A gale still buffets this lip of rock, but there was good cheer in the wind yesterday. Man On Ledge is on the shortlist for the UK Blog Awards 2016.
This ledge of mine has been a saviour in difficult times, a reason to hang on to my hat, as it were. I have written a blog almost every day since the beginning of June; more than 130,000 words the last time I looked.
Those laptop labours are massed like loose stones in mountain scree. Or like the diarrhoeic keyboard output of a man who can’t contain himself. The words pile up because composing them gives me something to do every day.
Blogging is my idea of fun. Some people may find this strange, but those who take succour from arranging words into some sort of order will understand.
My ledge has also been a new-for-old thing: continuing the column I wrote for 25 years by another means. So being on the shortlist is lovely (fingers crossed for April 29).
Yesterday, after a sleepless night, I came up with a minute-by-minute account of writing this blog. My efforts brought the following cheerful rebuke from Steven Burkeman, a Press reader who has been kind enough to follow me to this new, windy place. Steven wrote: “What, no gazing out of the window? No checking emails/twitter etc? No getting up to get a cup of tea and a biscuit? Julian, despite your years of experience, you are but a beginner at the art of AP (authorial prevarication).”
Ah, well. Here are my observations about that.
Although there was artifice in the writing of that blog, it was an accurate account more or less. Blame the journalist in me, but I like to give myself an hour or so to bash something out. It concentrates what passes for my mind.
When my old newspaper came out in the afternoon and evening, with different editions drawing up and then leaving all the time, the start of the day could be busy. Occasionally much of the work prepared the previous afternoon ended up being pulled off the page to be replaced by something newer or newsier. On those days we would have an hour to 90 minutes to write, edit and layout a new features spread. And those flat-out hours were scarily enjoyable. Or enjoyably scary.
So my self-imposed deadline harks back to those days.
As for ‘authorial prevarication’, oh I can be as guilty of that as the next man or woman sitting down to write. Blog done, I turn to freelance journalism or press on with whatever novel I am attempting to finish. At this point, I often wander the endless corridors of Facebook or burrow into the damp soil of Twitter. Sometimes, as explained in an earlier blog, I settle back to gawp at the Mail’s sidebar of shame. Or check my two email accounts. Or take another look at my blog statistics (a sure way to drive yourself mad). Or skim the newspapers again and double-check the BBC.
Then there is Facebook again: has anyone said anything about me or my bloggy acres?
And often I wonder is it coffee time yet? Or pick up that electric guitar I foolishly bought years ago and crank out a few discordant chords.
So yes, Steven – I can waste time with the best of them. But I do like the creative jolt of a deadline. It’s like having a big hairy dog snapping at your heels.