This blog was intended to keep me connected to the world. That I’m refusing to let it die – or merely sit on a ho-hum final entry, as good as death in the blogosphere – is, I suppose, an attempt to honour a promise I made to myself. I’ve started these things before and let them fade out on such ill-played notes. I’m going to try keep that from happening for just a little while longer.
A supreme loathing of technology has overcome me lately. Or, to be exact, a supreme loathing of noise, waste, distraction, selfishness and celebrity, which all gathers and spins and spouts so wonderfully well online. A desk job doesn’t help things – you go looking for a little distraction, and you end up with a headache. I tried to cut back entirely. Or I promised myself I would cut back. More promises. This notion was solidified by my genuine and slightly neurotic concern about the future of literary fiction and its home, the book. As in, like, the physical object, and not a Kindle. The web is wonderful for many things. I don’t think we can count literary fiction and the effect it has upon concentration as one of them.
And so I stopped blogging, and tried to visit my standard sites less. I looked back at what I’d blogged. I took in those sentences – and was not happy. For the most part they were rushed and slapdash and breathless and artless. They have enthusiasm on their side. They have little else. And this is part of the problem: the enormous rush I find myself in so much of the time. Always contemplating the next new cultural object; always writing the next novel when the first one still lingers so very far from completion. I still regularly knock myself sideways with Stendahl Syndrome – it’s giddy fun, but exhausting. It is not sustaining, not for an adult life with genuine long-term aims.
So I sat on these thoughts and turned away for a little while and I was still depressed; or, to put it less melodramatically, in a funk. What was wrong?
I wasn’t writing. Simple as that. There was no output for my input. I was a bloated body without recourse to discharge. Or, to put it another way, I was writing without focus or aim.
So I’ve tried to pick up my private work, and honour the expectations I have of myself. I’m getting melodramatically serious about this. These are things I practically demand of myself, and which I’ve let slide for too fucking long.
And this – to keep things shortish – is why this entry is now here, and why, in the near future, if things stick to plan, there will be entries that are bound to appeal to someone out there on James Ellroy, James Cameron and James Hird. This is the complimentary flipside to my non-discussable attempts at some lasting words. These are “the other words”. My fretting about fiction (the death of the form, readerly drop-off, my own feeble jotting) remains, and my plans to keep the online intake levels to a low setting also remains, but my love for stuff, pure and simple, has not waned. It’s part of what keeps me going – the next novel, film, album, football game. It sustains me, and needs to be honoured, under numerous personal delusions and exaggerations, by words returned in kind. I will try to honour this with carefully chosen words, and considered ideas. This shit is as much for me as anyone else, so I might as well make it count, and make it something I’m not constantly deriding with the familiar “that – oh, I just tossed that off in half an hour”. I’ve got to rediscover sincerity and hard work and dogged tedium, and move away from pop buzz and flux. This isn’t a change-up of content. I’ll still be banging on about the usual low-to-middlebrow jazz, with some high-priests and half-forwards thrown in. But it’s a change of attitude.
And so out with self-pity and nail-chewing and gloom-laden prognostications, and in with exuberance, hunger and a useful criticism.