There are times when I sit down to write – whether because I feel I need to for the sake of my sanity or simply because it is Tuesday and I have nothing ready to post – and I have no idea of what I intend to prattle on about. It is hugely important at these times that I do not get distracted. (Prattle, by the way, according to Google, means to talk at length in a foolish or inconsequential way, so at least I can be sure that I choose my words well. Google, if you are interested (according to Google) means that somebody – I have no idea who, I will need to look it up – invented one word just because it sounds like another; in this case Googol (itself invented by Milton Sirotta) which is 10100, e.g. lots. Anthimeria, incidentally, is what allows me to google although, if I’m honest, what it actually means at the moment is that I’ve lost my thread…
Anyway, here I am, all ready to go, but with no idea of where I’m going. It’s not like writer’s block: if I could just think of what to write about, I would have no trouble at all in writing about it. Writer’s block, as some of you may remember, has been the subject of a number of my past blogs (My Unceasing Battle with Pratchett’s Californians and A Return to California for instance) and simply because some of you may remember, I dare not use it again. How could I possibly be sure that I was not repeating myself? How could I possibly be sure that I was not repeating myself? Well, other than actually reading what I wrote then – and there are some lengths to which I will not go (such as ending a sentence with a preposition or starting one with ‘Well’) – I could not, and so won’t…
Anyway, as I was saying, the problem is not in writing, but in deciding what to write about. (About what to write?) As a rule I would just contemplate what has recently happened to me, but latterly that has not proved to be quite so effective. Nothing much happens to me these days, and what does, has generally happened several times before. The odd discussion over how to stem the bleeding after I have tried to trim the hairs up my nose with the kitchen scissors is just acceptable – is it? – but probably not suitable for regular repeats, and I suspect that some of my more singular little peccadilloes may have already outstayed their welcome, so where do I go to now?
I could look to the news as a resource, but I seldom publish what I have written before the news has become history. I am very aware of my propensity to be asinine and I try not to lay anything before a potential six billion souls before I have had time to check out that I have not got it completely around my neck. The news has a terrible habit of un-making itself within a few days. Besides, even when my output is in no way topical, I need to check it again and again before I post, as much of it, if I am perfectly frank, has a disturbing tendency to drift towards the drivel if I’m not careful (I was about to tell you here that drivel simply means ‘nonsense’, but I got sidetracked by the fact that topical can mean ‘directly applied to the body’ and I wondered if I should rewrite the previous sentence). That’s ok, I am happy with nonsense, but I do have standards. I have a file (quite full) on my computer titled ‘Not Good Enough’ and whilst I am aware that most of my readers will now be wondering ‘Exactly how bad do things have to be?’ I would ask them (and by definition you, now that you have made it thus far) to just think yourselves lucky that it is there at all.
Local news is a possibility, but, If I’m honest, I would struggle to make some of the stories any more bizarre than they already are and I’m not at all certain as to how I would even start to work on ‘Door bell camera picks up man urinating on hydrangea’ or ‘Local man’s third cousin knows someone who once met a man who spoke to The Dalai Lama’s stepmother in Swahili’. By and large, I think, I have to find other seams to mine. (The Dalai Lama’s favourite hobbies, incidentally, are listed as meditating, gardening and mending watches, although not, probably at the same time. Surely, if he bought himself a sundial he would be set for the day.)
The worst thing of all is the nagging feeling that I started the day with the certain knowledge of what I intended to say. Well, not necessarily the day if I’m honest, it could just have been the journey up the stairs. The amount of time I need to forget something is breathtakingly short. I have stopped worrying about it. Often it will come back to me when I least expect it, and anyway, ideas are a little like buses: there’ll always be another one along any minute. If only I knew where the bus stop was… There is something of the Time Portal about the foot of the stairs. Somehow in every terraced ascent, I appear to head off in one direction whilst my memory lopes off in another. Sadly, if I turn around to return from whence I came, I seldom find my lost marbles. In truth, I am far more likely to lose another. Pen and paper are my only salvations, which is fine as long as they too are not at the top of the stairs.
Anyway, whichever way I do it, sooner or later I have to sit myself down at the laptop and… Now, where was I?
‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to erh…’ – the real reason Robert Plant will no longer sing the song.