In which I think about why I’ve had such a long blog break

I used to be a jolly enthusiastic blogger. Not always reliable in the posting every week on the same day sense, but I posted moderately frequently and could generally come up with something to pontificate on at relatively short notice.

And then I sort of stopped. I didn’t stop dead. I stopped over months, or possibly even years. The posts slowed down, and by the middle of last year they’d all but dried up.

And now, it being January, and the year being all fresh and new I’m thinking ‘I shall get back into the habit of blogging in 2018.’ And as a first step I’m thinking about why I stopped.

I think that ultimately having an opinion on stuff started feeling a little bit pointless. I’d say I’m economically generally pretty left-wing and socially pretty liberal. And there have been moments – quite a lot of moments – where it’s felt like those things were fairly pointless things to be in recent years. It’s been easy to feel like the world us hippy liberal types thought we were building is slipping away. The morning after the Brexit vote I felt physically ill. The only reason Donald getting elected was any better was that by then I’d sort of conditioned myself to expect the worst.

Now, I’m a liberal leftie who grew up in the north of England during the eighties so I’m by no means unused to the feeling that the political tide is sweeping away from me. That happens. But this feels worse. Possibly it is worse. Possibly it feels worse because there are millions of voices all over the internet magnifying the horror.

And the magnification isn’t just people I disagree with shouting loudly. It’s people I agree with shouting loudly too. It’s the fact that on the internet so much of the time we’re all set to transmit. We listen only in order to work out how we’re going to argue against, rather than to try to understand. And that makes being just another voice set to transmit feel like a very bad thing to be.

But maybe in that context quiet voices, popping up once a week, and muttering ‘I think it’s a bit more complicated than that,’ or ‘You know those two points of view your vociferously arguing from aren’t actually mutually exclusive,’ or y’know ‘Hey guys! Why can’t the farmer and the cowman just be friends?’* are even more important.

So in that spirit I’m stepping back into the blogosphere. Be warned – it will, as ever, be eclectic and random. Posts will be based solely and entirely on what shiny thing has caught my attention in the current second. And 90% of the time the conclusion will be either ‘It’s complicated,’ or ‘Everyone just play nicely,’ and sometimes I will break my own rules about not just shouting into the abyss and get a little bit ranty. Apologies for those weeks, but even in those weeks, I think I’ve decided that it’s better to engage and converse (even on a tiny corner of the interweb that barely anyone will ever see) than to sit quietly and feel overwhelmed by the dark.

 

* Extra musical-theatretastic brownie points for everyone who gets that reference.

In which I think about ChipLitFest and this very blog

So, lovely blog readists, I have had a delightful weekend. Simply delightful. The sun was out. The cake was chocolately. The wine was pink and sparkling, and there was a literary festival to attend. Really, what more could a prematurely middle-aged and unapologetically middle-class girl ask for?

Saturday was spent at Chipping Norton Literary Festival, stroking lovely books and eating excellent cake. We even managed to squeeze in a couple of talks. Both were aimed at writers, one discussing why writers still need agents, even given the self-publishing boom, and the other looking at social media for writers.

To be 100% honest it was really the agent talk that I was most interested in. The Social Media session was something I’d booked because it fit in well with the other things we were doing and I thought it might be mildly time-passingly interesting, but actually, that was the session that provided the most food for thought. Liz Fenwick, who led the session, is a fellow RNA member and a published novelist. She talked, interestingly and with great humour, about a whole host of social media platforms – twitter, facebook, pinterest, goodreads etc.

She also talked about blogs, and what we, as writers, should and (perhaps) shouldn’t talk about on our blogs, tweets and facebook pages. She suggested, quite rightly I suspect, that talking about religion and politics risks alienating at least some potential readers. Now, as the observant amongst you may have noticed, I do, on occasion, get a tiny bit political on this blog. I, it has to be acknowledged, Have Views. Now I try to ensure that those views are reasonably measured and researched, but I’m not entirely above having a little rant about Michael Gove either.

Now lots of you won’t find that off-putting at all, and I, of course, think all the views expressed here are entirely normal and  rational and right-thinking. So how could anyone find them off-putting? But then, if I found a writer who regularly blogged very right wing or reactionary material, I would probably find that somewhat tiresome myself. Generally, we are all much less prone to consider a person ranty and over-the-top if we tend to agree with what they’re saying.

So I guess the question is, what is the point of this blog? Is it just a place for me to write what I like in the hope that you might be interested, or should I be viewing it more definitely as part of my writerly brand? When I started the blog I said it would “be filled with whatever thoughts pop into my brain. My only commitment to you is that I will endeavour, whereever possible, to think only interesting thoughts.” The idea was that this would be a little corner of the internet where I could write things about stuff that seemed interesting or worth mentioning and that possibly there would be people (I was thinking anywhere up to about eight of you) who would find some of those things interesting too.

But I also want to be a published novelist. I have a full novel manuscript out under consideration with a publisher as I type. When that publisher (or any other in the future) googles me I want them to find someone who doesn’t look like a potential liability. So do I need to put a pin in the bigger rantier opinions and create a blogland more in keeping with the wannabe professional writer image I’m trying to project? Or is a bit of opinion welcome? Would losing it make for a duller blog or is it better when I don’t rant anyway? I have no conclusion today, so please, tell me what you think…