Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Writer's Block

Those four of you paying hypothetical attention cannot have failed to notice the slow transformation of this place into one of those blogs comprising two enthusiastic entries and then nothing for the three years that have passed since the most recent. This silence has transpired for several reasons, none being the want of anything to say. As a matter of general principle, I tend to frown upon writing about writing, films about the medium of film, and blogging about the act of blogging, but what the hell...

Prior to my emerging blinking from the space capsule into harsh San Antonio sunlight, I harboured this vague ambition of being a writer. Well, I suppose technically I am a writer, but specifically I imagined my endless wit and wry observations bringing the gift of laughter to the ten-gallon-hat-wearing people of this Parish, a successful newspaper column spun off from an award-winning blog in which I would cast an eye upon the things of Texas and make jokes about how they were different to the things of England. This, I reasoned, would be easy, lucrative, and a pleasant alternative to standing on the corner of Rittiman and Wurzbach at 6AM each morning, waiting for the truck to take my Mexican brothers and I away for another day of hard labour in the taco fields.

Okay, so this wasn't an actual plan, really just a vague formulation of something that wasn't entirely beyond the bounds of possibility. As usual I was making it all up as I went along, and when it came to actually keeping this hilarious record of nationality-based scrapes and comical misunderstandings here in the Land of the Free, I noticed that certain aspects of the idea were in fact somewhat crap. I already maintain another blog, as some of you may be aware, and whilst not exactly either serious or brimming with momentous revelations, it serves as a dumping ground for essays, thoughts, observations or anything that seems like it might be otherwise worth sharing. This Englishman in Texas deal was, on the other hand, intended to be less formal, more conversational and accessible to people who might not really care about Clifford D. Simak or how the God Huitzilopochtli founded Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The problem, to my surprise, was that whilst any number of topics covered by my other blog might be deemed indulgent by virtue of reflecting such obscure and perhaps specialised interests, I have a much stronger aversion to this sort of blog, or at least to what this sort of blog might become if it all went horribly wrong: the Here's What I Think of Stuff school of writing which presumes that someone you've never heard of will have an interesting take on something you have heard of. The worst excesses of the genre, at least those I've come across, might be epitomised by a column in The Guradian wherein some painfully middle class gentleman supplied weekly updates upon the goings on of his children (probably called Toby and Jessica) and the blazing rows with his wife, each one prompted by her having read the previous week's column and objected to statements made regarding her role within said blazing rows. I think the author was called Sam something-or-other, and to this day I am unable to imagine a scenario in which his continued existence proves in any sense useful to life on this planet. Me me me me me is not inherently an interesting subject, and I think D.H. Lawrence (a song, a dance and a frown) expressed this extremely well in much of his writing, and particularly in The Plumed Serpent (1926):

'Man is a column of blood, with a voice in it... And when the voice is still, and he is only a column of blood, he is better.'

In other words, shut up and get on with it - as opposed, I suppose, to blogging about blogging as I appear to be doing right now. Anyway, my point, which I'm not sure if I've actually yet made or not, is that a lot can go wrong if one writes too specifically for an audience, and particularly if that audience is oneself, or how one imagines oneself to be. And I fear I may have initially written whilst following a vague trajectory that would ultimately lead to Bridget Jones - the film of which derives from a twee newspaper column - except I'd rather eat animal droppings than see myself portrayed on the screen by Hugh Grant, and would have to insist on Henry Rollins for the role which would itself lead to all sorts of problems what with his being an American and physically of a very different type to myself. Nothing of worth is ever done whilst one envisions the praise it might ultimately accrue, and I would extend this to myself sitting here imagining the chuckles that might be sublimated by some remark about Popeye's chicken (chortle) and how we don't (titter titter) have it in England (snurf snurf).

Ugh. Please....

So that, if any of it makes any sense whatsoever, is what has kept me from writing, or at least what has kept me from writing here. I fear this blog turning into a Fred Basset cartoon. The solution (following this entry which will hopefully serve as a sort of literary laxative), is that I'm dropping any self-imposed requirement of subsequent writing necessarily 1) making sense to anyone but me, 2) providing anything which could easily translate into a film with Hugh Grant, 3) containing obligatory amusing comparisons between England and Texas as a matter of course, 4) explaining anything the reader can look up on Google if they so wish (see The Guradian). In practical terms, this means I'm probably going to write for my own amusement (which I differentiate from any motive described above by means that you'll have to work out for yourself if it isn't obvious), and hopefully some of it will be enjoyable, but whatever....

Happy Stars 'n' Stripes Day everyone!