Around the beginning of each year, my thoughts regarding this blog usually turn to why I continue to maintain it; what my occasional readers might get out of it; what I get out of it, financially uncompensated as I am.
The fact that I always over-commit my time and energies, owing to the sheer number of other distractions I undertake, usually prompts me to consider finishing it; of “doing a Momus” and drawing a line under it all, as a work with an (albeit ragged) end. And the fact that I’m only just writing this particular, uncomfortably self-referential post so far into February is an indication of the benign neglect from which Small Beds tends to suffer these days.
I used to enjoy the polemics, back when the web was more distant from the mainstream, when not everyone knew each other. It was a way of getting back at those I considered utterly, unconscionably awful. But now that I occasionally get retweeted by comedians and artists I admire, and into arguments with often comparatively famous loons, here seems an odd, unnecessarily pugnacious place to do it: not least because of its anonymity, but—yes—because I might get called to account for my ranting. And I find politics itself, outside of shouting at the privileged, tiresome enough to try to avoid it in my moments of relaxation. Age has, it seems, made me pragmatic; although it could have been worse.
The posts about trying to live a good life in the context of climate change certainly serve a purpose. I’m glad to let other people know about the ways I—often unsuccessfully—square these moral circles, if only because it encourages them and me to fail again; to fail better. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I find talking about climate change itself, much like talking about the water cycle or metabolising complex carbohydrates, slightly niche and not really suited to this medium.
Writing posts about my personal or professional lives is more complicates these days, now that a number of colleagues and ex-colleagues read Small Beds (and now so many of my colleagues are themselves friends.) It’s gradually—so gradually it’s been like boiling the metaphorical frog—harder to comfortably expound on some topics than it once was (would I discuss my mental health? or rail against a client contact?) But I do have on my slush-pile an article draft or two, rather tellingly with nothing pointed or angry in them, that I’m sure people I work with would find merely interesting and not scandalous.
That leaves, as far as I can tell, my more elegiac pieces. K. has remarked in the past that my closeness to—if not nature, then at least the blown leaves and mud in the ditch at my side of the road as I cycle—lends an aspect to Small Beds that little other online writing accomplishes (Martin’s Moths being a good, practical exception.) Looby commented on my most recent cycling post, saying something similar, for which I am most humbly grateful. Yet the elegy is so easy to get wrong, to make mawkish, anthropomorphising or downright Tory; I’m painfully aware that I do all those things, sometimes.
Where does this leave me, then? Stumbling into the new year. Bluffing my way down the calendar; conspicuous by, yet ultimately unjudgeable because of, my frequent absence. Pottering, wandering, footling, while I yet have ideas to air. Maybe over time this could still become a simpler “LiveJournal” blog, a record of my days and thoughts. Or maybe it could specialise, politicise, sharpen and harden. But whatever I ultimately decide to do, I’m all to aware that it would take considerably more mental effort to do nothing; to actually stop instead.