Every now and again, this blog has a bashful moment. Something happens out of the blue that suddenly makes it go shy and self-conscious and quiet. Usually it happens when I meet up with (or bump into) someone I haven’t seen for a while, and they say “ooh, I was reading your blog the other day, and...” or perhaps “my brother was reading your blog, and he said...” Or it could be that I’m at work, and I go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and one of my colleagues wanders in, and says “hey, I was just looking at your blog and...” or someone starts referring to “Katherine’s blog” in a meeting and I turn the approximate colour of a very ripe tomato.
The common factor in all of these situations is that suddenly (painfully) I am forced to confront the truth that when I write things here, they don’t just disappear into a lovely invisible void. They are actually out there, public, available for anyone and everyone to read. I think the weird thing about anything you do online is that in spite of the web being possibly one of the most public spheres that has ever existed, it has a way of tricking you into thinking that what you’re doing is completely private - or at least, relatively intimate. Sometimes I feel that writing here is not so different to writing in a personal diary - I’m just happily chuntering away to myself, not really expecting anyone to be listening. Or other times, I feel that I’m talking directly to just one or two imagined “kindred spirits” (see L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables) who are always sympathetic and never critical, and to whom words like “self-indulgent” or “trite” are utterly unknown. At the very most, I feel I am writing to a very small audience of people I have never met, and am never likely to meet, who don’t me and who in any case probably live in, like, a whole other country.
Actually, of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Writing a blog is nothing like whispering into a sympathetic ear: in fact, it often feels more akin to standing up in front of a room full of people, including everyone you’ve ever met, and repeatedly shrieking “look at me!” Which if you do know me, or if you’ve ever read about my thoughts on stuff like this, you’ll be aware is possibly the Last Thing On Earth I Would Ever Do.
It’s easy to forget that though, when you’re sitting cozily in your room, by yourself, in your pyjamas, just happily wittering away, much like I am doing right now. After all, there’s rarely an instant audience reaction - no applause, no chorus of boos. And so you forget that there’s a real audience out there, which inevitably consists of both the loyal front-row seaters, who turn up to every show without fail, and those sitting at the back, rustling their programmes a bit impatiently and sighing and looking at their watches and wondering when it will be time for the interval so they can go and get an ice-cream or have a cigarette. (Or maybe even people like the man I remember seeing once when I was about 15 and was at the theatre, watching a double-bill of Tom Stoppard plays, who nodded off as soon as the lights went down and slept solidly, complete with quite audible, entirely unembarrassed snoring, through the whole show.)
Maybe that’s one advantage of blogging though. It does force you to be a bit braver about getting up there and saying something - anything - and I am basing this on the assumption that saying something is always better than saying nothing at all. But every now and again, when you remember where you are, you can’t help getting a little stage fright, especially when the spotlight is not exactly your natural habitat. So don’t be surprised if every now and again I have a ‘bashful blogging’ moment. If I go quiet for a few days - even a week or two- you can guarantee I’ll soon forget where I am and be back to my usual meandering self.
[exeunt stage right]