Six years of randomness – blogging a writing life

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say” Flannery O’Connor

sixthSix years ago today I started this blog!! At the time I wondered if I would keep it going more than a week; but here I am older, wrinklier and wider, if not wiser more than 300 posts later.

I chose No Wriggling Out of Writing as the title because, until that moment, wriggling out of doing what I love most had become a habit, and as the blogging boom took off I was encouraged to give it a try. I am not surprised, looking back, that within six months of putting finger to keyboard I had decided to have regular counselling sessions, and the quote from Flannery O’Connor, above, is a feeling I can identify with. Writing on here has helped me to identify those issues that are really important to me, and those that support me when I am struggling to come to terms with my health anxieties, a slow down in book sales, or world events that threaten to overwhelm me. I am more confident in what I hold dear and what I genuinely feel.

So a sincere ‘thank you’ to all those who have read my blog , regularly or just by chance. Looking back, my blogging has changed a lot over the past six years. I started off as part of the ‘mummy’ or ‘parent’ blogging community, becoming less keen as it seemed to morph into something that focused more on freebies and PR than on genuinely held beliefs.

I also realised that to be true to myself I would have to have a blog that went against those ‘blogging bibles’ that suggest you need to find a niche and stick to it; write for an audience and ensure you mop up every possibility to ‘monetise’ your blog. Marina Sofia on the lovely finding time to write blog, recently wrote a piece I could really identify with called Professional Blogging vs. Personal Connections , and for me it has been those personal connections I have made – with other writers and readers – that have been most valuable. My blog is random; posts about my favourite poet John Keats sit alongside those written on the subject of my book, Shell Shocked Britain: The First World War’s legacy for Britain’s mental health (a book that would never have been written if not for this blog). Book reviews share space with my love of Cumbria or the occasional rant. I love to have guest posts on my blog, and appreciate the opportunities blogging has given me to write for others. Blog statistics vary wildly from day to day and, still, the post that has had most views (more than 30,000) is the quick one I wrote in 2012 mourning the death of David Barby, the Bargain Hunt expert. All that effort to be literary…..

frostWhen I mentioned my bloggaversary to friends on twitter, and wondered how best to mark it, I had lots of suggestions – many involving cake or alcohol – and one I certainly took up was to look back at my early posts to see how I had progressed over the years. Things have certainly changed, and I found that those I like best, and those still read most regularly, are ones in which I focus on a particular poet, or poem.  When I write those I am often working through my own thoughts or concerns, but I find I connect with a global audience of other poetry lovers. Lots of people seem to recognise the ways in which a poem can take the real essence of a feeling and describe it in a way that can get to the ‘heart of the matter’, express your deepest thoughts, help you feel less lonely or support you through tough times. It is in poetry that I think Flannery O’Connor’s words resonate for me, alongside the Robert Frost quote, above. Those ‘Oh yes, that’s it!’ moments that can also be felt when listening to the lyrics of a favourite song, or hearing a few bars of a familiar piece of music. I have changed through my love of poetry, and my ever wider reading of it; changed as a writer and as a person. The knowledge that others feel as you do is never as well expressed as it is in poetry and it has taught me so much.

So, on a day when I am reviewing what I have achieved in my six years of blogging – things I would never have done had I not written that first, tentative post –  I thought I should end with a poem on the subject of loving poetry by the fabulous Billy Collins.  If nothing else, I hope this blog has shared my enthusiasm for verse and encouraged you to give it the opportunity to work its magic on you. If you are someone who still can’t connect with poetry, take Collins’s advice and drop a mouse into a poem – as with my blogging experience, you never know what he or she will be when he has found his way out….

Introduction to Poetry 

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins

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This entry was posted in Books, Poetry, Random musings on family life, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Six years of randomness – blogging a writing life

  1. Viv says:

    Happy bloggaversary to you.
    It’s been a blast.

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    I love that poem – it encapsulates perfectly how we can kill the love of literature or the mystery of a piece of art with over-analysis, especially at school.
    Happy Blogerversary – and keep on evolvling, keep on changing, keep on writing about things which mean something to you and make you happy. They will resonate with others – or at least some others.
    Thank you, too, for your very kind mention!

  3. Rivenrod says:

    Oh Suzie, Suzie, Suzie, is it six years. Six whole earth years since you began. It feels like only a day on Jupiter. I think the best way to celebrate is with alcohol and cake, I shall give you the address to send it all to. Oh, it doesn’t work like that does it. Ah well, worth a try.

    Well done you for sticking to your guns. You have plenty to say and loads that’s worth listening to. I have to confess you are one of the few people (very few) whose advice I not only actively seek but also act upon. So, basically it’s all your fault whatever it is I’ve done, I blame it all on you.

    RRXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  4. zanyzigzag says:

    Congrats on six years of blogging, Suzie! I love that Billy Collins poem – not seen it before, but it’s such a good reminder that to get the most out of poetry we should approach it without fear or apprehension.

  5. Ah, yes, I also did that, the ignoring the advice of “find a niche and stick to it,” opting instead for authenticity. I keep coming back to the reasons I started, like you, as a way to keep my writing muscles limber, but also as an outlet to remind myself about the things that bring me the most joy in life. I’m glad our paths intersected on more than one of those major themes. From a fellow lover of poetry, happy sixth birthday, Suzie!

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