Around six months ago I made the rash decision of announcing to myself – and to everyone else – that I hoped to start blogging again. However, the timing wasn’t right, I had a book to finish, a book to publish, a book to dispatch, a business to revive and a month of lambing to get through, along with a bucket load of personal stuff that at some point I will share. Added to this, I found I could no longer access my blog or recover all of the posts. Its taken about six weeks of working on it regularly to finally get it functioning again. But its back! It has a new name and a new domain, but much of the old content is still here. As it is brand shiny new it sadly has no followers so please do sign up to follow the blog if you want to be alerted to the many posts that are soon to be published.
There has been much written and spoken about blogging being dead, but I have to say, I have missed it so, so much. I hadn’t really appreciated how much I still enjoy the act of writing with a blog being the perfect outlet for the output. I had struggled with writers block for the entirety of my cancer treatment and recovery period – a timescale of a good 18 months, and I had begun to panic that I would never find my voice again or get past the sickening feeling I experienced every time I looked at a blank piece of paper or an empty white screen instead of words. I began to convince myself that my writing wasn’t good enough, that no-one wanted to read what I had to say, and tried instead to ‘sound’ like other writers I admired instead of being myself. This resulted in the downward spiral that so many creative people get themselves into of comparing ones work to others and always finding it wanting. Added to that was the dreaded chemo fog (a form of cognitive brain disorder) which left me searching fruitlessly for words to express what I wanted to say.
I was incredibly lucky to get great advice and help from some amazing people who helped me slowly build my confidence back up, critique honestly but with empathy and who encouraged me to let my own voice out. I also attempted simple exercises; writing one or two sentences to describe the landscape I could see through my window for example, and I posted images on instagram with just a couple of sentences first of all. These quickly began to grow until I was writing two or three paragraphs of text in one sitting. A huge improvement on one or two words. I tried not to apply any pressure, just took pleasure in the small successes I was having. I also took professional advice from my counsellor who helped me regain confidence and belief in myself. A friend who within her professional career advises people trying to complete PHDs, very sensibly suggested following a regular pattern of writing/researching for two hours then do something else for an hours, and so on. This helped tremendously and stopped my brain from becoming overwhelmed by the volume of work and words that were needed. Once those words finally returned they came tumbling out, 50,000 of them published in The Vintage Shetland Project, plus many, many more of them, still waiting to be shared or very sensibly, removed by my wonderful copy editor.
It was shortly after I had finished writing the book that I started yearning again for my blog. I was startled when I looked back at my justcallmeruby blog that I had been blogging since 2006. Not all of the content was great and I hid behind the Ruby persona, but it was my space and for a long time, I had enjoyed the liberation of writing there, but slowly the pressure of writing the blog X times a week because that was what you needed to do, to keep your followers, to build your business, began to grind me down. I stopped enjoying writing and sharing. Its interesting that instagram, a platform I really enjoy, also comes with so many guidelines from others, telling us how many times a day to post, how many words, how many hashtags etc., what sort of things to share and what not. And that’s great if you have the time, the energy, the content to do so, but for me these platforms are for sharing the things I want to share or talk about, when I want to, or when I have the time to do so and to connect with people who also share the things I’m interested in and hopefully get to know them a little better. I’m certainly not naive, as the owner of a creative enterprise, I have benefited tremendously from social networking and using these platforms to grow my business but their greatest benefit to me, is as a creative outlet, and I am claiming that space back. My blog can be whatever I want it to be, about business, about creative projects, about my life on the farm, about food, music, books I’ve read. Whatever I want. That is what I love most about my old justcallmeruby blog, it was eclectic, it was a little rough around the edges, unpolished and imperfect, but it represented me. And whilst I find myself in this new post-cancer, altered physical state and my brain and body deal with PTSD, a place where I can be me in all my variations, is just what I need, and I hope you all enjoy it too. So welcome back to Susan’s blog!