Sunday, 13 April 2008

Three Months In :: First Quarter Assessment

I had another blog before this one. It was supposed to be funny, rather than say, confessional. I would look at what was happening in the world, and then make clever pronouncements upon it all. But it wasn’t good because when the clever didn’t come, as it often did not, I just forced it, forced it out through clumsy, dense little fingers. And it showed. Then, because I didn’t even enjoy it, I stopped forcing and eventually deleted it.

Then time passed as it so so often does, and I decided to stop moping around and get on with my life. So I started this blog to push myself to lose weight, stop smoking and make valiant efforts to find someone to love. However, primarily because of the people I’ve come into contact with through the blog, it quickly became an enormous amount more than that. And from those who’ve helped me out with advice and ideas and even translations, right down to the Horsley lot who just witter on about genocide and whores in the corner, I’ve been overwhelmed by the friendship I’ve been shown. I know there are some people who say, you know, the internet is shit and everything, but… well, I think they’re shit.

This time around, blogging has been an absolute revelation to me. It’s not so much that I’m born again; rather that I’m born for the first time. I know I’m on the very meniscus of going frightfully overboard here, but what the hell. Forty pints of Tree Syrup in a week will make anyone emotional. Starting this blog has probably been the single best decision I’ve ever made. I realise that’s the kind of statement that comes back to haunt, and I’m practically crying out for blog-bred catastrophe to come and heap itself upon me, but… well, so be it. Every action has consequences. Some of them will be good. Some of them will make you cry and punch bus shelters. And they might still be the good ones.

I’ve always felt at a distinct disadvantage in real life, because of my looks, because of the psychological baggage I attach to my looks, and because I’m so very gauche. But in all seriousness, I’ve never felt more free than I do now. I’ve never felt that I have so much of an outlet for life, and more importantly, so much of an incitement to life.

I used to believe in God when I was a kid, but in a very contrived way. Now I’m 30 and the feelings I get from keeping a blog are very much closer to how I believe God should really feel; much closer than growing up Catholic ever felt. God was supposed to be someone to whom you could always turn, no matter what devilry was going on in your mind, and not only would he be there to hear you, but he would also offer guidance and support. He would set you on the road to being a better person. Which is great and everything, really great…. Except he never did.

In the blogging community however, things are different. For one thing, bloggers actually exist. And they listen to you, and they hear you, and they offer you their guidance and support like you’d known them all your life. And that, at times, has overwhelmed me.

Now, some of these people that have come to my blog have said lovely things about me and my writing over the last three and a bit months, and I’m afraid a few of these may rather have gone to my head. To give one example, when proper journalist ‘Hendo’ wrote a week or so ago that I’ve ‘got to be a pro’ because I write too well, I was flattered, for sure, but it was also a little queer. I felt like a freshly deflowered young woman whose one and only lover insists that there’s no way on God’s green earth that’s the first time she’s done that. I am flattered and glad my efforts please, but really, one mustn’t underestimate the talents of the amateur. There’s really no need to assume deception and liken me to a washed-up old whore-bore like Irvine Welsh. (Pride of place on the Trumpet Tower that one. Thanks for that.)

Actually I didn’t think any of that at the time. I just thought that Hendo must be a bit of a looney. But then I thought, no, Hendo’s not a looney. He’s a proper journalist, maybe even respected, and if he thinks it’s possible that I could write for a living, then sod it: that’s good enough for me. I’m going to give it a go.

And that’s my news.

I’ve really loved the last three months or so of blogging, much more than I ever imagined I would. I thought I’d really struggle to manage a post a week, as I have in the past, but thus far that hasn’t been a problem. I think it was the switch from looking without to looking within that sealed it. I guess, when you’re writing about yourself, even a slow week is not the end of the world because there’s always so much to remember and steal, and if shit comes to shovel, as it often does, you can just play around like a child and hope that something fun turns up. And if something turns up and it’s not fun… doesn’t matter! There’s always tomorrow.

In stark contrast, my current proper job is like blogging on an Etch-a-Sketch, wearing boxing gloves and a blindfold. It's like public speaking in a ball-gag. What I churn out for rent is lifeless, glib trash, mostly specialising in description, instruction and advertorial. And I’m really really sick of it. I want to stop pretending to give a damn about product. I want to stop writing praise, PR and half-truths just so that other people can make more money. It’s utterly soul-destroying and I don’t enjoy it in the least. And I’m 30, for God’s sake. I need to make something of myself. I’ve wasted so much time already, and now I really must crack on. Because I do want to do something interesting with my life. I hate the idea of spending fifty years attached to some account. I want to be able to get on and see what I’m capable of. I mean, ideally, obviously, I want to change the course of history. I want to be the man who kills the Video Star. Ideally.

