Sunday, August 21, 2011

An unfaithful blogger

Force of habit and I flick on the central heating even when it’s no longer necessary, Not today at least, not today when the temperature will reach 19 degrees C, if the pundits are correct, and the sun shines brightly.

Today I will write to time. I have almost no time spare. Job after job presents itself to me but I must get on and make the most of it and still find time for writing, for practice, which in some ways is how I view my blog.

I write with the greatest energy first thing in the morning. As the day progresses my energy fades. Is this the case for you?

Once when I was younger I imagined myself to be a writer who pounded the key board into the wee hours of the morning but not today. Today I can only vegetate late at night in front of a BBC DVD or some such other entertainment, my escape from the demands and excesses of my life.

To avoid the spectre of words only, I include here a picture of a much younger self, one who never dreamed of being in charge of a computer.


My younger self here used to think that I'd like to be dead by the time I hit sixty. No more ghastly old age for me, I thought then. I've since changed my mind. Charging up to sixty, these days I think of this age as still young enough to enjoy.

One of my daughters talked to me last night about my blog. I trembled inside. Daughters can be critical about such things. She’d been reading my blog lately, she said and she was amazed at some of the comments, the things that people focussed on in their comments.

She did not complain about my posts. This daughter has a fine and logical mind. She would probably look for the central theme or argument in whatever I have written and probably want to concentrate on that, whereas bloggers, she observes, myself included, often get distracted by what to her seems like a sort of trivial digression from the piece or something to the side.

I do it myself, whatever reverberates for me, I tend to respond to something small that may not relate to the central point of the post.

My daughter is impressed, she says, by the fact that I try to respond to everyone’s comments however slight. I’m not so impressed myself. In fact, lately I fear I’ve been a faithless blogger. I have managed a post once a week and I have managed to respond to comments but beyond that I have scarcely been out visiting in weeks.

This appals me. My inner critic says it’s not good enough. I take the view that if you enjoy people’s visits you must reciprocate and visit in turn. But I have become such a home body of late, not quite a recluse but when another daughter asked me if I could drop her off to Melbourne university today for its open day at 10 in the morning, my heart shuddered.

She had planned to take the train. She ought to take the train, but if I drive her - she’s not yet in possession of a drivers’ licence herself yet, not yet eighteen, nor has she enough practice hours clocked on – then she will have extra time to get all the millions of things she needs to get done, including her sleep.

So of course I will oblige, for which reason I am writing here to time, and trying at the same time to apologise to one and all for my slackness of late in not visiting as often as I would have liked.

My homebody tendencies are related to some extent to the fact that I’m on the final run with my thesis. I have an end date, a date planned for submission, 28 October, some seven or so weeks away and I have so much to do to get the thing into shape.

At times when I would normally go out to visit blog friends, I am frantic trying to correct typos, restructure whole chapters or just generally get on the defensive.

One of my supervisors reckons now is the time to get on the defensive. To cover every little possibility where an unknown examiner might quibble with what I have to say.

Not only do I have to clarify my argument, I must also say something about what might be obvious to someone else but is not so to me, namely why I have chosen NOT to explore so and so’s ideas in this area or why I have elected to follow the course I have chosen.

It’s hideous stuff, not my style at all, but it’s what academics must do, I gather. Fortunately, I have no intention or need to become an academic. I enjoy dabbling in academia but I am no where near rigorous enough. Besides I hate intellectual arguing. I prefer to speculate, to play around with thoughts, to explore foreign territories or to revisit the familiar but I have no wish to hammer home a point anywhere.

My supervisor, one of them, at least – I’m lucky, I have two of the best – also remarks on how I write with conviction when it comes to the sections on infant development and the like, areas in which she feels more cynical, whereas when I write about the writings of someone like Helen Garner, or the Brett sisters, Doris and Lily or Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy, all writers whose work I explore to some extent in my thesis, I am full of words like ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’. In other words, she says, I write speculatively.

I suspect this will not do. But I cannot write with any confidence – even including about a text – in relation to another person unless they tell me clearly what they think, and even then, I cannot be confident that what I have heard is accurate. I cannot be sure of anything.

But developmental theory, which I suppose after all these years of practising, sits in my blood and bones in a way that offers me confidence, whereas to someone else it might all sound speculative and foreign.

I do not think these things in absolutes, but more intuitively. I suppose that applies to anything I read. If it makes sense and fits in somehow with my world view and experience I’m likely to take it on board, but not as gospel truth, not any more.

No more gospel truths for me, everything in moderation, with a grain of salt as they say, everything held with conviction at times, but also held lightly.

Life’s too short to get into arguments, except perhaps when it involves life or death. And I’m not talking pro or anti abortion and such like here. I’m talking love and hate. Read that as you will.

My time is up.
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