Simon Schama’s Swampy Suck

Oh, hi there. I thought that might get your attention…

Today’s instalment of ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ is:

“Origin story. Why did you start your blog? Is that why you still blog, or has your site gone in a different direction than you’d planned?”

It’s coming up for two years since I started this blog. It had been in my mind to do so for a while before then, but in the last month of my professional career – September 2012 – I found myself with quite a lot of time on my hands during the working day.

Which simply demonstrates my final, transcendental, mastery of the managerial art of delegation.

During this period, I set about the ‘nuts and bolts’ process of setting up the site – choosing a name and a theme and so on. I also gave a lot of thought to what sort of stuff I would actually post on it.

While all this was going on, I happened to read (and subsequently plagiarise, if I’m honest) quite a lengthy article in the ‘Financial Times’ entitled ‘Why I Write’. This included the following contribution from the prominent historian and TV presenter, Simon Schama:

“…the thoughtless recycling of experience for its own sake, the fetishising of impulse, which these days is what mostly passes as “blog”, a word well suited to its swampy suck of self-indulgence.”

Cheers mate, cheers

Cheers mate, cheers

He’s got me bang to rights on self-indulgence, but while I’ve undoubtedly recycled experience, arguably for its own sake, that process certainly hasn’t been thoughtless. Hard to believe, I grant you, but in fact there’s quite a lot of thought goes into these ramblings. Plenty of rewriting, at any rate.

Anyway, undeterred by Mr Schama’s honeyed words of encouragement, I persisted in my endeavours and produced my first significant post, conventionally enough entitled ‘Why this blog?’. Re-reading it recently – for the first time in ages – I was quietly gratified to find that it wasn’t quite as portentously cringeworthy as I’d feared.

To summarise, I said that my principal motive for starting a blog was my personal enjoyment: I wasn’t seeking to make a living out of it (which is just as well, as it’s turned out). In other words, it was designed largely as a retirement hobby. I held out the tantalising prospect of a didacticism-free diet consisting primarily of humorous postings based largely on wry self-deprecation, leavened occasionally with some photographs, and paeans to the Grateful Dead.

And that, I think, is pretty much what has been on offer. There’s definitely been no preaching, the majority of posts have at least tried to be funny (no, really) and the Dead have cropped up every now and then. The only unforeseen subsequent development has been the establishment of a separate, still largely nascent, site for my photography. How exciting.

So, pace Mr Schama, I’ll probably just carry on doing my own thing. Although if I ever find out what he means by this ‘fetishising of impulse’, I might give it a go.

I’ll try anything once.


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