But for the moment, instead, I have this job. And whereas I really hate my job, I really love tending this blog, and I often find myself working away into the night and faking Scrabble games for the sheer unadulterated joy of it.

So it makes perfect sense to try and swap one for the other. And basically I’m going to try and do that. Nothing will really change, but as some pin-headed lizard in a chalk-striped suit might say, I think I need to ramp it up a notch. Take it outside the box, put some blue sky behind it and just start saluting it till I get cramp. All that’s really changed is that I’m basically adding ‘get paid for writing something heartfelt’ to my list of New Life Resolutions. Other than that, I need to keep the momentum going, in order to capitalise on the luck I’ve had so far. I need to keep doing stuff and not get lazy. Ideally I need to commit more time… but I don’t want to start writing cheques that my ass will just chew up and spit out.

Also, much as I very much want to turn my back on the vulgarity of product forever, I know that fully, I cannot. And though I yearn to spurn everything that product means to me, I know that in actual fact, I must embrace product. I say more. I must, in essence, become product.

If I want to make a living writing stuff I like, I have to sell the stuff I like to write. Hence the rather inelegant Roster of Praise to the right. And yes, while I was kippering through the comments, cherry-picking praise blossoms, I did slip on a stray flake of Smug and accidentally disappear up my own arse. Yes, I did. But that’s what happens when you make the decision to become product.

I do feel somewhat tainted mentioning all this, like my penis has crept into my aunt’s lap at a christening and started weeping. I feel a little embarrassed. But I really wanted to share what I’m feeling and I’m very glad I did, because in doing, and in getting a tad emotional about the whole thing, it's become much clearer in my own mind. And clarity is always nice.

And so we come to:

Blogging Rule No. 1 :: Keep It Short.

And another thing…

…I think that if I have one talent besides the ability to make a woman feel seriously loved (but without being overbearing), it’s that I can put words together in an effective and well good way. I’ve been doing it for years in the service of manual and marketing mook, and this blog – or rather the response I’ve had from this blog – has given me the confidence to try to strive for more.

And for that I thank you.

And if I fall on my ever-slimmer arse and make a giant flange of myself, I will thank you again.

Then I’ll blog it.

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Anonymous said...

Behold! An Epiphany!
Is this code for "I'm going to write a book"? As fabulous as that would be, because you are, actually, jolly good at this, it might be a bit of a shame if you turned your blog into an online book tour, (mentioning no names here.)
Anyway, here's to being born, again, but not in that way, I'll shut up now.

Annie said...

Hello! I can think of lots of successful writers who started off as copy-writers - Fay Godwin for one (boo!) and Salman Rushdie (yay!) for example.

Um, feel a bit geeky and foolish but must add to the chorus of praise - I love your writing, though am also a bit jealous and dismayed at how your blog just keeps on being brilliant and funny and moving...

Annie said...

PS forgot to say, in my excitement, have you taken a look at the Friday Project?

Luka said...

Oh, thank God.

For a moment there I thought you were going to say you'd put a paypal button on your site, so the readers can pay you for your valuable blogging time, and then I'd have to get all arsey.

Glad you're feeling so positive. I can feel the lurve.


Shimacat said...

I thought the way that post was going, you were about to announce your blog's demise in favour of paid-only work. I was reading through it, thinking "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

But it's OK.

And we love you, too.

oooooooo this is a mutual huggy love-in here, isn't it? And that's a Good Thing. Keep going, Bete, and we will be your Greek chorus of encouragement through your life-changing year.

Larry Teabag said...

So, having discovered the possibility of life without food, you've decided to chuck in your job, and spend more time blogging... well, cheers, and good luck!

Annie said...


TheTelf said...

It humbles me to be allowed to be a part of your magnificent and well deserved (if indeed slightly inelegant) roster of praise, but could I possibly request you correct my name on the attribution?

And bollocks to blogging rule number one, your long rambling posts are an excellent distraction from work, life, and other such background noise.

La Bête said...

Hi Penelope. Not really code for ‘I want to write a book’, although I do. I just want to write professionally – anything really, just so long as it’s about something I’m interested in. I’m going to start pitching stuff at random I think – and then when I'm ignored, I shall go in a huff for a bit, and then try again.

