Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Metablog

It has occurred to me that writing a blog is a little... well, narcissistic. I mean, it's not like I'm alone in it, so perhaps it isn't quite so bad if you're writing to connect with others rather than just be read in a one-way sort of fashion (or perhaps we're all having a collective delusion of doing that, who knows?), but it is still something I have thought about a little. There is no doubt that I am enjoying writing more and more, and it is good to have a place to reflect on things, speak to others in a similar situation (or totally different but who just pop by and say hello, which is also lovely), and make links to others' experiences of emigration. But a comment from a Facebook friend today gave me fresh food for thought:

Another blog, why am I not surprised :P x

Now, the emoticon and the kiss shows she is mocking me in a friendly way, so this is in no way meant to suggest I feel criticised or like this is an unfair remark. I have had three other blogs before QE: one when I was at university back in 2005, when personal blogs were relatively new to me (this is now archived and no longer live); one from a few years back that I wrote to try to keep myself sane while my partner at the time was fighting a serious illness (also removed from Blogger now, and only referenced vaguely here for privacy reasons; for those concerned about the brevity of that description, he recovered and is healthy and happy); and my photography blog that I have been keeping since the end of 2008, and that will hopefully see me through working towards becoming a professional, full-time (I can hope!) photographer. So, I have two live blogs. I honestly didn't think it was that many! But perhaps the idea of spilling one's guts, even with some restrictions, just seems a little excessive to some people. Or perhaps I just like to talk too much, so it's never much of a surprise that if another outlet becomes available, I make use of it. I actually think I'm quite a private person in general (friendly, yes, but I hate talking about bad/sad/deep stuff too much with people due to not wanting to bring them down) and I certainly find that the knowledge that blogging is public helps me to keep my writing upbeat and, hopefully, free of the deeper levels of neurosis to which I can sink. But I am enjoying it so much to the point that I want to write more, and seem to be happy to write about anything. This is what gave me a moment's pause, and what my friend's comment highlighted today: what actually makes a worthwhile blog?

Of course, there is no right answer. Surely, if you are sending out random chatter into the ether, it is entirely possible that no one is reading it. On the one hand, you might then question the point of writing at all; on the other, you may thus think that whatever you write is fine, seeing as it goes unseen. It is just an outlet, after all. But if the latter is true, why write what is essentially a journal on a forum to which pretty much the entire world has access? So it must be, at least in part, because of the potential for an audience. If I genuinely didn't want people to read QE - or wasn't bothered whether people do - I wouldn't publish it. Even if I still used the computer to write it, I could either use a Word file, or just keep a private page on Blogger. But I don't. And yes, I did start writing with just the intention of focusing on the emigration and visa process - keeping it reasonably impersonal in theory - and therefore perhaps helping others see and understand the practical and emotional journey of applying for a K1. I also thought that, once I arrived in the States, I could write about my experiences as an expat and the differences I observe between the US and the UK, again with the intention of potentially helping others to feel solidarity when in the same position, or just as an example of what might happen when one moves countries. I also wanted to document these things for myself, as I am sure after a while I will start to notice the differences less and less, and may forget parts of the process of adaptation. Finally, there was and is the hope that friends and family back home may feel more involved in the whole move and my life in the States will be recorded for them to connect with, at their leisure, too. Recently, though, I find I am writing about all sorts: books, movies, where I've been at the weekend, my photography, my folks, train journeys, random thoughts - in short, nothing to do with the visa, in any direct way!

Lunch was lovely.
This became particularly apparent when I was thinking about what to write in my next post, and realised I was happy to simply write about my day. It hasn't been a particularly interesting day for anyone to read about: I have lolled about in PJs; updated this page's and MOL's layout (with the help of the lovely ExPat Bride when it came to HTML issues - thank you!); made an awesome caprese salad; opened a coconut with a hammer; spoken to Ben; done a bit of online shopping; watched The Guild; written a few emails; watched TrueBlood; had a beer; made dinner plans for the weekend; had ill-advised evening coffee accompanied by leftover engagement party cake... the list could go on.

Cake was also nice.
Here is what it comes down to: I like writing in a public forum. I believe my writing is improving through doing this blog, that my mind is enriched and soothed by detailing what has been going on and recording my day-to-day musings, and that actually some of the things I have to say will, at the very least, be fun to look back on. I'm also able to read others' blogs and exchange messages with them about their writing and their lives. Sure, I'm really rich on the time side of things right now, so perhaps that might change a little once things start getting busy again, but for now I feel very lucky to live in an era and a country so technologically able that chatting to people all over the world and the resulting sense of connectedness are pretty easy to access.

Vampires aren't so big on caprese salad. Or cake.
Most of all though, I think I feel a little bit like a fraud for preferring to write a public blog; my brain is frequently asking, "Why are you even bothering?! No one cares!". Which is genuinely how I feel, - in a non-self-pitying way I might add - and how I imagine a lot of other people who write blogs feel too. It's so exciting when I see that people are reading QE (from the Blogger stats page) and really sweet when people take the time to leave comments. It's making links with people, making the planet smaller - the PostSecret phenomenon, if you will - and celebrating the loveliness that does exist in the world that excites me. So I think I will keep on with my inane ramblings for now and, seeing as I just managed this super-long blog about blogging, I should be fine for material for the foreseeable future.

4 comments:

  1. I think everyone who keeps a blog wonders "why bother" from time to time. I love the connections I make through my blog, some which have continued for 6 years. You still have to write for yourself, let it out. But know that people are reading and they are interested in what you have to say...even if it is about coffee and cake, and what's with the coconut? just fancied one?
    I found your blog via the immigration route and I'm so glad that I did. And long after we've (hopefully) moved, I'll continue to read xx

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  2. Thanks, Shermeen. I am really enjoying making connections too, and I will definitely continue reading your blog as we both go on our respective journeys! And yeah, I just really like coconut and we happened to have a couple in the house. :) xx

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  3. I can't even remember the last time I had a coconut, gotta love em. Might go buy a Bounty now, best of both worlds; chocolate and coconut! xx

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  4. Do it! I have another coconut in the kitchen, actually. I have a feeling that will be my breakfast! xx

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Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.