Blogging, is a funny old thing. The rich tapestry of life means that we often find other people’s hobbies and pastimes – or the thought of spending extended amounts of time doing them – incomprehensible. For example, Tom would think nothing of getting up at 5.30am to go surfing in the rain, and in sub-zero temperatures, whereas I would have to be paid a significant amount of money to consider it. Likewise the thought of sharing your life on the internet, photographing outfits and food and spending time reading, and writing, blog posts does not hold much appeal outside of those of us who are dedicating to doing it.
My blog was a slow burner in all senses of the word. Slow to gain readers and slow for me to really connect with it, as a creative outlet, and as a hobby. We’ve all been through that stage where we’re blogging to no-one, and then you make a few friends and gain a few readers and that’s when I’d describe it as a hobby – something you enjoy doing and make time for on a fairly regular basis, but that doesn’t dominate your life. So when does a hobby evolve into something else? When does it become… an obsession? A commitment? A chore? A part-time job, even? Blogging has given me some amazing opportunities for which I am utterly grateful (please don’t take the words that follow this as implying anything different, I really do appreciate it each and every day). My ‘hobby’ has meant I’ve sometimes earned (a very minimal amount of) money. It has meant I sometimes end up liaising with companies, taking on commitments to write about or review something, and being set deadlines. It has meant I have a separate planner to schedule posts and organise my time. It has meant that (up until about a week ago) I’ve been spending Sunday afternoons drafting posts, then going in to add, tweak and then post them most evenings in the week. It has meant that I’ve taken my netbook on holiday so that I can still read blogs, and write posts. It has meant I sometimes carry business cards with my blog address on. Are these atypical characteristics of a hobby?
I haven’t been able to blog since Saturday because I’ve worked some exceptionally long days at work, have been away in Weymouth with family commitments and have had date night with Tom. I haven’t had a chance to sit at the computer or reply to tweets and check emails. Remember that line in Heat where Robert De Niro says “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out in 30 seconds”? Well boy is my blog is so not that. I am utterly attached. In fact, it has been a huge source of stress and pressure for me this week. I’ve worried about letting people down by not being able to post for a week. I’ve had emails from PRs chasing things I’ve promised I’ll do (I don’t begrudge them that, they have a job to do). I’ve felt a twinge of sadness as I’ve watched stats drop. I’ve searched my diary for a few spare hours when I might be able to catch up on blog reading and maybe write a post or two (and not found them). Hobbies do not breed guilt or stress my friends, they alleviate them. Something, somewhere… has gone very wrong.
I am trying, now. I am trying to find a way back to the way things were. I’m making little rules, like when I get into bed I won’t spend half an hour on Twitter on my phone, I will read. I will make more time to do other things in the evenings – watch TV, cook, walk the dog, go swimming, and so on. Above everything though I am constantly telling myself ‘it’s okay if’. It’s okay if I wear a nice outfit and don’t take a photo of it. It’s okay if I take a while to reply to an email. It’s okay if, some days, I don’t check Twitter. It’s okay if my blog isn’t as good as everyone else’s, or I don’t blog as regularly. It’s okay if I turn down money for posts because I don’t have the time or the inclination to do those kinds of posts any more. It’s okay if some weeks, not as many people read my blog, or leave comments. It’s okay if I go on holiday, or go away for a few days, and don’t blog. I will never be a big blogger. It has never been an aspiration of mine to blog ‘professionally’. I just want to have an outlet for my thoughts and photography, and maintain the friendships I have made through blogging. That is a hobby. That is what blogging is.
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