‘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 correct title of this blog, though I usually just call it “the diary” or “my blog” is The Occasional Papers. It refers to the tradition of “occasional writing” — short, editorial bits and bobs — and also to how I generally post only when I feel like it.
An exception to this occasionality was a 53-week uninterrupted run in 2013-14 when posted a substantial entry (600 words or so) every Saturday morning. The point was to develop writerly discipline and to demonstrate (should anyone notice) that I’d be able to deliver regular, consistent work to deadline. Another exception was a run of short, daily entries between June and September 2019.
The best entries, I think, are the ones that recount everyday “adventure.” These are the micro-stories (some would say non-stories) that take place in doctor’s offices, dentist chairs, supermarket queues, train carriages, and elevators. In other words, transitional space. It’s where we spend vast swathes of our lives, barely aware that anything is happening at all.
The strongest entries follow the form of a feuilleton and are 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 and Canada’s Eric Nicol.
Believe it or not, The Occasional Papers is the very core of my creative practice. It’s where most of the ideas begin (if we don’t count their true beginning being the real life events that inspire them). The blog led to the founding of New Escapologist, generated half the content of A Loose Egg and Stern Plastic Owl, and (no joke) it’s how I met my partner.* Aside from a year or two futzing with Patreon, I’m obviously not paid to write my blog, 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 even longer). It first appeared on LiveJournal but was transferred to and continued at this more autonomous platform in 2007.
*(she’d leave funny comments in the LiveJournal days, I became familiar with her illustration work and roped her into helping with New Escapologist, and the rest is sordid history)
Thank you for reading. If you enjoy the diary and would support my ability to write it, please buy one of my books so I can stay alive.
Praise for the diary
“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