Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Excuses

There should be a blog post here right now.

But there isn’t.

I don’t do excuses. Only explanations. So this is the explanation. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I shall begin.

I normally write my blog post early in the week. A mug of extra-strong coffee is by the side of my mouse. Snacks are usually made available. Access to Google lurks behind my Word document should I need to research a niggling fact during the process of writing the blog. Did you know that Google runs more than 118 Million searches in a day? And my desk is cluttered with pages of material from the 101 other projects I’m currently working on.

There are notes for a novel I’m currently trying to write. There are scraps of poetry in progress, as well as the folded, sweat-dirtied pages I used at the last poetry event.

The last poetry event was a hoot. Many of the group turned up in fancy dress with a theme of literary heroes. This included Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Long John Silver, Sylvia Plath, Old Mother Shipton, a ghost-writer, Hunter S Thompson, John Lennon, Alan Ginsberg and the Mad Hatter. There were many others. I went as James Bond because I had a tuxedo to hand.

I personally adore my tuxedo. I bought it a few years back and ordered a black cummerbund to go with it. When I collected it from the tailor the packing slip inside the suit cover said: Gents tux with black man’s cum.

So I sit and write my blog surrounded by paraphernalia and memories of things I haven’t yet tidied away. Or, at least, I try to sit.

We own four dogs. Each of them enjoys sitting in chairs. Specifically, each of them enjoys sitting in my chair in front of the PC.

Spike is the worst for this. He’s not a large dog but he does take up a lot of the chair’s seat. Anya, Spike’s daughter, is much smaller. She takes up half the surface area that her father covers. However, when they’re both in the chair together, this means I’ve got nowhere to sit. Because there are four dogs in the house, each one using my chair on a cyclical calendar, as though they have timeshare ownership, it’s sometimes difficult to sit down and get on with the important stuff like writing.

But that’s not my excuse. I’m not going to say that the dog ate my blogwork. Admittedly, in the past, Spike has chewed his way through a box full of CDs, three memory sticks and a satnav, but he’s not responsible for this week’s lack of a blog.

I’m responsible for that. And I’m explaining why it isn’t here.

So, when I can get to my computer, and once I’m armed with coffee and appropriate snacks, I sit down and search for inspiration. If it’s someone else’s topic, I usually let my mind wander.

My mind is fairly good at wandering.

My students have noticed this. Like the other week when we were discussing point of view in narrative fiction. Quite how the conversation turned to the best recipe for a fajita is probably too long-winded for me to reiterate here. Fortunately, I have an uncanny knack of being able to use these diversions to show their relevance to the subject that should have been discussed. Did you know that recipes are an ideal illustration of second person perspective? To make a perfect fajita YOU will need…

But, this week, the topic here at the Grip is one of my own devising. I didn’t have the opportunity to find a dog-free chair, arm myself with beverages and snacks, and then let my mind wander. Instead, I was expected to think of the topic and then write knowledgably.
I was reminded of this situation by the marvellous Lisabet. She pointed out I’d failed to list a topic for this week. I apologised and, for some reason, the first word that came to mind was EXCUSES.

And none of this explains why there isn’t a blog post here today from me.

My explanation – which is as close to an excuse as I can get – is relatively simple: I forgot.


  1. "Did you know that recipes are an ideal illustration of second person perspective? To make a perfect fajita YOU will need…"

    Very resourceful.

    I'm an explanations guy too, Ashley.

    And I must say I appreciate the creativity of this one.

  2. Hi Craig,

    I find it helpful tying things back to the point I was trying to make because it makes me look vaguely competent. And it's rare that I manage to look wholly competent ;-)



  3. Interesting how some recipe narrators are omniscient ("you will need"), while others don't know exactly what's to come ("if the mixture is still too thin, add another teaspoon of flour").

  4. I see. Now I get it. (I'm just saying...)

    I think I would have enjoyed being a student in your class.

  5. Ash - as long as you can bring it full circle at the end, it seems as if you planned the whole tangental Tardis trip all along.

  6. Jeremy,

    One of my favourite recipe instructions is the old one: stand in boiling water for two hours.

    I'm not getting caught out with that trick again. I burnt my feet quite badly :-)


  7. Diane,

    I would love to have had you as a student in one of my classes. I can imagine you would have been one of the ones that caused me to go off on tangents.

    Looking forward to your post this weekend.


  8. Kathleen,

    When it works: it's brilliant. When it doesn't, I look like a halfwit. Guess which happens most often ;-)


  9. That's pretty cool for a 'non-blog'!

  10. Brilliant, Ashley!

    You even managed to work in a dog or two.


  11. Fulani,

    Thank you. I did have a giggle with this one - and every word is true.



  12. Lisabet,

    Thank you. Usually I have to wrok around a dog or two. This time I thought I'd make them work for me.



  13. At least your universe is consitent. I thought I had slipped into a paralell universe.

    My favorite writing snack is "Biscoff" cookies, those little brown ones they give you on airplanes. They just inspire me.



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