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 …