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.