Forgive me father (and indeed mother) for I have waffled. It’s been eight years, six months and one week since my first blog post and despite my best intentions I have used foul and blasphemous language on several occasions…
Eight and a half years, that’s a fuckload of time!
…furthermore I have rarely had much of any substance to say and have mostly relied on word prompts, tricks and a bunch of other stuff to get by.
Sad but true…but it perhaps needs a little more context and explanation around why it matters.
My first ever blog post on The Afrowelshman was entitled A Beginner’s Guide To The Afrowelsh. I wrote it about eighteen months after emigrating to South Africa and it was a quick seven point guide to the odd similarities between Wales and South Africa I had picked up during that time. I had always wanted to write and this whole new-fangled blog thing seemed like a good place to start.
I had bursts of activity and inspiration punctuated with long lulls, but over a five and a half year period I managed to post 155 times garnering an extraordinary (count them, I dare you) eleven followers in the process.
More importantly, during that period I started writing short stories.
From late 2013 to late 2014 I decided it was time to do something a little bit more professional now that I was a veteran of literally several short stories and so the somewhat-pretentiously-stylised-all-in-lower-case nikeveleighdotcom was born.
21 posts. 11 followers (ten of whom came across from The Afrowelshman and I think the other one was my mum).
More importantly, during that period I continued to write short stories.
Exactly two years ago today I launched the very site upon we which we are communicating at this moment. I’ve had a lot of fun. The posts and categories have been fairly eclectic (I think/hope), I’ve met some brilliant people and I’ve discovered some great sites. I’ve posted 178 times in two years (179 if you count this one) and have garnered 202 followers. On average these days I get about a dozen likes per post and have a fantastic core of people who regularly comment and give me encouragement.
More importantly, during this period my short story output, ideas and ambition have all tanked.
It’s not my intention to start sounding like the unnecessary rumblings of a one-man pity-party unicycle on a cobbled road to Miseryville. I’ve written some things on this blog that I’m extremely proud of. But somewhere along the line the immediate dopamine validation of a WordPress like has become more important to me than than the stories.
More importantly, a few people who I care about deeply and whose opinions I care about deeplier have, quite correctly, pointed this out to me.
When I wrote that first blog post I didn’t care if anyone read it. I wrote it because I wanted to and because I thought it was quite funny. When I made the leap to start writing short stories I loved the process. I loved trying to get the idea down into words. I loved writing and rewriting and reading out loud and crossing things out in red pen and honing and polishing and making it the best it could be.
I miss that feeling.
These days, more often than not, I spend hours staring at a blank page and then throw something together so I can post and be validated. It’s ok, it’s only a blog – you don’t need to spend time on it and you can write a story tomorrow…
Am I being hard on myself? Probably. Too hard? Probably not.
I’ve often drawn parallels between writing and running in the past. To put my writing headspace in running terms I’m starting to feel like a man who is capable of marathons settling for a jog in the park.
I think it’s highly unlikely I will stop blogging entirely – it’s a great outlet for me, and whatever my comments might suggest there are a ton of great blogs written by great writers out there and I am in no way trying to diminish or cheapen that. I just know that if I’ve got any ambition as a writer my priorities and approach need to change. The blog needs to augment my writing goals not replace them.
I need to get that love back.
More importantly, I need to hold firm to the belief that I can write, and stop endlessly seeking affirmation.
The irony if I receive no likes or comments on this post will not be lost on me…