Saturday, 21 April 2007

A Blogger Confesses


Lawrence of Aberystwyth

I’ve read that in this strange new world of ours, 68.9 million people are active bloggers, while a survey of 1,000 British teenagers found that 47% of British teenagers blog on a regular basis. I think I read this on a blog somewhere.

I’ve also read that the world’s oldest blogger is Olive Riley aged 107 of Woy Woy near Sydney, Australia. Yes, and this time I remember where I read it. It was in a blog on www.openwriting.com, written by Eric Shackle. Eric’s only 87 and like me, he has, I guess, a soft spot for older women.

I’m always been intrigued by the life-force that keeps these survivors clinging on so long after all their contemporaries have fallen off their perches. Often there’s something special in their lives, blogging perhaps in Eric’s case, but they often come up with bizarre reasons for their good health. The South China Morning Post has just reported the story of Chan Chi, a Hong Kong villager who, like Olive is aged 107. Asked why he thinks he’s lived so long, he said, ‘Maybe it’s because I haven’t had sex since I was thirty.’

There’s a Chinese belief that every loss of semen is a nail in your coffin… though if that’s how to live to a hundred, I’ll exit earlier and go out with a bang. As for Chan Chi, maybe it’s not too late even after seventy seven years to get him into the chat rooms or even better, to give him Olive’s email address.


So what of me and blogging? I’ve only blogged for a few months but I’m hoping to beat Olive as the world’s oldest blogger… by the time I’m 107, she’ll be 154.

But what of this peculiar word, ‘blog’? I know where it comes from, but it isn’t very elegant. ‘I blog, you blog, he blogs.’ ‘You see that wierdo over there in the red shorts with that thing round his head? He looks a dirty blogger!’

The word, ‘blog’ has a coarse feel to it… maybe it’s Anglo-Saxon or old Norse. Runt and muck, turd and cock, shit and sod, clod and blog… these and other unmentionables, have a certain earthy directness to them… but I think I like it.

Anyway, I, an ex-professor, existentialist and expat, am now also a ‘blogger’. I’m not a closet blogger though, as I always use my own name. Most blogs are anonymous but I don’t want to hide. Fame, notoriety, whatever… like all writers, I just want my stuff to be read, and if sometimes it offends, then I should be answerable. I hate this modern trend towards anonymity on the net. What if George Eliot or Mark Twain had used a pseudonym?

One thing troubles me though. I’m worried people think that as a blogger I’ve got too much time on my hands, that I’m a lonely individual with red eyes, sitting in a solitary garret staring at a screen, a sad, sad introvert with no life at all. Is that how it is for me? Is that why I blog?

But no, that’s the opposite of the truth. I blog because my life is very full and because I’m keen to communicate something of it to others. Where better than on the internet, an unparalleled means of communication surpassing even the submarine telegraph cable.

Though on being solitary, I do have to concede an inch or two to my friend Iain. My friend Iain always says to me, how can you marry someone you can’t have an intellectual conversation with? I always reply that Cat’s in no way my intellectual inferior… it’s just a language gap. And anyway, why do you have to get intellectual stimulus from your wife? There’s lots of other people around to talk to. I remind Iain that marriage is about who’s going to do the Tescos shop or cook tonight and tutting over what happened when Dilys jumped the queue for the photocopier at work yesterday. But then I admit to Iain that here in Isaan, Cat is the only one I can talk to and the old man with his buffalo isn’t much good when it comes to supplying my English language defecit. Perhaps in this respect, blogging does fill a gap for me.

Most of all though, I blog simply because I enjoy blogging. What can equal the buzz of clicking on ‘publish’ and then viewing my blog on screen, knowing that it can now be read by someone in Islamabad or Saskatchewan, Tunbridge Wells or Lisbon. With my photos, it looks so good too, and creating it gives me a bizarre sense of achievement. Any other publishing process (remember paper?) takes painful months of waiting, but the immediacy of the internet is extraordinary.

I blog primarily because I enjoy the process of writing itself. Recently I was pleased when my novel, “Thai Girl” was featured in an article in the Bangkok Post together with three other more distinguished authors (23 February 2007). We were asked to, ‘describe your writing in three words’, and I said it’s, ‘my greatest joy’.

One of the other authors, Jack Needham, the author of ‘The Green Mango’ (names changed to avoid a defamation suit) said of his writing, ‘Really hard work. Not for readers, I hope but for me.’ He then went on to describe what for him is the painful, isolated, solitary work of writing. How extraordinary that is, to be a writer and to so hate writing!

Why ever would he hate writing his novel so much? Could it be something to do with the book itself? Ages ago I managed to read the first quarter of ‘The Green Mango’, but I gave it away to a friend who'd been trying to seduce my wife.

Now I'm wondering… maybe I’d feel the same as Jack if it was ‘The Green Mango’ I was writing. Nonetheless, I do find it surprising. I enjoyed every moment writing ‘Thai Girl’, as the story swept me along, emerging spontaneously from the personalities and predicament of my characters. Yes, writing is my greatest joy which is precisely why I now write my blog.

There’s so much pleasure to be had in the plotting, the planning, the writing and the polishing of a blog and as I send it into cyberspace I dream that some bloke in Woy Woy or Wooloomooloo is just sitting down at his computer, six pack at his side… My sitemeter, tells me that a few of you have read some of my blogs so I shall not slink away and put a rope round my neck but keep on blogging regardless. If there’s a chorus of comments telling me to blog off, only then shall I desist.

I mentioned a blog or two earlier that I’ve been toying with the idea of a sunset career as a song writer and as I lay awake last night listening to the dog barking, an idea came to me for a song. I want my songs to be totally original and in no way derivative, which isn’t going to be easy, but this one’s going to be called, ‘Thank You For the Writing.’

I haven’t written all of it yet, but here’s the bit I wrote when I got up this morning. The envelope was too small to write more than this, but anyway, I hope you like it.

'Thank You For The Writing' goes something like this.

“Cos’ I’ve wrote a novel, I hope it’s not trite,
And everyone reads it when I start to write.
I’m so happy and proud… I just want to read it out loud.
So I say thank you all for “Thai Girl”, the book I’ve written.
I’m not shy although once bitten.
And as I write another, I ask in all honesty,
What would life be, without one final chance what are we!
So I say thank you for the writing… for giving it to me!”

I suppose if I become a full-time song writer, I won’t have time to write any more blogs, which is a pity, so maybe I won’t be a song writer after all. Unless of course they make me an offer I can’t refuse…

2 comments:

Eric Shackle said...

Hi Andrew. Greetings from Sydney, Australia (not far from Woy Woy, and 50 miles north of Woolloomooloo).

I'm pleasantly surprised and flattered by your remarks in this story, that I've just discovered by following a link from Open Writing.

I'll return the compliment by posting the following item in the May edition of The World's First Multi-National e-Book:

"NEW! Why do bloggers blog? http://www.thaigirl2004.blogspot.com/
British author Andrew Hicks, a retired corporate lawyer and university professor living in Thailand, says: 'I blog simply because I enjoy blogging. What can equal the buzz of clicking on ‘publish’ and then viewing my blog on screen, knowing that it can now be read by someone in Islamabad or Saskatchewan, Tunbridge Wells or Lisbon... The immediacy of the internet is extraordinary.' Hear hear. Andrew. We get a similar buzz when we run the cursor over our GuestMap. http://pub20.bravenet.com/guestmap/view.php?usernum=1674329948"

Cheers, Eric.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog. At first, I wanted to check,because I am Thai and I found it interesting then.