Wednesday, 3 June 2015

On Blogging

Where to even begin?

It's hard to explain to people over a certain age what blogging even is. Even with those who understand, it's hard to make them get it. It's hard to explain to those I love most, who know me best. I guess, it's difficult to grasp the nuances if you don't blog yourself.

Blogging has changed me. It has changed my life, my career. It has made me better and more essentially me than I have been in a very long time.

We all get a little lost, a little distracted by who we think we should be and what we should want. I thought I had everything planned for a very long time. And yet my life is nothing like the plan I had in mind. Without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that I am all the better for that. I am happier than I have been in years because I'm doing what I love, what I have always wanted. Fashion and design have been my great passions for a very long time, since I was creating fashion supplements in the primary school newspaper and dressing Barbie in garments sewn together from tissues. Writing has been in my blood since I realised how much better books were to human interaction (perhaps not strictly true) and how putting words together was as intimate and unique as a fingerprint.

Blogging, for me, was something that sprang from boredom and blossomed into the ultimate pairing of my two great loves. It was something utterly mine, without rules or limitations or anyone else telling me how to do it or what to think. The freedom was exhilarating. Having a space all my own was liberating.

I love that, as it really is all based on the thoughts and opinions of the blogger in question, I can makes something born of positivity. A place where I celebrate the things I love. While I try to never act as though anything, or life itself, is perfect, this blog allows me to show others how I view the world. I try to focus on the beauty of design, creativity. And I get to be enthusiastic in a way that might not fly in real life interactions. It's a place for passions and not being embarrassed to be passionate or enthusiastic.

Sharing is a big part of it. Sharing my love of things, my thoughts, ideas, writing, photography. And people engaging with it. Hundreds of thousands of times. That's a bit mad, right? That many people have read my words. While I have, perhaps, the shyest (makes sense, I guess) readership in the world and don't get many comments, I see the stats. People come back. They care about what I think. And that has worth beyond (gasp) words.

I also owe my career change to my blog. Blogging made me so happy and passionate and engaged that I began to doubt the path I was on. I should be mid-PHD right now, heading towards a life as a lecturer in art history. Instead, I'm a professional writer. I never thought I would get to say that but I can. Abandoning what felt secure for something lots of people told me wouldn't happen was scary but I did it. And when I voiced my future ambitions to my family while home a few weeks ago, my siblings scoffed but my mother told them that she believed in me, I'd already made this happen for myself. I've rarely been so proud of myself as in that moment.

Yet, blogging isn't all events and press samples and roses. Ask anyone who does it. It's work and largely unpaid and often on your own in addition to a working week. Sometimes you're too tired or are lacking motivation or inspiration on a given week. Or your personal life, for whatever reason, is taking a lot of your energy. When something is a labour of such love, it's hard to find the space in your heart for it if it's busy with other concerns. But you're also acutely aware that you can probably never abandon the internet for too long without it affecting everything you've worked so hard for. If you're suffering from a lack of motivation, this knowledge only makes it worse, more stifling.

I am also aware that I don't play the game enough. I'm shy and at events, I go the professional route and get the job done because I find it so hard to talk to new people. I wish I were better at this as I would genuinely love to know other bloggers and have more blogger friends.

But then there's the less palatable side of this, the “follow for follow” culture or spamming people's comment section with links or doing social media with serious commitment. I'm not stupid, I know I should be better at such things but some aspects are too wheedling for me and I cannot make myself do them. I want to be recognised for the quality of what I do, not for being louder than others. Of course, by all of this, I mean no disrespect to other bloggers, especially those great at growing and managing large followings. I just feel like for what I do, it's not compatible to act in certain ways.

Which brings me to what I do. I have been accused of not being focused enough, trying to do too much. So, I'll try and define what I do and why I do it the way that I do. The easiest way to think about this blog is probably as somewhat of a one-woman magazine. Which is why I do show and product reviews, reveals of new collections and lookbooks, event coverage, thematic essays, playlists, photo posts and outfit posts. But the main thing I always want this blog to be is thoughtful because, despite the career change, my background is academic and rooted in design history and theory. So, when I look at a collection or the packaging of a product, I see the theories, the concepts, the cultural and sociological implications. I feel it sets me apart in some ways. Of course, I'm not always overtly serious but it's always there. And I don't want to change how I do things, even if my aesthetic or raison d'etre is not always immediately obvious or easy to digest.

Despite the struggles I have with blogging, I can't turn my back on it. It's part of who I am now. I am a blogger – even if I'm not paid for it – and it will always be one of the descriptors I will attach my self for however long I continue doing it. And I'm going to do it my way, even if that's not always easy for me or others or, even, if it limits me in some ways. I'm old enough to know that being true to myself and what I believe is more important than all the invites in the world. But maybe I'll work up the courage to be more chatty at events from now on.



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