The loneliness of the diary

I have been watching a documentary on Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet. The man amazes me. He seems so ordinary and yet the words that come from his mind and tapping fingers are extraordinary. He can take something as simple as peeling potatoes with his mother as a boy and turn it into a prayer. A prayer, I mean in the highest sense of beauty.
Heaney has a feel for words, the poet’s sensibility I suppose. I wish I had it too. I see it elsewhere, in poets elsewhere, but I have never been able to tackle words with such delicacy and respect myself.
I am a racer when I write. The words roll out of me. I do not stop to attend to them, to look for the finest alternative word, because I fear if I do so I will lose my momentum. I am a writer who uses momentum to create a scene. Momentum gives me rhythm and when I lose it I tend to stumble and stutter. But I wish, oh how I wish, I could string words together, string images together like Seamus Heaney.

I must avoid beating up on myself at this point. It is so easy to do. The writer’s lament: why do I not write like so and so, or such and such? Why do I not perform as well as he or she? Why are my words awkward and clumsy on the page?

I use my blog to practise my writing, to play around with ideas and to communicate with others. Is this the way others operate? Do other bloggers write on blogs primarily to communicate, or to practise their writing, or to show off, or to struggle with ideas, or to assert their certainties or share their doubts? These questions are probably ridiculous. As with so many things there are probably as many reasons for blogging as there are bloggers.

It beats the loneliness of the diary. When I was a young girl, around fifteen years of age, I wound up in a Catholic boarding school for the best part of a year. It was not an easy time. My sister boarded with me but she seemed, at least to me, she seemed to handle the experience better. She was a neat and orderly child. She could keep her clothes in good repair. I was a slob, with teeth rotting in my mouth that I sought to hide from the nuns and from my mother because I feared both the shame and pain of attending to them.
In boarding school everything ran in order. The boarders, most of them country girls from places like Numurkah, Wonthaggi and Maffra, wore picture perfect uniforms, each item clearly printed with their names in the top collar or on waist tags. Even their socks and underpants were labeled. I hid my underwear and socks in shame. I ran a furtive washing operation on my own, unbeknown to the nuns in the laundry, because I could not bear to let them see my tatty underwear.
It’s a familiar enough story but I use it here as a metaphor for other secrets and for this underlying sense of my writing – that it is messy and a disgrace.
Perhaps I should confine it to the loneliness of my diary.

autobiographers (and bloggers) lead perilous lives

I am disappointed in myself for not booking into many events at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Yet I fear at the moment I am suffering from stimulus overload. Too much information.
In recent months I find I have become something of a blogaholic. This bothers me. It’s all too easy. Some chance remark on someone’s blog, some brief reference to someone’s thoughts on some other blogger’s ideas, leads me to click the mouse and enter a new blog, one I never knew existed and then depending on the nature of that blog I find I am keen to include said blog onto my ‘follow’ list.
I now have seventeen people whose blogs I follow. I understand I am not alone in this. But at the rate I am going, with an increase of two new blogs every week or so for the last month I will soon be like the old woman in the shoe – she had so many children she knew not what to do. Not that bloggers are children, but I find myself busily identifying with so many of them if I can.
For me it is a brave new world.
I am wary of the ease with which words online can be seen to be far more hostile (or sometimes loving) than they would sound were they spoken. I also resist those (to me) awful conventions, which I see my daughters using regularly on face book, the lol, the hahahah, the letters that signify sounds that presumably are intended to soften the blow of any comments made on line.

My husband, the lawyer, tells me often enough that it is important to be wary of what I write in official capacities, for instance in the notes I might make about my work with others. It’s better he tells me to write less than more. The more you write the more likely it is to be misconstrued, or distorted by those who wish to put a different spin on it than you had intended.
We live in litigious times.
All of this gives me cause to sigh, a tremor of paranoia, but I persevere regardless, because I love to write.
I try to write as honestly as I can and if it gets me into trouble (as it certainly has done recently) then so be it. As the wonderful literary critic, Paul John Eakin writes
‘Autobiographers lead perilous lives.’