To blog

They say blogging is dead. They said that fifteen years ago. But people still blog and people still read blogs. Blogging is all about expressing yourself, expecting nothing in return.

If another asked me today if they should start to blog, I’d say, “Why not?” If that’s the medium they felt most comfortable expressing themselves through, I’d say go ahead. Join the club. I’ll read it too.

Sharing draft

Hmm, perhaps I won’t publish my writing in installments after all. Maybe that’s not the right approach. Perhaps I will share it another way. Email hello at tjbowes dotco dotuk and I’ll send a hard copy, inshallah. Summer reading; no urgency.

Gone

The trouble with blogging is that you have no idea who your readers are. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Mostly I take solace and refuge in that anonymity, but every now and then something happens which causes me to pause for thought. No, not so much pause: I will be found scrambling to immediately unpublish everything.

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Followers

Relax, nobody is reading the nonsense I write, except for the devoted few. True, spammers descend en masse whenever I write about writing or relationships, to bestow their likes in the hope I’ll reciprocate. My loyal longterm readers, I fear, I have completely alienated, though one or two inexplicably remain, hopeful that I may one day pen something they find interesting again.

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Books and the bin

I have written a number of books through the years, always momentarily published and then withdrawn. One of them was entitled, To Honour God. That one was only ever intended for my family, to help them come to terms with my journey of faith. Only, by the time I had completed it, I had already grown out of it and felt like flinging it into the bin. At my beloved’s behest, I still published it briefly in paperback form in 2008, but it only lasted a few months in the wild before I removed it from circulation once more.

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Be real

Don’t follow to be followed. Don’t be an adult pretending to be a kid. Don’t be a man pretending to be a girl. Don’t write what you think will get you noticed. Don’t set out with ulterior motives. Don’t hang out in the hope that others will engage you. Only a fool would fall for the freshly minted account seeking an audience — waving and prodding — before you’ve said anything at all. If you’re for real, your authentic voice will speak volumes. So be real. Be true to yourself. Don’t be fake; fakeness only reveals you.

The art of empathy

An observer might legitimately ask how I went from holding old foes in gross contempt to empathising with them, seeing the world from their perspective. For that, I largely credit my writing. In the first novel I ever wrote, I had two sets of characters: the good and the bad. In that first draft, there was no nuance in the world and no attempt to understand the other.

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Words

So often I think to myself that I should cease writing and delete everything I have published. But other times — like today — I wonder why on earth I decided to obliterate so much all those years ago. Diaries I once wrote, I tore to shreds. Creative writing I tossed into the bin. So many projects I bulk deleted.

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Dialogue

Recent writing has helped me make sense of events, past and present. As I engaged with a character this afternoon, a thought occurred to me: if only we had thought to have a conversation. A frank discussion then could have changed everything. I realise now I was the one entirely to blame for conflict years back, but my ignorance blinded me. Now I think I understand. It only took a quarter of a century. Belatedly wise, but alas: only fictional characters now converse.

In the end

And now, this is where I delete everything. The man of perpetual regrets will ultimately obliterate everything he momentarily thought to be good. I’ve written a mountain of words lately, but now my heart aches, so I’ve reverted most of it to draft. Sometimes I wonder: why on earth did I start this in the first place? To my ego I say: just disappear. Be gone.

The power of writing

When you’re young, it can be difficult to make sense of the world. When you’re older, you have the benefit of hindsight and maturity. Things that once were painful or troubling can be viewed with different eyes with the passage of time. Grudges we once carried with us disintegrate eventually, as we finally find ourselves able to put ourselves in another’s shoes.

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Fragments

I realise memories are unreliable. All the more unreliable for the writer of novels, who struggles to separate fact from fiction now, not helped by melancholic bulk-deletions which obliterated every last trace of what I once had written. All I have now are fragments: partial files, providing a limited snapshot of the distant past, most of them indicating that my recollections are incomplete at best.

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Hiccup

Perhaps my writing is just too subtle, or too obscure. Much as I appreciate the input of an editor, I can’t help wondering whether she’s missed the entire point of my novel. Some of her comments are just perplexing. It’s literally about journeys of faith. It’s the thread running through the entire story. This is why I write as an amateur and intend to self-publish. Commercial publishing cannot comprehend or accommodate stories like these. No, but withhold judgement: she has identified plenty of shortcomings that need to be addressed. Calm down. Carry on.

Dev in paradise

A decade ago, I was a fan of buffoonish crime drama, Death in Paradise, set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie. Initially, there was something quite quaint about a stiff-upper-lip British detective being dispatched to a paradise island to investigate a murder. The detective in question was played by actor Ben Miller, and so his character was easily embraced with affection. But, in truth, it was a show that should have died a death long ago.

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Doubtful

I don’t know what I’ve done. I commissioned an editor to review the manuscript I spent my holidays and weekends editing throughout 2021. I’ve spent a fortune on it… but now it’s hit me and thrown me against the wall… what was I thinking? Why did I even write that novel? What was I setting out to achieve? What right did I have to tell that story? What did I do it for? Now I’m thinking to myself: I can never publish this. Now I’m saying: I wouldn’t dare. But after spending so much, do I have a choice now? I feel so blue. Reading it through, I just think to myself: “this utter crap”. Really, I just wonder what I’ve done. Publish and be damned.

Brilliance

Whenever I read truly talented authors, I regret setting pen to paper at all. I have spent twenty-five years honing my art, but still I remain a complete amateur. This realisation hits hard whenever I read their fluent prose, its rhythm dancing inside my soul. Reading their magnificent writing, I truly cringe at my own. What I’d give for the brilliance of the writer.

Why write?

In childhood I was not a writer. I was a daydreamer, certainly, forever composing stories in my head, but I never contemplated writing them down. When asked to write a creative piece in school, I invariably wrote of that quaint subsistence lifestyle I once yearned for. I was frequently castigated by my teachers for penning essays too brief to satisfy their exacting standards. I was too lazy in those days to pen long paragraphs about anything of any worth.

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Going off track

When writing, don’t be afraid to delete a whole chapter and start again when it seems you’ve lost your way. Friday evening’s writing just went in the bin. Saturday night’s writing seems to have got me back on track. Write with a pen and a pair of scissors.

Strange hobby

Writing is a strange hobby, because you end up with repeated bouts of extreme depression while writing… and then you get an even heavier dose when it’s done, which usually ends with you deleting every word in a fit of melancholic self-censorship. If only I had taken up watercolours instead. I could’ve been a happy man.