Five Years

What a surprise. If you’d asked me five years ago whether I thought this blog would still be going today, I’d have replied “What’s a blog?” But if you’d asked me an hour later, after my brother had mentioned blogging in passing during a phone call, and after I’d subsequently investigated and almost accidentally written my opening post here, I’d have told you that I’d doubt my interest would last five months. Or even five minutes. Yet here I am.

Why do I bother? Well, if you are in any way a regular reader you’ll know that I rarely do. This thing called “life” keeps getting in the way a lot of the time, and I am usually perfectly happy for it so to do. Unlike some of those ridiculously prolific – and for some reason, usually right-wing – bloggers out there, who seem able to spend much of their working day writing on their blogs about, say, how inefficient the public sector and its work-shy employees are, I simply don’t have the time to write anything from work, and much to my chagrin work has recently taken up more of my time that I would prefer. Even when I’m not at work, the children’s shocking lack of self-sufficiency is still such that my potential prattling-time here is often curtailed, especially during the school holidays when I am usually engaged as a metaphorical plate-spinner cum referee. Add in an impending holiday to Cornwall, and other ongoing real-life events, and with one thing and another I’m amazed I’ve even found the time to write this over-long commemoration of my five years of being largely ignored in cyberspace.

Another reason for my infrequent output is, I guess, a running out of ideas. Up until five years ago I’d had a short lifetime of pent-up pet theories with nowhere to go. That all changed with this blog, and at first there were loads of thoughts that I wanted to air and get out of my system; but now, while I wouldn’t say the well is exactly dry, it more often seems less worthwhile for me to dredge up another bundle of opinions that aren’t too dissimilar to what the next blogger is thinking. I try to write only when I think I hold an opinion that I haven’t heard expressed elsewhere, or where I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I have a different twist or angle on a subject. Very often I don’t think that is the case, and so this place will stay silent for a few weeks or more, save for those Twitter updates. Sure, the odd flurry of posts may escape me from time to time, but whether that signifies a burst of inspiration or simply the fact that I’ve found myself with a bit of time on my hands and blogging on my mind, I will leave for you to decide.

I guess I’ve settled into a frame of mind where I view my readership as imaginary – as, indeed, it largely is – and that more and more I am writing for myself alone. A case in point is this post, one of my personal favourites, and so an almost perfect example of my current attitude. Were I to visualise a real, living and breathing person reacting to reading that story, I imagine it would be a somewhat tortured, bemused and befuddled “WTF?” So I don’t do anything of the kind; I just write the thing, occasionally re-read it, and my imaginary reader, being a mirror of myself, considers it to be a piece of some worth.

It is an illusion that I think best explains the secret my longevity. If I wanted a large and loyal following for this blog then I would probably write differently and more often, and to read and comment on more blogs than I do; but I gave up that ambition of popularity long ago, and I have since become accustomed to my niche in the blogosphere. It suits me fine. And anyway, show me a really popular and frequently updated blog and the chances are, with a handful of rare exceptions, that I’ll show you a depressing, steaming pile of shite that makes one despair of humanity. The blogs I am mostly drawn to are exactly those rarely updated, quirky and often less-popular blogs where I feel more of a personal affinity with the writer, where the arrival of a new post in my RSS reader is akin to the joy of receiving a hand-written letter through the post; I often approach those more prolific bloggers’ updates in Bloglines with a heavy heart, a feeling reminiscent of hearing the thump on the mat of another load of junk from a mailing list I keep meaning to remove myself from.

So charge your glasses if you will and let’s raise a toast: to all of those infrequent bloggers out there who for me make the blogosphere what it truly is; and to those rare beasts the prolific and popular bloggers who aren’t crap, the exceptions that prove the rule, and who are usually ignored by the greater media as a consequence; and to everyone who has never written a blog, or no longer writes one, but who would (still) write a fantastic one if they did. You know who you are. And while it is considered bad form to toast yourself, since I write under a pseudonym this is me, Andy, raising a glass to my alter-ego, Quinn, and to the past five years of his witterings hereabouts.

And here’s to another five years?