The blog turned one-year-old this week, on March 25th to be exact.
Just before its first birthday, the blog hit 20,000 views. Considering that it doesn’t have a theme, I don’t blog on a particular subject of expertise, and I don’t have a product (yet), I was happy with 20,000 views in one year.
In my first ever post, ‘Coming Out‘, I told the world that I’d been hiding in my attic writing a novel. It felt weird at the time—like stripping off in public. I knew people still thought of me as a doctor—I still thought of myself as a doctor. I had a hard time getting my head around my new ‘job’. It’s one thing to whisper amongst friends that you’re trying to write a novel, but it’s quite another to come out with it in public. I felt uncomfortable with the label ‘Writer’. I still feel fraudulent each time I see ‘Writer’ next to my name on my Facebook page, even though I put it there. I don’t feel as if I’ve earned that job title yet …
I completed the first draft of my novel in the weeks after I set up the blog. Then the novel stalled as the blog took over. It took me a while to learn how to streamline the website, to understand the jargon, including terms like ‘widgets’ and ‘CSS’, and to iron out the wrinkles. Add to that the hours I spent writing and editing each post …
It wasn’t just the blog, but the whole social media thing. Significant chunks of my day were taken up reading and commenting on other people’s websites, trying to glean what I could from established blogs, trying to work out what I wanted my blog to be, where it might fit. Not to mention the biggest time-sucker of all—Facebook—can’t live with it, can’t live without it …
I still don’t know where this blog fits. It’s a mish-mash of musings and memories, a place where I write what I want to tell people. Sometimes that’s about the novel-writing journey, sometimes it’s about parenting, sometimes it’s about my childhood memories. It’s what I feel like writing at the time, whatever comes to mind.
There have been times when it’s felt like a millstone, an added pressure I don’t want. When I know I haven’t written a post for a while and I don’t feel like writing. Or when I hate what I’ve written. Or when my post is too personal. Sometimes, my heart races as I press that ‘Publish’ button. I feel as if I’ve exposed too much, written too personally, too honestly. Surprisingly—or maybe it isn’t—these posts are the most popular. Mind you, there are a number of pieces I’ve written that I could never publish …
This blog has come to mean a lot more to me than I imagined it would. I started it because I thought it might help me get published—authors are expected to have blogs these days. I thought, too, that it would help my writing. It has—it’s a deadline so I must write, which means I write more often than I otherwise might. It also means I have to think about things. I can’t just write, ‘I like that’ or ‘I don’t like that’. I have to think ‘Why?’, then structure my thoughts in a cohesive way and present them.
I often start writing with a single thought, and end up nowhere near where I started, nor where I’d envisaged going. But usually, I’ve gained much on the journey there.
If nothing else, this blog has given the young Louise a voice. The young girl who couldn’t tell anyone about what was happening can now put it all into words. I can write about things I’ve carried with me for decades. I can give people an insight into my world. Things I couldn’t talk about as a kid, things I was once ashamed of. Funnily enough, they appear less shameful when written on this page. Writing it down and facing it can be nerve-wracking, but as I read and re-read what I’ve written, it loses its power. I’ve discovered that some things only have power while you want to keep them secret. I’m able to talk more openly about things I’d previously not been able to admit. I can also see that, sometimes, the shame wasn’t mine …
Writing on this blog has helped me to understand myself, and helped me to forgive myself. Sometimes, too, I think I’m pleading for forgiveness and understanding from others, saying, ‘Hey, there was a reason I was like that back then …’.
Even if this blog achieves nothing else, for all of the above it is worth it.
Now, ahem, back to the business of the day—the birthday celebrations.
In terms of writing, the highlights of the past year include:
Finishing the first draft of my novel in April last year—see ‘Toss the Plan‘.
Being awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship in September—see ‘Breaking News‘.
The publication of two short pieces in the OOTA anthology, ‘Jukebox’, in November—see ‘Launch of Jukebox‘.
Finishing the second draft of my novel in January—see ‘Back in the Attic‘.
