In the last few weeks, as the return to work has started to make itself felt in the long days and the late nights, I’ve started to question why I’m blogging, not spending the evenings sitting on the sofa knitting. Am I truly writing my children’s baby book if I’m just not with them as much as I used to be? Is my story of motherhood still valid if I’m spending more time with my colleagues than actively mothering? And most importantly, am I truly motivated to blog, or have I just got myself onto a treadmill and forgotten that an off switch exists.
So I took a day out. A day to not even think about work (OK, to try not to think about work, that’s the best I can offer), and a day out of the precious time that I do get to spend with my family to give my brain proper space and time to unravel, to think and to be inspired.
I went to Blogfest. And hard though it was to leave the family (and miss the school Advent Fayre which sounds like it was completely incredible) it was a wonderful thing to do. I’m writing this on the train home having spent a day with incredible insightful creative women (and a few men) who were funny and touching and knew a lot about YouTube and if I knew morse code I’d have been clapping out “yes, this!” every single time.
the Mumsnet team had put together a truly phenomenal line up, and it’s not everyone that could persuade the Margaret Attwood To be on a live video link from Toronto at 4 o’clock in the morning and that’s before we’d even got to the rest of the first panel; Bryony Gordon, Meera Syal, Bridget Christie, Polly Vernon and Catherine Mann discussing the balance between motherhood and creativity and whether the two can ever happily co-exist. The general consensus was that yes it can but maybe not all at the same time, and that it requires determination, planning and a little bit of a ruthless challenge to the “good mummies sacrifice themselves” myth. Food for thought and I could have listened to them, and laughed with them, all day.
The tone was set for the day, from the main panel speakers to the smaller practical sessions; we want you to think and we want to challenge you just a little bit.
Sandi Toksvig spoke of her vision for the political party that she co-founded, The Women’s Equality Party and the unlikely inspiration for making it a political party not a lobbying group (Nigel Farage if you’re curious),
David Baddiel shared with such humour the trials and tribulations of putting yourself out there on Twitter and other social media, and the fact that, as he put it, “raising a little flag of self” opens the floor to other people taking your agenda and trying to supplant it with their own,
and the very wonderful Val McDermid spoke about the importance of story telling, the fact that it is by stories that we make sense of the world, that stories existed long before writing, and possibly my favourite quote of the day:
“Creativity is the way we fight back against the people who would oppress us”, which has never seemed truer when we look around at the unquiet in our world.
The final panel discussion, about how much we share in public of our private lives was about so much more than should you share pictures of your children in the bath or whatever is the latest Instagram controversy, but was beautifully chaired by Fi Glover to cover issues of authenticity, the fact that none of us are ever sharing the whole picture of our lives, and the degree to which we write for ourselves and write just to process things, versus what is fit for public consumption right now.
And as I sit here on the train home in a happy buzzing glow that has nothing to do with the small glass of prosecco at the drinks party (honest) and everything to do with having used and stretched the really creative bit of my brain, the answer seems so obvious.
Why am I blogging? Because quite simply, I love it. I love to write, and I need to write. I love to take photographs and video and I love that through blogging there is a whole world out there of people who completely get it; the lovely friends I got to hang out with in person today, a whole heap of new faces, and you.
And I know that this seems a strange choice for an ordinary moment, because I don’t get to spent every Saturday listening to award winning comedians and internationally acclaimed novelists and it probably wouldn’t seem as special if I did. No, the ordinary and everyday treasures that I want to cherish and celebrate are every other day of the week, the moments on trains spent tapping away at my iPad, or evenings playing on the computer after the children have been tucked up in bed, the snippets of daily life that Instagram captures and the conversations with friends on Twitter, and most of all, the memories and the milestones recorded over the years.
I might not have quite figured out how it is that I can fit blogging into this brave new topsy turkey world that H and I have made, but that I am a writer and a blogger, as it turns out, was never even a question.