[Continuing on from the last time we continued on with this thing, I rescue something which my former self unconsciously sought to condemn to the Drafts Bin – where half-finished ideas go to digitally wallow on hard drives, sadly beyond the sight of Human eyes…
As it happens, this one was pretty complete, until I stopped writing and it wasn’t.]
I Owe You All An Honesty
Writing things can be so wrap-me-up-in-myself. There’s a lot of recursion and heading down weird channels of expression and then mixing metaphor with plain language. And bunches of other things.
Hello, my name is Mike. No, really, it is. I call myself Hardley M here because I find it funny, and it makes me think of a slightly older guy than me (I’m 50+ and will be for some time) who wears flannel shirts and grumbles about things, but is also fundamentally a good person – like most people are.
I also like to wear flannel shirts, just like Hardley, but that is purely a coincidence.
I believe most people are fundamentally good people. I think Hardley agrees, but when he’s not writing, don’t expect him to say anything quite so squishy. I think he likes to hang out in the woods a lot and look for garbage that people have thrown there, so he can grumble self-righteously about the state of the world, while stuffing it in his backpack, apologizing to the squirrels.
I like to write, as it turns out. So do a lot of people. I found some of those lot-of-people here on the Internet, and now we support each other in our quests to find our voices through writing. I think this is a space where we can help each other find purpose too. And hope: let’s not forget the most important ingredient of all. Maybe after carbon.
I live in Atlantic Canada. Currently, I’m living around Halifax, and I’m originally from New Brunswick. I mostly avoid using my last name and exact location on the Internet for rather obvious reasons; I value privacy and safety but I understand our world is porous, and that Google is likely, at this very moment, analyzing my every move in an attempt to sell somebody the tools to sell me something I probably don’t need or even really want.
Privacy in the social media age is something else.
If you and I were to meet on the street, and strike up a conversation (at six-plus feet, of course), you would not think me all that odd or unusual. I am about as odd and unusual as most people. I am trustworthy with the big things but then I miss deadlines and sometimes lose people’s stuff by moving it around without thinking. I am somewhat charitable but then I drink coffee and eat sugar and that money could go somewhere better. I try not to beat myself up about this kind of stuff. I mostly succeed at not beating myself up, but sometimes I fail at that too. Admitting that is not, I think, beating myself up. But maybe it is.
I have made three WordPress blogs. One is this one you’re reading, one is called The Wimsel Loop (under my name), and the other is called Better Letters, by B.B. Butterwell (also me, but maybe more than me, someday). I want to be up front about this, at least now and then, because I realize that it is becoming increasingly difficult to know what to believe these days. I believe in honesty and open-ness (to the extent one can have these things, while also having privacy and security).
I created The Wimsel Loop first, a few years ago. The purpose was to write a book collaboratively with the readers. I still like that idea, but I should also mention that I struggle with attention / focus / procrastination / etc. and so that “project” grew legs into a general-purpose journal, and then I started writing poems and talking about God and the whole story part kind of got lost in and among the other things.
I lightly rebranded the blog a few times and tried a crowdfunding campaign or two but in the end that book was just going to come out when it damn well wanted to. It is still doing that. I have a day job, and my current excuse for not writing fiction every single day is that I get tired of looking at computer screens for more than a few hours, and need frequent breaks. Poor me.
Then I created BB Butterwell. BB (Bettanie B.) is an octogenarian living “in Nova Scotia” who sprung into existence because I wanted to send a terse email to the then-president of Saint Mary’s University, where a good friend of mine had worked for years, and then became the target of workplace harassment, that eventually led to her dismissal and a series of health crises. She did a hunger strike for about 27 days in front of their campus, and I joined a group of her friends to help with logistic and communications (making pamphlets, stocking the van with things, walking her dog).
As I watched my friend become weaker, and SMU do nothing but hide behind lawyers and indifference, I became (as you no doubt would have) a bit angry at the state of things. I wrote a letter – not crude or threatening, but somewhat severe (for me) – and then, before hitting send, had a faintness of heart.
Halifax is a small town, and there is (at least the perception of) an Old-Boy’s club at work here, as there is in so many places. Not wishing to be sexist, I should point out this club admits both men and women now. As long as you’re connected. That is the perception, anyhow.
I worried that poking this bear might put me on a list – that I might become blackballed professionally.
Can you imagine? But that is the collateral effect of workplace harassment, isn’t it? The implicit message is, don’t cross the line – you will suffer consequences. All of you.
So I created an alt – Bettanie, who was further along in life than I and could frankly care less what SMU or any other institution might choose to openly or subvertly do to her – and hit send, in her name.
This was something of a cop-out, but it gave me my true voice back. So Bettanie opened a Medium account and posted her letter to SMU’s president there too.
Medium wants my money though, and WordPress doesn’t mind giving me free diskspace, so Bettanie (under the recommendation of her fictional granddaughter and nephew, who both know more about technology than she ever cared to) moved her blogging to WordPress.
WordPress: thank you, and you’re welcome.
Bettanie will eventually find The Wimsel Loop and realize that the writing of that author needs work – he’s kind of careless with his proofreading, and tends to ramble. She’ll start to edit and then re-distribute it (since The Wimsel Loop is open-source, and she eventually Googles what that is, and she’s laid up with gout or some such thing so needs a hobby to do from her bed anyhow).
If there is a book published called the Wimsel Loop, it will be under BB’s name, not mine (unless you do it first). BB’s just a standard pseudonym, wrapped in some extra fiction, for fun.
So one guy, three blogs. Oh! Then there’s this thing.
Trust & Perception
[Here I assume I planned to actually get into the topic of my talk, since the whole preamble about the various blogs I have was only an introduction, to explain why I ended up creating other blogs in the first place, and why I sort of care and sort of don’t care if they are all linked back to my actual self.
I wanted to talk about what I thought about trust and perception in the 21st century. How does a person know what’s what, and who’s who? Where can you go to hang your hat? What can you bank on being real?
Well, I don’t know the answers to these questions and I suppose by the time I had worn myself out explaining where my blogs came from, I didn’t have the energy left to try formulating them. This is how it goes sometimes. I guess maybe what I just wanted to say was that I get where you’re coming from, if you find yourself wondering from time to time exactly who is on the other end of any given Internet thing.
I wish I could meet more people for real, more often, but these days are weird ones. I don’t mind making new friends whose faces I only ever see fixed & flattened – because these are people I might never have known in any sense, had it not been for this accursed and wondrous Internet of ours.
I hope your day is going well!
-Mike, Hardley M, & Bettanie B. Butterwell
[P.S. In all of that up there, I also forgot to explain why I created this blog, Hardly Regarding. The short version is: I kept renaming The Wimsel Loop, and at some point had called it “Hardly Regarding The Wimsel Loop” (since the blog had become about everything but the book I had meant to write), and then a fellow on the Internet told me he enjoyed reading “Hardly Regarding” (not wanting to type out the whole blog name, and who can blame him?), and I realized that was a great name on its own for a blog, so I grabbed the domain, and Bob’s your uncle.]