Foot in mouth

I’m not sure what I was up to in my last post. The introduction to the story wasn’t very coherent and the story itself, well… As one friend of mine put it, ‘it doesn’t have a moral’, and it isn’t really about anything other than – er – porridge, though to be fair the porridge does behave in rather unexpected ways. Nobody has ‘liked’ it or wanted to follow my blog because of it, and I can’t say I’m entirely surprised. I’m not altogether sorry I put it there – I had fun writing it and hoped it might amuse people – but I’m left with the all-too-familiar cringing feeling that I’ve shown myself up: I’ve self-infatuatedly made public something that isn’t appropriate for the public domain. The story was written for, and appreciated by, a friend (not the one above) and wasn’t intended to go any further, until in a show-off moment it sneaked past me into the Blogosphere.

Most of the people I know would have been more circumspect. Either they don’t have a blog at all or, if they do, they post sensible pieces that enhance their credibility as writers. But then, part of me still protests, this is only a blog, and surely a blog is loose and undefined enough to contain whatever you want to put in it. I won’t repeat myself by saying more. I wouldn’t want to get po-faced about what I write here and – up to a point – I don’t mind too much making a fool of myself. If you take the risk of putting things out there, that’s what happens sometimes. Except, of course, that there’s a part of me that does mind and wants to look professional and grown-up – wants, in fact, to look like a proper writer.

But, as writers, aren’t we always in some sense showing ourselves up? We never know what’s going to get past us on to the page, or what it will reveal about us. All kinds of things find their way into fiction, even if it isn’t autobiographical, and if we read it later the response may be, “Oh no! Did I really write about that?” Or, of course, “Wow! I actually wrote about that!” Without the element of involuntary self-disclosure – risky though it may be – many pieces of writing wouldn’t have the rawness and edginess that make them good. Not, I hasten to add, that porridge is in any way raw or edgy – quite the reverse, if I know porridge – but the way the story got out perhaps illustrates the process by which the private gets made public. And the way that writing is in some sense deliberately making the private public – not only putting thoughts on to screen or paper but wanting to get them ‘out there’ where they will be seen. It follows almost inevitably that sometimes what’s put out there is a mistake, but then he who never makes mistakes…

So here I am, shamefaced, extracting my foot from my mouth, ready to expose myself again as I go on writing.


About thebelatedwriter

I'm a baby boomer who has always wanted and tried to write. It was only when I did an MA in Creative Writing in 2010-11 that I dared to take my writing more seriously. I write both poetry and prose and have had a number of poems published. This blog is for my writing friends, my non-writing friends, and anyone else who may be interested in these ruminations.
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3 Responses to Foot in mouth

  1. lucysixsmith says:

    I was thinking recently how it’s interesting that people sometimes use ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ as roughly synonymous with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in relation to pieces of writing — as if the poems or stories need to appear ‘together’ to the world, as we ourselves sometimes feel we need to do. What would writing be like that was really very good but also deliberately, radically weak…?

    Unrelatedly, it strikes me that blog-reading is so very informal/noncommital it might have its own set of rules about some things — I was puzzled once when some complete strangers ‘liked’ a post of mine without the number of ‘views’ going up. A wordpressly malfunction perhaps, or were they just ‘liking’ things without reading them somehow in an attempt to acquire readers for themselves?

    • Yes, I suppose you can ‘like’ a post without reading it. It hadn’t occurred to me.

      I’m wondering now about ‘weak’ and ‘strong’. To me a ‘weak’ piece of writing is one that’s linguistically weak, i.e. the language isn’t doing its job very adequately and doesn’t quite convey the essence of what’s being said. If you define ‘weak’ in that way it would be hard to imagine a good piece of writing that was weak.

  2. I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. What we enjoy writing and posting up, is not always everyone’s cup of tea. That is the risk you take. If you are truly proud of a piece and you felt a sense of accomplishment, then that is what matters most. ❤

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