Do we write blogs for ourselves or our readers? Are blogs a way of legitimising thoughts in full view of the world while kidding ourselves we’re Very Private People, or are we secret divas playing to an audience, giving readers what we think they want?
Previously I had a business blog. It was a great selling tool to showcase Etsy and Ebay wares. I curated perfect posts of my home and surrounding countryside accessorised by vintage florals and chippy paintwork, with no mention of real life to spoil the ambient dream. It was idyllic, I would like to have lived there myself.
This blog was born from a necessity for discipline. I’ve been writing ever since I learned how, but it wasn’t until I took a writing course with Anna Blake that the benefits of editing-with-a-chainsaw were explained. Using one word instead of five made me think about each sentence, and the impact was impressive. I wanted to write more but Busy is my middle name and there was never time to do something I considered ‘doing nothing’. Having cancer, having a horse and home and running a business were all time-consuming and I also like to sleep, so where could writing fit?
Steroids provided the answer. Perhaps a tad extreme but the Universe works in strange ways. Along with chemotherapy treatment I had high-dose steroids and being awake at 4 a.m. was the norm. With a quiet house and Mark asleep, I had precious time to I escape into words, silently venting thoughts on the laptop keys. The more I wrote, the more I wrote, and the more I wrote the clearer my thoughts became. When I had a chemo break I slept through 4a.m and got busy again, because I didn’t want to face my thoughts. I couldn’t process the words Incurable Diagnosis, let alone commit them to paper.
Panacea: Noun. A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases.
The Million Dollar Question: If my panacea was within reach, why wasn’t I reaching for it?
The Cheap-Seats Answer: Because it would unlock a Pandora’s Box of emotions I didn’t want to face.
Anna nagged me to write, and set little challenges she didn’t think I knew were challenges but yes, emails also count as writing. Then I opened a new Word document; the cathartic stuff came first and it wasn’t pretty. The self-pity was downright ugly and the dark humour was bitter and very, very dark. I used the chainsaw as a weapon against the words I’d written, and most of them lay headless in the recycle bin. I emptied the bin. I emptied myself. I wrote myself empty.
Nature abhors a void. Once I’d trashed the vehemence and spite I felt like I’d had a re-boot, and the words that fell out of my fingers surprised no-one more than me. Writing became important but I needed a discipline because I work best to a deadline. One morning, the answer came with the words Horse Husband and Cancer, and once you have a title, you have a task. The first hurdle was ‘coming out’ as a cancerous person, the second hurdle was building a WordPress site. The latter took more determination than I knew I had.
Why do we read blogs? Because we’re nosey, or connect with the writer, or find security in someone else’s thoughts? Does misery love company, or is it solidarity with like-minded folk? Do a group of blogging introverts create one outrovert, a tribe that’s greater than the individuals? Or do we just like what certain bloggers write.
Recently I wrote three posts about my horse Bruce. They were my first foray into semi-fiction, a completely indulgent experiment of true facts and modified characters. Many of my readers aren’t horsey, so apologies if they’re not what you signed-up for. I was more surprised than anyone how well the stories read, but the greater surprise was how much I enjoyed writing them; I discovered a confidence in storytelling that was previously missing. Creating something fresh is immensely exciting, whereas translating thoughts to paper can be quite draining.
So where is this blog going? I’m on a flow writing Bruce’s story interwoven with my own, and if it looks good I’ll publish what I’ve written so far. Meanwhile I’ll continue to share when the real world intervenes or my soap-box beckons; this blog is going to go where it wants. I could pull rank and say “It’s my blog” but actually, it’s OUR blog because you’re all part of it. In answer to my first question, by writing for myself I found you, and by writing for you I found myself. Neat huh.