Monday, 13 July 2009

The Syphilitic Nature of Blogging (Part One)

Writing things in the hope that other people will read them on the internet is such a schizophrenic experience.

Is it acceptable to use mental illness metaphors? I think it might be, even if I’m not being postmodern, but that’s not exactly fair is it? It would hardly be acceptable for me to say blogging is like having Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Down’s syndrome or syphilis. Saying any of those things would be insensitive and incorrect and yet a bipolar person doesn’t make a choice to be out of kilter anymore than a victim of muscular dystrophy does.

Curiously, saying blogging is like having syphilis might be just about acceptable (although inaccurate). I wonder if that’s because syphilis is a STD and therefore inherently comical or because it’s treatable with antibiotics?

I digress; promoting a blog is fraught with conflicts and contradictions. At first I though I was writing for myself but that’s not really true. I write a new blog-post and I’d like people to read it. To advertise the new post I tweet a sheepish link on Twitter to people I’ve mostly never met. From what I can make out a fair number of my Twitter Followers are actually pretend people; some of them sell solutions; storage-solutions (boxes, I think) and communications-solutions (computer-shit). Judging by their friendly and outgoing photographs, some ladies who follow me are promoting relief-solutions, I tend to block them - unless I know them - obviously.

Because of the slightly impersonal nature of twittering I queer-like sort of don’t mind if Twitter Followers pity me, that’d just be Twitter Pity.

As I’ve become bolder I’ve tried to make the promotional tweet a hook, writing lines like, ‘I’ve been looking at ladies legs.’ or name-checking characters that people obsess about, Myra Hindley or Carol Ann Duffy or Hairdresser Ladies; (it might only be me who obsesses about hairdresser ladies - but somehow I Don’t Think So).

To begin with I cravenly tweeted a link to my blog-post in the middle of the night; a quiet time when people are asleep and when my tweet could get buried under the getting up tweets-rush and never be seen again.

However, my Twitter tweet now updates my Facebook status (sorry if that makes no sense at all).

I have met (just about) all of my Facebook friends – I see a fair number of my Facebook friends most days. I don’t mind too much if the storage-solution thinks I’m vain and deluded but it’s a bit different to rub your Facebook friends’ faces in the facts.

In earlier days of Twitter/Facebook synchronisation I’d nervously post a blog link via Twitter, wait a few nail-biting minutes, and then I’d hysterically logon to Facebook and delete the synchronised status update before it could be seen by too many of my (23 plus) Facebook friends.

I was cured of this lunacy (there I go again with my mental illness metaphor) when I deleted a Facebook status update blog link just as someone added the comment, ‘I loved this post! :)’ Of course, the complimentary comment disappeared with the deleted original Facebook status update:

Noooooooo! Your first blog-approval and you deleted it! You were frantic. Yet again it was time to calm down, and weigh up the options, and decide what to do.

Too vain and deluded for that.

Print off the email alert and carry it everywhere with you so it’s handy if it ever crops up in conversation?
Goes without saying.

ReTweet the link and ask your Facebook friend to write his comment again?
Pathetic, are you a complete moron?

ReTweet the link and copy and paste your Facebook friend’s comment from the alert email you received when he posted it?
The reply would still have your name on it, Stupid; how would that look? Think about what you’re considering (and You, stop using learning difficulty-allegory whilst you’re at it).

What I did do was to ReTweet the link in the hope that my Facebook friend was a sympathetic mind-reader who understood about deranged wannabe writers and would write the same comment again. Sadly, not. (I've have got a copy of the comment in my pocket if you want to see it though).

On the topic of deranged wannabe writers I received two disappointing MA Creative Writing marks on the same day several weeks ago. On the strength of my disappointment (in myself) I decided I was going to complete the last two taught modules of my MA and then drop out of the programme without starting the dissertation.

‘That,’ I thought grimly as I bloodily sawed at my nose,’ will show me.’

