Saturday, August 01, 2020

Stocktaking... from Fenix bay to lockdown Frome

This blog began so many years ago I couldn't remember when, or even why. It turned out to be September 2006, with this rationale: 

It's been a busy summer, and I've been aware that most of what I'm doing never makes it to my website. Maybe it seems like short notice, or local appeal, or I'm not sure where best to post my pictures or commentaries.  So I thought a blog would be a great way of celebrating the wonderful variety of things I'm lucky enough to be doing. I decided I'd give myself a few guidelines, based on Jack Kerouak's 'list of essentials':
Something that will find its own form
Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
                Well, Kerouac had a few more, but that's a start.


First it was random, then publication became more regular and eventually the theme morphed from 'A Writer's World' to a general arts-and-culture overview of life in Frome and surrounds. By now, though my trips and holidays were celebrated briefly, the main emphasis had become Frome-centric - which led, excitingly, to me being commissioned to write an 'alternative history' of the town. Reading the existing histories, excellent though they are, made me determined to shift the emphasis from state and church to the men and women in the streets, and researching for Frome Unzipped, from prehistory to post-punk was a chance for me to hear fascinating tales from people I'd never have otherwise met. 
Looking back at the first years, the posts were cram full of me...  me walking the coastal cliffs of Crete and cycling across Cyprus for commissioned travel articles, me leading writing courses in other lands from Chile to Cambodia and in a diversity of venues including Shepton Mallet prison, me with Annabelle Macfadyen in a silly hat doing outdoor theatre for children, me performing in events from downtown San Fransisco to the top of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, me & the Liquid Jam poets recording a CD, and me & Hazel Stuart as Live & Lippy making a DVD - thanks to Will Angeloro & Howard Vause! 

So 'my blog' remains a curious hybrid, a feral creature untamed but tolerated, and I've been amazed and delighted to see from the stats that literally thousands of people have dipped in and many even follow it regularly. Posted now virtually weekly, it's never a comprehensive account as the privacy of my family and close friends is always respected, and there's no solicited selling either.  It's still a personal thing, a self-indulgence and a celebration ... and the comments on Facebook are an extra delight. (Thanks David Goodman for thr performance pix.)

Ten years on, the range became less self-centric, with frequent theatre reviews as I was writing regularly for Plays International with several of my plays produced in Bristol as well as working with Rosie 'Nevertheless' Finnegan to put on 'pub theatre' productions in Frome. And since lockdown, Frome is my living world: what's streamed or recorded may find a place but local views, literally, predominate.

Why has this post taken such a retrospective tone? Because it may be my last. The 'new improved' format of Blogger is angled for advertising and sales, and my irrelevant scrapbook is not so easy to create now.  For me, this was primarily writing practice - my 'morning pages' notes and thoughts, semi-edited. I've always recommended this practice to anyone who wants to write for publication - even self-publication: it prevents that tendency to self-indulgence from which most of us suffer.  And it's a way of self-identification as a writer - 'I write, therefore I am', to adapt that Descartian concept which, sadly for our planet, has downgraded any form of life not appearing to 'think' - trees, oceans, insects, all of nature's vitality somehow not 'existing' in any important way... but that's another story. Maybe I'll stick to posting political rants on Facebook now. Thank you for reading. I'll leave you with an entry from fourteen years ago: another musing on the function and purpose of blogs. Maybe this will be my last word, or maybe the last words of it will be the new start.

October -9, 2006
Hazel and I were discussing the function - or do I mean the mystic hypnotic power - of blogs while walking in Longleat yesterday (that's us in the Reclamation Yard after we finished filming Things That Are Weird). She's been blogging for a while, giving the rundown of her training for the big HepC trek in Nepal later this month. I'm interested that writers, on the whole, have been slow to subscribe to this new means communication - I suppose it seems a bit of a busman's holiday, to some, to scrawl on screen without commission or payment. But the current issue of the Journal of the Society of Authors includes a cautious endorsement from 'three authors who blog'. Purposes are varied. Shoo Raynor has used his to mourn the passing of his cat and extol the benefits of giving up milk. For Norman Geras it was the 'fun' aspect that hooked him. The beauty of a blog, he points out, is you can do what you want and you don't have to answer to an editor, or submit to copy-editing either. Tim Heald has another take entirely: the commercial motivation of posting reports that will encourage speaker's agencies to contact him.
I guess there are as many reasons for blogging as for writing anything - Primo Levi whittled that down to 9 but maybe the actual figure is closer to the number of literate humans on the planet - and they're all aspects of the same essential impulse: to yell at a confusing and often indifferent world "I'm here" and to whisper to ourselves "This is me."
               My name is Crysse and I am a blogger...