I can't be doing with too much agonising about blogging on blogs. Generally I think one should get on with it or shut up. Doubts and losses of confidence are inevitable, no one can be brilliant and inspired all the time. Actually, some people can and are, and they are those whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose, but I can't, and fretting about it, floundering in impotent envy and self-pity and making odious comparisons, won't help.
However, those doubts arising, the little-and-often structure and discipline of doing thirty words a day was useful and interesting. I hope it has enforced habits of succinctness and elegance which I can maintain, though I fear it may be as when I have imposed dietary restrictions on myself; asceticism gives way for a time to a more moderate and wholesome restraint, followed by total relapse, two glasses a day at least and bacon sandwiches. We'll see.
I continue to reflect indecisively and scribble inconclusively about What Matters. ( In fact one helpful insight I may have arrived at is the simple necessity for a personally satisfactory balance between time spent scribbling longhand in comfy old spiral bound squared-paper notepad, often on the sofa, wrapped up in warm stuff with a dog on my lap and Tom plugged into headphones muttering darkly at the news, and time on the computer.) I might yet try to develop some of the scribbled things further here, if I find time in between more interesting matters such as food and knitting.
For now though, I think perhaps the most positive thing I've begun to think about was prompted by what Dave pointed out about Clare's 30 word 'Once around the Park': that its most important feature is not its brevity but that it is based on continuing observation of a particular place. I see now that this is perhaps one of the strengths, beauties and achievements of blogging, the honouring of our rootedness and our surroundings, however humble and apparently unremarkable. We can all, in our way, become contemplatives, breaking through the barriers of boredom and limitation and finding, in quiet, patient observation and appreciation, grace in simply being where we are. And at the same time we can experience other places and realities intimately through others' writings and pictures. It's not necessarily about creating fabulously beautiful art, though if we're lucky some of us might, but it's possibly more important than that.
Moe Lauher has a simple mantra, as he photographs the roofs around his house in different weathers, which, he says, are not the rooftops of Rome or Paris, but 'this is where we live'. 'The desire for beauty', he affirms, can be satisfied by the familiar sight of a houseplant standing in a yellow saucer. Dave is a great inspiration in the depth and beauty with which he recreates the place where he lives and works, I love and was very tempted to imitate his new photoblog Visual Soma. GrannyJ carefully and lovingly chronicles the pavements and scrapyards and crazy folk art and more of Prescott. Joe's Tunbridge is an endlessly rich and quirky and intricate place which half puts me in mind of Stanley Spencer's Cookham, where angels could be just around the corner, or glimpsed from the corner of an eye. Jean's London is deep and subtle and full of secrets and not without terror. This list is not intended to be invidious; it could go on and on.
Yet having said all that, it's not the only way to blog; with many of my favourites I have little or no awareness of where they are written from, and it doesn't matter. I have always been leery of making Box Elder into an 'Expat's life in France' type blog, and deliberately chose a name which gave no clue to its setting, was in fact misleading. That genre of writing, as exemplified by my bete noire Peter Mayle, is one I'm suspicious of, and though I know that local colour and interest is popular here, and I enjoy writing and photographing it, I don't want it to be exclusively what I do.
So, seeing as how I've enjoyed doing thirty words, and think it's a good form of regular writing practice, and recognising the importance of place-based observation, I've started another blog just for that. I wasn't too certain about this; I've now got four on my dashboard and have to think about which one I'm hitting ( two are fairly dormant ), and personally when I go to someone's profile and see a list of different blogs I find it off-putting. However, I'll make it clear this is my main one, and the new one is a sideline. If you care to visit and drop the odd comment fine, but it's not mandatory. A nice thing about the limited output is it's easy to catch up with reading after an absence. It's very similar to Clare's in presentation and probably style too, but I've no shame in imitating such a good model. It'll be based on the walks I take every day with Molly, who is very much one of the things that keeps me rooted here, so is called 'Out with Mol '. There won't obviously be as much human interest as in Clare's - her babies in swings post was a cracker that kept me smiling for days - and the odd bit of rumination or 'poetry', since a regular walk is good for such things.
The box elder tree will continue to be home. Never a grand arboreal specimen, and subject to the odd disagreeable parasite, but harmless in root and branch and not without use for timber or sugar, faute de mieux. Unlikely ever to set viable seed, but pleasant in leaf and aspect, and slightly exotic by dint of its displacement from its land of origin, you're welcome to join me in its shade.
6 hours ago