On writing what you know

about-meIt’s been a while since my last post. I go through phases where I get very self-conscious about my blog and keep clicking the ‘trash’ icon for the posts that are languishing half-finished in my Drafts folder. I think it’s probably because, now that I’ve done and documented and brought to conclusion the whole career break thing, I no longer have a clear focus for my blog other than, well, me. Right when I started this blog I said that when you start a blog you have to get past the fundamental premise that people will actually want to read what you have to say, which is quite a big deal when you think about it. Particularly when what you have to say is basically all about you. Lately I’ve found this a really difficult thing to reconcile, and as a result I have persistently ignored the little anxious voice in my head reminding me I really ought to put something up soon.

I have thought once or twice about taking the site down altogether – but that is a drastic decision. Every once in a while I speak to someone who tells me that they read my blog and like it, which is always good to hear of course and then makes me think that maybe it is worthwhile continuing it. At the same time, whenever someone I don’t know very well says they read my blog I feel instantly embarrassed, as if I have unintentionally revealed a tiny private bit of my soul to them and now they can see right through me. This despite the fact that I obviously do want people to read this, and that I share each new post on Twitter which is an entirely public forum and one intertwined with my professional identity. Plus, if I didn’t want people to read it, I would never have started a blog in the first place.

Perhaps in my less self-confident moments I question why people want to read what I have to say about me – is it just some kind of morbid curiosity about another person’s life? A bit like when you walk past a house with its curtains open and you have to look inside to see what pictures someone has put up or what they’re watching on TV?

Maybe it is also a slight identity crisis, where I wonder just where to go with this. Do I turn this into a platform to offer up my opinion about things, like I did at the time of the referendum? I find that problematic, because there are many people who give their opinions much more eloquently and half the time I don’t trust my opinions anyway. And even when I do trust my opinions, I question the point of proclaiming them. I could fill quite a few paragraphs saying that Trump is a deranged moron and that I am horrified by what’s going on in Aleppo, but (as I learnt after the referendum) that is unlikely to make a blind bit of difference to anyone. Plus, as I also noticed when I wrote about the referendum, you suddenly get strangers starting arguments with you on social media which is something I find irksome and pointless.

They say ‘write what you know’ and I suppose what I know best is me – although sometimes I doubt that, too. All of the writing I have ever done in my spare time has always been about me – either private diaries or this blog. I don’t write fiction or poetry or reviews. I like stuff, like food and music and makeup and going on trips, but I know none of those things to such an extent that I want to dedicate an entire blog to which restaurants I’ve visited or what eyeliner I use. There are other people out there who do that much more engagingly than I ever could.

So what I am left with is me, and ‘me’ isn’t very consistent so one week I might be writing about a trip I’ve been on or something I read that made me think about something else, and another week I might genuinely feel passionately enough about some kind of Thing that’s going on that I want to publicly voice my opinion on it. And sometimes I just want to tell you that I’m not really sure what I’m doing right now. Maybe I am writing that partially as a justification or to try and convince myself that it is ok. I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter how often I post something, or what I write about and who reads it, or why they read it. As long as my little bar chart that tells me how many people visit my blog doesn’t stick at zero for a new post, I guess that means that some people are still interested in what I have to say – even if it is inconsistent and sporadic and by its very nature self-centred.