Someone said to me recently, “no one reads anything.” Since I write for a living, this should have been discouraging, as I’m sure that was the intention. However, it’s liberating. Who cares what you write? Why worry about the few eyeballs your words do reach… if they even do have to scramble pretty far down a terribly long, poorly constructed, and winding sentence like this one? We’re adults here, right? It’s your choice to read or click away.
And for the most part, readers do click away. You have about 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they move on. Surely you’ve heard that before? Isn’t that boring? Who cares!
Too many words!
In fact, most people who even CLICKED the link to read this post have already gone away! If they don’t read, I say, screw em. You and I, dear reader, can have our own long wild weirdo word party (sans punctuation) and fuck all the people who don’t read. These first few paragraphs were to just slough off the word haters anyway. Bye!!
(Whispering to you as they leave) What are they even doing on the internet anyway if they don’t read? Watching youtube probably. Video killed content marketing, so how does this blog exist?
Over the last 10 years, I’ve made my living mostly through writing words down in a particular order. Could be for documentation, instructions, to persuade someone to consider a purchase… Writing isn’t my problem usually. It’s editing it down that’s hard. Trying to winnow out the canoe of words so the reader can hop in and go somewhere with it.
I have a surfeit of words. Or as a colleague said to me recently “too many words.”
At work, I have to pare down into bullet points and outlines so someone can capture the idea without needing to see details. If we’re talking about birds-eye views, I’m not talking about sharp “eagle eyes” and not even owl eyes who can spot prey in the starlight of a new moon. I’m talking about a myopic seagull who takes a rough guess at any garbage passing on the beach, picks it up, and tosses it to see if something shakes out. (Seagulls actually have great eyesight, so you have to imagine a myopic seagull.)
Here on my blog, I resolve to ramble more and let loose “my barbaric yawp” as Whitman encourages his readers. Because why the hell not?
On blogging more and deleting less
I have a pattern in my creative work. Like some kind of ouroboros – I spend my time making and unmaking everything. Painting over paintings, ripping out my knitting, unpublishing, deleting, throwing out, and erasing. I go in a circle.
- Why do anything?
- Everything is meaningless.
- Then, why not just do something?
I have resolved so many times to blog more. And today, I do it again. Because I’m lazy I started by trawling my drafts. Felt stupid to discover I had unpublished a bunch of posts because at some point I decided no one cared about what had to say about pizza, or whatever.
I even found this little post about beachcombing in Mayo which never got an outing because apparently there was “no point” to it. Well, I just published it, so there!
If it doesn’t matter that I wrote a post about pizza or mauve rocks, and no one cares, surely there’s no point in erasing it either. Meaning, if everything is meaningless and pointless surely, why not just do SOMETHING instead of nothing?
I can’t flourish like this and live my life in half starts and doubts. It’s debilitating. Even if you never finish, even if no one reads, even if it adds up to nothing, and it’s all eventually forgotten… surely why not just do something anyway?
This seems relevant at the moment. I also discovered I had a whole post I drafted years ago, which included this poem – and I never published that either.
Put something in – by Shel Silverstein
Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-grumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.
The roar of a surf-tormented shore
The surf-tormented shore is from Poe’s Dream within a dream, and his vision that we’re all desperately grasping seems to sum it all up pretty well. We’re consuming and producing more and more as a society. Flooding the market, and flooding the oceans with plastic, and flooding our lives with so much junk.
In my own lifetime, I’ve gone from carefully collecting all my correspondence and photos, to having entire digital decades lost on firewire drives and old computers I can’t access anymore. I’ve gone from cherishing and archiving a handful of precious letters handed down three generations, to leaving basically nothing but a pile of digital detritus.
My mother, an antique dealer has seen people go from cherishing and collecting special items to basically getting rid of absolutely everything. The younger generations can’t afford homes, they move jobs every few years following work. Why bother with your gran’s old china closet. And who wants china? Who even has dining rooms, — or dinner — anymore?
My mum’s antique shop has closed recently. And that is sad. There’s been so much production ramped up since the 90s, you can have everything NEW. All MDF, click together, use up, and chuck it out.
I saw this recently, and it seems relevant.
It’s death anxiety that drives these wasteful behaviours. Death anxiety makes us hate people who are not like us (will add the research link later!) Death anxiety makes life meaningless.
Capitalism has denied us the symbolic immortality of handing down a precious teacup to only be replaced with… well, garbage. As in the example of a dear friend’s father who gave her a trunk full of beanie babies at the height of their popularity as some kind of fuzzy trousseau. Yes, it was a wedding gift! I almost feel bad using this as an example because it’s embarrassing.
(See, since I’m rambling- a critique of capitalism fits RIGHT IN with this rant on writing more! Did you make it this far? I’m handing out freeking symbolic gold stars 🌟 for you, my reader 🌟!)
Of course a teacup is worthless in the market value sense, but if you have a story attached to it, if you KNOW who drank from it, and if it matters to you that this actual cup was carefully packed and carried by your great-grandmother across oceans, used on special occasions… then it’s worth more than 50p in a charity shop. It’s incomparable to a beanie baby, because you can’t drink a warming cup of tea, and think fondly of generations past by wringing out tea from a beanie baby.
I love this comic about “Amusing ourselves to death.” Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us; Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Maybe they are both right, I should really read that book. Other recommendations welcome!
Well, dear reader, you made it. I don’t have a nice tidy conclusion or call to action. I don’t even have time to finish this off. But you made it, and I want to thank you.
Oh, look at your lovely old body, your grey hair! Rest your weary bones here at the end of this blog post. About 20 people came here to start with, and about 8.5 of them were gone in the first 8 seconds. It was gruesome. 1.5 of you limped along, but only YOU made it. Let me make you a cup of tea in this special teacup I mentioned earlier.
So many words!! How did you manage? I’m listening.