I had the chance to speak at a local library event recently about blogging, using this blog as my example. It had little to do with talent or notability, more an obvious case of nepotism as one of my close friends is a librarian there, but we all have to start somewhere.
One of the aspects I talked about was why I write.
I’ve been writing since I first had NC, some twenty years ago, when the mental tsunami of things not being quite as they should be first hit me. I’m a fervent believer that buried trauma can be triggered later in life, leading to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and because I never dealt with my mother’s death when I was a teenager, that grief never went away.
And so I struggled with the early stages of motherhood – a bummer, as being someone with little self-confidence or sense of worth, I’d pinned all my hopes on motherhood being what I’d be good at.I could blame NC for being a ‘difficult’ baby, or the sense of isolation that can occur when you are the first of your peers to take the grown up step of procreation; whatever the reason for my mini break-down, I had few people to share my concerns with. I might have even have been suffering from post natal depression. But what I did know was that I needed an outlet, some way to release the pent-up frustration and pressure, and for me ‘writing’ became the perfect antidote.
Hence, my first book was about the anti-mother, the mother that sucks at it, who doesn’t fit into the smug rivalry of mother’s groups, struggles to breast-feed, feels no bond or fulfilment from watching their newborn breathe, and frankly, can’t wait to get back to the office. In terms of honesty and authenticity, I was ahead of my time, but back then I had neither the energy or the balls to take it to the next level.
This blog evolved for two reasons. The first came about after I was let go from a job, which provoked my second minor mental break-down, super-vulnerable as I was at the time, coping with Kurt and issues relating to his ADHD. The second reason was that the seed of another book was developing inside me, desperate to be nurtured and hatched and I decided to do it properly this time, to research thoroughly about how to improve the chances of success of a forty-something, so far unpublished writer.
Every article I read about getting published pointed to the necessity of a writer’s platform, in the form of a blog.
And as soon as I hit ‘publish’ on those first few outpourings, full of deep, desperate questions, searching for answers and readers who understood the terrifying emotions I was experiencing that had been caused by the humiliation of losing a job, and the fears of having a child that doesn’t tick all the boxes of ‘normal’ development – often in a humorous and self-deprecating tone because that’s a defence mechanism I employ to reduce the pain – I found I could I could cope with the isolation so much better. I had a safe zone. Catharsis.
I need to write now. It’s not a passion, it’s not a job, it’s something I have to do to keep me sane.
This little blog and the manuscript in my computer give me the voice to shout FUCK OFF! when life throws me a curved ball. It is my therapist, my therapy, and a space where I can be me.
And it has been my saviour, over and over again.
Many bloggers hit that wall of ‘what the fuck am I doing’ at certain points in the blogging life – (Mumabulous, one of the best writers I know, had a wobble about this topic recently) – especially if you’re not in it for the fame and glory and the whole idea of monetising and selling your soul terrifies you. And I have questioned my loyalty to this little online space repeatedly.
But I keep coming back. It’s like an addiction that needs to be sated, an itch that needs to be scratched, a baby that has to be released out into the world. Not because I thrive on attention – because sometimes I get little or no feedback from my readers- but because it is my favourite creative outlet to vomit up all the stuff that needs to come out to make me feel balanced again.
I was doing that Prima Donna thing that other day, strutting around the apartment moaning about why I wasted so much of my life writing a book that will never be published, and NC asked me why that mattered if I enjoyed the process.
And she’s right, of course. I’ll be back in the old man’s bad books for admitting to this but I’m not motivated by money, or even the kudos of having my name in print, really…(although I assume that the validity to be gained from being published helps with the self-doubt, something I struggle with on a daily basis).
Will I stop if I don’t get that? Probably not.