I think it’s a shame that people don’t write. Today, reading a friend’s blog, I realised that in recent years I’ve been embarrassed about the very idea of writing things for people to read. I’m not necessarily talking about blogging- even during that pretentious phase when some of my friends thought that writing poetry reflected their deep and tortured soul, I cringed away from trying my hand.
Now, maybe that’s just because I’ve never been the sort of person who really goes to town on their teenage angst (although that’s unfairly denying some very melancholy GCSE drama performances: circa year 10.) However, I’ve got an inkling that it’s got something to do with the school system. If I think back to the days of primary school, I know for a fact that I was the sort of child who spent a lot of time with their nose in a book- it’s an occupational hazard of being an only child. It was my love of completely engaging myself in another world that propelled me (when most normal eleven year olds were playing football and discovering the delights of Grand Theft Auto on PS2,) to write my own stories. I loved writing. I loved people reading my writing, and so I did it (much to the horror of my year six teacher Mr. Bowlas who had the unimaginably excruciating job of providing me with feedback.)
Now, my point isn’t that I was any good. I wasn’t at all- the pinnacle of my “talent” was a series of short stories entitled The Dream Boy, co-authored by Holly Abel. (Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that it wasn’t, as it sounds, some sort of Jacqueline Wilson-esque number, but was actually a riveting mystery concerning a string of individuals trapped in their own dreams. Evidently we didn’t realise how gay the title sounded at the time.) My point is that, at eleven years old I had the confidence to do something that in the seven preceding years I have never managed to recreate.
(Be prepared for a huge generalisation alert- I am guilty of this quite often, but will try to dial it down;) I think that as soon as a child reaches high-school, their creative streak is somewhat stifled. Everything suddenly centred on “comprehension” and “evaluation.” Suddenly you are reading the great writers of the past, but worse, you’re discussing whether they’re any good. I think it’s at that point that people become incredibly self-conscious about writing. At what point are young people ever encouraged to write for themselves? All we write about is other people; we study their work and, at best, we admire them for it, at worst, we think that they weren’t all they’re cracked up to be. How gratifying is it to say: “well, T. S. Eliot, yeah he’s massively overrated in my opinion.” How unconventional do you feel to be bucking the trend? At what point do we ever stop and consider having a go for ourselves?
I think there’s something about writing that makes you very vulnerable, and it’s that there is something definitive and concrete in front of a reader that they are able to criticise and pull apart. As something like a blog is a very personal extension of yourself, that’s a big risk to take- you really put your neck on the line, because people don’t really like to praise another person’s achievements. It’s very easy to read something and to think about how it could be improved- everyone does it, and in some ways it’s a very human defence mechanism. What people don’t acknowledge is the sheer amount of balls it takes to write something on a public forum like the internet, where you expose yourself and allow people to access your weaknesses.
Basically, that’s the point of this blog. I don’t mind if I don’t get a single reader. It’s me taking back my confidence and having a go at writing, something I love doing. One day I might like to write as a profession- who knows, but how am I ever going to develop unless I have a starting point?
However, I read a lot of blogs and I refuse to fall into some common traps. Therefore I have a number of pledges to make:
1) I will try not to be pretentious. (I certainly won’t be emulating Tolstoy in this blog. I will write how I’d speak, and I’m not going to be using metaphors to convey deep, philosophical messages.)
2) I will endeavour not to give people advice or try to “inspire them.” (Oh no, I’m not going to be giving an assembly or writing about the dangerous condition of the snow leopard. If you like the snow leopard that that’s very cool. If you don’t, that’s fine too- though they’re pretty cute so I don’t know why you wouldn’t.)
3) I won’t write about things just because they’re cool or it will make me seem fashionably alternative. (I’ll write about what I find interesting. I’m not going to have a theme or suddenly spew forth about atheism just because I can.)
4) I won’t pretend to be some sort of social reformer or make sweeping statements about society. (I’m not a politician and I don’t have an agenda. I have my opinions, and occasionally they might spill over- but I’m not going to urge you to vote labour; though you totally should!)
5) I will proof-read my work. (I’m really bad at this and I’ll probably make loads of mistakes so sorry in advance.)
6) If I break one or more of these rules, feel free to give me a slap.
Thanks for reading (though that’s going to be pretty awkward if no one does!) Peace and love.