Thursday, 21 August 2008
Journeys by blog/ The last post ever
Well let me clear something up before we ("we?" Who's this "we" exactly?) get any further: the bit about "the last post ever" is bollocks. Complete and utter shite. I just wanted to inject a bit of pointless drama into the proceedings early on.
In a way though it does illustrate a point. I think. One reason I took a break from writing blog posts was that in some ways it all felt like using a lot of different words which could be summed up as elaborate ways of writing "me, me, ME!"
Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing in itself: it's in there amongst the reasons I actually started blogging in the first place - it was just that I stopped finding ways of writing "me, me, ME!", or at least, I stopped finding it interesting. So what does that have to do with including a stupidly melodramatic and mendacious line in the title? Well it just feels like another way of saying "me, me, ME!" but in a much more barefaced kind of way, and hence signalling a return to writing posts.
Hmm, not the most catchy way of resuming my blog activity is it?
The other thing is, I think it's only accurate to say that I was taking a break from writing posts. That break has done me good, but I realise that quite a lot of my activity during said break has been blog-related in some way. One such example was a good chat and Sunday lunch in rather genial company some weeks ago: a more than pleasant couple of hours spent in a pub out of town with good food and a couple of pints of Landlord.
Then recently I went to a blog party with an equally genial host and lovely guests. This too was a civilized affair, and was memorable not just for the food, fine wine and conversation, but for the incredible sound of torrential rain against the glass roof of the conservatory.
The thing about it is that I still find there to be an inescapable sense of weirdness (not in a bad way) about meeting up with people who I've previously - or primarily - known online. I'm not talking about it here in terms of the potential risks there might be - but just from the sense that meeting people who I only know through blogging is still something very novel, and...well, weird.
Put it this way, if two years ago you (whoever "you" are) suggested to me that I'd be heading up to Edinburgh for a couple of days on my own, and one of the focal points of that visit was to attend the book launch of someone I'd only communicated with online, I would have politely suggested that you were talking bollocks. Or I might have just said, no, you're talking bollocks. I wouldn't do such seemingly random stuff.
But then it's only just under two years ago that I had a conversation online with someone (no links to post here because the relevant blogs are now defunct) who happened to be in Berlin for a few days, a couple of weeks before I was due to head there myself. The result of that conversation was that the someone in question agreed to set me a challenge: she posted a photograph of a small piece of public art which I had to find and photograph for myself.
It's perhaps telling that I expected this challenge to be no more than an intriguing aside to my stay in Berlin: in the end, due to a number of factors, it ended up being tightly woven, if not utterly integral, to the whole fabric of my first stay there. It also seemed to carry a lot of meaning for me, amplified by the sense of headspace that you get (whoever "you" are, etc) when you're away from familiar sights, sounds, patterns of thought and so on.
I hope that this serves, though, to illustrate the weirdness that I'm talking about - the fact that I could spend so much of my time engaged in something which arose from a chance conversation with someone I only knew through words on a screen.
But really, therein lay the appeal. I may yet edit and post my writings about that whole experience, though I'll first have the courtesy to get the okay from the person in question.
Such was on my mind though as I headed up to Edinburgh earlier in the week. I wasn't going solely for nmj's book launch - but that served as the catalyst for me travelling up there in the first place and also giving me the chance of doing a few other things I wanted to do.
So I've had a couple of days with some much-needed headspace and the chance to explore somewhere new (but somewhere I've long since wanted to visit). With the main focal point, in terms of social activity, being an evening with people I've never met before - but some of whom I've had varying degrees of contact with online. The aforementioned blog connections.
As I noted either to bobo or maybe to nmj herself (or probably both and everyone else in the room besides, since I found myself chatting away like I was on commission, and also said hello to hullabaloo, though I can't seem to link to her), it's like a kind of celebrity status: you might recognise faces, you have a certain amount of prior knowledge, perhaps some sense of expectation.
The difference is that these same people are likely to know a certain amount about yourself too, and there results a delightful mix of familiarity and sheer newness: talking over territory you (whoever "you"...etc) may have covered many times - but now with the addition of tone of voice, gestures, eye contact and so on. I realise that's quite an obvious point, but the fact of it can still be just a little startling. Which again serves to emphasise that quite delicious weirdness.
So I've been away in terms of writing my own posts: but I've had a hell of a lot of overlap between Real Life and Blogging.
The other thing which has to be said about each time that I've experienced this overlap so far (most definitely including the previous examples above), is that it's been a fantastic, enjoyable, positive experience.
Last night's book launch was no exception. I was happy to have been asked by nmj to take some photographs at the launch - it was nice to have a bit of a role (perhaps analogous, albeit distantly, to having a challenge set for me as mentioned earlier), which might also serve perhaps as a barrier in case my social skills (of which I have plenty) decided to desert me (which happens aplenty).
But it was great, and I'm glad that it went so well for nmj. She displayed great wit, personality, eloquence and energy as she talked about the book and then gave a reading. (I use the word "energy" whilst being aware that crippling exhaustion is something that those who have ME have to face so much of the time.) It was also great fun: a relaxed and informal atmosphere, good people to meet and talk to, and wine there for the drinking. I haven't read her book yet - haven't had the chance to start it - but I'm looking forward to it.
Time flew. I'm back home already, full of good memories of the launch and the rest of my stay, and these reflections on that intriguing oddness of the overlap between real life and blogging.
I realise too that I'm rambling: I'll stop now.
I hope that this final comment won't detract from or diminish the value and the enjoyment of the interactions mentioned above, since they've been very much shared experiences and, in nmj's case the evening was, as it should be, all about her.
But I have to say, it does seem as though I've found some new ways to say "me, me, ME!"