Recently a few of my friends have explored the world of blogging, developing their own blogs either for personal use or for work, and knowing that I am an old-hand have asked me for my advice. I say 'old-hand' rather than 'dab-hand' for a reason. I am not a professional blogger and I'm not hugely rated as a blogger beyond my friends and acquaintances. While I am digitally savvy, I don't explore all the best avenues to promote my blog to the masses and I use The Han Made Tales as more of an online diary than something which might become profitable - it's just somewhere I can put my thoughts and frustrations out there, without giving much thought to the blogging 'how-to's'.
While I don't claim to be anything special in the blogging department, the opportunity to chat to my friends about the benefits of blogging and all the opportunities it can bring about has got me to thinking about my own blogging life and all the ways in which it has challenged and benefited me over the years.
In the beginning...
I am a blogging old-timer, in blog years. I first started blogging over 3 years ago, which is a while in digital time. By now my dedication has proven that my blog wasn't just a phase, a whim or a temporary 'hobby'. For one thing the word 'hobby' completely undermines what blogging does for me. A hobby implies something fun and sort of unimportant, a distraction from your responsibilities. My blog isn't that for me. While I get huge enjoyment from writing my blog, it is a fundamental of my life, not a distraction. I feel a great responsibility to myself and to my well-being to continue writing in this way.
Blogging may take on different forms in the future, but essentially my writing will never burn out. I know this because I have been writing since I was teeny. It started with me writing my name in the front of all my grandparents books (and then claiming my Nanny had done it... no-one believed me sadly). As a rather cringe-worthy teen I kept a diary (gah!) and that's something I even went back to a few times during my uni years, when I was desperate for an outlet and to consolidate the thoughts and feelings spun out in my crazy uni world. It was only when I was 23, bored and alone that I discovered I could write in a way that suited the blogging sphere and where I was in my life.
Back then it was my get out of jail free card when I knew there was more to life than working in a dead end job, living with 3 smelly boys and drinking at the weekends. I just couldn't wait for life to bring me more, in case it didn't come about, so I grasped that 'more' the day I put down my wine glass and picked up my laptop. I was instantly just...fulfilled. And proud. It's hard to like yourself when you aren't proud of the things you do, but I have always been proud of my blog. I'll say it again, it's not the best blog in town, but it's the very best of me and it brings out the best in me too - what's not to be proud of?
Nowadays my blog changes and adapts with me - that's part and parcel of the way I blog so openly and honestly. It's scary at times, voicing my deepest thoughts to a never-ending panel of judges and rarely getting feedback, but I carry on because it makes me happy. I have had times where I have been unable to blog.The year I was working in Leeds I almost stopped all together. Partly because I was so, so tired, but also because I didn't have the heart to relay my feelings at that time. It was too intense, too hard to put into written word to a public who don't really know me and my life. Now that I have more time and head space again, I write frequently, but I still have weeks where I am thinking and feeling so much that I don't know how to relay snapshots of it in my blog without giving my whole life away.
While I am open, candid, and hope to inspire others with my blog, I will never give my whole life away here. Partly because I have learnt how risky it is to tell everyone everything about your life - it leaves you open to such judgement, even from your near and dear - but also I want to protect the things I care about the most. For that reason I will never blog in-depth about my relationship, although Gareth is so prominent in my life he of course gets a mention from time to time. I will also never blog in-depth about the lives of others. I have a lot of close friends who come to me all the time with their biggest fears and secrets, but I would never betray the trust of friendship by chatting about those things here. I blog as truly as I can without selling my non-virtual soul, but I have to keep something back for the real me who is living a real life.
I have made friends with other bloggers along the way, because it is a little world that only we understand. Like being in a running club or belonging to a society - we all understand each other that little more because we share such an important common interest. I am always interested in other lifestyle blogs and am always looking for new reading material, because I want to find a blog like mine, that isn't written by me. Tonight I am going to a bloggers event with one of my fellow bloggers - I have never been to one before so god knows what it will entail, but I am looking forward to chatting to other like minded people and hopefully taking a step outside my own little blogging head for a few hours! I will report back...
Thank you for reading - today and always.