Well, if I’m going to continue to do this blog thing, I think I need to come clean – I have a bit of a blogophobia. I generally avoid reading other people’s and until fairly recently I’ve tended to think of bloggers as people with far too much time on their hands who suffer under the delusion that their boring wee thoughts are incredibly important and interesting and deserve a public airing. Since starting to post for the SBT I’ve got myself into regular mini-frenzies... What do I know about writing anyway? Why on earth would anyone want to read my boring wee thoughts on this subject? Do I even have any? Etc.
A couple of things have happened lately to change my ideas about blogs. Firstly, I’ve enjoyed reading the other New Writers blog posts. There’s much I can relate to, and sometimes I’ve felt quite inspired by them. For example I was relieved to read that Kirsty Logan felt she couldn’t fit her novel into her head. I thought – yeah! I have that problem too! And if she finally managed to squeeze hers in, maybe I can do it as well! I do have quite a big head, after all.
Secondly, a few months ago I started reading my lovely friend Joey’s blog as a way to feel more in touch with her as she coped with the terminal illness of her husband, who was also a good friend of mine. Because of Richard’s illness, he and Joey faced serious financial difficulties, and another friend set up a Paypal account with a link to Joey’s blog so that readers could make donations to help them. At some point I emailed almost everyone I know, asking them to send Richard and Joey a tenner. Most of them did, some sent far more than a tenner, and quite a few of them started to follow Joey’s blog. Joey is such a beautiful person, and it shines through in her posts. Many of my friends, who’d never met her, commented to me on how touched they were by the courage, grace and amazing generosity she showed during the nightmare of Richard’s illness, and how saddened they were by his recent passing. Joey’s blog touches others, connects people, increases the sum total of love and compassion in the world – and surely this is one of the most powerful things that writing can ever do?
I think my blogofear may be related to a more general worry about writing itself. There are already so many books in the world. Do I really need to add to the pile? Do I have anything worth saying? Will it make a blind bit of difference to anyone if I do try to say it? I don’t call myself a writer: It’s just not the main thing that I do, however important and necessary it is to me. I remember a UEA seminar with Michéle Roberts where we were being encouraged to ‘think of ourselves as writers’. My classmate Kate Moorhead, who I mentioned in my last post about ‘romantic appeal’, said, “Yeah, but I wouldn’t call myself a plumber if I didn’t get paid for it.”
Still, I think in the end that this blogofear / writing fear might just be a backwards way of taking myself far too seriously. If no one ever wrote anything out of paranoia that it might not be profound or beautiful enough, well nothing profound or beautiful would ever have been written. I think there’s also a lot to be said for shallow and ugly and all the shades between. Best just to get on with it.