Finishing the fourth draft a week ago—see ‘The Novel: An Update‘.
Now, I have a few gongs to award:
The Award for Most Popular Post for the First Year goes to: ‘On Smacking Kids‘ with 555 views.
The Award for Second Most Popular Post for the First Year goes to: ‘12 Good Things About Homeschooling‘ with 501 views.
The Award for Most Views in a Single Day goes to: Part 1: Friday, November 13th, 1987 which broke the box office record with 317 views on its first day!
The Award for Most Popular Book Review goes to When We Remember They Call Us Liars (by Suzanne Covich) with 205 views.
Personally, my favourite posts were the series about my sister’s death, ‘Tribute to a Sister‘ (I joined the three parts into a single, longer piece). I’d wanted to pay tribute to her and write about her death for over a quarter of a century, and when I finally did, the words flowed onto the page. I wrote it over a couple of hours one afternoon, and I barely had to edit afterwards—it had been sitting there in my brain, just waiting to be told.
My favourite light-hearted post would be: A Soft Toy Murder Mystery. I had fun writing that, and more importantly, it made a tearful ten-year-old boy laugh.
So, that’s it for the first year. I’m glad I became a blogger, even though the pressure of a deadline is something I could live without. It is fun. I’ve enjoyed becoming a part of the internet writing community, and I’ve met some terrific people through cyberspace—other writers and bloggers, readers and commenters, both in Australia and internationally.
Thank you to everyone for your support over the past year and here’s to the next year! I hope it’s as fruitful as the last …
On a personal level I am so pleased that you decided to write this blog. I have loved getting to know you all over again as adults with a lifetime of adventures under our belts, remembering Fran, learning about the things that I didn’t understand at the time, but do now, being able to share with you and support each other. You have certainly added value to my life over the last 12 months with your insights, your beautiful prose, and you honesty. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months brings for you!
Theresa, your words warm my heart. Thanks so much. It’s been lovely to reconnect with you, too. Absolutely wonderful, in fact. Let’s hope we have a lot more adventures and living left in us, in this digitally-connected world!
Happy Birthday to you! I reached my one year milestone in January. It is a strange and wonderful world in the Blogosphere. I’m afraid I’m not as diligent as some at joining Linkys but I’m trying to improve. I am going to come back and read those posts about your sister but I’m going to have to pick the right time because I have a feeling I’ll need a lot of privacy and tissues on hand.
Hi Pinky! Belated congratulations on your anniversary and your blog—it is terrific. I don’t know how you write so prolifically, and come up with ideas as often as you do. Blogging as you do, I wouldn’t worry too much about the links!
Well done Louise happy birthday to your blog-a great achievement!
Thanks, Carol. It’s here that my husband often learns what’s been happening in our family! Sometimes you know before he does …
Happy birthday, Blog!
Blog says ‘Thank you, Emily!’.
Congratulations on a very good blog, Louise. Your blog is one of the clearest, best set out I’ve seen – well set out and well thought out, and has it’s own particular flavour that works very well. It’s exactly how I’d do it if I had a blog! I’m not usually a blog follower, that is, I’ll take a look if I’ve heard of a blog that might be interesting, but often they’re lacking in the pull factor that’s needed. I felt I needed to say something because yours is one of the few that has a distinct character. And as a compulsive book reviewer myself, the book reviews are a big plus (doing reviews is so much easier than writing!)
Dixie, thanks so much for all of your words. You’re very kind and it means a lot to me.
You should start a blog—you’re writing is terrific. And your humour! Maybe Millett and Lucille could start their own blog …
Congrats on your blog’s first birthday!
You have written such a variety of posts, and truly do deserve the title ‘writer’ (though I know what you mean, I often feel like an imposter in my own life. 7 years after starting my PhD I can finally call myself doctor but it feels like I’m talking about someone else, someone wise!)
