined to do just when you're in the midst of writing out of your skin (it is immodest to say so but I think the last four months, both on and off blog, have yielded some of the best things I have ever written), got a bit more complicated. And there's the other writing, writing I have maybe been able to spoon more of my current emotional imbalance into unconstrained by privacy, or facts, or loyalty. Two thirds of a novel, two drafts of a play. And it is this writing - more than any other - which I feel I have to prioritise now. Because I can get swept up in the progression of where I could end up in the job I currently have, write my blog daily, building its readership and then in twenty years time wonder why I didn't try a bit harder to do what I actually want to do. I want to be a published writer, I'd like a professionally produced play. One day I would like to be the writer who leaves her belongings during a Press Night rather than the person who packages them up and sends it back to her agent. It may not happen, not simply because I may not be good enough (it remains I may not) but because it will simply not happen. But to try in a half hearted gently secluded manner, or, as I see in retrospect happened for a while last year, to retreat entirely because of this. No, that will not do.

Maybe, only now as I stumble towards DA's third birthday, can I see an ebb and flow in its writing. How its tone (and narratives) have subtly changed, the emphasis shifting. This is generally a gradual process, fallen into, as one blog leads inextricably on to the next. For the first time, however, I'm taking a deliberate decision to change the emphasis slightly. Possibly because I don't want to bore myself (it's an important consideration). But also because I owe some people a little bit more privacy than I have possibly given them.

But I have come to realise just how much I love blogging, something I'd forgotten about amongst the weeks of failing to update. And that, possibly above everything else, was what I needed to be made to remember.

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