It’s really only been two months since i started to blog and for most of that time i feel i’ve been struggling to find my feet. At the beginning i was crippled by self-consciousness and the realisation of how rusty i’d become as a writer: it had been such a long time. Now i’m starting to relax. I’ve accepted that i’m never going to win any prizes for style or content and am just enjoying the freedom and – paradoxically – the discipline of composing a post: the spark of the initial thought, the battle to shape it into coherence and the endless re-reading and editing as i try to make it express what i want to say.
Today i felt the urge to look back at my “blue book”, a journal i kept intermittently between 2001 and 2003. I suppose i wanted to see how i’d written then – i was curious for example as to whether typing your thoughts out would tend to produce a different kind of flow than writing them out longhand. There were also a couple of entries that i remembered and wanted to re-read again, because they cover moments in my life that matter to me.
One of them in particular almost makes me cry when i read it: it’s about the birth of my son. He wasn’t born during that period, some ten or twelve years before in fact, but it was a day in 2001 when i sat down and wrote really openly and honestly about his birth and what it had meant to me.
As i read the entry through i realised that i could never write anything like that in my blog. It’s not a question of self-consciousness so much as of the privacy of the other people involved. Even with the posts i do write i occasionally find i need to mention other people and i struggle to do it in a way which protects their identities. That is the difference with a journal: it’s a private space. I always think of those schoolgirl diaries with the little lock and key. A blog by contrast is inherently public – i know you can lock down specific posts but somehow that seems to defeat the object of blogging.
You gain something through the act of putting your words up here on the Web: the magic of seeing them separate from you – for many of us the closest we’ll ever come to being a published writer – and the excitement of the idea that someone else will read them. We all hope and fear that. But you lose something too of course, another freedom.