In amongst this period of lockdown, it almost escaped my notice that Wellies on the School Run had reached its four-year anniversary on the blogosphere. Four years of writing, two hundred and twenty five articles, somewhere in the region of two hundred thousand words. I’m not sure what I expected when I started my own little corner of the Internet – embarrassingly, I think I hoped it might lead to me being ‘noticed’ by a literary agent, who would take me under their wing and guide me towards my lifelong dream of publishing a book one day. If the last few years have taught me anything it’s that writing is a craft that needs to be practised and honed like any other skill. Moreover, it’s unlikely that anyone will pluck you out of obscurity or notice you amongst the ever-growing field of writers and bloggers out there. As with most things in life that are worth anything you have to keep going, have discipline, accept rejection, fail, and be resilient.
Or in other words: you have to do the work yourself.
Thankfully, I’m not averse to hard work and over the last four years I’ve tried to keep a practice of writing daily, publishing weekly blog posts and writing short stories and articles. I’ve completed one novel (a romantic fantasy inspired by the folklore of the North Highlands), and am in the process of writing a second (another romantic story; less folklore, more coming-of-age). In the future, I’d like to write a memoir-type piece (in the manner of this post about my childhood), but have yet to find an ‘angle’ from which to frame it. And of course, I’d like to get something published (I’m considering self-publishing my first novel, which I sense is too locally-focused for a mainstream publisher to entertain).
One of the best things about blogging is that no one can tell you you ‘can’t’ – it takes nothing more than a click of the ‘publish’ button to get your words out into the world around you. For me, this has been hugely beneficial in terms of confidence – back in 2016, I found the prospect of sharing my writing publicly a very scary thought. In the early days, this led to me constraining my words, as in the case of this post about attitudes towards stay-at-home Mums (which back then I titled Stay at Home Mummy in a bid to appear entirely uncontroversial. I recently changed the title to So, What Do You Do All Day, Anyway? which was much more reflective of the content). In short, I think I’ve become a little braver. It takes a while, but these days I feel much more comfortable with the language of my voice.
I think this shows in my writing, and when I look back at my earliest posts, and some of the more recent ones, I can see the development arc of my own style – these days, there’s a lot more ‘me’ in there. I still write with a quiet voice – I’m not a fan of pushing my opinions onto others – but nowadays, I’m more confident in storytelling – weaving a tapestry that leads the reader to take from the content what they will. For me, blogging has always been about the writing – I’m something of a reluctant blogger in that I have little desire to work with brands or chase followers (in fact, the whole idea of ‘followers’ is a concept that sits uneasily with me). Yes, I want people to read my blog (if I didn’t, I would just write a private journal), but I don’t desire the level of social media presence which seems to be the necessary precursor to such things. With an impressionable thirteen year old in the house I’m acutely aware of the perils of fretting over how many likes or shares a post garners, and those are not the parameters I want my kids to value their worth by. I accept that this probably means I will never be a ‘successful’ blogger – and I’m okay with that. We all measure success in different ways, anyway, I imagine. Some people desire nice cars and big houses, while for others, the attainment of life goals takes a rather different shape.
In line with this, I allow myself the uncomfortable twinge of jealousy I feel when someone I know publishes a book – understanding that this doesn’t make me a bad person, it just reminds me of the things I want for myself in life. At the same time I’m also incredibly happy for anyone I know who publishes a book or achieves any of their own life goals – understanding that the act of another person’s achievement does nothing to undermine the potential fulfillment of my own. Since the beginning of lockdown, I’ve focused less on social media and more on activities that further my own goals – activities like editing, submitting work to publishers and entering writing competitions. Whilst this has inevitably led to rejection, there have also been positives – like learning last week I had been awarded runner up place in Best magazine’s summer short story competition (my story is due to be published in issue 31, out around the 28th July, if you’re interested.)
It also reminded me what’s possible when you give up Instagram for a week.
And so, after four years, two hundred and twenty five articles and approximately two hundred thousand words, I’m still happy to be here and to be writing. All the same, though, I plan to take a short blogging break over the summer (after three months of homeschool we’re feeling weary. Plus, I’m pretty sure I haven’t ironed since March). I’ll be back in August, after I’ve had time to fill up my creative well and do some things worth writing about.
In the meantime, you’ll find all my articles listed by category in the side bar – should you wish to browse them.
Thankyou for reading, commenting and sharing.
Here’s to summer and sunshine.
And to following your dreams – whatever shape they take.