For years I've hesitated to add to the blogosphere. There's no denying that there's a lot of amusing, entertaining, informative, heart-rending, compassionate, committed, useful (etc., etc.) stuff there but there's also so much garbage. It can be quite depressing reading the inarticulate ramblings of people with nothing to say. But, of course, none of my minor gripes is relevant when placed against the democratisation it represents. Voices are heard nowadays. Blogging may have recreated the Tower of Babel, but it's also liberated the most important people (i.e. the 'ordinary' ones) and given them a platform.

All of which may imply that what I'm offering here is something of significance and import (which, I know, is a tautology, but which works for me because of its rhythm - my apologies). Sorry to disappoint you but, despite a towering intellect, more charisma than I can handle, and the charm of an emasculated Hugh Grant, I have little to add to the sum of human knowledge. (And I'm forced to point out that the previous claims with regard to my pre-eminence are examples of British humour. I constantly find that there are many people who are so serious and earnest about the whole business of living and communicating that they fail to spot irony and react as if every word spoken is a literal truth - all of which makes the irony more delicious still for the rest of us.)

Which raises several questions. Is there any truth which isn't literal? Is it legitimate to say A truth? Isn't there only THE truth? And is it acceptable to begin a paragraph with a relative pronoun? Or with a sentence which contains no main verb? Oh, and what function is performed by the adjective 'emasculated'? Discuss.

You see? I'm doing exactly what I complained of - writing rubbish, solving nothing. Already, I've forgotten what prompted me to start this entry (except perhaps the rather plaintive note reminding me that I hadn't contributed a blog yet, which made me feel that I should maybe wander about ringing a bell and yelling 'Unclean').

And what has this got to do with crime writing? Nothing. Ah, which reminds me after all why I started writing this. It's an act of shameless self-promotion. I've co-written a book called Just Write, which is ostensibly a guide for students new to academic writing but which actually sets out some simple guidelines for anyone writing almost anything. It came out of my work as a Writing Fellow at various Scottish universities. I was appointed and suddenly had to ask myself exactly what the writing process was for me. In the course of analysing (a grand word for a simple process) my techniques, I began to understand that rather than 'write a novel' or 'write a thesis', or even 'write an essay', we perform a series of much smaller tasks, which eventually cohere into the novel/thesis/essay or whatever. Not exactly Nobel prize material, but worth noting. And that's it. The idea is to take the fear out of writing. More than that, though, it's a source of enormous pleasure to spend some time with a young person and, through encouraging their own critical thinking, help them to realise that:

they're not thick,

they can write, and

writing isn't necessarily a chore; it can be a pleasure.

The more access people have to words and to the power and pleasure they offer, the more civilised we may become. And although I actually believe and mean what I've just said, I'm fully aware of the irony in the notion that anything happening today qualifies as civilised.

So I've blogged. Apologies for the rambling. I won't do it again (unless I'm provoked).

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Comment by Bill Kirton on May 26, 2007 at 12:30am
You weren't supposed to provoke me, Ro, but since yours is the first ever response to my first ever blog, I guess there's a sort of protocol that requires me to counter or endorse what you say. (And the pomposity of that sentence makes me wonder why, when I step into this sphere, I discard my usual cursing, colloquial persona and write as if I'd breakfasted on a thesaurus.)
So yes, the aim is self-promotion - but with so many beguiling ways of finding 'respite from the blank computer screen', why add more? Already I seem to have collected more friends in Crimespace than I have in a lifetime of smiling and being polite over plates of vol-au-vents and warm, oily Chardonnay. I'm supposed to be a writer, and yet I leap at the chance of - well, more or less anything that resembles the slightest excuse to do something - anything - rather than regurgitate yet more deathless prose.
Maybe it'll be enough just to say I'm a writer and never have to do it. But again, as you know, I'm talking crap again. I can't not write - that's the problem. It's the tyranny of words, the faint cries of unborn characters, the utter reality of our fictions - these are the triggers for our addiction.
We obviously need help.
Comment by Rosemary Harris on May 25, 2007 at 10:45pm
I'm here to provoke you. It may have been rubbish, but it was so entertaining. I laughed out loud at the bell-ringing.....(not rubbish at all, of course.) What are we all doing here if not some sort of self-promotion? Buy my book, pay attention to my crap opinions, give me a few minutes respite from the blank computer screen. Nothing wrong with that...

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