Jonathan: To blog, or not to blog: that is the question that’s been nagging away at me since a fellow island blogger recently announced that she was giving up her personal blog. Never really felt comfortable with that kind of writing, she says. For me, the problem blogging – personal or otherwise – is more that I really have too many more necessary and urgent things to do. So why do I do keep at it? Is it that my blog is a different kind of writing to hers, or that I’m a different kind of person, or that my audience has different expectations? I’m not sure it’s any of those things. My blogs are different to many (perhaps most) in that I don’t invite or publish comment; I don’t view or publish viewing statistics or ‘likes’ and when I write I certainly never give a thought to what would attract and retain readers. I do not need or want these things. To publish means to make public, and thus to expose to opionion, criticism and response of others: if someone wants to take the trouble to get in touch with me, there’s no difficulty in finding me – just google Jonathan Bridge and there I am. It seems that even the mere theoretical possibility of my writing being scrutinized is enough to motivate me, to drive me to hone my writing skills so as to tell my own unique story, accurately expressing my own circumstances and experiences – my own personality. Hopefully some readers may relate to or react to my writing, but whether that be with interest, amusement, delight or annoyance – or even complete indifference! – is up to them. It’s been a long break since my last blog, and that has partly been due to the immense burden of work of every description on both Denise and I at this time. During the interlude of almost four weeks there’s been many a time that I’ve come close to formalising the silence by announcing (if only to myself!) that the blog is suspended ‘for the time being’ due to pressure of work; or for a year; or that ‘nothing is forever’ and to archive the blog along with the many other tokens of past times. With each passing day, such thoughts might well have got stronger: yet this morning I came back from my morning rounds keen and ready to complete this blog – which has lain unformed and unfinished for more than three weeks. During that time I’ve been thinking about what makes a personal journal or blog different from other forms of writing. One thing is clear: it doesn’t need to faithfully record everything from the momentous to the minutae. A sample is sufficient, reflecting the diversity and detail that are characteristic of the writer. It does not need to be ‘searingly honest’; it is often sufficient (and prudent!) that underlying causes and likely consequences may be implied or inferred; and that a true picture of the writer’s life, its predicaments and possibilities should rely on the reader’s imagination and empathy – in short the reader’s own life story. But isn’t this as true for other forms of writing – and surely so of novels? If so, what then is it that makes personal journal, blog – or biography – different from everything else? A novel without a plot: perhaps – like a Virginia Wolf or Catherine Mansfield (stream-of-consciousness writing)? Perhaps: though their writings are understood to be works of fiction, and are frequently imitated. Surely, is it not the perceived uniqueness and believability that distinguish the personal journal or autobiography from other writing? There’s any number of people who can write fluently and persuasively on almost any subject you care to consider, as the booksellers shelves amply demonstrate. But there’s only one person who’s in a position to observe and remark on the world as I see and experience it, and that’s me.
Jonathan: For those who have just arrived – Welcome to the Big Garden Blog! We’ve just moved here to blog.biggarden.co.uk from more spacious accommodation at blogs.biggarden.co.uk. Actually it’s about more than just a very slightly shorter domain name, it’s actually a migration to a full-fledged version of WordPress. The migration required a lot of manual corrections to be made, and at this time that’s mostly about re-assigning categories to each blog, which is a bit of a chore. I’ve given myself until 1 May 2012 to complete all the fixes: that’s when the old blog site will go off-line.
Jonathan: What passes for a holiday here at The Big Garden is typically me tidying up the office, organising my workshop, or re-writing my numerous to-do lists. I suppose for some (probably of the other gender, but these days not necessarily ) the equivalent would be spending the morning in a luxurious bath, followed by lunch with friends in town and an afternoon of being pampered at the hairdresser, nail salon or whatever these things are. Anyway amongst my tidying up of miscellaneous post-its, invoices (paid, thank heavens), notebooks and other bits and bobs (oh so that’s where my sheep-foot trimming knife got to!) I had a quick peek into the blogging office … and found half a dozen blogs either half-started or half-finished (depends on how much sense I could make of them). Well that’ll be a pleasure this afternoon. I think I shall have to post them at dates they were supposed to have been finished. And just look! – Denise has a pile of ‘pending’ blogs too!
Jonathan: Staring at a blank sheet of paper, the floor covered in crumpled sheets each with a few desultory lines …. But no that’s not the sort of block that’s been stifling my blogging for the past three weeks. It’s not a lack of ideas, but a lack of time, and quite simply the problem – with so many things happening – which subjects to record, which to pass over. But this evening I’ll at least make an attempt!
Jonathan: The past fortnight has been so busy there’s scarce been time to think. At the end of a long day, the mind wants rest from its many branches of labour, and would gladly muse away the time before sleep encroaches in detached reflection on the day’s doings. But the time left for such things is too short and all mental energy is drained away. And thus blogging is neglected. Mornings seem to be better, but I need more time between being up and ready to go, and the actual going. I usually leave the house (to see to the livestock) at 0730 or shortly after – very rarely sooner. So being up even say 15mins earlier would make all the difference.