Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Telling you things.

I want to tell you things. All sorts of things, but mainly book things. Look at this blog as a table at a café or a bar, a patch of grass on the river bank, a park bench: whatever you want, but let me tell you things, and let yourself tell me things. Come to me, and I'll strike up the conversation. Sit next to me for a few minutes with your tea, your coffee, your glass of coke, and I'll tell you something. I'll tell you that I love Agnes Grey, Clarissa, or Tales of Ovid, and you tell me what you think, if you want to read it, or if you wouldn't read it if it was the last book on earth. We can sit and laugh about how I ruined Middlemarch for myself, or talk about the technical details in Bleak House. You can tell me about your favourite characters in A Brave New World and we can laugh over how I can't remember a single character in Persuasion even though I only read it a month ago. I'll tell you how I read Finnegans Wake in a weekend, and you can tell me one of your 'book achievements'. Let me tell you about how much I hated The Wasp Factory, and you can tell me it isn't your favourite Banks, and you can recommend another one (I may even read it). I'll tell you about how much it rained through April, and how I hope that May is warmer, and you can tell me about the snow. I'll ask you, would you like to read Ulysses with me on Bloomsday, and you can shake your head at me in despair, or say, "I'm game!". 

I don't want to bore you. If you're not in the mood to talk books, then I'll just catch you later, or not. I won't tell you about how I just over-cooked the cauliflower, or that I'm thirsty and can't be bothered to go downstairs and get a glass of water. If you want to talk books, come over, sit with me, but don't feel you have to say anything back. Don't feel that you have to sit with me out of politeness when really all you can think about is settling down with your own book. If you don't want to know that I'm starting The Count of Monte Cristo this week, you don't have to sit with glazed eyes, glancing over my shoulder for someone more interesting to come along. 

And this is blogging, and this is my blog. I'm offering you something, I want to tell you things, but if you don't want to join in, you don't have to. I wish you would, why else would I write these things for you to read? But your participation, whilst desired, is not mandatory. 

Why am I writing this? I've been thinking about blogging and what goes with it. Adam and Allie have said a few words this week about identity and responsibility, and it's made me think of things I want to tell you, not a response, not a critique, just some thoughts other people provoked. This is my side: I'm on the author side. I wrote this. It's up to you, it's entirely up to you what you do with it. If you hate what I am about to write or have written, then it is your call. If you like it, I'd say we had something in common. If I change your mind about something, that is because I caught you in the right mood. And, if you try to make a cake out of this blog post, I'd say you had come to the wrong place!

What responsibilities do I have to you? I want you to understand what I write, but that only goes so far. If I am clear, reasonable, have a decent grip on spelling and grammar, and you come away thinking I am so very wrong to hate George Eliot, then that's on you. I never said anything of the sort, and I don't hate George Eliot. I cannot take the whole burden, just a part of it: this is, after all, a conversation. I am just a human being telling you what I'm thinking about at any given point. I can change my mind as much as anyone, I can read things too fast and lose them, I can ask myself, "Now, why on earth did I say that?". But you know this because I think we all have this in common. I hope, as many people do, that those who read my blog have a good opinion of it. However, what every opinion you may have of me is out of my control.

The only thing I do take responsibility for is not ruining even a second of someone's day. A remark said out of unkindness, thoughtlessness, or ignorance is something I will go out of my way to avoid. It would embarrass and upset me to think someone had been hurt or angered or felt any kind of injustice from something I had written. Even if I hate your favourite book, I hope at the end of the post you understand why.

Adam and Allie both talked about influence, and their blogs reach a much wider audience than mine, so I wonder: does this apply to me? Do I need worry about influencing people? I hope that I never do because I don't think I know what the difference is between influencing, being responsible for, and inspiring a person is when it comes to books. Many months ago, one of my favourite bloggers wrote about a book with such passion and enthusiasm, I made it my mission to get a hold of a copy. Finally, last night, I was able to order it online. Was that blogger responsible for me ordering it? No. She inspired me to, because her love for it moved me. I wanted to feel it. And when it comes in the post, when I come to read it, what if I hate it? Was I mislead? No. Do I find the post and comment, or email her and get angry with her? Of course not. She planted a seed in my mind, made me think, "Maybe I too will love this book". The crucial thing is this: if she was not herself coerced into writing her post, if her life remains unaffected by my decision to buy this book, if she was not acting out of malice, or selfishness, then there is no blame.

Here lies the problem with reviewing, which Adam talked about. Some book blogs do have motivations that we do not know about (hence the drama of the weekend, which until last night I remained blissfully unaware). I myself have only ever been asked to review one book, which I did a few days ago, and I believe the post was perfectly characteristic of this blog and all it's many tangents and side alleys. I would ask you to trust me, however I can't do that. That, too, is your call.

So, forgetting the book world, forgetting other bloggers, what about you and Délaissé? I don't think it requires much thought, and I'm glad of it. I'm here to tell you things, all sorts of things, but mainly book things. I can't educate you, influence you, or take responsibility for you, and I bet you anything you wouldn't want me too. I just want to tell you things, and I would love you to tell me things back. For those of you who comment, and to those of you who read - I will come looking for you every week, sometimes every day, and I'll look forward to all the things you want to tell me, and all the conversations we'll have in the future. This is why I blog. I won't always stay on topic here, but if you want me to on your space, I will.


  1. Hi - just returning the visit you made to my Clarissa post - thanks. I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to say I love Clarissa!
    Have enjoyed reading some of your posts and look forward to many more.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this post!
    I only recently became aware of the current debate as well since a job has grossly interfered with my reading/blogging time, but since I first heard of it, I've felt rather conflicted about "my responsibility as a blogger." I also have a relatively small following and I certainly don't write with the intent of influencing anyone. I do the best I can with my time and ability. I do hope that people will read and enjoy what I have written, but if not, well. . . all I can say is that I have grown a tremendous lot since I started my blog and I hope that if I keep plugging away at it, I'll keep getting better. That's all I can hope for really.

  3. I am also a tiny blogger (with no ambition to be otherwise), and have a hard time seeing myself as an "influence," at least for anything besides the occasional book recommendation. I don't think of myself as a writer; I am not eloquent. I just enjoy book challenges and reading about what other folks are reading.

    You, on the other hand, write lovely posts like this one. :) So thank you.

  4. Your first paragraph is why I blog. I have no thoughts of responsibility or influence; I just like to read and talk about books. :)

  5. Beautiful! I love your writing, very inspiring

  6. I love your post! It is so poetic, and your words are so true. We should just let oneanother be

  7. Beautiful post. I feel the same way about my wee little blog, only I wouldn't have put it quite so eloquently.



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