Helen Garner spoke next... she said that she has always kept diaries, and twice in her life she’d burned those diaries. The first time was when she was leaving home and didn’t want her parents going through her belongings (!), and once, much later, when she was moving house and had done something she didn’t normally do, that being go back and look at old diary pages. She said she’d chosen the date of some major event, “something like the Dismissal”, and looked to see what she’d written about it - but she had not written anything; it was all boring and narcissistic stuff about her feelings and her close personal relationships. This she found embarrassing enough to destroy all the volumes of diary which followed that pattern, and she said they only changed when she and her child went to live in France and began to fill her journals with descriptions of places, people, conversations and things - she said these journals suddenly became interesting.
In the case of her own diary writing Garner was quite definite that the latter kind of writing was the kind she wanted to preserve (and perhaps one day to open up for other people to see), but the former was of no interest to anyone, not even herself, and in fact was a positive embarrassment.
Amid all this the word “blog” was not spoken, though it was certainly there in my mind, and as I found out afterwards, in the minds of a few other listeners. I wonder what you people who read weblogs and perhaps write them think about the issue - is it a true opposition? Is one kind of writing more embarrassing than the other? Does it all depend on how the individual writer carries things out, or can we begin to make some useful generalisations at this stage of the game?
I find this interesting because it touches on things I'm thinking as I write Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth. The book is what I'm calling a distorted autobiography, which means that I'm playing around with the expectations you have whenever you encounter anyone writing about their life, but still, anyone who reads it is going to know that it's my life here. My friends, my family, maybe even you if I met you once, and we found ourselves robbing an ice cream truck... they're all in this book. And it's like that because it came from here, this blog.
I blog with my blog voice, which is a bit different to my normal, every day voice. I used to worry about the difference, but the fact is, a blog post is a miniature piece of writing. On this blog, at least, it has got to be self contained, and while it is about me, you wouldn't exactly say that I spend a lot of time talking about my average, every day events. But when the offer came to do Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, it was never going to involve anything but me--it was going to take the voice, the person who is here, in this blog, and push that up into a properly written piece of work. I'm not sure if you will understand the difference, but I suppose it has to do with rewriting, thinking, adding layers. I blog, it must be said, off the top of my head, so everything that comes through here is stream of consciousness, a thought that I have and run out till the end.
Anyhow: just a random thought and a link. Back to writing the actual book now.