Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Long time no write, and thanks for the comments. It's not that I haven't been feeling "writey", or that stuff hasn't happened, it's just that a lot has been going on. And you prioritise things, order things in your head, and usually when I do that now blogging is ranked relatively low.

However, I did read that there was an average, almost a natural, lifespan for blogs of about two years. I don't know if that's true, but it seems likely. I don't think it will be true for this blog, but to be honest I don't know. If it is, by that measure Stranger's Fever would be palliative by now.

I started this blog initially to write. I want to write, I've always written, and one thing I have tried to hammer into my head is the idea that you get better at writing by writing, like you get better at boxing by boxing. There is only so far that watching great fighters or reading books by experts can tell you, in the end you get better at boxing by hitting the bag and then getting in the ring, hitting and being hit, being able to do what works. Writing is exactly the same, but with groin punches and biting allowed, no breaks between rounds and a higher rate of traumatic brain injury.

Anyway, I started Strangers Fever in the hope that I would write down some stuff I could use for my "real" writing, and to that extent I think it has succeeded very well. The frequent writing (I think there's over three hundred thousand words here) has made me a better writer. I've written stuff somewhere in here that I'm quite proud of as it stands, rather than just seeing it as raw materials or rough drafts, and a lot of it will be going into the novel, whenever that happens.

But blogging, particularly pseudonymous blogging is about a lot more than producing better writing. Most people who wirte aren't looking to write a novel, they are doing something else - self expression, that need to shout out into the emptiness, that almost psychotherapeutic process of revelation of your deepest psychic fears - initially to nobody at all, and then to strangers who are, like you, safely pseudonymous.

I don't believe life-long psychotherapy is usually that helpful, and for the same reason I don't believe long-term purely psychotherapeutic blogging is that useful. And there has been an element of that in Strangers Fever, that shrieking into the dark, that "urge to purge" that I don't have any more.

Part of the problem is the therapy or something like it worked. There are worries - Sarah's pain is number one, of course - but these are open worries, things we are handling, not secrets scrunched up inside, misery masquerading as madness, that kind of thing.

Despite everything that is going on, I am so damn happy now. Large scale, randomised, double blind trials have repeatedly shown that Sarah is the best wife in the galaxy. My sons are perfect. My job is going brilliantly - yesterday I saw a man on venlafaxine and methadone, suspected and looked for and diagnosed the dangerous interaction between the two, sent him off to his GP with a referral letter that managed to mention both cytochrome p4503A4 and the triumphant return to power at the Federal level of the Australian Labor Party.

I am reading good books and listening to good music, in February I start part time at the psych ward and the director, to whom I have spoken, has read my CV and is eager to discuss how I got to psychiatry from the study of Holocene pollen fossils.

I have had a story accepted for publication in the top SF/Fantasy/Horror magazine in the country, I am writing my non-"Stranger's Fever" novel at the steady rate of three hundred words a day, my cats are sleek and well-fed.

I am slowly losing weight* and twice a week I go to muay thai classes where I get my bottom spanked by teenaged boys (I should put that as a title for this blog entry - that'd get the numbers up). This may or may not be an improvement on this time last year in judo ("the gentle art") where I was getting thrown on my head by teenaged girls - the boys are good, they hit hard and are hard to hit and everything, but grappling that girl was like trying to pin a greased weasel, and in the end, judo beats most other martial arts.

Anyway, sadly, and possibly boringly, there just isn't that much emotional trauma driving me at the moment.

So - what this means is that I am still going to try to write. If I wasn't as shy** as I am, I'd be contacting some of you and asking if you would mind if we corresponded emailingly, but since that is guaranteed never ever ever going to happen, I would still like to keep up this weird kind of relationship. And I still see interesting patients, read fascinating things, have things I want to say and ask about and so on. But I don't want to say I'll be writing stuff regularly when I'm going to be doing other things instead. I'll still be writing, but I'm going to try and promise and achieve weekly rather than daily.

See, I really enjoyed writing that post. I do love this when I do it.

Let's try Tuesdays. Every Tuesdays I'll post something. See how that goes.

Anyhow. Thanks for listening, and more (seriously) soon.

*Sadly, if I exercise as hard as I can for as long as I can as often as I can and eat frequent meals that total as little as I can stand, I lose weight. As everyone knows, it's not knowing what to do, it's doing it - I should be on the treatmill now, for example. It's not that interesting.

It actually gets slightly more interesting if you look one level higher at the cognitive and behavioural stuff, the economics (in the sense of "the choices you make") of diet and exercise. Someone suggested that people concerned about body fat try the "Blackmail Diet": in this case, I would write a large cheque, with the proviso that unless I weigh (insert number here) by (insert date here) the money will be mailed off to and organisation I despise (insert the various conservative parties of Australia here. Or preferably here) - with the expressed wish that this gift be publically acknowledged in some form.

I know, as much as I know anything, that I would rather gnaw my own pancreas out and then grate it into a salad than give those bastards a red cent. Seriously, you'd see muscles anatomists didn't know human beings had.

** I am in no way an expert, and am open to other opiniuons, but my current medical opinion is that this is largely wank.



Blogger Camilla said...

If the average lifespan of a blog is two years, then mine (at four years) is the blog version of Jeanne Calment, riding around Paris on a bicycle and smoking like a chimney. Mine's primarily a howling at the moon type of blog though, and not as interesting as yours. I like yours very much and look forward to seeing what turns up in your Stranger's Fever novel.

It was wonderful to catch up with you both, and I wish we could have spent more time together! I hope you had a happy new year, and that 2008 brings lots of good things for you both.

Many, many hogs (and a snorky-snort from Emrys),


ps our internewt karked it on Boxing Day, so haven't had the chance yet to email the photos of you both with E through. We're back on line though so will do that when I can!

pps best of luck with the psychiatry! About blooming time :P

10:05 PM  

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