Monday, 15 February 2010

What is blogging FOR?

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

The marvellous Miss Whistle had a little existential cri de coeur over at her blog the other day. In a typically eloquent and interesting post, she wondered, essentially, whether she was doing it right. It is a question I ask myself each day about this whole enterprise, but I was surprised that she might ever question herself; her blog seems so assured and polished and endlessly fascinating.  In some ways, I loved that she had her moment of doubt, because it made me feel better about my own. (I think it is not just in blogging but in life that women often ask themselves if they are doing it right; much of the media seems devoted to telling us that we are not, which is the exact reason that Sarah and I sat down and wrote Backwards in the first place, although that is a whole other story.)

Most of the time, I feel as if I have absolutely no idea what I am doing here. I admit that I started this blog with the cunning plan of making the book go viral.  I wish I could offer you higher motives and beautiful humanitarian thoughts; I wish I were pure driven altruism. Backwards was my comeback book after years in the wilderness.  I was very stoical in the wilderness, you would have been proud of me, but in the end it bored me. I wanted to be seen again. I wanted, desperately, for the book to be a success. It felt like the last chance saloon, and I was going to do everything I could think of to make this bird fly. So: blogging. I thought if I could be interesting enough than people would go out and buy the book; they would tell their online friends; I would tear through the ether like a tornado, and all manner of things would be well.

Of course, it did not quite work like that. I occupy a very tiny space in the blogosphere, and I should wager that everything I do there does not really affect my book sales one way or the other. And yet, almost a year on, I keep on doing it. It turns out, I love it for its own sake. It might not, in the filthy expression of the marketing people, build my brand, but it makes me happy. It seems that there are as many reasons for blogging as there are blogs; there is no Platonic template. There are passion projects and commercial projects and crusading projects.  There are places where the fashionistas and politicos can go to share their obsessions; there are the sites where the geeks may geekishly gather and chat their techno heads off.  There are some which are ravishing aesthetic concerns and some which feel more like the enchantingly old-fashioned commonplace book.  I keep thinking if I concentrate hard enough I might end up doing it right, but I am not certain if there actually is a right.

In the end, the blogs I love the most offer glimpses into other people's lives. They are tiny snapshots, scattered across the world, of different possibilities. The grouchy old media people call this solipsism and narcissism; I say you could turn that right around and call it an act of simple generosity. In the harried rushing modern world, we all need to feel we are not alone. People do this in many ways: through friendship or reading or family. The blog is one more arrow in the arsenal; when you read something honest and heartfelt with which you may identify, you give that little sigh of recognition and relief which says: that's all right then. I wish I could put it more eloquently. I think I mean that it's all about connection, which sounds corny but is vital for the full functioning of the human heart.

This thing never became the great glittering perfect object of which I once dreamed. Like Backwards, it was supposed to be an artefact for the Women, and all the important subjects were going to be covered.  Insensibly, it turned into dogs and food and pictures of Scottish beauty, and little rants and sudden tangents and moments of whimsy and bursts of fury. The evil perfectionist in me still mutters: could do better. The flawed human in me says: as long as you go on kindly reading, perhaps it is all right.

Picture of the Day is from The Sartorialist.  It is a lady called Renata, in Milan.  I want to be like her when I grow up.
Renata Milan from The Sartorialist


  1. I think your blog is whatever you want it to be - and I like the dogs, food and pictures of the Scottish Highlands! I started blogging when my freelance work dipped, found that I loved it and now I can't stop, even when my wrist hurts! What I really enjoy is the freedom to write about whatever I feel like.

  2. You are doing just fine! Blogging for me is fun, lighthearted, a bit of nonsense - somewhere where I can re-afirm the fact that i'm not the only one who is slightly bonkers!

    Keep up the good work!

    Vicky x

  3. I love that your blog is so personal and that you share the things you love with us, I don't even like Dogs, but I like yours! I started my blog because I couldn't find any forty somethings blogging about fashion at the time, we are still allowed to love clothes, even over 40!

  4. Good post. I agree with you that the best blogs provide a window into the blogger's life and, ultimately, help us -- both the reader and the blogger, I believe -- realize that we're not alone. What a major accomplishment that is!

    As to Renata's photo, I had exactly the same thought when I first saw her on the Sartorialist's site. She's fabulous.


  5. You're doing everything right. Your blog doesn't have a hint of being ostentatious which so many out there have - you have such a gentle way. I love to get lost in the Scottish snow when its smoggy and hot in LA. xx

  6. Sitting here looking out at the tipping rain on a cold, grey Tuesday morning, I thank any deity that cares to be listening for the blogosphere, for the chance to connect and not feel quite so isolated, as one can when one's home alone - and for you and your blog and all the introductions it gave me to the pleasure of the blogosphere...
    Sometimes the connection is the thing, not the means.

  7. One of the few blogs I know I will always enjoy reading.

  8. I like your blog. The other thing I would not mind is having some days when those regular people reading you would fill the space, like: A day in the life of "That's Not My Age" giving the "community" some airtime. There must be something that connect us here :-) would love to find the thread.

  9. Ah, you are all so lovely and reassuring. The kindness of the blogosphere is one of the things that has most surprised and delighted me in the last year. It was not quite what I had been told would happen.

    Thank you. xxx

  10. I stumbled upon your blog by chance. It's funny to read this because I was too doubting myself. Initially it begin as a journal (I was having a hard time adjusting to new culture,new language) then I continued so I could keep my family back in the states updated as to what I was doing. Then someone commented that it was too personal that it's out there for everyone to read it..and I thought if this was true.. But you are right, it's a need for connection, to know we are not alone. I would like to know more about this book of yours. I'm going back to read some more.

    A Mexican chica living in Europe

  11. Dear Tania,

    Thanks for the kindness & the props as they say here in LA. I don't want this to be a big public kiss, but I am so inspired by you (awwwww!).

    Meanwhile, I LOVE Renata and may I say for the record, that I want to be her TOO when I grow up. She's awesome (comme ils disent).

    Much love,

    Miss W

  12. There's no shame in having a blog to promote your book. After all, 8 out of 10 bloggers are hoping they'll get a book deal and then give up blogging, or publish one measly post a season. Your posts are good and you have already have a book. Win-win.


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