Sometimes when I tell people that I blog I often get that quizzical look as if to say 'is that a real job?' I've had 'real' jobs but none have helped me, nurtured me, evolved me and ultimately created life enriching opportunities the way writing has.
We live today in a world where info is democratised and content is freely available so anyone can write and be read. The question is though is it a good enough career choice, will it make you a decent living?
This was one of the subjects for discussion at Mumsnet's blogfest, an event attended by all sorts of bloggers.
I started blogging because I had moved to Paris and felt like a fish out of water. Little did I know that it became a way for me not only to express how I felt but also share with others topics and issues that kept me up at night. I wrote about my miscarriage as it happened. I poured my heart out when my Dad died. I wrote about nice things too, finding love at last and being a stepmum. I had stored up a lot of feelings and writing became a channel for my sadness, anxiety and joy. As I sat listening to other bloggers I realised that blogging isn't about success or money. Anyone that starts with that intention will be quickly disappointed. One mum talked about giving birth with a rare disease and her baby dying 35 days old. Another woman talked about depression and how she never thought she would cope being a mum. Another champions feminist education for boys and has been trolled mercilessly. All of them have got through their troubles via their blog. Writing is not a means to an end it is the end. They say what goes around comes around. Interestingly many had been rewarded for all their honesty and generosity. The woman who lost her child is now a regularly spokesperson in hospitals about her experience. Another set up her own website as a result. I had no idea I could write a book and blogging was a springboard to starting my first novel The Ugly Little Girl.
For many famous poets, novellists, playwrights all began creating via their personal diaries. They were the training ground for Virginia Woolf, Anais Nin and Sylvia Plath. The blogosphere is out new form of journal except that it is public.
So putting yourself out there, exposing your inner world can attract criticism. When I wrote about my miscarriage someone accused me of deliberately aborting my baby as I had to take tablets to induce it. A mum with depression had been called into question for being on anti depressants.
Trolling is the worst form of online harassment and one of the panellists stopped blogging when she was accused of mistreating her son. But the support and encouragement for her to return was overwhelming. For every critic or nayser there is one person who find comfort in personal stories. I know that my mist rewarding blog is not one that has loads of likes but one that helps a mum with a daughter who is anorexic or bullied at school.
Blogging is more than words and paragraphs - its a journey, for you and your followers and it one that can lead you down paths that no conventional nine to five job could ever take you. I wrote stories as a little girl but then gave up as being a writer seemed so hard. At the ripe old age of 35 I picked up my blackberry and wrote like mad and I knew in that moment when I write I don't ask myself what am I meant to be doing. So for anyone out there wanting to take the plunge - write till it becomes as natural as breathing, write until not writing makes you feel incomplete.