“How do I write a successful diary?” was a question I used to ask myself as a child. I kept diaries when I was young, as did many of us. Locked and flowery. I have tons of diaries now (all black). Written in ever increasingly illegible hand-writing and of very little interest to anyone. Diaries are by nature confessional, raw and emotional, but that’s OK because you can write like no one is reading. Writing a blog, on the other hand is a little different. Should you write like no one is reading when that is clearly not the case? A blog stands for “Web Log” – an online log report or diary in other words, but I still struggle with how to write online, compared to in my diary and that is after a long, long time because being confessional and brutally honest has got me into some fairly hot water to say the least.
My blog is NINE years old this Easter. OMG, it would be nearly off to secondary school if it was my fourth child. My first post was written on Easter Sunday, when I was newly separated and without my children. I knew even then that I had to find a tangible interest and focus to stop me from wandering about the streets in my nightie, wailing my heart out.
So, if that was the level of my expectation for the blog, then it’s done it’s job. I am yet to wander around in my nightie in the road (maybe because I don’t own any – nighties that is, not roads)…but it’s a fitting image of my original madness nevertheless. Suffice to say, I remain very attached to this little old thing. It’s chronicled our journey and even recently got me an invite into Buckingham Palace!!
Bloody hell. I am now officially a dinosaur of the blogging world. A toothless old doyenne who still doesn’t completely understand SEO and keyword optimisation. But that’s not the point. That is not why I blog.
So why am I still blogging after all this time? Especially given that it’s had to change so much since the beginning.
Initially I wrote as Ernest Hemingway advised, “hard and fast about what hurts”, that was when it was a very personal anonymous diatribe about life – suggested by friends who could no longer bear to listen to my daily disasters. I discovered a collective sympathetic ear about the unfairness of life when you feel betrayed and received essential advise from others going through a similar pain and it felt like I was part of a community – that somehow there was a wide reaching safety net out there in cyberspace.
Since then it has been forced to change. To evolve. To grow up. Just like I have. Although I’m not sure it (or I) has succeeded in that task, but it puts on quite a good front most of the time. It’s hard to write honestly when you don’t want everyone to know what’s going on and it’s even more hard to find a balance that works. Impossible actually and yet, I persevere although I’m not entirely sure why…
Perhaps it’s still mainly for those rare comments – the ones that say “thank you so much for helping me feel that I am not alone” and it is most certainly for the people that I have met through it and for the opportunities it has brought me. All that remains a pure and simple joy.
It is also for the discipline of writing and for the record of my haphazard journey – starting from the very sad and dark newly divorced days and moving through the chaotic mess that had become my life. It is also good for allowing me time to be present in the moment, to pause for thought, to work out my own values and thought processes, to chronicle, to comment, to demand action (elephants and palm oil) and to witness how things evolve as we all grow older.
There are still many issues that I’m dealing with that would be of interest and debate. But I can’t write about most of them at the moment. Perhaps in time, when we have come out the other side – wherever the other side is (and how do you know when you’re there?). We have all been through a lot in the last nine years. My children and I. But there is no doubt that we are all much closer as a result and have all become stronger together. That is not to say that they haven’t been deeply affected by what happened, but they have adapted and found a way to get through it (even with some blips here and there). My daughter is currently in a knee brace after tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament whilst on her first run of the week and might have to have an operation, but apart from that they’re pretty good. They’re all at home for Easter and driving me marginally mad.
The arguments (we don’t have quite enough bedrooms these days so space is premium, nor do they want to watch the same TV programmes), THE NOISE (when they come in too late with their friends), THE COMPLAINTS (they hated their palm oil free Easter eggs)….
But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
Our lovely messy Easter lunch with friends:-
As I said in summary a few years ago:-
Divorce is a terrible thing in so many ways. Painful beyond belief. My children have suffered. I know that. But they have also become strong individuals who have learnt how to deal with some of life’s traumas. I didn’t have any traumas to deal with until my 40’s when my marriage fell apart and I fell spectacularly into a deep dark hole. I have had to reassess and redefine and whilst my life is far from calm I feel mostly a sense of deep gratitude for all that I have. Three beautiful children. Supportive friends and family, who have totally been there for me. My life distilled is very, very good and I have learnt to appreciate the most important parts.
