My Green Life

Several years ago, when the web was a relatively new phenomenon and archie, veronica and gopher were the internet protocols of choice for the discerning undergrad, I started writing magazine articles. As a student I had grand plans of supplementing my meagre grant with a sideline in computer journalism, and was commissioned to write an extensive article on “Alternative Operating Systems” for Atari World magazine, under the pen name “Xav”. My article was not only published, but was made the leader: I’d headlined the cover of a national magazine with my first ever submission. As you can imagine, it was with great pride that I looked at that magazine on the newsstands as I awaited the cheque for �685 that was heading my way.

Except the cheque never arrived. The magazine went into receivership and I never saw a penny. On the plus side, it meant that my headline article graced the newsstands for something like four months, as it was never usurped by a later issue. On the downside my plan to make a little money via journalism died with that article.

My enthusiasm for writing lived on, however. For several months I contributed articles to Atari Computing magazine though I, like all the other contributors to this journal, was an unpaid volunteer. During this time, I also took it upon myself to write a novel, Not Dead Yet, which remains to this day unpublished outside of a couple of dozen copies that I had run off to give to friends. I do have a small pile of rejection letters to attest to my half-hearted attempts at publication, but I never really had the enthusiasm or determination to keep trying.

Instead I was already racing ahead with my next project. Some time during 1995 I began compiling a list of things that I love, things that I hate, and things that just don’t seem to make much sense to me. The list was stored on my trusty Apple Newton, the eerie green glow of its backlight serving to illuminate the screen when an urgent item to add to one of the lists caused me to wake with a start in the middle of the night.

The idea was to write a small essay about each of the items in the lists. Some would be a page; others perhaps more. Occasionally there might be a short entry of only a paragraph or two, but if you’ve read this far you’ll have realised that I find it easier to write long prose than short, so these mini-essays would likely have been few. Ultimately the articles were to have been compiled into some sort of order, and presented to the world – or at least to a few publishers.

I gave myself a deadline of one year in which to compile my lists. Anything that didn’t make it to the lists in that period obviously wasn’t important enough for inclusion. That year represents a (hopefully) small proportion of my whole life, and is virtually nothing in geological timescales. It was to be a snapshot of my views on life as they stood at that time in my early twenties. I even had a subtitle for the final collection: “An autobiography of an instant”.

Great, so I had a list and a subtitle. All I needed was to actually write some articles and come up with a good title for the collection. As any half-decent procrastinator will know, when presented with a selection of options like this you should always choose the one which lets you put off doing any real work for as long as possible. So I spent several weeks playing with different names. None of them seemed quite right, but perhaps inspired by the Newton’s eerie glow, there was one that stuck in my head: “My Green Life”.

It seemed appropriate. The first item in the list of things I love was the Newton itself; I felt that I, too, was “green” in the sense of inexperienced, still learning a lot about life and about the subject I’d chosen to read at university; and I was at least a little interested in environmental issues, as a few of the articles would prove.

Or at least they might have done if I’d ever written them. I managed to write only a couple, and sketch out a few more, but procrastination won through as usual and my little project never amounted to much.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I decided it was time to start a blog. I wanted to write about things that interest me for one reason or another: things I love; things I hate; things that just don’t seem to make much sense. The choice of a blog title, therefore, seemed obvious. But it also meant that my first post would have to be a lengthy article explaining why I had chosen it.

So with that out of the way, maybe I can get on with the real content of this blog. Just as soon as I work out what exactly that is going to be…

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