I am very aware that I’m posting a lot at the moment and I’m creating a confused web of content that is incessantly referring to itself. Apologies for that. As I start this post I’m paranoid that I might be getting hard to follow and keep up with. The paradox is that the more I post, the more aware I am of the lack of quality control. I know that I should let things stew for a bit longer but never in my entire blogging life have I managed to give my thoughts the time they deserve when presented in this format. Rapidfire posting is my preferred mode of production.
This posting frequency is definitely counter-intuitive to being read — and I’m okay with that — but I am also appreciative of the support I get from the few people who do sometimes read what I word-vomit up here and I don’t want to overwhelm and bore those people with unnecessary buckets of the stuff…
This blog is only six months old (although there is far more than six months worth of material here by now) and the most flattering comments I’ve received about it so far have been about how my fervour is encouraging others to (re)engage with the blogosphere themselves. I’d like that more than anything. The last thing I want to feel like I’m doing here is talking to myself (even though that is surely an inevitability no matter how many people I add to my blogroll). Twitter offsets that feeling somewhat but engaging in conversation with others over long-form posts is something I would definitely like to encourage.
There is always a reticence to do so, however, and there is perhaps a feeling that to blog (especially if you are involved or pursuing academia) is inherently onanistic. Axxonhorror, new to blogosphere (welcome!), captures the feeling well. I’m sure their first post will speak truth to many people’s blogging experiences. How many times I’ve found myself writing posts like this, interrogating the desire to write by writing and not writing.
Most of the time I’m steeped in self-critical indolences, so always considered the idea of creating and maintaining a blog to be pathetic self-indulgence and a wasteful addition of never-to-be-read words to the vast information oceans. I’ve felt it was a safeguard too: to spare myself the future painful awkwardness of rereading or even merely knowing about the existence of formerly written sentences I immediately loathe. I’ve decided to accept the inevitable embarrassment, as perhaps surprisingly, there still exists some primal impulse towards cognitive action in my unpleasant brain, some desire to write cogent posts, organise mental activity, thoughts, and information. A will-to-think? No, mostly it’s just a means to more worthily procrastinate my degree (maths), devoting some part of my dilettante behaviour to blogging, which is marginally better than some of the alternatives of wasting time.
I’ve been asked a few times how I manage to write so much and for tips on making writing into a habit but the drive behind what I do is just as Axxonnhorror describes it. It makes me wonder what kind of image people have of me in their minds: a studious guy who lounges around all day reading and writing, furiously typing out essays on a daily basis. I only wish that were the case.
To tell you the truth, at the moment I have very little time on my hands. My day jobs have been relentless so far this year and I was sick for most of December and January, run down but unable to afford a break. (No sick leave for the precariat). The time needed to write in-depth essays or work on other projects was something I lost around the time this blog came into being but without such projects I’m left feeling purposeless. This blog a hobby I take far too seriously as I desperately look for job satisfaction from everywhere but the jobs I’m paid for. In essence, it is an excuse to turn my otherwise languorous depression into a neurotically productive one.
Productive depression is something I think is alien to most, and that’s no surprise when we function under the auspices of being productive members of society — that central spire around which all mental illness turns: if you’re not productive, of course you’re unwell.
For me, when I’m depressed and anxious, writing becomes a quick fix and a distraction. There is a self-destructive mania to working on a post at the expense of other life tasks. It is an opportunity to step into and live inside my own head in a way that the majority of my day forbids. It’s an attempt at privately grounding myself whilst, at the same time, being an attempt to public flaying myself.
Now I wake up every morning and feel that constant and insatiable WordPress itch that I am desperate to scratch, like a cigarette craving. I have an unhealthy dependence on the endorphin hit that comes from pushing that “Publish…” button. In this way, hitting that button is closely associated with my own sense of self-worth. It’s all a superficial attempt to keep depression at bay which is, in itself, fuelled by depression. If I was content with my life, I probably wouldn’t be spending so much time here. The WordPress phone app doesn’t help with this as I’m able to work on posts in every spare moment of the day (and I do). Writing is jouissance is suffering. I don’t blog from home, picking at my library of knowledge. I blog from the bus, trying to forget about the day I’ve had or am going to have.
All of this is, I hope, obvious; a reality that is generally known but left unsaid. The intention is not to respond to the question “Woah how do you blog so much?” with a glib “I hate myself”. The currents at play are complex but the discomfort of talking about them frankly risks contaminating the function of the outlet. There is, perhaps, a more impersonal way to approach this that allows for a return to our usual programming…