It’s been 69 days since I last updated. Sixty. Nine. That’s a horrible average!
Back when I had my old blog, I kinda fell out of love with it. That isn’t really an accurate description of what happened; I did love my blog. I just didn’t love the time it took to update it.
Actually, that isn’t an accurate description either. Updating it took no time at all. Writing is something I am passionate about, and if you’ve discovered anything about me on the journey this far, you’ll have an appreciation of my love of words and descriptions. Why be pithy when luscious word-grapes can fill the black and white text with such luxurious colour?
Here’s the story of my writing online. If you’ve already trawled through the ‘about section’, then nothing surprising will rise up to greet you here. Just more detail.
Back around 2003, I had an online journal. It was over on EasyJournal (is that still a thing??), which was the posher version of Livejournal. I catalogued and detailed my day nearly every day; from short witty entries quickly jotted down, to longer essays. I was diligent about updating and I loved it. I would re-read my entries, soaking up the experiences that I had endured first-hand and seeing them through a reader’s eyes.
It was glorious and I basked.
Eventually, I got a little cocky and bought my own website. I didn’t necessarily think I had enough of a fan base (or any at all), but of all of the blogs and journals online that I admired on a daily basis, the truth rang out clear as a bell: to be anyone in the blogging world you need to make an indelible mark on the internet with your own website.
So, I got my own website.
I did nothing to promote the site. Nothing. I was content just updating, happily scribbling down anecdotes from my daily life. I casually and cleverly assigned nicknames to protect the innocents in my life and I weaved my tale with care and fervour.
I knew that it was being read by my close friends and I promoted it in my day to day life by way of casual mentions in conversation ‘Oh, I put that up in my online journal’ I would say flippantly with a wave of my hand. If the person I was speaking to knew about my journal, the statement would pass, if not, then inevitably ‘Oh? You have an online journal?’ they would ask. I would then launch into a detailed, yet modest account of the history of the journal. Why it was there; what it contained and eventually, my barely concealed pride at how long I’d been writing it.
It seemed important to me at that time to emphasise in these conversations my intense feelings about how important this journal was to me. It wasn’t just a blog, and truthfully, I’ve always hated that word. Blog. It sounds like an onomatopoeic word that describes a regurgitating toad. Blog.
This journal was history to me; history of me. I enjoyed every word I put on the screen; I enjoyed re-reading past posts and struggling to remember the salient details. My love of journaling was there on the screen for everyone to read. My life was there for the viewing. Every laugh; every tear; every snarky comment made under my breath in the direction of some nemesis or other. It was my history. I didn’t really care if other people read it; I read it.
So strong was my own belief about the importance of that journal to me, that I didn’t pay attention to anyone else reading. I didn’t obsess over comments, I didn’t even track visitors. I just kept writing, oblivious to the truth that people were, in fact, reading. And that without any proof of these silent visitors, I had no idea exactly how large my following was.
Until one fateful day…
I was out for drinks with a friend and we were discussing…well, I don’t actually remember what we were discussing. Some sort of crisis I was going through at the time; probably something to do with my entry visa into the UK and how much I despise the bureaucracy of the Home Office.
That’s when it happened. My friend turned to me and said, ‘You should read this blog I found. I read it all the time and it sounds like this girl is going through the exact same thing you are. She’s hilarious. Let me get the link’
She fumbled around on her phone and I sat in anticipation. If there was another person out there going through my same situation, maybe she had some keen insight on how to flummox the immigration system!
Finally, my friend showed me the link.
It was my blog.
I laughed so hard, I nearly sprayed gin and tonic through my nose. I could barely compose myself long enough to squeak out, ‘That’s me! You’re reading me!’
We both laughed together at the hilarity of her recommending my own blog to me and I marveled that she’d even found my journal after I did next to nothing to promote it. She sobered, met my eyes and said solemnly, ‘You know you’re really popular, right?’
