Why DO I blog?

I asked myself this very question one morning recently when I realised that in the last few weeks that I had written more for my blog than I had done in the past few months.

It seems that taking a break has reignited my desire to write, which I see as a good thing!

In terms of interest and motivation, like with my most of my hobbies, writing/blogging follows a rough pattern much like a bell curve. I go through periods where I am staring at the laptop screen with a vacant expression on my face, wondering where the words and ideas originate, before hitting a high and churning out either a few blog posts or some fiction writing only to then come back down to earth with a bump and I am left feeling vacant once more. Although I don’t write for a living, I do wonder how productive I could ever be with a career that required this, but then at least right now I don’t rely on writing full-time to pay the bills.

The reasons I blog and the reasons that I write are not necessarily mutually inclusive. I write and have always written for the enjoyment of doing it, the process itself and for the end result. Conjuring ideas in your mind and then seeing an interpretation of them in black font on the screen is something that I do truly get a kick out of, and getting lost in the writing itself, although this occurs less when I write fiction, is something quite powerful. And I believe that the vast majority of fiction writing that I produce will never see the light of day – thank goodness! A lot of it consists of rambling unfinished sentences and paragraphs where an idea sparked and then died just as quickly.

I blog for the same reasons but much of the writing that appears on this blog is a manifestation of more immediate thoughts/values that come to my mind, what the American psychologist William James referred to as a “stream of… consciousness”. And much like a stream, I try to catch some of those thoughts and produce something that just about conveys them as best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

When I first started blogging a few years ago, I was all about getting my blog/s out there. I read widely about how to promote one’s writing and how important it was to have ‘an angle’ or purpose to your blog (and if you had a few angles then multiple blogs were better than one). I posted links to recent articles on Facebook for a handful of friends that would take the time to read them, joined various blogging communities (including ones outside of the WordPress sphere) and even entered a small number of blogging competitions (I actually came third in one). And I realised pretty quickly that although I gained a lot from reaching out in some areas, it was also a lot of work. It felt like everyone was blogging and my voice was lost in the crowd, that was, unless I did more and more in terms of marketing. I was on a self-promotion treadmill and I put an increasing amount of pressure on myself to seek followers and likes. But at the end of the day, it just didn’t feel like me. Partly due to laziness and also being pulled in different directions for work and so on, my writing gradually came to a standstill. And when I did sit down to do something, I felt bitter. I realised that I didn’t enjoy writing anymore.

So when I first established this blog nearly two years ago, and even as recently as a few months ago, I made public commitments to write more regularly. I hoped that by making such a bold statement, then not only would my writing improve but I would get past the hurdles I had faced previously, where I lost that loving feeling about writing. But it has dawned on me that I have experienced similar feelings in the past few months once again. I was in effect chasing a similar idea, admittedly on a different treadmill this time, where it was all about getting posts written and published, and less about enjoying the process of writing.

So now I make a different commitment to myself. I will write when I have the time, energy and inspiration/motivation to do so. Sometimes it will come in fits and bursts and other times, it will feel like I am clutching at straws, but I am okay with that. I am taking the pressure off myself. I don’t blog for money or for fame (although let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a ‘like’ or some feedback on a piece, preferably positive and/or constructive). And certainly if these were the two main criterion that I was measuring my blog by, I would have deleted this blog some months ago. Some of my favourite and most honest pieces of writing have received minimal views or certainly ‘likes’. I still sit sometimes with the intention to write with a vacant expression on my face and a brain lacking focus and ideas, but I now enjoy the process of writing much more than I have done in some time.

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A NEW OPPORTUNITY

A few weeks ago I signed myself up for the ‘Blogging Fundamentals’ course, part of WordPress University. I was really excited from the off as I was hoping to spend time working on my writing muscles and also engage with fellow bloggers.

I have a tendency to be pretty hard on myself when it comes to ‘getting shit done’, believing that there is always more that I could be doing. But I have been trying to stick to my commitment, that is, of posting at least once a week.

That was until this past week or so because work happened… Well, to be more specific, a new job happened.

As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts I have been torn for some time between whether to remain in teaching or not (I am talking at least five years). It is the only profession I have known apart from stints of working in various retail outlets and then a waitress when I was a student, and I can’t leave out the two years doing a newspaper round in the neighbourhood in which I grew up. But in the past few years I have been toying with the idea of leaving to do something different, either still within the field of education or breaking away entirely.

