This latest journal entry covers the return to writing of one of the great Cumbrian writers, Les Floyd, who made his comeback this week, after three years away, by publishing an early contender for blog of the year.
In the early hours of the nineteenth of March, the Blogfather made his return. Les Floyd posted on his Lesism blog for the first time in three years, having crafted an epic tour de force of an essay, telling the story of his brother’s death, the impact it has had on him and his estranged family, the years leading up to this tragic moment and his hopes that, from the heartbreak of brother Ray’s death, he and his remaining siblings can be reunited. It is a tale that will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will remind you that, when it comes to wordsmithery, there are few people around who can take you on a journey like the Blogfather can. The post is entitled ‘Brothers In Arms’ and it can be read HERE.
I’m not going to go into detail telling you about the blog itself; that is a treat you can discover for yourself. What I am going to do is tell you about Les, and the effect he has had on my life. When I was breaking into the blogging game, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’d write essays about my life, and I could do that just fine, but when it came to getting people to read them, it was a different ball game. I just didn’t have the sort of internet reach you need to get your writing to people. In an attempt to get my writing to the people that could help it, I looked up other internet mental health writers, and I would send my essays to them in the hope they might share it with their followers and amplify my words in a way I couldn’t do alone. One man was willing to do that every time I asked, and still does, without fail. That man is Les Floyd.
With his one hundred thousand-plus followers, it would be easy for the Blogfather to dismiss the little man, but that is not who Les Floyd is. He is someone that uses his platform to try and help others, to share creativity of all kinds, to help the lesser-known writers reach a wider audience. Talking to him this morning, we reminisced about a time when social media was like that, where everyone was trying to help other struggling creatives to reach people, to raise each other up on a mutual wave of support, to help each other have a chance to achieve the sort of dreams that the internet used to make possible. It isn’t like that now. In the modern-day social media, everybody is a brand, and so many are unwilling to share uncool or unpopular things in case it detracts from their brand. As social media polarises the world, only extreme opinions, and echo chambers enable engagement; people look for the likes through dunking on their enemies, rather than supporting and celebrating their friends, followers and the things they love. Social media is all angry snark, no creative spark, and it’s a real shame. Those of us who remember what it was like a decade ago remember how supportive it used to be, full of people telling jokes and sharing the things that brought them joy. We’re all guilty of falling into the trap of the modern social media game, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’ve been played by the algorithms and the outrage merchants. Still, a little piece of the old social media remains, and can be found over at Les Floyd’s Twitter page, where he talks about his cats, he tries to learn about how the world is nowadays, and he does what he can to salvage the spirit of social media’s glory days by sharing the stories of the struggling creatives. He’s a good man, is Les.
That’s not to say he hasn’t got things wrong, which he openly discusses in ‘Brothers In Arms’. It really is a stunning piece of writing, one that sets the standard for blogs in 2021 and fires us all up to rise to his level. It may have a few hints of rustiness on the technical side, but that’s only to be expected when you go from no blogs in three years to 6000+ words in just a few hours. What it is filled with, however, is what actually matters: rawness, openness, brutal honesty and reflection, anger, frustration, heartbreak, joy and hope. If you enjoy reading, you owe it to yourself to read this glorious piece of work; if you aspire to be a writer, this demonstration of the art of using words to convey emotion is, quite simply, a must-read.
At times in ‘Brothers In Arms’, Les hints at blog posts for the future, suggesting that, from the flames of his heartbreak, his creative phoenix will rise. How fitting it would be, if his brother Ray’s death was what brought Les back to life. What a tribute it would be, if the nightmare of the last few years was the foundation to achieve his dreams. I hope that Les continues to write, both blog posts and the book he’s always spoken of. If he does not, if this is the final essay he shares with the world, then at least he’s saved the best for last. Once you’ve finished reading this post, go and read ‘Brothers In Arms.’
The Blogfather is back. Let’s hope it’s for good.
Song of the Chapter:
‘Brothers In Arms (live)’ by Mark Knopfler
Quote of the Chapter:
“Right now, after enduring possibly the worst three days of my life, with churning heartbreak and incalculable sorrow …
After taking maybe the heaviest soul punch in my entire life, knocking me tumbling and, on my knees, on the carpet in my flat, sobbing with tears …
Today, I stood the fuck up.”