A recent post by a fellow blogger got me thinking, as all good blogs should do, why do I write a blog?
I know why I started posting, as an aid to convalescence, but why do I continue with it, now that the initial impetus has ceased to be a factor? I'm sure there are as many reasons out there as there are bloggers, so what's the Tense rationale, though that's too grand a word for it?
This evening, a comment by Lena Rafael in Phonebox, a local magazine, caught my eye, "If you want to write, you are not a writer. If you have to write - keep a pen and paper to hand, at all times; wake up to scribble dialogue at two in the morning - then you are probably a writer."
I'm not sure I fully go along with that, as inspiration may come in the pouring rain, miles from civilisation, with hands full of optics, whilst I witness some spirit-lifting moment of wildlife behaviour. But I know what the author meant.
I've always read much more than I've written. I never kept a diary as a child and probably wouldn't have known what to put in one in the accepted sense. I don't think that "Woke up, went to school, did homework, fell asleep," is quite what was intended for a supposed expression of personal feelings. Mind you, as as a British fellow and from the North East of England to boot, I'm pretty much hamstrung in that department anyway. I did develop a bit of a writing style in my mid teens, thanks to the tutelage of the inspirational Mrs Gates, a down-to-earth, no-nonsense English teacher. But then came late teens and my nascent creativity found other, less cerebral, outlets!
Many years later, I would succumb to the occasional literary urge, but these would be for local club magazines and not solely a vehicle for His Tenseness. A birding tale here, a meeting report there, and always with an eye for the audience rather than full-blown free expression.
So here we are, up to date, with an opportunity to write what I want, at my own pace. However, I blithely assumed that I was writing to be read, but now that I've had a chance to ponder on the concept, I suspect that the stream of words that sprout from my fingers and appear on the screen are something more primal than that.
Sure, it's great to have followers and receive comments as a vindication (or not!) of the output, they are both the lubricant for the moving parts and the regulating governor of the mechanism. But the engine is pure me, natural history is the fuel and the suspension settings are programmed for off-road.
I write to express my thoughts, because I believe that the words, like the wildlife I see, are better off running free in their natural habitat. I write to satiate some creative urge that I don't understand, and don't wish to understand, lest the knowledge spoil the experience.
Some days the muse is invisible in the fog of our complicated lives, lost in the turmoil of a multitude of inputs. However, occasionally, when the goddess finally appears out of the gloom and the phrases start to form unbidden, it's a little akin to having a Merlin-engined Spitfire strapped to the keyboard. A veritable 12 cylinder harmony of resonant sound, frequency-shifting with the Doppler effect of words travelling across the page. So in that sense, it is a need to write, rather than a want. Perhaps that's not far from describing it is as a drug?
[Gathers oneself for a moment and breathes out slowly]
Ahem, I appear to have mixed my metaphors and modes of transport a bit there. Sorry!