Monday, 17 October 2011

Breaking the drought - this time it's personal.

When you haven't written for ages you feel like the first one after the drought should be fantastic, something really worth the wait. Like when you've been single for a while the first lover should be absolutely mind-blowing. But this is reality.

So why has it been so long?

Because I don't know who I am.

I got into this whole social media thing at the beginning of last year, wrote a few posts, made some connections with other people, got a few Twitter followers. And then it all stopped. I had a confusion of online personas, connections that didn't feel comfortable and a muddled blog which did not know whether it was a feminist diatribe or a source of information about driving regulations or something that tried to combine the two and much else besides.

So who am I and what do I write?

There is definitely a feminist crusade element to my choice of career which I've written about before. But when I started to read feminist blogs and get involved in the discussions I found myself either feeling like a fraud or simply intimidated.

I do know a phenomenal amount about driving rules and regulations and have written about the rules of the road. But when I set up a separate blog to share all the stuff I know about driving, I bored myself stupid within a couple of weeks.

I know there's a book inside me somewhere and I've been reading lots of non-fiction this summer to try and work out which style would suit me. I wanted to explore how much of me I wanted to put into my writing, how strong and how present the authorial voice should be. I read Simon Garfield's 'Just my type' where the author as a thinking, feeling person is not really present at all. I read Edward Platt's 'Leadville' and liked the way he wove his own story into those of the people he was writing about. I then read Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray, Love' which is a book I had avoided for many years, primarily because I knew it would be one that would really chime with my own mind and I couldn't cope with the envy that she had written it and not me. It annoyed me for that very reason and because I hate to see a version of myself in literature, it makes me feel like a cliche, but equally I loved it and couldn't put it down.

The fact is that the only two occasions where pieces of writing have really flowed in the way that I want writing to flow have been this deeply personal blog post and the eulogy I delivered for my Grandad's funeral. Both have been well received and both came straight from the heart out onto the page. I spent 8 years at university and thought at one time of being an academic but writing from a position of impersonal observation and fitting into the strictures of academic convention feels stultifying to me. I am no longer prepared to play with identities that don't fit or to hide behind factual knowledge. So it looks like this blog is going to get personal.

Oh bugger.