Thank you, Annie. You are far too kind. I have heard of the Friday Project and I know they concentrate on publishing stuff from off of the web, but I heard last week that they’ve gone out of business. There’s nothing on their site so maybe it isn’t true. Hold on, yes, it is true – says so on Wikipedia. Oh, and thanks for the front page. I am honoured. Oh, and you mean Fay Weldon. Are you booing Fay Weldon? Or Fay Godwin?

God, no, Luka. I cringe at the thought. You’d have to be mighty arrogant indeed to expect people to read a blog. Which is not to denigrate blog writing. Rather to suggest that… actually, I’m not sure. And it’s terribly late. But I would never be so conceited as to ask people to pay for a blog post. Not even in buttons. Semi-colon, close bracket.

Thank you, Cat. I’m looking forward to it.

Mr Teabag, I’m not going to start turning work down just yet. I’m just going to start trying other things too.

Telf, eek! Done. And thank you. Again, far too kind. Hold on though. Rambling? How dare you. I never ramble. Indeed, I remember the last time someone accused me of rambling. It was in August 2007, a Saturday if I recall correctly... And so on.

Hendo said...

Go Bete!

Hendo said...

Go Bete!! Don't stop blogging though.

Hendo said...

Oh I've posted twice by mistake.

Anonymous said...

I dont know you that much or whatever but by reading what you write here on the blog it doesnt take much to see that you have a gift. Or if you dont like that word, well, lets say you have pretty good skills at writing. It doesnt matter if it was something that came with you when you were born or if you acquired it thru your academic years. And of course, you also have the passion and capacity to create a conection with those who read what you write..

But the important thing is the outcome.

Everyone is better at something and you are better at this.
(And maybe you are better at other things too but I can only refer to your writing).

So, if apart from writing that well you also like it then you should try and see where it takes you.
Who knows!

Of course, since you sound like a genuine person who wouldnt sell himself dont expect becoming rich.
Surely you can get paid by writing but it wont never be what you really deserve (how can you put a price to creativity anyway) so yeah, I guess you could find some kind of job or start some project which reported you some economical benefits to pay the bills and so on, but not much more because in order to live from what you write you have to write a best seller (and to my mind bestsellers are not trascendentals, I mean, I dont think that if Shakespeare was alive he would be a bestsellers writer because most people just dont enjoy it or even understand it and consequently prefer some easy-reading as harry potter or such products instead of a good book. And of course I respect it, but I just find everything related to money so cold and so empty .. I couldnt define or explain what literature means but I strongly feel that art isnt about money but about the human being capacity to create something from nothing).

Anyway, I have the impression that your goal in life isnt appearing on one of those lists from the Forbes magazine as the richest guy of the world so I guess you wouldnt have a problem doing what most writers usually do: have a shitty job to pay their bills and then, dedicate the rest of their time to write.

Primum vivere deinde philosophari.


Whatever you do, keep blogging, please.

You are such a lovely guy and if theres something that the world needs is tenderness and affection.
And you have plenty of that.


Annie said...

Yes, I meant Fay Weldon, I love Fay Godwin *the shame*. Also the Friday Project is not very useful to you in liquidation ( - and with Scott Pack in charge too, who'd have thought it?) I'll go away and never darken your doors again...

PS that's Annie of Annie Rhiannon with the front page, I'm Annie of Slaminsky. She's a cute redhead and I'm, um, not.

Rygantron said...

Go to it, sir!

Though I'm a lazy sod, as I believe you Brits say, I'm doing the same thing, writing-wise; unsolicited advice?

As you said: keep the momentum, as well as the excitement.

So, I guess that would mean that my advice is a rehash of something you've already thought of...

Well, you're welcome to use my/your advice whenever you feel it's right.

Adventures in Veg said...

Wow. I'm quite embarrassed that you ended up 'washed up' at my rather poor excuse for a blog (were it a plant, it would be withering by now) now that I've seen the talented writer that you are!
I'm surprised that you don't write for a living. You really should.

Oh - about my ten reasons why I hate 3 mobile broadband...yep, they were practically all the same...but if some 3 employee stumbles upon my blog one evening, I really want them to see 10 reasons, rather than just the one: 3 Mobile Broadband is shit. It doesn't have quite the impact!

Good luck with your future..and happy blogging!


DJ Kirkby said...

Go for it!

Anonymous said...

I just love the positivity of this. Sounds like you're moving things in the right direction - an inspiration!