Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My life as a blogger

It’s about four months since I started blogging and though this is hardly a long time I have been thinking lately about the effect it has had on my life.

I’m hardly Robinson Crusoe in turning to blogging. An article about blogging in the Age newspaper, written two years ago but still worth reading, estimated that 1000 new blogs are created every day. More recently it’s been estimated that a new blog starts every second.

I remember reading more recently about a survey which found that blogging improves your mental health and reduces depression. That’s not why I started blogging. It was because I had something to say but had failed as a short story writer and as a freelance writer for local broadsheets. I wanted an audience. But I also just wanted to get my constant political gripes out of my system. Modern life makes me angry. I wanted a forum to express my anger, goddam it!

And I wanted to stop pretending, as a writer, that I was completely sane. I’m not, but at the same time I’m not completely un-sane (I don’t like the word ‘insane’).

There are things I have discovered about blogging that I don’t like. It would be wrong to romanticise it. Despite the stories you hear about canny wunderkind who seek fame by crashing celebrity parties and then blogging about it (Julia Allison springs to mind) there are things I’m too scared to talk about.

This is due to low-level paranoia as much as anything else. For instance, I have written a couple of entries about my regular walks to the park with my sister’s dog Jordan. But I have had a couple of crushes at the park and I’m simply too paranoid to go into them.

But because my blog is anonymous there are things I can talk about – namely, my family. I can’t tell you how it has helped me to – well not just bitch about them, but try and put their peculiarities into words. I think in these instances the often silent blogosphere has acted like a wise therapist who simply nods sagely and looks understanding. My family are weird, no doubt about it. And getting that into the ether in black and white has been incredibly liberating.

What I love most about blogging is the looseness of the form. A blog entry can be a sentence, a poem, an essay, an article, a diary entry. And there is no compulsion (except in my case, self-induced) and no deadline. If I stop blogging tomorrow it won’t matter. No-one will stop paying me. No-one will email me and demand copy. This is a form that cuts a huge amount of slack. It’s perfect for someone like me who is blocked as a writer.

Although it wasn’t my primary aim I think blogging has helped my mental health. When I’m not working (which has been too much of the time this year) it gives me purpose. It keeps my brain going. It forces me to order my chaotic thoughts. It makes me aware of my shortcomings but somehow more tolerant of them. And it makes me feel heard, even if the most enthusiastic visitor to my blog is – yours truly (did I mention I was narcissistic?)

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