The idea of toying of leaving was very nearly going to become my reality when, after some months I was unable to find another teaching job. I work in the international circuit having left the UK five years ago and, unlike three years ago when I first moved to SE Asia, this time it was going to be much more difficult. In the first instance, my search area was restricted due to a move to be with my partner and also because the teaching market where he is based is incredibly competitive. Most, but certainly not all, international schools have many of their positions filled by Christmas with some advertising as early as September/October for the following academic year. By March, I was resigned to the fact that I would be moving without a job and would be living off some of my savings for an indefinite period of time.

But then a job came up and despite some mixed feelings about applying for it; primarily due to the resigned feeling and wondering whether I still want to teach, I put in an application. And things went from there.

I had an interview and received an offer a little over a week ago.

And the best thing? I am really excited about it!

MEETING THE NEIGHBOURS

With work being a little busy over the past week, what with a parents day and additional preparations to be made as I look ahead to a busy summer with examinations, or should that be my students’ examinations… I have decided to pull together a few of the tasks from Blogging University 101.

One of the best things about blogging is the fact that you are able to join all sorts of communities for your different interests and a number of the tasks in the last few days have focused on just that: discovering and greeting other bloggers, and also building an audience of your own.

A community whether in physical or cyberspace form, can only flourish if it is tended to. So the tasks specifically have encouraged me to take a step out of my ‘safe place’ and to get commenting and connecting.

I have to say the ‘safe place’ is all well and good and can be pretty cosy at times, but it has been great to put my view out there and receive feedback in return.

Therefore, as well as the initial commitment I set myself when I first started Blogging University 101 of posting at least once a week (whilst work is pretty heavy – I am hoping that this will ease somewhat in the next month or so, so I can post more), I am going to set myself a second commitment: to regularly meet more of my neighbours.

TITLES, TAGLINES AND TELLING TALES

So I have already broken the commitment I shared when I started Blogging University 101, I stated that I would post once a week and here I am, two posts in two days.

I am still wrestling with some of the finer details of the blog itself, I am happy with its appearance and theme in particular although the tagline caused some vexation for a period of time. In the end and for the time being, I have chosen a quote by Ernest Hemingway, a writer whose work I have only touched upon in the past but what I have read struck a chord. Coincidently, the quote fits rather neatly with the theme: Hemingway Rewritten.

Who is Audrey Jones?

When I first established the blog back in 2015, I knew that I wanted to use a pen name. The name was pretty simple in terms of its creation, My late grandmother was called ‘Audrey’ and ‘Jones’ was an even simpler choice as, for me, it just seemed to fit. The pseudonym of Audrey Jones provides me with a cloak of sorts to help dampen some of the anxiety I experience when I publish my writing. I am getting better with dealing with this and I read recently that Beyonce ‘killed off’ her alter-ego of Sasha Fierce a few years ago as she feels more attuned now to who she really is. I can relate to this, and I would like to think that with time I will feel the same way. Audrey will merge with the ‘real me’.

I am curious as to whether anyone has some insights into this so if anyone has any feedback, then please let me know.

TAKING A SEAT AT THE TABLE

My first tentative steps into the blogging world was five years ago and looking back I can barely recall what the hell I was writing about, probably nothing much of note, although I am pretty sure that the blog and the accompanying writing was pretty ‘undeveloped’ to say the least.

I didn’t really know what I was doing and so would post sporadically and when I did click ‘publish’ I would be so eager to simply get something out there that I wouldn’t necessarily stop to perform a simple spell-check. Jeez… Particularly in those early days of blogging, I didn’t really consider the reason why I wanted to publish certain personal stories online or even the quality of the output. I just knew that I wanted to write.

Therefore in a bid to develop my blog and to take more consideration into the direction in which I want to take my site, I have decided to register with WordPress Blogging University 101 (again!) The first time I did this was in a different blog’s past life about three years ago. I met some wonderfully supportive fellow bloggers coming from a vast array of fields; photographers, novelists, chefs, fellow teachers, poets, students and many more.

At the time I had recently moved for work and found solace in the awesome community. But in all honesty, I lost direction with the blog itself after six months or so. Once again I had failed to consider what I was doing and why and so that early enthusiasm* dwindled into once again sporadic posts. Every time I even so much as looked at it, I felt despondent and frustrated, that was until I finally closed the site.

And the worst part? I don’t think I even graduated.

Ok, so perhaps there are worse things than not graduating from Blogging University 101. But in this case, there is, I stopped writing. And for quite a while. My job was busy and draining and when I tried to get stuck into something, I felt completely void of ideas.

So here is my commitment: I am going to post at least once a week.

Small steps and all that.

* I recall once challenging myself to a commitment of posting at least twice a week, something that at the time was unrealistic considering the demands of my job.