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Reflections of a working writer and reader




I read something about blogging yesterday and it said you should never use the word ‘I’ in a blog. What your readers want to hear, apparently, is something about them, not you.

So, I’ll come clean right from the start with this one. You don’t have to read this post if you don’t want. Because it’s all about me.

I received an email from another blogger who accused me of spamming. Just for the sake of it, I’m going to call her Millie. That is not her real name.

This is the third time I’ve received this message from you.
It smacks of automated messaging and doesn’t really belong in blogging about writing. I’m not a publisher and I don’t think you should be persisting in this communication if you are not getting any replies.

My hackles raised just a little at this point, as it was because I had had no reply that I sent the message more than once.

After talking about my depersonalised and rather mechanical contacting approach, Millie continued:

It is social software for a reason, you know. Most of us blog about writing because we enjoy the contact with other readers, and are not simply here to promote writers.
I do hope you READ and take notice of this message and stop contacting me in this way.

The hackles had gone down by this point. I could understand only too well what she was saying. I was bombarding this woman with emails that she had not asked for and did not want. It was no use looking around for someone else to blame. I was the only one here.

So I wrote her an email (what else could I do?). I apologised unreservedly. I tried to say as little as possible about my reasons for writing to her in that way, though I did assure her that she was not under attack from a machine. I promised that I would be in chains for the rest of the week.

I refrained from pointing out that I was a reader as well and had been all my life, and that I was only, so to speak, accidentally a writer.

But I still didn’t feel any better about my spammy self.


I looked at the keyboard. What I could do was try to carry on. Spend the rest of the day pissing people off with the aid of modern technology. But I turned down the monitor and went out into the world in search of redemption.

I had cheese and salami on rye from a mobile stall on the edge of the market. Food doesn’t make me happy. It can, sometimes, fool me into an approximation of happiness, but really it just makes me feel guilty.

I smiled at people in the market, traders in the midst of a busy day. I helped a tourist read a map. I could have been a good Samaritan if things had been different. Then I had another cheese and salami on rye.

I dragged myself and my bloated stomach away from the market and helped a blind woman cross the road. She protested a little, but she was no match for me. I carried her over to the other side.

Back at the mobile stall I took a bite from my third cheese and salami on rye. The waitress watched, shaking her head. No one had to tell her. She knew what I was.

I went swimming (Wash, wash me clean. . . KD Lang). Did thirty lengths, and emerged feeling almost human.

When I got home there was another email from Millie. She told me that she’d looked at my blog and enjoyed one of my posts:

I’m sorry, I’ve been very brusque about this. I am a legacy from a slightly earlier stage of literature blogging, it used to be a little more personal and engaging than it is now.
Please don’t enchain yourself any further on my account.

Which, when you take it altogether, means that the day wasn’t a complete waste. I’ve learned something. It’s not every day I can say that.

Oh, and I’ve got rid of the chains. I’m gonna just use rope.

12 Responses to “Insensitivity”

  1. Hello, John. I’m a visitor to your site for the first time, and have rather enjoyed walking through your chained-up day with you. Even had a bite or two of the third sandwich, knowing you had devoured quite enough.

    I shall return, and wish you every blessing.


  2. Bhaswati says:

    Hilarious, John. I can’t get the stupid grin off my face, reading this post.

    But then, if it led you to food, nothing like it. Food before anything, in my scripture. 😛

  3. Michele says:

    “I am a legacy from a slightly earlier stage of literature blogging, it used to be a little more personal and engaging than it is now” — What?  Oh please.
    {rolls eyes in frustration}

    The “good old days” of blogging? When was that, exactly, like last year?

    God save us all.

  4. John Newnham says:

    “She protested a little, but she was no match for me.”

    I cannot get this image out of my head LOL



  5. Alicatte says:

    Hey, I feel cheated! I’ve only gotten two emails from you! Now I know whose blog you like better. 😉

  6. rdl says:

    Nice post! will be back when i can read more.

  7. Divine Calm says:

    I loved this post. So cute and charming.

  8. Alexandra says:

    As always John, I enjoy your quirky posts and hey, if you need to spam someone with intelligent emails, email me. lol!

  9. Jennyta says:

    I, on the other hand, took it as a compliment that you wanted to link to my blog – mind you, you did only email me once! 😉

  10. I guess first person narratives in a blog are nothing but poppycock! 🙂 I’m really glad you “spammed” me, John, because otherwise I might have missed your fine blog.

  11. Emchi says:

    Isn’t it always the case that it’s easy to write out a missive and send it off to vent, then feel awful after you’ve sent it. It’s harder to retract anger when it’s in print, be it paper or in bytes. I used to do this all the time, I grew up, and just felt better for writing it, getting it out of my system and getting on with things, I’ve stopped hitting send these days. I save them then delete them later. It’s why I started blogging. Only due to my other half reading my blog I don’t post nearly half of what I want to, because he’d know what’s bothering me and I’d get chewed out for it.

    When I started using the internet, I used AOL IM, to make friends and communicate with people, then it was message boards, now I blog, only i don’t make too many friends doing it, I’ve got one or two but not many, you can hide behind a blog, as much as you can open up and share with people. I think what you did was brave, by emailing me and asking if I could link to you, having read your blog, and finding your email polite, I didn’t see why not, it’s good to share with people, and that’s what the internet should be for. I say keep on pestering people, after all if we didn’t talk to each other as humans, we’d never be in the computer age to begin with.

  12. The Narrator says:

    I always wonder why people are so troubled by the need to delete unwanted email. I mean, well, we are all just trying to build tiny connections, anf if we sometimes reach out to those uninterested, all they need do is say that.