Writing and existing

Attentive followers will have seen that I previously had two websites, a personal blog using my name, and a professional blog talking about my freelancing. I also had two distinct Twitter accounts, one personal and one professional. I think I’ve had the idea that I would protect one from the other, and that I would safeguard my professional image from weirdness and personal preoccupations to which I have occasionally given free rein on the personal blog, while at the same time shielding my friends from the potentially offputting requirements of running a freelance business online, from professional networking to the publication of what I do (twitter tips, accounts of freelance missions, articles for clients or a generalised client base).

I have always found there has been some ambiguity and moments of doubt about the two identities. Some of the writing I classified as ‘personal’, I rather regretted wasn’t coming up on my professional writing portfolio. And increasingly, maintaining two Twitter identities is difficult. While I’ve never hidden the fact that I had two accounts, Twitter has always, for me, been a person-to-person medium and it has been becoming difficult and artificial to decide which entity of myself was going to interact with each given interlocutor. People would confuse them or not know which to interact with, and as my freelancing changes from something I am desperately trying to launch from nothing, promote and drum up business for, into something which is part of life, and part of being me in my day-to-day existence, having two identities has become an artificial construct. For instance, I enjoy on a personal level the Twitter networking – which is not salesy (actually, it’s just people, friendships, connections, and life) and there is no need to protect one set of relationships from the other.

Combined with the need to rename the business, which has been lurking for a while, I decided to take the plunge and tackle the whole issue. In the end, although a few months ago I went through a lot of anguish about what I could name the business, it’s been pretty much instantaneous. I thought: I am sticking with Yorkshire as the first half of the name, as that’s increasingly what I am known as and what defines me (to my great pleasure), and what I do is words. Words – everything I work on and for is about expressing what it is to live and be human in language. So YorkshireWords it is from now on, both here and on Twitter.

The concrete result for previous readers of my professional site is, firstly, that you will be subjected to a lot more stream of consciousness prose. Not all of it is terribly coherent (by the nature of being stream of consciousness) – some of it comes out because it needs to and it reaches this form of ‘publication’ because, as I’ve expressed somewhere before, the sense that the writing is out in the world is a more effective way of releasing it from my brain than merely getting it down privately (which is, anyway, helpful – but public is better. Clearer.)

Secondly, followers of my previous only-professional blog might not realise that while I love my professional work and am genuinely rather euphoric at the thought that I might be on the verge of a career being paid to do things I love all the time, I am also very driven to write creatively, and that urge tends to come out more in my ‘personal’ posts. The odd random poem and the odd spontaneous introspective 2000 word soliloquy tend to burst out occasionally, and I will put them here. [Edit: this one ended up being 1000 words.]

The writing which is trying to make itself into bits of a novel, for now, I’m keeping to myself – they will coalesce when they’re ready to do so. It’s not really writing, yet. It’s still at the sort of stage where I will forget what I’ve been doing, having been utterly caught up in an entirely fictional person’s entirely fictional dilemma or conversation in my mind; or driving for half an hour in total silence turning and fluttering and guiding words in my mind just to describe a single emotion; or walking along the street with my hands in my pockets entirely consumed with trying to articulate in words the movement of my own hipbones under my pockets against my palms as I walk. And then trying to articulate in words why it should be fascinating to articulate things in words.

Put it this way – I am never bored. The state of being bored is impossible to me, because I can always be usefully occupied. I don’t know whether it’s because I find everything interesting, or whether I find observing myself in relation to everything interesting, or whether I find the process of existing interesting. It has its down sides, of course, which I won’t go into here. It may be something like a reverse Sherlock, or a photo-negative of Sherlock. But bear with me, I will get back to this and find ways of conveying it.

I have an odd feeling my first novel might be about the strangely slow experience of collecting and collating those peculiar bubbles of thought into a novel, and might therefore be utterly unreadable by anyone except myself. The concept of the narrator position, for instance, is vague at the moment because I am unsure how to articulate my own dissonant experience of being a consciousness, and where ‘fiction’ comes into that. Do I plunge into the first person and then make that someone else – or do I use third person narration and be omniscient about some fictional characters – but then how to site where the omniscient consciousness lies in relation to the characters – and there is an infinity of other options to play with for how to site myself in relation to what I want to explore. (I think the solution is to try different things and see what happens).

Well, it did seem time to unite the happy library person and the freelancer who writes, tweets and translates, with the rest of the brain-content of the person who is, under the surface, greatly preoccupied with these sorts of ideas. While I’ve always felt a certain degree of dissonance with how I am supposed to externally fit into the world, I don’t feel any internal dissonance with those different parts of myself whatsoever – in fact I rather thrive on the variety of my internal experience, I think – so it seems wrong to maintain a line in the sand, online, where there’s no such line within me as a person.

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