Making space to write

I’m working on the small but immense-for-me act of reinstating my blog.

I did once have a blog, but upon re-reading it after some time away, I was convinced it was awful (it probably wasn't) and mortified at the possibility of other human beings reading it (they probably weren't), so I deleted the whole thing. Progressing in public is difficult. We do the best we can, and we offer it to the world. Then we learn and change, and see the brilliance of others, and wonder if we're deluded for thinking our work was ever, will ever, be any good. And it can stop us from trying, and from being brave enough to keep showing who we are and showing up for others, even as we change, and with all our nuance. I do not show up very well -- to the point that many acquaintances, and even some friends, do not really know what I do for a living, or are surprised to hear of the variety of things I've done. This blog is a small step toward changing that.

But more than that, it's about writing. I’ve always had the urge to write, and have followed that urge in small and secret ways -- sentences in margins of lecture notes; poems on international project documents; interesting-sounding words on meeting agendas; ideas on post-it notes and scraps of paper. I wrote around the edges of my life. Always pulled to it, but never giving it space. Or more honestly, just not doing the work.

I’ve written formally – project papers; reports; interviews for magazines; far too many emails. But I want to do more of the writing that has always drawn me -- writing that is thoughtful, personal, beautiful at times. Writing that finds and rides a deeper current. Writing that is joy. A personal essay, a poem, a story for children. I’ve experimented with these things but shied away when life took over, or because I wasn’t being paid for them (payment can be a soul and purpose-crushing reason to do, or not to do something, and yet...bills), or when I submitted something to a magazine or competition and got rejected.

But as well as the rejections, there were doors that opened just a little bit too – like being long-listed in a creative essay competition, or having reflective pieces published in magazines and anthologies. As well as this being the kind of writing I read, here was gentle affirmation that maybe, by actually working at this, it could be the kind of writing I also do.

So, reinstating this blog is about making myself just do the work. It’s about creating a space to write, which, in the safety of its form, allows for experimentation within. I once felt form a restrictive thing, but am coming to see it as freeing. American author and farmer Wendell Berry speaks of the importance of form – of a poem, or of a marriage:

"The work of poetic form is coherence, joining things that need to be joined, as marriage joins them... Forms join the diverse things that they contain; they join their contents to their context; they join us to themselves; they join us to each other..." - Wendell Berry

In writing a blog, the stakes are low. No one is asking me to deliver, except me. But making the space to write regularly is what matters here. Just doing the work is what matters. Showing up, with a notebook and laptop; with ideas and words. I hope the momentum of a regular blog might create momentum for other things -- like the book I've been s-l-o-w-l-y working on, for one. And when I feel that momentum... well, it takes a hold and then I'm ok. But starting, showing up, prioritising this space -- that's the hard part.

So I’ll write. I’ll write about writing and reading and books. I'll write about place, and local politics, and community, and international development, and walking and nature, because these are things I know. But I want to open up these topics, and find the sometimes-inconvenient but always-vital nuance. I’ll write honestly, thoughtfully, and at times creatively. I might even write stories and poetry because I like stories and poetry. I’ll write rubbish no doubt, but maybe not always. I’ll write towards what draws me, not towards the ‘shoulds’. I’ll write, and that is what matters to me.

So, here’s my blog, officially reinstated. It's a small but significant step -- cheers to that!