As I’ve been going through my archives here – nearly 250 essays – to sift through and collate what is publishable for my Of Opinions book, I’ve been having a harder time than I anticipated. I’m used to this drudgery, having to “research” this and that over the years. Some are born to research, some achieve enjoyment in it, and some have it thrust upon them, whether they like it or not. I have a feeling that this mundane, exhaustive activity – doubly hard for a perfectionist, detailed person – is never likely to elude me for the rest of my life. Which I am fine with, as long as I am not required to conduct research into mine.
First of all, I am embarrassed. I apologise for all the bad grammar you’ve had to put up with for the past year and a half. I am actually good at proofreading, you know. It’s just my editing skills (and they are excellent, and for hire, if you so wish to employ them) and my writing skills (also excellent and available for employment) occupy extreme, opposite corners of my brain. I carry order and chaos in a curiously meshed fleshly matter – too tangled to separate, too furious at each other to even try to get along. I fear it may never be resolved, and I feel it is best for them that I tap into each at different corners of the writing universe.
And of course, I ramble. I apologise for my long, headache-inducing paragraphs, dear readers. I apologise for taking fifty Hemingwayesque sentences to tell you some tweet-worthy idea. If I am being kind to myself, and paraphrasing a very kind reader’s comment, the interest in my writing lies in how one thought leads to another, instead of what their multitude concludes. Allow the self-editor to defend herself, quite literally in this case for my book, but I think the interest lies in the charm (oh no, I’ll never be spared for saying that!) that this ‘one thing leading to another, to another…’ type of writing style has.
That has been my main struggle with drafting this book. I don’t want the book to be too gathered, polished and coherent. There is a punk rocker in me that wants to break away from the prog rock ethos of books like this that take themselves too seriously, and present you with a three-chord, all style, sass, buoyant and forceful, jagged and edgy, loose and rough, flawed-but-deliberately-so type of book. Which, now that I’ve told you about it, also seems hard to pull off. It’s unity I want, but with safety pins and not a sewing machine.
All this stems from a deep-rooted propensity for embarrassment. I am not fishing for compliments here as I wallow in self-pity (no, yes, I am. I am a writer, after all.), but I can’t help being absolutely terrified of putting a book like this together, and letting it out into the world. Money and “success” is not even an issue here. It is a very modest attempt at representing what is done here on blogging homeground, in the best way possible. I want to do good by it, do good by you. I also want it to be out in that cruel, mocking, indifferent world where a book today is equivalent to yesterday’s tweet.
Actually, I’d be beyond happy for it to simply exist. I’d be relieved, which any writer would say feels better than happiness. I’d love to be able to say the magic five words, “I have published a book.”
It is only befitting that an essay titled “Of Rambling” should not be about rambling at all. I lead by example, folks, not lecture.