Tuesday, 21 May 2013

74 days later … reflecting on blogging

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the act of blogging.  The sociologist I was trained to be can’t help but reflect upon the meaning of what I’m doing, so as a blogger -if this is now what I’m calling myself - it seems dishonest not to give space to these thoughts.

It’s been two months now, this blogging.  It’s not turning out to be what I thought it would – which was a straightforward account of family life – but I’m not sure where I’m going with it either.  There doesn’t seem to be anything tying it together, just a random collection of posts.  Realistically, perhaps this is because that's what it’s like inside my head, trying to grab hold of various aspects of my life and anchor them, but not knitting them together in any coherent way.  Will this come?  I’m enjoying it; it has a kind of therapeutic effect to sit in front of a computer and let the randomness spill out, but I think there’s also an aspect of using it to distract from the things I know I should be doing.  While I’m doing this I’m not writing for myself, or for work, and there are a million things left undone in the house.

I look at the page counts because I’ve always loved the certainty of numbers, but they are kind of meaningless.  I look at the things I’m supposed to do, like set up a Facebook page, join Google Plus and Pinterest, plough through the maze of technical jargon, and it fills me with a quiet despair that if you write you’re supposed to now become a PR machine.  The conferences absolutely fill me with horror, I have to do these things at work, but at least there I can hide behind data.  How can one do that at a conference about your life??  Part of the reason that I blog is that I’m so incredibly rubbish at small talking and meeting new people.  I browse through the mountainous blogosphere, identifying styles I love, things that make me cringe, become weary at the design issues that flummox my totally non-spatial brain.  But then I get drawn into the stories, the extraordinary tales of everyday life told with the most brutal honesty and humour, the blogs of such astonishing beauty and observation that I am awestruck, and I realise that it doesn’t matter that I’m hardly reading paper books at the moment.  Because this really could be the most unusual period in literary history, all these free, unedited, boundless stories.

I’m torn on my own narrative, how much detail to give about my children.  It’s not that I worry about their images being misused, because you can go through life looking over your shoulder, it’s that I don’t want to write them in a way that might embarrass them at a later date.  And the way I see it, if there’s no humour in these stories then they just become very dry and none of the children’s personalities will come out.  So it's finding that balance.  It has to be kind of anonymous, because the things I write about are probably not the kinds of things I want to say to people in the real world.  We edit ourselves for other people constantly, don’t we?  And while a blog too will naturally only ever be a partial picture, the constancy of it probably provides a bigger picture of ourselves than we normally give to one person.  Doesn’t it?  I know I don’t write at all how I talk, sometime I read thoughts back and I’m not exactly sure where they come from.  Or where they’re going.

So that’s me, two months in and probably less clear than when I started, but no less addicted for that.  One really nice thing to happen was being asked to write a guest blog for Uppark, a place we love very much, and being given this chance and freedom was wonderful.  And I suppose that has been the most unexpectedly satisfying aspect of this experiment, the chance encounters with fellow bloggers, whose perspectives each add something quite unique to your worldview, and who share them all so generously.  In the last two months, amongst endless other things, I have found poetry to inspire me every day, photographs of micro beauty when the skies are grey, that there is always time in life for a wry observation, and critically, how to wear a scarf!  Basically, it’s reminded me how very interesting and decent most people are, and of the limitless passion of the blogosphere.  So perhaps actually the chaos doesn't matter one little bit.


  1. I thought I'd commented but it's not showing!

    Brilliant, brilliant post! You say exactly what I feel at the moment! This blogging is a strange and often confusing experience but also exhilarating. I too worry about the randomness of my posts & how to retain some anonymity. Still not decided on wether to mention the kids by name - getting fed up of writing "the youngest" or "our older one". I'm hoping I will improve with time.

    I love reading your posts so please keep writing!

  2. Thank-you! But when I read your blog it feels really put together and well-paced, with a very definite theme. I am already a fan.

    By the way, I took your advice & investigated Pinterest for Harry Potter party ideas, & unfortunately I have got just a little bit addicted (& sidetracked) ...

  3. Hi, popping over to visit from BritMums. Blogging sure is a funny old business but like you say very addictive! I've been doing it near on 5 years now and I love it but it has been a real journey and my writing has changed so much in that time, just go with it and see where it takes you. Mich x