You (yes, you in the back there) should go and read that comment, if you haven’t yet, because it’ll give some context to what I’m talking about at least for some of this. You might also want to I look at my much (oops) earlier bit on why I want to write. But let’s be honest, I just want readers — probably much like you, I just want to be heard... So if you don’t fancy all that homework, I’m going to be more than happy if you just spend a few minutes on this one, and to that end I’ll do my best not to refer back too much. Or at least offer you a useful embedded quote if I do.
In his post, which is itself a reply — isn’t conversation great? — Sonny talks about being an expert. There’s some credence to the idea that there’s something I know more about than anyone else, but that topic is probably ‘me’, and then we come to the issue of whether that’s interesting to, oh, one single other person on earth. Quite possibly not. And that, I think, is the absolute crux of my personal blogging block: I’d rather not bore you rigid, because then you won’t come back, and how can I learn from you — maybe even show you something new too — if you’re already gone? I find myself saying nothing at all rather than risk saying the wrong thing. But as I heard a fellow on the radio say today, there are seven billion people on the planet — a few of them are going to like what you’re doing, surely.
So, okay, how about I talk to you about Excel, or gender, or how an introverted little soul like me ends up on Twitter and loving it? But those are still personal... Perhaps, though, we’re now getting to the kind of personal that crosses that blurred line between boring and being a perspective.
Perspective sounds awfully professional to me. I know, rationally, it’s not. I realise every one of us has opinions and thoughts on just about everything going (even those of us who are going to have to work a bit on getting them onto a page — talking about myself there, though you might relate). But being someone who has an opinion, goodness, that sounds big, doesn’t it? It sounds like being a writer.
There are parts of Sonny’s comment which are, I think, peculiar to content or career writers. Jeff Goins wrote this piece lately too, on unlocking the power of your words (oops, more homework. I wouldn’t link them if I didn’t think they were great, I promise!). The career writing stuff doesn’t apply to me, and I’m okay with that. I’m entirely happy to take it on board — especially the parts Sonny mentions about reading fast and forming opinions — but career writing isn’t my goal. I’m an analyst thirty-five hours a week, and very happily so. As Jeff pointed out in the link just above, writing isn’t my calling, and it’s probably not yours either. Here’s a lovely quote from Jeff’s piece:
You see, writing is a means to an end. Just like talking. No one ever says their calling is to talk, no matter how chatty they are. 🙂
This is probably why I struggle with this blogging thing. I don’t have a clear focus. I’ve been sitting thinking about this for a while, out in the sunshine on my lunch break here, and I’m wondering if a clear statement of intent would help me. My problem with that is it feels very like boxing myself in, and I hate doing that. For example, I’m white European with English, Scottish and Polish heritage; I have clinical depression which is generally very well managed; I was, like you, probably, brought up and socialised according to the norms of one of our two standard Western genders, but perhaps unlike you, I’m nonbinary and don’t associate strongly with either male or female; I have long hair which I refuse to see as a gender marker (it’s just hair!); I’m in a relationship the state recognises as a same-sex marriage but my partner and I know isn’t same-gender; I have certain privileges due to my place of birth, level of education and skin colour, and certain disadvantages due to what you’d probably perceive my gender to be, my mental health status and my upbringing; I could go on. And I could put all of that list under a title of ‘self assessment’ and add a line about how this is me and this is them perspective from which I write (i.e. my subjectivity), which is true, but it feels disingenuous, because that’s not all I am, and all that it makes me is an expert on me. (And maybe just a bit pretentious. I’ll work on that.)
So no, I choose not to box myself in, and with the greatest respect to Sonny and Jeff, I choose not to be a writer; rather, I’m a person who writes, and frankly doesn’t do enough of it. Now the question is how to fix that, and here’s where I hope at least one other ‘I can’t blog!’ person has stuck around, because I’m going to try to pick out what I’ve taken away from their recent posts, and (heavens help us all) … get helpful.
My fear is that my opinions aren’t informed enough to matter. Obvious solution: become informed. How can I do that? Read constantly. I just set up a very organised reading list using a mix of Pocket, IFTTT, and Trello — complicated maybe, but I’m a great believer in ‘what works for you’, so if it works out, fabulous. I’d also like to ask your help, readers. (Reader? Just the one? Anyone??) I honestly think that the very best way to learn is to learn from others, so consider this an open invitation: if you get into an interesting debate, or you write something you’re proud of, please feel free to tag me in. Show me your world. Introduce me to new topics and ideas outside my comfort zone, but be willing to debate with me, teach me, turn me free to find my own resources and work out my own opinion and then discuss it against your own, whether we match up or not.
This is frankly terrifying to me, because this is a real name account (it wouldn’t take you much digging to get my surname), and there’s the eternal fear of the career employee: what if my boss sees this? Well, to that I say I’m lucky to have a great boss at the moment who supports me and encourages learning in all its forms, and if any future employer reads my words and objects... I don’t think I hold any reprehensible opinions, and if you disagree, school me and see if I can defend my position, if we agree to disagree, or if I reconsider and apologise for having previously been wrong while I work to better myself.
The thing is, we’re all just learning, and I don’t want to turn this into yet another ‘millennial talks about work’ thing (I might stick that on a back burner for a later post, though I’m far from completely sold on it), but on the matter of employers, that’s a culture I want to work in. At present I do, and I’m grateful for it, but if I choose to move on in the future, like many people of my generation one of my goals will be to find another company which matches with my values and ethics. And that’s how I attempt to assuage my guilt and fear about writing personal things here on the big wide web. I’m here to learn. I’ll happily take responsibility for my own education, but I also want every one of you to teach me if you’re willing.
And if you have any feedback, ideas, suggestions or even a thought-provoking prompt, please feel free to drop me a reply…