I’ve dipped into quite a few of your posts, but it was the story of the loss of your sister that really affected me. I can remember so many tiny details of it even now, having read it some time ago. I hope that finally sharing those words were somewhat therapeutic. It was certainly a perfect and beautiful testament to your sister.
I wonder where the next year will take you? What are your hopes (or dreams?)
Thanks for your words, Pooky. I understand about calling yourself ‘Doctor’, too. I felt strange saying it at first, but you do get used to it. For me, after sixteen years of working as one, it then felt strange not to be. I remember feeling similarly about calling myself a ‘wife’—luckily, I’m still one of those!
It’s about our identity and how we see ourselves, and it’s very hard to cope with a change. I used to wonder if that’s what might stop fat people losing weight and smokers quitting, because they identify themselves as ‘fat’, or as a ‘smoker’ …
Congratulations, by the way, on achieving your PhD. That is a HUGE achievement!
Oops, forgot to say what my hopes/dreams are for the rest of 2014. First on the list is to get my manuscript in good enough shape to submit it to publishers. My big dream, of course, is for one of them to accept it …
Happy 1st Birthday! I must say that in one year alone you’ve prove yourself to be one Ace Blogger! Fantastic blogs, Louise, beautifully set out, and they’re always a joy to read. Mind you, some blogs not so joyous, but always insightful, heartfelt, considered and intelligent. Here’s to your writing! And cannot wait to read your novel when it comes out!
Thanks, Marlish! I enjoy your blog posts, too. And thanks for being such a kind and encouraging reader of my blog.
Your blogs are always beautifully written and often inspirational, Louise. I look forward to them. They were also my inspiration for starting my own blog, which I now enjoy. I’m very impressed with your statistics, too. Oh that I will one day reach the stars.
I specially loved the posts about your daughter going interstate, the beginning of a new era for you all. So touching! Thank you.
Snap, Maureen! The feelings are mutual and explain why I love your blog so much. I love your style and look forward to reading each of your posts. You have a beautiful turn of phrase, you choose interesting subjects, and your posts are inspirational. I also love how you use your photos!
(Bit of mutual back-patting and collegial respect!)
You are such a pleasure to read and to know Louise, Happy 1st Birthday xxx
Congratulations Louise! The blog is going from strength to strength. Happy birthday 🙂
Thanks, Iris. It’s finding it’s rhythm and niche, which is nice.
Wow, 20,000 views, that’s massive – congratulations. I always enjoy reading your heartfelt, honest posts and keeping up with your writing process. Like you, I love the sense of community in the blogosphere.
Thanks, Annabel. I’m not sure what number is good in terms of views or not, but I was happy with it! Thanks for reading—likewise, I enjoy your blog posts. Your book reviews are terrific—I have no idea how you can be such a prolific reader as well as writer …
Oh, thank you, that’s lovely. Right now I’m not being very prolific because I’ve been reading The Luminaries for 3 weeks!
I’ve been wanting to start it, but my head’s just not in an ‘epic’ frame of mind right now, so I’m reading lighter and shorter books. I’ll keep a look out for your review. 🙂
Here’s my review, in two words: don’t bother!
Oh, Annabel, please don’t beat about the bush next time. Why don’t you say what you really think? Now, you’ve made me laugh … and put ‘The Luminaries’ to the bottom of the pile.
Happy blog birthday, Louise. I’m so very pleased you started blogging. Your writing is powerful, authentic, courageous, and so much more. Even though we’ve never met, when I read your words I often experience a sense of sitting with a friend who understands. To be able to connect with the reader is a talent not all wrier’s have. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your novel.
Big blogging birthday hugs
Thanks, Tricia! I’m really pleased I started blogging, too. It opened up a whole new world, literally! And we will meet, of that I have no doubt. Thanks again for your kind words. I really appreciate reading them. x
A belated happy birthday to your beautiful blog, Louise, I love your round-up post! And I only just noticed your blog shares a birthday with me – no wonder it’s so good!!! xxx
Piscean’s are wonderful, Amanda—my husband is one, too!
And Blog thanks you for your birthday wishes!