Forging forward, even if its head first without a helmet into a life that I wasn’t expecting has been challenging to say the least. I have learnt that I can’t please everyone all of the time. There are those who don’t agree with anything I say. I can’t help that. I can just try and do the best that I can, without compromising on the things that have become important to me.
So there we are then. I’m still blogging because I love it and because it’s mine. Through my blog I found a voice – albeit a small, croaky one to begin with. Now it’s opened up a whole new world of opportunity and I have met lots of lovely people. Been asked to give blog talks (worryingly), travelled because of it, done reviews, been to some astonishing places….
Who knows where it is all going, but here is my first ever post – the reason why I started – and it feels good to still be here after all this time:-
“I am conducting an experiment. Another one. My life seems to be full of them at the moment. I apologise in advance to anyone that has the misfortune of accidentally stumbling across my ramblings. I am not a writer, nor am I a regular user of the internet. This particular exercise feels so abnormal that I might as well be attempting to make contact with aliens. I don’t even know what a “blog” is, let alone what a “blogroll” or “blogosphere” means. I have been advised to get my head around RSS feeds – is that a related condition? A new blog is born every second and according to one source there are about 70m blogs in existence that have been built up over the last 10 years. How is it that I am just catching on now? I thought I was cutting edge…
I read somewhere that we should all attempt to challenge ourselves daily. To step out of our comfort zone in some way shape or form. I imagine it’s a bit like becoming a teenager again. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for those, like myself, who are old enough to know better and who can’t really cope with the adrenalin rush associated with putting yourself into an unfamiliar situation. Had I previously been in the SAS or MI5 it would have been fine, I might have welcomed them back with open arms. However, having only ever had about 3 or 4 adrenalin rushes before the age of 40 (not including my 40th birthday party), it is manifestly obvious that they are not good for me. They result in things like acne, sweaty armpits and irregular periods. For a teenager, this is a normal part of growing up, for me it feels more like having all my clothes removed and maybe one or two layers of skin and then being expected to stand in front of a crowd of people who can’t stop laughing.
By way of introduction I should probably just let you know that I am a nearly divorced mother of three who has arguably lost her way. If I’m honest, I would prefer to go back to my old life. The one in which I felt safe. The one in which I knew my boundaries and understood my place in the world. I swathed my entire family in cotton wool and enjoyed the feeling of being comfortably numb. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have had to cope with a major life changing trauma, I wouldn’t be here, attempting to understand the complexities of the modern world. I’d be in bed reading a book or watching television or warning the children not to reveal their postcode to anybody on the internet because a paedophile might come and find them.
My aim is simple. I plan to use the internet as a place to experiment with a new identity in order to find my own voice again. I would like to understand the allure of cyberspace and to embrace the wealth of possibility, rather than to fear the danger. I would also like to remain one step ahead of my children, although I suspect there will be no chance of that. It was not long ago, when my 14 year old asked if I’d logged on yet, that I replied “what do you mean?” Silence. “What part of “have you logged on yet ?” do you not understand?” he said incredulously. It will be mildly interesting to become an active participant in our most traumatic of daily household dramas, that of whose turn it is to use the computer. The children communicate constantly with their friends in this way. I don’t understand it – what’s wrong with meeting for a drink? Or talking on the telephone? They would argue that they can talk to 10 or 15 friends at the same time, but it can’t be right to have a one dimensional relationship with people, to not be responsive to facial expressions and non verbal communication. But that is the way of our brave new world and I for one have been teetering on the edge for too long. I am going to jump in. So here goes….Hello? Is there anybody out there? My name is … well, actually I am quite sure my name is of no interest to anybody, so let’s dispense with formalities for now”.
So, if you’re still with me, then I’d just like to say a big thank you (and apologise) to everyone who still finds the time to pop over and good luck to anyone who wants to start an online diary. Give it a go. You never know what sort of voice you might find you have.
The future is bright – HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!