About the Diary
“What sort of adventures?” I asked him, astonished. “All sorts, Monsieur. Getting on the wrong train. Stopping in an unknown city. Losing your briefcase, being arrested by mistake, spending the night in prison. Monsieur, I believe the word adventure could be defined: an events out of ordinary without being necessarily extraordinary.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea (1964)
The first thing you see on a visit to my website is a lengthy and recent piece of writing. I’m sometimes told that this approach is horribly, horribly wrong and that I should open instead with pithy quotes or, better yet, INTERACTIVE VISUALS. To this I say: pfft! Read it and weep.
The piece of writing we’re talking about here is my blog. In fact, it’s a feuilleton and is supposed to feel a bit like a humorous newspaper column. This is one of my favourite forms of literature (complete with its own grammar and potential for obstructions yet with the happy aim of mass appeal) and to my mind best exemplified by Ireland’s Myles na gCopaleen, America’s S. J. Perelman, and Canada’s Eric Nicol.
The correct title of this blog, though I usually just call it “the diary,” is The Occasional Papers. It refers to the tradition of “occasional writing” — short, editorial bits and bobs — and also to the fact that I generally post only when I feel like it.
An exception to this occasionality was a 53-week uninterrupted run in 2013-14 when I succeeded in posting a substantial entry (600 words or so) every Saturday morning. The point was to develop writerly discipline and to demonstrate that I’d be able to deliver regular, consistent work to deadline.
Another exception was in mid-2019 when I wrote the blog on a daily basis (shorter entries this time) for fifty days as a way to enjoy the Web under pre-social media conditions.
The best entries in my diary, I think, are the kind that reflect a sort of quotidian ‘adventure’. These are the micro-stories (some would say non-stories) that take place in doctor’s offices, dentist chairs, food queues, train carriages, and elevators.
Believe it or not, The Occasional Papers is the very core of my creative practice. It’s where most of the ideas begin. It led to the founding of New Escapologist, generated over half the content of A Loose Egg, and (no joke) it’s how I met my wife. I’m not generally paid for it, but it represents my truest writing, the sort of writing I really want to do, my moments of flow.
The Occasional Papers has existed since 2004 (though I’d been blogging and diary-writing in other forms for longer). It first appeared on LiveJournal but was transferred to and continued at this independent platform in 2007.
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It all made me laugh, sometimes uncontrollably, and recalled Eric Nicol’s capacity to capture the vapors around what others might label “nothing” and package them in a way that resonates and makes us smile. Wringham’s tight style does this really, really well. but I admit it is a struggle to find the fibres that might hint at deeper or more-than-the-sum-of-the-parts meaning. Recently, I heard award-winning author Miriam Toews say “that when nothing is happening; it still is life” and worth documenting and celebrating. This might hint at the higher merit of [Wringham’s writing] though, for me, it’s more than enough that it makes me laugh.
— Dick Bourgeois-Doyle, Canus Humorous