‘MY BLOGS are the tendrils of my soul’ as Robert W. Service might have said. (He said ‘books’ actually.) As a relative newcomer to the genre, the thought of baring one’s soul in public is still in diametrical conflict with my character. The only explanation I can think of is that it is NOT in public – the audience does not know me and is unlikely to meet me. The stranger on the train syndrome – and as soon as someone says ‘Hey, are you the Ted Watchamacallit from Hicksville?’ I will have to reconsider my position. For that reason I have told no-one except my wife and son about my blog. Well, they let me read theirs.
But does that mean it will for ever remain a secret garden? It’s a serious question. Because, while I’ve no wish to publicise my views – I’ve been known among friends and family not to express a view on anything from one year’s end to the next. (When I started to say something recently, my stepson said ‘Quiet, everyone, I think Ted is about to express an opinion’. I was so embarrassed I immediately forgot what it was.)
So who do you tell – OK Messrs Strunk & White, I know it’s ‘whom’ but I’m pleading common usage here. Because the more people you tell, the more people you have to consider when writing. Or don’t you consider anyone? I really would like to know people’s views on that – but who’s going to tell me?
There, I think, is the nub of the problem. I worry about what others may think. Not caring is essential for the true artist. If she had cared what we thought, would you ever have heard of Tracy Emin? (Though, to come out of character for a second, I don’t consider her an artist – more a seeker of celebrity.)
When William Faulkner’s daughter complained that he didn’t spend enough time with her, he said, ‘Does anyone know the name of Shakespeare’s daughter?’ When Gauguin was about to leave for Tahiti, his wife said, ‘But your daughter's dying of consumption’. He said – ‘but if I miss this boat there won’t be another for two weeks’. Now that's art.
On this, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, when lies are not permitted, I feel an opinion coming on so must voice it. I went to a pub for lunch today. It’s a pub I use often because smoking is forbidden and it’s always quiet – and we had to wait for a table! Why? I’d forgotten about Valentine's Day, despite the fact that my greatest joy these last few weeks has been in zapping e-mails with the words ‘Valentine’s day’ in the heading. What sort of a life is that – waiting all year for a pub lunch to find out if someone cares for you?
I didn't I want to be an artist anyway.