Autobiography

Some years ago now a friend showed me chapters of an autobiography she was writing, and very good they were too. She said I should give it a go and eventually I did. But unlike her I had no aptitude for it. I began well enough, Hello, my name is Rod and I was born at an early age. But I wasn’t capable of keeping it going. More accurately, I was capable, technically, but completely lacked the motivation to do it. At root, I found myself boring. And if I failed to interest myself, why would I interest anyone else?

A few bright episodes came to mind, especially concerning my travels in Iran, Afghanistan and their aftermath. For instance, when I was finally released from the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Belgrade, a member of staff drove me to the UK Embassy prior to catching a train the following morning. One of his first acts was to drive the wrong way up a one-way street, and while he was at it hoped I would understand that he had a wife and children. Good for him, I thought. But it turned out he was afraid I would contaminate his family with infectious hepatitis. To eliminate this non-existent risk, he put me up for the night in an embassy outhouse, where I slept in a roll of carpet and was wakened with the lark by field telephone.

But if we included events like that in a novel, who would believe us? In any case, taking all such stories together, a string of narrative pearls though it might be, nothing came close to a continuous narrative. I was reminded of a description I had once seen of Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust, which someone had compared to reading Faust by lighting. So how about a succession of dramatic episodes? But that also failed to get me going. Writing biography would be a different matter altogether, provided the subject was of interest.

What follows from this?

Firstly, I think that those bloggers who are most successful are those who take themselves as their subject. Not only do they let strangers into their lives, they open the door and usher them in. If they could offer them refreshments they would. Not everyone can do this, though. I don’t have what it takes.

Secondly, those of us who write fiction give ourselves away all the time. I obviously can’t prove this, it is merely what I think. And some will reveal their hand more than others. I would say I reveal my hand quite a bit. In fiction there is usually an element of self-description at one remove. The reader can infer various things about the writer even if he does not divulge the name of his cat.

 

The Case of the Disappearing Blogger

I followed posts from her for quite a while. They all concerned a book she was writing and her updates generated interest from her followers. Then the book was published, since when not a post, not a funeral note. What are we to make of this? There are several possibilities and I am free-wheeling here.

When she was writing the book she consulted her followers quite a bit. Then, when she had finished, there was no further need to do so. They had served their purpose. She had been using them but with little or no interest in them as individuals in their own right.

When she finished her book she finished her motivation with it. Perhaps the act of writing it was keeping her going, giving her a purpose in life which she had now lost.

Or it may have been that when she dropped her stone in the water there were no ripples. She may have found that depressing.

Maybe her life has taken a new direction. She has run off with a bishop, preferably one who had taken a vow of celibacy.

Or for some reason we cannot know, but would understand if we did, she is unable to continue posting.

Who knows?