The marks weren’t awful but they were comparatively low and, worse, I deserved them. I knew I was floundering when I put my Stylistics portfolio together. In the end I felt as if I resorted to writing bottomfishbanana a thousand million times because I just didn’t really get it or know what else to do.

I went to see the programme leader to discuss my decision. She, predictably, told me my marks were creditable. That’s another one of Those Terms isn’t it? Like ‘salt of the earth’ (common) and ‘friendly and outgoing’ (fast) ‘lively writing’ (self conscious, verbose, first draft-type writing). Creditable is kindly meant but it hurts.

But she said something else that did make me reconsider my decision. She said that she could see me submitting work for publication in two or three years time. My reflex reaction was that if I’m not good enough now I don’t want to know. Before I came away I’d realised that I couldn’t expect any greater compliment than what she said; of course it won’t happen overnight. And I’m grateful for her honestly, and her sagacity.

So, if you see me with nasty awkwardly sewn-back nose - horrible black thread and oversized needle-holes (I can never find the right needle) don’t worry; its just my schizophrenia, I mean syphilis, playing up again.

The photograph is of The Minotaur and the Hare by Sophie Ryder in the centre of Cheltenham. Frankie said the Minotaur looks like a nice boyfriend, and despite the fact he’s as friendly and outgoing in his dress sense as some of my relief-solutions Twitter Followers, she right, he does look like nice boyfriend doesn’t he?


Jenn said...

Hey! I'm glad you're back. I think syphilis (so glad I have a web-browser that spells words like that for me) doesn't quite work either, as blogging isn't something you get from playing with other people, but something you get from playing with yourself

boom boom!

(sorry... back to my own blog now)

x J

kim mcgowan said...

So you think the dysphemism 'self abuse' might work better?

The self abusive nature of blogging?

Yes, I think that works quite nicely (and who's to be offended?)

Thanks, Jenn.

SandyCalico said...

Brilliant post Kim.
I'm a shameless self-promoter (as are most of the mummy bloggers). On the one hand I'm writing my blog for me, to practise (or practice, I never know which one to use) my writing. On the other hand I'm blogging to be part of a community.
I'm sorry you felt disappoointed by your marks, but don't let that stop you x

DJW said...

Just get on with it, you big girl.

You're enjoying writing it and I'm enjoying reading it. I need telling when it's there.

Does anyone else's lame (and imaginary) opinion count?

If anything I'd like more of it.

kim mcgowan said...

A Guardian article describes our shamelessness as our need to 'demonstrate online wantedness and potency', Sandy. S'about right. Chimes with the wanky nature of blogging.

Writerly insecurities if you please, David. Not Big Girl-ness.

Thanks for the lovely comments, All x

SandyCalico said...

Me again!
There's an award for you at mine x

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Hello. I was worried about the rabbit, she looks so startled. I wondered if this is a fake hand we can see. Perhaps he isn't such a nice boyfriend after all. Like your blog!

kim mcgowan said...

Well, you know, Susan that worried me too. But I went around the back of the sculpture and his arm is just tenderly around her middle, I've taken a photo if you'd like to see.

I think she's just understandable excited that he's that perfect mix; an attentive boyfriend who could handle himself if another mythical creature, say a Bunyip or a Sasquatch, with evil intent happened along.

Thank you for your nice comment, I’ve enjoyed looking at the progress of your allotment too; what beautiful children!


Susan said...

Maybe she has just been worried by the sight of another rabbit with bigger ears.

Yes the children are great but I would say that wouldn't I? Thanks X

kim mcgowan said...

Only if it were true...

No! He isn't that kind of shallow boyfriend-type who would have his head turned by a rival with considerably bigger ears.

and (this is written in a tiny little timid voice) she's a hare, not a rabbit, actually.


Susan said...

Ear size is vital for hares, oh dear. Hare today gone tomorrow.

I'm sure he's to be trusted though. They make a cute couple.