Last week was a good week. I didn’t appreciate it at the time of course. Quite often the fiancé’s feedback is at odds with my own; the columns he loves are rarely the ones I’m pleased with. Then come the trickle of comments and messages. I hadn’t particularly liked last week’s column. I felt the tone was a bit grumpy and the ideas more confrontational than necessary. And yet it was a popular one. I received some wonderful feedback.
Such an occurrence makes me doubt myself. My ego seeks validation and I find myself trying to identify the elements that pleased people and pick out the flaws in the columns that haven’t received much of a response. Of course this breaks the crucial role of writing to please yourself. The one trend I have identified is that the more true to myself I am, the more popular the column. I can be stroppy, happy, political, nostalgic, it really doesn’t matter as long as I am authentic. My readership sees the columns that are perhaps trying to be a little bit clever or the ones written in a depressed or detached mood and fails to become engaged.
What I dislike most about my own writing is my tendency to become autobiographical. A somewhat vocal low self esteem asserts that surely I am not so necessary as to warrant drawing attention to myself. This is rubbish of course. I know from the blogs I read myself that it is the people that share stories of their lives that are most engaging. Not that this is license to get a bit Woody Allen on you.
Ultimately the quest is for what the fiancé loves most; balance. Where it is achieved, I think a good blog emerges. So what are the elements? For that, I’m going to look back on my various blogs. There have others I’ve played around with but these are the key ones.
1) The Raw Blog – April 2008 to July 2008
My first blog racked up over 35,000 words in three months and charted the adventures of my newly single self in Malaysia. I shared everything as I sought to make sense of my life. The fiancé featured as “SB” (Significant Bloke) but I was very much the single girl and the blog covered everything from taxi rides to my sex life. It was raw and honest. I ended The Raw Blog to write The Balanced Blog.
2) The Balanced Blog – July 2008 to August 2009
My second blog was of a similar theme to the first and just as explicit but I felt the need to hit a middle ground between my past proper and my recent reactionary past. There was also a lot that I left out, things I chose not to share. It continued my adventures in Malaysia but became broader in outlook. It lacked the sparkle of The Raw Blog but ultimately reflected a happier and healthier blogger. It eventually fizzled out as my need to it fell away. These early blogs were therapeutic but something I was ready to move on from come the summer of 2009.
3) The Political Blog – March 2009 to June 2009
The political blog was moderately academic and in many ways laid the groundwork for The Thursday Column. I called it Creation for a Wealth of Nations and started to explore my ideas in greater depth as putting my thoughts down forced me to assess what I believed. While I loved what I was doing, the blog lacked direction and I stopped writing on it when I started working part-time.
4) The Photo Blog – April 2009 to November 2009
When I moved to Gloucester I decided to take a photograph every day. Eventually I lost interest but I vastly improved my eye and learnt a lot. I called it The Real Voyage of Discovery and it made me more reflective. That there was overlap with The Political Blog reflects that I was looking for my voice. The desire to blog was ignited by The Raw Blog but I struggled to settle on a format.
5) The Thursday Column – December 2009 to present day
The answer was simple. I realised that all I needed was a date and a word count. While there have been a few hiccups, this blog has worked brilliantly for me. It has ridden the storm of me starting full-time work, moving in with the fiancé and his kids and changing job to a far more challenging position.
I suppose the crucial point is that in The Thursday Column I found the fluidity that made The Raw Blog and The Balanced Blog interesting reading and the focus that had limited The Political Blog and The Photo Blog. While the little voice that tells me not to be so self-absorbed is ever present, I recognise that without the personal touch, my writing is flat.
I think that this week I was due some reflection. When I started nearly a year ago, I wanted to make writing a habit and that has been achieved. My intention was for a year of columns but now is as good a time as any to say that The Thursday Column will not cease at the end of the year. That there have been enquiries about this has been touching.
It’s late now and I’m tired. I’m aware that I’ve not really said anything but it was the column to be written. Maybe next week I’ll cover love or snow, who knows?
But what I’ve achieved tonight matters to me. I feel my concerns about this blog have been exorcised and I’m keen to move on. I wrote it for me and that is why I started blogging in 2008. Good or bad, it’s authentic and for a busy girl sometimes that’s all that can be managed.
See you next week x
To my long term readers I ask that you do not mention the names of my first two blogs if you leave a comment. I have deliberately not given them as while I have never written anything I would not admit to, I feel that out of context they do not represent the person I am today. Thank you.