Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Why I Blog. (And Why You Might Want To.)

I started an anonymous blog seven years ago, to document my IVF treatment. Called myself Topcat. My first post was about two paragraphs long and I was all nervous and shy.

I couldn't seem to find many other Australian bloggers at the time, so I hooked up with some beautiful Americanos. The freedom of being anonymous on the net meant that I could write whatever the hell I wanted .... all of my family secrets, all of MY secrets. You just don't write such things in your real name, you know?

It was pretty liberating. In my real life I was incredibly protective and secretive, but in this fake life I could just say whatever.

Top tip: If you have an anonymous blog on the internet, you WILL get found out by people in real life. Trust me on this.

I got pregnant with Rocco in September 2007. So my blog became a kind of pregnancy journal. That thrilling feeling of seeing one of my posts commented on .... somebody likes me! My belly grew and I took selfies at bad angles with bad hair and didn't care. The very first time I posted a photo of myself on my blog and published it I almost vomited. It just felt so .... weird. I'd put myself out there, in the netherwebs where ANYBODY COULD SEE ME.

Other bloggers will attest - you get used to it. You write about yourself, your personal life, post photos, like it's second nature. Back then, for me ... it was to share. And read other bloggers sharing too. That's all. No brands/agencies/PR. No ulterior motives. Just writing. Shooting the shit, taking the piss.

My much-sought after miracle baby Rocco was born in a hospital room where his dad had to sit on a plastic beige chair because of all the tumours. Who goes through a cancer diagnosis and birth in one week? Us arseholes, that's who. So I didn't shut my incredibly inappropriate Topcat blog down. I needed it more than ever and I was PISSED. My Americanos (and now some Aussies - looking at you Vee) supported me and left me comments and kind of held me up, you know? I was so glad I'd started one - once I wrote a post called My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard. It was about 3am, I was crying, had cabbage leaves on my enormous boobs that apparently contained no milk sorry baby, try this bottle of formula!

I was so angry. Around that time, something happened in my writing. It was maturing. I started experimenting with essay-style posts and I liked it. And I started to get good at it. I'm not a person who's been good at much in life. My grandmother always told me I'd be a writer and I believed her because there wasn't much to believe in back then. My lifes dream is to write a book one day. Just one. I've started and I have a lot of words down, they just need assembling. And cutting. And chopping. You know what blogging taught me? How to write. I'm incredibly grateful for that. I just kept coming back, writing my little bits of fluff in the beginning - almost gave up so many times because what's the point?

Whenever a person tells me they've just started a blog, I tell them great. Just keep writing, keep getting the words out, consistently. Then come back to me in a year.

Everybody seems to want it all instantly. Good things take time - build it slowly. In telling other people about yourself, you're telling yourself about yourself. There's a deepness in that that you won't realise until you're in it. "Blog" is a stupid word - but this is not a stupid thing. Not at all. Cast aside all the crap and bullshit and commercialisation of every damn thing on the internet and just carve out your own space. I always call my blog my mound of clay ... you can make anything! A fashion blog or a food blog, book blog, political blog. Get some blind faith and pour yourself in there. Just keep going and see what happens. Hint: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. And that's not just inspirational bullshit, it's true. I never could have known seven years ago that writing those stilted, self-conscious posts at the beginning would lead me to be interviewing the Prime Minister of Australia.

Eventually I made the big decision to change my blog and write it in my own name. This blog has been called a few things, but eventually I settled on Edenland. I decided to stop writing so openly and with so much rawness, and strictly write professional pieces.

HA. Didn't last long. I know I write things that most people keep under their lids. Sometimes I'm pressing publish and just wincing. I believe it's called blogging tourettes? I used to be really private. Apparently I'm not now.

"Blogging" is one of the best things I've ever done in my life. I opened myself up on the page and in the world. My cancer-free husband and I saved up and flew to New York in 2010 where I went to BlogHer at the Hilton and met other bloggers in the flesh for the very first time.

I started blogging as a hobby. I went the whole "professional" route and it didn't fit well so now I just take ads in my sidebar. I never set out to make a million bucks. I want to say a huge thank you to readers of my blog who have commented and emailed and tweeted me lately following the death of my brother. You beautiful people lifted me up and made me cry in the same breath. You give to me what you say I give to you. You can't tell from this post, but I'm currently going through one of the hardest things in my life. I can't even blog it yet, that's how bad I am. But I will. I always do.

My blog has blood, and guts, and a skull, and flowers. I'll never stop. I've come too far to turn back now.

“I went to the blog because I wished to blog deliberately, 
to blog only the essential facts of life, 
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, 
and not, when I came to die, 
discover that I had not blogged."

(Apologies to Thoreau)

What makes you read a blog?
Bloggers, why do you blog?

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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