Tuesday, February 03, 2009

On the exponential slowing of the blog that won't reach zero

If raw honesty makes for the best personal blogging, then anonymity is almost a pre-requisite. The best writing I've done was probably the first few posts as the groom stripped bare, before I caved in to my conscience and told my now-wife where she could find it. Since then, I've progressively shared the blog among the people I know in the real world and reached a point where the only people who definitely wouldn't see it are my parents.

The problems with this were embodied by an incident where I had a spray about someone, the kind that make for good, expunging, therapeutic personal blogging but which don't really embody any overall deep resentment. Their behaviour on a particular occasion tripped a few parental wires, but not so that I'd want to do anything to hurt their feelings. Perhaps I assumed that no-one was still reading, but they, being media savvy, may in fact have a feed reader. The next time we met they didn't meet my eye, and seemed unhappy, and though I don't know for certain I suspect they read and recognised themselves in the post.

Even by then I was self censoring. The gap between what tears you up inside and what can be said is vast, and encompasses perhaps the most interesting emotions- the hurt, anger, jealousy, fear, resentment and complicated love that we all try to make sense of in respect of our closest and dearest.

I have written little since Bear was born, Mr Man suffers an even greater deficit of words. But this is in part because I love them dearly, and I know, having been one of those who didn't get it, that writing 'oh I love you so much my kidlets' a hundred different ways just isn't exciting for others. Perhaps not even for me- I find I want to experience parenting more than write about it.

I can tell you Zoe was right, as of course I knew she would be: it's damn hard finding time to hit cafes or read papers. And yet it hardly matters, moments spent idling with my family are the best things ever, far beyond the worlds of career satisfaction or political critique.

What has been left out of my posts is all the close tension with family and friends, most of which they are not aware of. The abject disappointment Beloved and I feel as we find that people's talk is not matched by their walk. As we envy other friends whose family are closer, more helpful, more excited about their children. The complex posts I could write about how we know we were once like that, debating particular behaviours and what they mean. The things other parents do that we have doubts about. The things we do that we have doubts about...

The tensions between Beloved and I as we work through a period that breaks many relationships. Hanging on to the hope that some time in the future we will go out again, look each other in the eye and talk about how much we love each other. It probably wouldn't help the situation to write about how I feel gutted by each criticism or how I dread us becoming our parents- not in the 'uncool' ways, we're there already, but in the ways that drain love from a relationship.

We're ok, even good... But often I've needed to scream and I have nowhere to write it and no-one to tell.

My political blogging has been on the backburner for years. This is partly because I've found unless you write political posts all the time that readership quickly moves on- the action is all on huge meta blogs like LP which, good as they are, also represent the death of a different kind of punditry. It's also because I now work at a level in policy where these things get sensitive. There is a high level of checking, testing, and vetting and this has the palpable effect of excluding many more interesting and left-of-centre personalities from the senior levels of public life.

And I've lost most of my readers, the bloggy ones who comment and give life to the posts. This is a self-perpetuating effect because when I write about something deeply important to me and get few or no comments, I don't want to write about it again. But of course it is natural that, given how little I've written, there are less comments. I don't mean to sound petulant.

So I constantly think about closing down. The best of this blog is probably behind me, but that also makes it hard to end. It spans a wedding and 2 births and in places manages to perfectly capture moments and feelings in a way no other medium could. I know I should love it for what it is, a chorus to a play in several acts that has now reached its conclusion.

The conclusion is comedy, not tragedy, and through all the tensions parsed above I am happier than I ever thought I'd be with my fantastic family. They have been the main subject of this blog, and they, and I- we- are now embarking together on the rest of our lives.

A different trajectory. A related, but different, narrative, that may well deserve its own space.


Splatters said...

Your blog gets a bit soppy at times, but it reveals clearly that you are a genuinely decent person. If you close it, at least leave a link to the next one. I've followed you through a few incarnations and enjoyed them all.

My take on marriage is that if you can hold it together it is a very rewarding institution (I'm coming up for 30 years). The worst times are when you believe that your partner no longer loves you. Once you start thinking like that you start to misinterpret words and situations and things go downhill rapidly.

I found the way out was to make efforts to please my wife, and to do stuff she might enjoy, to find again the things that brought us together in the first place.

All the best.

weez said...

The best thing about blogging is that there are no rules. You can post on any schedule you like. Even if, like me, you post rather infrequently at times, we now have the magic of live bookmarks, which alert subscribers when you DO put up something new.

Always good value reading you, mate. I have no children of my own, so I do appreciate your estimations of new parenthood, however, your posts where you discuss news and current affairs are the ones that I'm generally most apt to reply to. Just because you're not getting a flood of comments doesn't mean you're not being read.

Suki decided to hang up her keyboard after HoWARd was ousted, but lemme tell ya, being the sysadmin for machinegunkeyboard.com, I am forever astounded at how many readers Suki still has, despite no new posts from her since 2007.

Blogger costs you nothing- leave your brilliant work online, if for no other reason than your body of work makes a great snapshot in time.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I'd be sorry if you stopped posting. I missed the Groomzilla phase -- I took up blogging not long before the wedding, when you still only had one cat and no kids. I've really enjoyed watching your and others' lives evolve -- you've had two kids and Zoe and Cristy one each since I first encountered all of you, and other people have moved countries and written books and got PhDs and all sorts. It's like being inside a giant novel that just keeps going, and everyone has their place in the design, including the cats. I'd love to see a post (with photos) about how the cats are getting on with the kids!

JahTeh said...

What's wrong with photo blogging the cats?

Anyway I'd like to know when Bear starts school, gets her first boyfriend or when the cub says his first 'daddy'.

Blogging is the new 'gossip over the back fence'.

Guy said...

Oh, you can feign lethargy and disinterest to yourself, but despite it all, you'll find the time. Stop kidding yourself. ;)

Penthe said...

I just found your blog, so please don't stop.

And yes to what you said about policy. It kind of sucks out the energy of the political posting, eh.