I’ve been having a crisis of blogging for the last several months, since the summer. You can see it in the sporadic and strange posts I’ve plastered on the blog, like the stickers you see on lamp-posts and traffic lights and phone boxes. The urge to post, and to write something worthy of posting, has been overwhelming, but my satisfaction with the results has been… mixed.
In early December I read an essay that inspired me to start a small project I thought might be the answer. I thought Peanut Brittle would result in daily content for the blog for the entirety of 2020 that might even mildly interest readers, but we’re a couple of days into the year and I can already tell I don’t want to continue.
Stopping after five posts might seem hasty, as though I was expecting these dumb little snippets to suddenly reach stratospheric popularity and I’m now disappointed they didn’t, but that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve written nearly fifty of these little bits of gravel in varying lengths from a sentence or two to over a thousand words, and I’m just not happy with them. They’re not something I want to continue posting. Instead, I want to post things that will require me to think a bit more and I want to hide away these little threads so that I can weave them into something better another time. Or just keep them for myself.
I’m sitting on over ten years worth of journals; ten volumes that are wholly complete, full from cover to cover, and another handful that I’ve partly filled or given up on. I’m writing in volume number eleven and have filled up to page eighty-four since the twentieth of December. There’s nothing in those previous volumes I would ever want to post, but writing in volume eleven with the weight of all that unused writing behind it was making me desperate not to let anything that I wrote go to waste. The only problem is…
Almost all of it is fragmentary. I rarely write about a specific topic for more than one or two fragments and never more than one sitting. I can’t really explain why, it’s just the terrible habit I’ve got into over the years. The essay I read was about fragments as a form, which I’d never come across before, and in the white heat of the moment, I felt like I’d suddenly found both something to do with the fragments in my notebook and something to put on the blog. It doesn’t really work, though. Fragments in books are sewn together into a whole by the front and back cover, but here they’re just aimless little stones I’ve flicked at people. By themselves they aren’t worth a second glance.
This marks the death of Peanut Brittle, anyway, poor short may-fly project, ill thought through as it was. The fragments and little chips of ideas deserve to be further fleshed out and made into something, not spat out into the void, half-formed and barely edited. I think there are a few that might actually be worth posting once they’re edited properly, because they will be amusing or silly or serious. Once they’re gone, the blog will become something else.
Ah, but what something else, eh? That brings us right back to the crisis. Let me open a little window on my thoughts about this. Strap in, folks.
Publishing online adds an element of immediacy to writing that makes it less like traditional writing and more like performance. Viewing, feedback and responses, become immediate; I’m not just writing, I’m writing something people can immediately see, comment on, and I can respond to and edit. It’s not something I can ignore by not reading reviews, (not that I’ve written anything garnering reviews, yet). Blogging has an element of performativity to it I’m not quite at peace with yet, as does the creation of any online persona – whether that’s a social media account or something like YouTube. Blogging is the least immediately exposing, I think, but it’s got an element of performance nonetheless, an element is immediate and live. I don’t have a large audience to worry about, but I’m aware these posts are getting a handful of views each, so I know I’m not singing to an empty auditorium.
I’m only just getting used to the anxiety-lite version of me (I wanted to write ‘anxiety-free’ but that’s not really how it works, unfortunately), and becoming the online version of me, as well as becoming me is something I’m struggling to parse, so you’ll have to forgive me if sometimes it feels like I’m flailing around a little. That’s certainly the case.
Ultimately, I’m still working on what I want this blog to be. It’s called Patchwork Mind for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my interests are a patchwork of random crap. I can find the curious angle on most things and I’ve vacillated through a wild kaleidoscope of subjects that grabbed my attention over the years. Magpie and scavenger that I am, I’ve never picked up enough of them to feel like I could write about them with any great authority.
Secondly, as things wear and tear over time, they’re patched, but a patch is also a software update to fix bugs or add new features. Both illustrate the maintenance, repair and updating that happens over time as I come across new information, read new points of view. It’s not just a description of how I am, but a mission statement. I don’t want to be this creature fixed in amber, preserved and unchanging forever, I want to assimilate new information and grow as a result, as well as fix blind spots in my thinking created by privilege, ignorance or plain lack of experience.
A blog’s nature also means I have chances to go back and do things right, to make fixes and edits (in a transparent way!) to content and things I’ve written in the past. I don’t see the blog as a static thing that gets slung out into the world to be stared at, but fixed and patched as time goes on.
What that means for finding a niche, or a specific topic remit, I don’t know. I guess it means I’m going to continue being a magpie for now, picking up anything I think is shiny.
After the last few Peanut Brittles, you can expect the reviews to keep coming (I’m currently working on a review of Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen), and I’ve got a few ideas for posts about open source software and de-centralising the web as antidotes to major web-problems, posts about writing fiction (that’s something I do, by the way), and some criticism of my favourite writers. I’m also planning some posts on more obscure stuff, (fast food, nuance and reductive public conversations, compassion as a central tenet), and possibly, politics. You’ve got to be a little bit of a masochist to want to write about politics online these days, tho’. People are sharpening their knives; you could end up like Bill’s Cinna the Poet.
When I was about fifteen, someone I went to school with bamboozled me by telling me ‘You think too much.’ I had no idea that was even possible. It’s almost certainly true. At least this is something to do with it all and perhaps, as a fringe benefit, it’ll bring someone, somewhere, a little amusement or pique their interest.