No, I obviously did not know and I suddenly found myself stricken that I was popular enough to be recommended to myself by my own friend. How popular was I? Who was reading? How did they get there??
Later that night, as I lay in bed and pondered those questions, the inevitable vomit-in-a-bucket questions popped into my mind and anchored their evil hooks into my brain: How much about myself had I revealed? Had I divulged too much? Did my thinking no one knew my journal existed give me a false sense of security about how much I was revealing?
Could someone stalk me??
No sleep would be had until these questions were answered, and I sat therefore at my computer in the dark at 2am, sifting through every historical post to find something, anything that may have given away myself, my location or worse, the location or identity of someone I love.
Hundreds of posts were re-read. Some were hidden. Most were ok, but my paranoia hit its peak when I realised that I couldn’t be objective about what I was reading. I was sure that I had gone too far, and I took the entire thing down.
All that history. All of those entries. Everything I had once been so proud of was offline and only available to myself (and my system administrator).
I went dark.
Months went by and I found myself becoming agitated. I bought Moleskine journals and brand new gel pens. I started entries writing long-hand, my handwriting getting noticeably more and more frantic; the abbreviations becoming more far-fetched until it was clear, reading it, that my hand was getting tired. I kept my journal on my bedside table.
I got frustrated and gave up writing out everything that had happened during the day and resorted to once or twice a week. Then once a week. Then once a month. Then nothing.
Then after a few months of not keeping any sort of record of my day to day adventures (because I truly believe every day is an adventure), I would start again. New journal. New pen. As though owning these new things would keep my interest. Or that a pen with a smoother flow of ink would keep my hand from cramping and my penchant for poeticism would remain alive and robust.
Again I would start. Again I would give up.
Four brand new journals of varying colours later, and my bedside table was virtually hidden by a mountain of notebooks and pens.
That’s when I decided to start the online journal again. Screw this handwriting bullshit.
But that paranoia reared its ugly head once again, and I found myself sitting voiceless at an empty screen, watching the cursor wink at me patronisingly. ‘You don’t have anything to say, do you?’ it would sneer. ‘There’s nothing you can write that isn’t going to give you away.’
It wasn’t writing that was holding me back; it was having something to write about that wasn’t going to be too personal to share to everyone in the entire world (if they wanted to see it).
It was, frankly, a very constipated time, writing-wise.
I tried to keep it going for as long as I could, but what I eventually realised was that I had lost my voice. My old journal had been snarky, no-holds-barred, straight-from-the-hip, detailed, witty, sometimes snarky, full of opinion and generally was written from atop a very high horse.
But that very unique voice was gone and had been replaced with something more third-person, more matter-of-fact than opinion and sooooo pc that it was never going to push any envelopes, insult anyone, or at the very least make someone think.
It was boooooooooring.
I finally shut it down. Like breaking up with an old flame, I kept trying to talk myself out of it: ‘I can change!’ I would exclaim. ‘I can do better! I can be better!’ but I knew better than that and eventually, the entire site came down.
No more journal.
What I’ve found over the time that has passed since then is that I miss having my journal. And I always wonder, if I was so popular back in the day, where would I be now? I see or hear stories about bloggers getting their own book deals and movie deals or getting paid to write a weekly column for some liberal arts zine somewhere and I wonder where I could have ended up if I hadn’t become a big ole scaredy cat.
So, I’m back. New format this time. Slightly more guarded, but consciously trying to keep that edge that I had before. A sharper sword, but wielded with more precision.
And what’s my excuse now, for having gone 69 days without an update? Well, the truth is, I don’t have one. Not a good one anyway. I know it’s been a while. I think about updating all the time, but I just don’t do it.
Do I promise I’ll get better at this? No. Not instantly anyway. But if you stick around, you’ll get to see what I can get up to.
Because, honey, 2 posts in 69 days isn’t even a fraction of the measure of me.
Take my word for it.