Making up stories, poems, musings, writing letters and doodling notes on every spare bit of paper was an everyday occurrence for me. In my head, I am always making up stories and I thought blogging would be a way of getting it all down, and it was. I’d been writing press releases and conforming to standard for so long that I wanted to write it raw and unedited, from my head. I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to write. But with writing comes readers. I was writing for me and I hadn’t taken into account the reader. There really wasn’t a plan. Writing came first, the readers would come if they liked what they read. And they did come. Not in their hundreds of thousands, but they came nonetheless and I was honoured to have them.
I began writing about episodes of my life, trying to avoid cliches. It’s a bit like going for an interview, telling everyone about it and then getting a knockback. Writing leaves you open. It wasn’t a Dear Diary and I didn’t just want to document the mummy woes. I strayed into politics and why shouldn’t I? I’d been writing letters for years. I’d received thousands of pages from John Major’s office when I dared to ask why Will and I couldn’t be together. I think I was ten then. I wrote countless letters to my uncle in England, but after his passing I had nowhere to send them. I documented every crush. If there is a paper trace, my name’s on it. If you know Jo from Little Women, she’s a heroine of mine. So it’s no surprise then that when I felt lost, I turned again to my letters, but this time they were online.
I wanted to write about it all. All the wonderful twists and turns. If I was happy or sad, reflective or self indulgent, I wrote. I couldn’t keep up with the amount I wanted to get down, hours I spent churning it out, much to my husband’s disgust.
I was laid bare, but still under the radar and not quite ready to put myself out there. But every writer needs a platform. No point writing, if you’re not going to tell anyone, my sister said. I should know this as a PR person, but PRing for yourself is another matter. Writing about the phenomenal successes of others, exaggeration and fabrication, has been my job and sometimes yes, I’ve squirmed.
Putting yourself up for criticism when critiques come in droves did not sit easy with me. For a while, I contented myself having random readers from different parts of the world as I joined the minefield called WordPress. It’s an online publishing world for bloggers. Quantum Physics makes as much sense to me. I’m in the science of stories, where only three components are required, a beginning, a middle and an end. Throw in a few commas, maybe one or two in error, finish off with a full stop and voila, my story.
I approached editors hitting the high end of the market first. Urging them to take a blog that wasn’t written in Notting Hill, that had nothing to do with cats and some famous Rockstar lover and, despite not being able to afford the handbags on offer in the publication, women like me had the same aspirations and desires to be heard.
I put my head above the parapet and criticised where I saw unfairness, and some people liked it and others I’m sure didn’t.
I got rejected, knockbacks, near yeses, emails of encouragement from top editors, and downright dingied i.e ignored from people who I’d thought would help or at least owed us a favour. I’m used to reading the success stories, someone who’s made it, but what about all those who are working on it, that’s not a story people like to tell.
I met with people and I still do. It’s not the end of the story as yet. I was given advice. Write about “this bitch bites” and slate everyday people, I was told. I nearly cried. Why would I do that? These are the people I live beside, who work as hard as I do. Make it sellable, define what you write about it, specialise. But I’m not as narrow as that and nor are the women I know. I wasn’t going to be pigeonholed, so I made life hard for myself.
I wrote musings and made people cry, I was told. This wasn’t my intention, but I cried as I wrote sometimes. I found forgiveness, solitude and love again in the writings, and a love for poetry. And though I made my friends cry and some strangers I imagine, I found what I wanted to do. I looked for help from influentials but as there was nothing in it for them, no exchange to a Michelin-starred restaurant this time, the doors were hitting me and I felt it. But what I did find was I had a pretty great life.
I had friends who would repost my blogs when I wrote them. They linked to their friends who shared with theirs, and ABC Australia picked it up because the very lovely Sam took the time to recommend me. And for one day, my stats rocketed in Oz. This was a post written for my son starting school, but it wasn’t just about he and I, it was for all my wonderful friends who were sharing the same day. My friends were loyal and even though it was my story, when they’ve their own stories to tell, they carried me and I kept writing.
KD saw entrepreneurial opportunities, helping me mount my poems for sale in Glasgow’s boutique Ollaberry. These will be coming soon, forgive me it’s the PR in me. My confidante boosted my confidence when it wavered and Lucy & I shared a joke or two which inevitably made it onto the blog. An old tutor gave me scathing criticism which in turn helped and continues to help me sharpen my writing. My sister and mother indulged me when I turned to chat about my Blog, providing an eagle eye and wit when it was needed.
And after a while, I took the plunge and posted it to my hundreds of Facebook friends or rather acquaintances. To be honest, I don’t know who half of them are, my silent readers as I call them. Few comment but others have got back in touch, old school friends, now interesting women. And as I can see the stats, I know I’ve readers.
What started out when I didn’t want to talk, but rather write, turned into an appreciation for my life, my children, my husband – though I tend not to write about him much, other than his love for his dog. Our story may be old in years, but it’s still young and not for publication as yet.
It’s only the first chapter, but I found a love for writing stories and telling them again. Am I going to keep blogging I was asked?
Yes, after all I’ve got my silent readers to think about and lots more tales to tell.