364 – The Blog

Hi. This is me. I’m Daniel. How do you do?

We’ve travelled far in one another’s company–too far, you might say–and we’ve seen a lot of strange things along the way. Who would have known that this blog would turn into such a mystifyingly wonderful place?

What’s that? It’s not wonderful at all? It’s a piece of shit?

No. For once I’m actually going to stand up for something I’ve done. While it’s no work of art parts of this blog are quite reasonable–perhaps even good. It was enough to catch the attention of someone willing to pay me for my writing and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

Oh, but the places we’ve been! Starting with a round-the-world tour of some of the people dearest to me, the tone was set for the rest of the year: this would be a poignant and whimsical journey through my life, through the people and places in it, my admittedly distorted world view, my feelings and emotions and the world in which we all. My take on things would be personal but, I hoped, anyone reading would find things moments they recognise from their own lives. As disparate as I feel from the rest of the world my was reasoning was that we weren’t so very different, you and I.

And so we visited places from a shared past and occasionally, places in our shared future. From a time when mankind huddled together for warmth, out into the distant galaxy millennia hence, we’ve seen everything there is together, holding hands and smiling and weeping as one. We’ve braved death and the afterlife, stared at the face of God, visited cities that stand as testament to what man can accomplish and seen them perish in nuclear fire. We’ve eaten a lot and our waistlines have expanded, then exercised and seen them shrink. We’ve drunk ourselves sick and caught stomach bugs; both times we’ve suffered excrutiating pain and spent the night vomiting as man has never vomited before.

We’ve fallen in love with women, with words, and married and moved to new lands and new lives. We’ve walked dogs and met cats, visited flamenco bars and diners, spent Easter and Christmas and the summer holidays together and tried our best to make friends despite being rather shy.

We’ve suffered bereavement and struggled to overcome it. We’ve felt unspeakably down and tried to overcome that, too. We spent perhaps a little too much time navel gazing, wondering how we came to be and what our purpose is in life.

And we’ve seen the world change about us, too. We’ve voted in elections and debated what’s to be done with the Internet. We’ve fretted over fanatical devotees with too-loud voices and seen the end of the United States space program. We’ve seen so much and come so far, and it’s only now at the end of the year that we can look back upon everything that’s happened and decide that yes, this journey was one making.

At least, I hope you feel that way, too.

Not tied to pop culture (though referencing it frequently) or media or style, this blog has been as much of an exploration for me as it has been for you. Anyone who’s read more than one of my posts (for which I thank you from both top and bottom of my heart) has had insight into a stranger’s thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. When robbed of my usual fall-backs–it’s easy to write about TV and video games ad nauseum–I managed to travel further into my psyche than ever before. My style shifted like sand dunes in desert winds. Certain posts stand out more than others, but not all of my favourite posts are melancholic, not all of them concern fondly remembered relatives. I felt alive when tying a day trip to Lyme Regis to the life of Mary Anning. its most famous inhabitant; I felt alive when writing about the final voyage of the Space Shuttle. In this place, on this blog I was free to follow my imagination wherever it might lead, and so I followed, often along tunnels that took unexpected turns, weaving a complicated network that reflected not just my own thoughts and opinions but–to a degree–all of mankind’s.

Even though I believed I was writing from my own experience I was writing from a shared pool. When readers commented, they recognised events I’d been through from their own lives. These weren’t opinions I was scrawling down: they were universal truths.

Occasionally my subject matter moved too far in risqué directions. My post on the necessary nature of offensiveness proved so offensive for one reader that he refused to read past the picture that accompanied it, severing any connection between us. Another post–035 – The Writer’s Wife–was removed soon after posting, leaving a gap in the year’s writing that will never be filled.

But that’s the nature of life. Sometimes we say things we can never take back; other times we apologise too late to make a difference. 205 – The Apology illustrates this perfectly.

I suppose I’m giving myself too much credit. I’m hardly the first person to complete the One A Day challenge though those who’ve done so in such a, shall we say, loquacious manner are few and far between. While I never had any real problem making the word count a consistent 1,000-2,000 words per day takes it out of all but the most prolific of writers. Once I had a subject I was always good to go, but such subjects don’t always manifest themselves when they should.

Strangely, one of my favourite times writing this blog came when I had weeks of articles to catch up on. Returning home from the US this past summer I forced to write near constantly for days, pushing myself beyond previously established limits into a realm of altered consciousness where the world around me seemed as pliant as the words I typed. Language is a miraculous thing. My illustration for this–dotted about this blog–is that simply reading the word ‘dog’ is enough to put the image of a dog in your mind. At times I’ve played with the flexibility of my writing, making real people do imaginary things, flicking between time periods faster than paragraphs will allow, distorting punctuation, spelling and syntax, building and collapsing new worlds in the space of a sentence.

I’ve drawn other people into my posts, painting them by turns as caricatures and eerily present versions of themselves. This week I interviewed my father, letting him speak for himself in his own words. It is, perhaps, the closest I’ve come to real journalism thus far, and one of the posts I’m most proud of.

Those of you who’ve come with me might find my final post wanting. It is, after all, only a table of contents: a reference page for every other post I’ve written this year. I believe it to be the most important post of all: it maps the route we’ve travelled, charting sickness and sadness with equal precision. Long term readers have no doubt noticed certain story threads woven from post to post; though I didn’t have the aforethought to create a key, it’s here you’ll be able to chart their progress, unravel the lies I’ve told and–just as important–the truths.

I’ve shed many tears over the course of this blog. Now it’s done I find myself rather sad, as if this is another loss suffered, the least in a line that–though fortunately short–contains far too many of them. What happens now that I’m done? Where will I go once I’ve shut this door?

You, dear reader, know this isn’t the first time I’ve thought this in 2011. It’s been a year of great upheaval–perhaps greater than you imagine–and it’s echoes of this upheaval that plague me now as the year draws to a close. We’ve reached our destination, and as always, we’ve reached it too soon.

Regrets? I regret that I pulled a post–or more accurately, that I wrote a post I later had to pull. I regret recycling a few posts written last year for my private consumption, edited and spruced up for 2011. I regret that I wrote a placeholder for a post I later turned into one of my Tales from the Fireside columns and never replaced that placeholder–it’s still there, just another lie in a blog filled with them.

I regret not having the courage to deliver the final twist in this tale, the key that unlocks so much that comes before, but some stories are better told straight and I believe this is one of them.

It’s quiet and dark–as it often is here at campfireburning.wordpress.com. My wife’s spending the afternoon visiting a friend I care little for. The dog’s on the floor, as is my sister-in-law, spending time with Lilo before she returns to upstate New York tomorrow. It’s an unremarkable scene but it’s the one we find ourselves in here at the end of the year.

I wish you a happy new year, my dear audience. May everything you hope for come to pass and so much more besides. May 2012 be a year full of fresh attempts–at new things and old things and everything in between–and may everything you attempt be an unmitigated success.

As for me, in 2012 I think I’ll try my hand at writing.

This is Campfire, signing off.

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