Writing not blogging

I know. It’s been a while. Again.

I’ve trawled back through this blog this morning and discovered intermittent posts where I’ve promised to start blogging regularly again.

But really, we must ask ourselves, What is regularly?

Well unfortunately for me, I believe that once every year or so doesn’t really define “regularly” when we’re speaking about blogging.

Or writing of any kind.

So for the last time, promise, cross my heart and hope to die, here we go again.

I’ve been thinking that I need to stop calling it blogging. That puts a world of pressure on this space to be relevant, intelligent, humorous and perfectly formed. It’s writing. It always has been writing. It’s just on the inter webs not in a private journal.

Earlier this year I went to a super duper two day writing workshop. I’m finally flicking back through the notes from it this morning (even though I promised myself I would do this STRAIGHT AWAY. Note to self. Stop placing imperatives on myself).

We did lots of great writing and exercises and (somewhat confrontingly) we also “shared with the group”. Introvert me hates this stuff. Teacher/student me knows its valuable so I put my hand up and had a crack at it.

The most difficult thing wasn’t the writing challenges. I could do those (even though I felt completely derivative when I read my work back). The most difficult thing was to come up with a list of writers I love/admire.

Silence. Blank page. No-one came to mind. What the hell? I’ve got an English undergrad FFS. And a feckin’ PhD. Surely I can think of one writer who I love.

It took a while but I came up with:

Anne Tyler for the details of lives that seem small but are actually huge.

Vikram Seth (not a Suitable Boy as I have not read this…but other books)

Paul Kelly’s memoir

John Birmingham’s feature writing

Caitlin Moran for saying what we all think and for communicating the common girl experience.

Ian Rankin – for Edinburgh.

There’s others obviously but they aren’t in my notes for the day.

And then there was the next challenge. What kind of writer am I aspiring to be? Putting aside the assumption that I am aspiring to be a “writer” and all that entails I came up with:

  • authentic
  • uncensored
  • fearless

Interesting list as I look back on it with hindsight. I spent a lot of years writing as an academic ( or wanna-be academic). I had very mild success. I grew to hate this writing. So restricted. So many rules. You can say this but not that. You can say this but not before or after that. If you’re going to say that don’t expect anyone to be interested. And I taught this kind of formulaic writing. For years. To dumbstruck adults. Squash the creativity out of them. Don’t write in fragments. Here is a compound sentence. Where is the verb. And don’t start sentences with a conjunction. Because I said so. Them’s the rules.

Phew. I’m still recovering. If anything a decade in academia taught me to dislike writing and see reading as a chore. A job. It was inauthentic, censored and fearful. All the things I don’t want to be.

Lucky I escaped. I don’t think I am a writer. But I am someone who likes to write.

Let’s do it.

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