Pete Davison: Over My Shoulder

Posted on October 10, 2011 by

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I’ve been blogging since July of 2008. Actually, that’s not quite true — I’ve been blogging a lot longer than that, but had a couple of other websites prior to this one. To my knowledge, only one of them is still there, and that was a somewhat abortive effort. This site, then, represents one of the most consistent creative endeavours that I’ve ever undertaken.

For what, though? What is it achieving? I’m certainly not making any great effort to ponce around with anything like search engine optimisation and the limit of my attempts to “drive traffic” consist of auto-posting each entry to Facebook and Twitter as a link for people to click through to. And yet, here I am, day after day, writing something for anywhere between — most weeks — 20 and 100 people. 24 of you readers are subscribed by email, meaning you get a daily dose of nonsense posted direct to your inbox (and possibly don’t count against my views count, you bastards, unless you actually do, in which case you’re not bastards, and I don’t really care anyway) and I have no idea how many more might be subscribed via RSS.

As I’ve said on a few other occasions, though, the main reason I’m writing all this gobbledegook day after day is for myself. I’m not sure if I’ll be looking back on this content in a few years time and figuring out something profound about myself or not, but I certainly like having it all there — and knowing that there are 629 daily posts before this one (and a few more irregular ones prior to that) is quite satisfying.

I like reading back old things that I’ve written. I don’t keep all old pieces of writing that I do, but I have some knocking around that date back to my school days, which are a good few years ago now. It’s sometimes interesting to look back and read your work and consider what might have been going through your mind at the time — or what inspired you to write a particular work.

I think the oldest piece of writing I’ve still hung onto is the Woolworths notebook that my friend Edd and I took on holiday to Gran Canaria. It was 1992, and we were in Year 7. That holiday was memorable for all sorts of reasons — the cockroach attack in the middle of the night, the discovery of Mortal Kombat and X-Men in the local arcade, our first experiences snorkelling. And most of it is entertainingly chronicled in the dodgy handwriting of the 11-12 year old me.

The way you write changes over the years, even if you’re not a writer and if you don’t do it often. Old people using computers forget how to use capital letters and punctuation (except the exclamation mark, which they use with gay abandon) while some develop a clear sense of style and voice according to who they’re writing to. When you’re twelve, however, most of your writing is written in the same register, however many English lessons on formal and informal letters you might have had. My old notebook is a fine example of this, sharing details of stupid in-jokes that Edd and I had at the time, the context of which has been mostly lost to the mists of time save for the written record of the fact that we did indeed compose a short song called “I’m an egg-timer” together and that we found it inexplicably amusing to hum the theme tune from the Whiskas cat food advert while descending a water slide.

Don’t ask. I have no idea.

I wonder if in twenty years’ time — firstly, will this site still be around or will we all have switched to something like the OASIS platform in Ready Player One? — I’ll still be writing in the same manner. Perhaps I will — in some senses, even though I’m (painfully) aware that I’m thirty years old, in others I feel like I haven’t grown up a whole lot. There’s still a ton of things about the world that I don’t know or don’t understand, and a lot of people seem to have a firmer grasp on them than me — or, more likely, simply do a better job of hiding the fact that they’re overwhelmed by everything out there.

Arguably part of this feeling of “immaturity”, for want of a better word, is writing this every day. When I’m writing some nonsense here, I can just sort of “let go” and channel that twelve year old kid who felt the need to chronicle everything on a holiday with a friend. I’m under no obligations to write in a particular style or follow the AP Style Guide or whatever (though you’ll notice I do make an effort to spell and punctuate correctly, typos aside) so I can just sit back (well, forward, otherwise I can’t reach the keyboard) and type whatever is in my head onto the virtual page in front of me.

This is a nice feeling, and that’s why I do this day after day. I appreciate those of you who keep coming back to read my ramblings, I really do. But the act of writing, of self-expressions, of, in some cases, being able to write things that are difficult to talk about out loud — that’s why I do it. It makes me feel good, makes me feel like I have an outlet and am free to express myself however I see fit. And sure, anyone reading can and will judge me based on the things I write. And that’s fine, because after all, I’m posting all this for public consumption. But more than that, this is something for me. This is me. And if you’ve come along for the ride here and read the last six hundred and whatever posts, you probably know me pretty damn well by now.

If, however, you’re new, the archives are on the right hand side. I’ll see you in a few months.

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