Right back at the beginning, when this blog was only a little bloglet (it now amounts to something approaching 30,000 words), a creature of that name made an appearance. It lives in a dark cupboard under the stairs and spends its life writing a blog. Here’s what I knew about it then: “[The bloglet] has probably got black or dark-brown velvety fur, very large paws, round green eyes and an expression that’s rapacious and obsessive but has a kind of maniacal humour about it. If you should happen to meet one, you can keep it happy by feeding it crumpets – so long as they’re spread with real butter and not margarine. If it’s margarine, well…” I should have said, of course, that the green eyes are not just round but enormous, and fix you balefully with their blogletic stare.
So far I haven’t actually met a bloglet. They’re very good at hiding and, like the slugs that haunt my kitchen (well, this is Devon), only come out at night. However, I’m about to have a cupboard put in under my stairs and am fully expecting (hoping? dreading?) that a bloglet will take up residence there. Apart from anything else, its industry would put my recent bloglessness to shame. The bloglet would effortlessly produce at least a post a day, the subject-matter ranging from the finer points of Old Norse grammar to the tax-avoiding iniquities of Starbucks and taking in on the way the geology of little-known parts of Greenland and the next series of Downton Abbey. It can be vituperative, sentimental, trenchant, poetic; its style is as lucid and elegant as you could wish; its fluency never fails it; and it knows the difference between a comma and a semicolon. It can exist in the dark on almost nothing and, if buttered crumpets are not forthcoming, will forage for whatever it can find, especially jam that has a nice crust of sugar on the top because it’s been in the fridge too long. The bloglet is entirely self-sufficient – apart from stealing people’s food – and lives only to write. Adelina (q.v.) is very frightened of it. She thinks it may eat people and possibly aardvarks too, but I’ve found no evidence to suggest this. However, it can destroy books (not its own, of course) with a vengeance, if margarine should happen to disgrace the aforesaid crumpets. Apparently it has a particular vendetta for the unpublished works of would-be writers like your present blogger.
All in all, having a bloglet in the house might be something of a mixed blessing. But what it would undoubtedly be is a reminder to KEEP WRITING, which I haven’t been doing lately. Aside from the time-consuming task of marking three dissertations, two of which left rather a lot to be desired – including a coherent writing style – I’ve been shying away from putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, at least for ‘proper’ writing. When I first got the consultant’s report on my novel I fell back for a while into the Black Hole of Discouragement, a place familiar to many people in this game. I did come out again and do some more work on the next novel, but now that’s on hold while I finish the revision of the first one (actually the second one I’ve written, though the previous one never got beyond the first draft). In the meantime I’ve gone back to scribbling in my personal journal – which isn’t really ‘writing’ – and spending far too much time surfing the internet and watching videos on YouTube. My semi-plausible excuse has been one of those colds that aren’t quite full-blown (so to speak) but tend to hang around and sap your energy for doing anything constructive. I think I’m getting over it now.
Some of my surfs (well, quite a lot) have been about a particular actor whom I happened to see in a certain TV series. Something about the pathos of his acting, as well as his rather distinguished good looks, sent me into a sort of teenage flurry – the second one at my advanced age. (“Get a life,” I can hear you saying, and I can assure you I have got one.) Last time what came out of it was a short story that I was quite pleased with, but that hasn’t happened this time. Instead, among all the pictures and YouTube clips and reviews and interviews, I’ve discovered the world of fandom. Not, I hasten to add, that I would want to describe myself as a fan – though I did send him a letter of appreciation, couched in such measured language it would have fitted one of the heavyweight papers. But seemingly there are a lot of people out there who get pleasure from identifying themselves as fans of a particular star or TV series. Quite a few seem to enjoy multiple fandoms, which is probably healthy. I would guess that the average age of these fans is somewhere between sixteen and thirty. I’m talking mainly about female fans, or perhaps gay men; I haven’t to date explored any fan sites for female stars.
At the risk of sounding as naive and uncool as someone who has never heard of the iPhone, I have to say this is a new world for me. On the sites I’ve looked at people post photos, comments and gifs, tiny clips lasting a few seconds which play endlessly in a loop, so that you can watch the object of your admiration and lust forever smiling and unsmiling, or raising and lowering a hand. Or never-endingly going through a snatch from that scene – you know, the one where he gets into bed with… I’ve been learning the language as well, and resorting to the Urban Dictionary for translations. For instance: “OMG I so ship Henrietta and Charles. So many feels and creys after last night when he didn’t come back.” (I’ve made up the example.) Or ” ___ ___” [supply the name of your choice] hawt dayum.” In case I’m not the only person on the planet who doesn’t know all the vocabulary, ‘to ship’ is to want the relationship to happen, ‘feels’ are feelings, ‘creys’ are cries, i.e. crying, and ‘hawt dayum’ equals ‘hot damn’, which I think is self-explanatory. Fans of a particular drama series may also have their own ‘headcanon’ about the characters’ lives, as opposed to the ‘canon’ of the drama itself, and become so immersed in it that they end up writing fan fiction – which of course was how Fifty Shades of Grey started out. The fan fiction I’ve glanced through is a lot better than I expected it to be, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it. What it does show is the extraordinary hold that both the characters and the actors – if the two can be separated – have over our imaginations. Even if we wouldn’t identify ourselves as fans, through the television we have an intense relationship with people we don’t even know in real life, and who may only be characters in someone else’s fictional world.
I seem to have strayed far away from the bloglet, who is still busy blogging away under the stairs somewhere. Or have I? After all the bloglet is a fictional character (Shh! It had better not hear me say that) whose life I’ve been treating as though it were real. For all I know it may spend its time creating fan sites and blogging about them, or maybe someone has even started a bloglet fan site, with gifs of those great green eyes forever blinking out at you. But perhaps I should stop blogging about the bloglet and get on with some proper writing.