Can we just be honest?


I’m having a moment of impatience with the blog world. I’ve been clicking around, reading a few posts, checking out what’s been going on in my virtual ‘hood, and i’m left with a racing heart and a horrible feeling of being less-than. I’ve blogged about the PR version before, how bloggers tend to share their bestest most shiniest selves on line and hide the stuff that will sully that projection — and I understand why they do it. It’s very tempting to turn our blogs into an on-going affirmation of what we want our lives to be like, hoping that if we share only the good stuff we can make it real. But it can leave the onlooker/reader feeling deflated.

I try and put a positive spin on the lessons life chucks at me, but even I get tired of reading the happy skippy posts that are rife in the blogosphere. It’s not even that I’m envying the bloggers who have the sun shining on them every day — i just find it exhausting to read and yearn for a bit of self-deprecation once in a while. I find it hard to swallow the my-life-is-so-awesome-i-am-so-grateful posts (and don’t even get me started on the all-you-need-is-love posts*) — they just don’t connect to my understanding of the world: that there is rough as well as smooth, that sometimes rain is just depressing and grey rather than an opportunity to don pretty wellies and splash in puddles before returning home for hot chocolate and laughter with cherished loved ones — i go home shivering with limp wet hair only to discover I left the bedroom window open and now my rug is soaked through.

I guess I like my blog reading to have a bit of grit in it. It makes life more interesting and real. More relatable. It makes me feel less alone.

I’m as guilty as anyone of avoiding this space when I’m feeling down — that’s when I have no energy to string words together and would rather be watching Buffy Season Six with a blanket over my knees. And I’m certainly not suggesting we only blog about our ingrowing toe nails and credit card debt; I just think it’s important to keep it real here, to share a realistic slice of what my experience of the world is like. Considering I spend most of my time alone at home working, I hope i manage to be somewhat entertaining (maybe I should throw in a few knock knock jokes?)

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot recently, as you can probably tell. I’m chipping away at my Blogging from the Heart guidebook and it’s making me dig deep into my own motivations for blogging; the blogosphere has evolved a great deal in the five years I’ve been writing online and it amazes me that when I started there was no Twitter or Facebook and Etsy was only a few months old. The internet felt smaller, somehow, and more cosy — yet now there is so much opportunity for connection and growth. I feel quite proud to call myself a blogger — it’s a really important part of my life.

Who’d have thunk it, eh?

So how does the blogosphere make you feel, generally? I’d love to know what you think…

* might be time to detox my Google Reader again…

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Blogging from the heart

Yesterday was my five-year blogiversary — five years of writing about my stuff and communing with an amazing community of people from around the world. I didn’t know what I was entering into when i wrote that first post on my fledgling Blogger blog. It was Denise who convinced me to start — our friendship had blossomed after I’d left a comment on her blog and she wrote me back, international penpals who became real friends in the truest sense. I still have the email she sent me on March 23rd 2006 that opened with the fateful line: “Oh Susannah… I really think you should start a blog!”

After a couple of weeks of umming and ahhing, i finally decided on a name — Ink on my fingers — and wrote my first post on April 12th 2006; when i switched from Blogger to Typepad a year later, I lost all the comments from those first months, which is such a shame as I’d love to read them again. This blog gave me space to remember. It gave me a reason to pick up my camera again. It rekindled my love of poetry. It brought me friendships and support. And now here I am, blogging under my own name, running a creative biz online and penning books — and all of this came from being brave and posting some words on the internet for all to see. CRAZY!

Thank you for being here and reading my witterings — thank you for the comments you leave and the good vibes you send me, i really do feel them, sitting here in in my attic flat in Bath. When I was still deep in my bereavement, this was the place where I knew I could find some sanctuary. Whether you’ve been with me since the beginning, or have only recently found me (hello!) you guys helped me change my life, from grief and loss to light and hope. From the bottom of my stitched-back-together heart — thank you.

I’m still as passionate about blogging, and online community, as I was when I started, which is why my next project is Blogging from the Heart. I’ve been itching to get started on this but was stuck in the writing cave, so now i have a brief reprieve (until the book edits come back, that is) I’m jumping in feet first. Blogging from the Heart will be a guidebook to blogging sharing everything I know about writing with honesty and heart, how to create images that share your world and inspire, and bringing it all together on a blog. There’ll also be videos, writing prompts for blog posts and interviews with creatives who’ve inspire me along the way. I want this guidebook to be really fantastically useful and also really beautiful to look at too, something you can dip into to get inspired, ready to blaze your own blogging path.

There are already a ton of blogging books, blogs and courses out there, but I’ve yet to see anything on creative personal blogging – how to share your life and heart online as a way to express yourself creatively, dive deep and meet like-minded friends along the way. I won’t be looking at how to make money from blogging, but if you have a biz and want to share more of yourself online with your customers, then this guidebook will definitely help with that. It’s about being honest and open, enjoying the writing process, recording your world with your camera and getting your creative juices flowing!

I have notes and plans coming out of my ears, so as I ease myself into another writing stint (I’m a glutton for punishment :) I wanted to ask you…

What would you like to know about personal blogging? What elements of your blog writing or photography do you struggle with? If you’re thinking about starting a blog, what would you like to know? If you could ask me one question about writing, photography or blogging, what would it be?

Leave a comment or drop me a line – thank you for your help! x

The year in review

I’m trying to remember what happened this year, but all i see is one thing: Wobble. My nephew arrived (two weeks late) on April 1st and since then the only thing that’s mattered is what his royal cuteness is doing. Obviously the biggest change has been for his parents, but watching (and experiencing) my family be remade with our love for this little boy has been down-on-my-knees humbling. This week I’m writing the chapter in my book that focusses on family and relationships, and how interconnected we all really are; I could happily write the whole thing about Noah. Happily, giddily, merrily. He is my heart*.

* I may have alluded to this a few times in the last 9 months, huh?

So, what else has happened this year? <scratches head>

Well, I said farewell to my Ink on my fingers blog and launched this site…

… I fell hopelessly in love with New York City

… I taught my first ever photography class at Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire

… I signed not one but TWO book deals! I know, right? Ridiculous! I’m penning a book about my healing and creative journey as we speak… and collaborating with Jen and Amanda on a book about Polaroid photography. Both will be out in 2012

… I instigated the infamous Naughty Words Wednesday ;-)

… I spent a super-girlie weekend in Marrakesh and a soulful weekend in a cottage

… I decided not to move to London… yet

… I embraced my glorious imperfection

… I received the most amazing gift from some former Unravellers on my birthday

… I enjoyed an August Break

… as improbable as it sounds, I learned to appreciate yoga

… and I was healed by a tiny guru.

All in all, a pretty good year!

[photos by his mummy]

The first rule of Fight Club

You know, when I wrote yesterday’s blog post I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to join me, which is why i didn’t put a Mister Linky gadget on the blog to automate the blogroll sign ups – I thought it would look sad if it was sat there empty. How wrong was I?! I am SO happy so many of you want to try the experiment – I think it’s going to be fun!

For me this won’t be a month of making “amazing photos” – it’ll simply be a way to record an intensely creative month in a mindful way; there’s a very good chance I’ll end up posting 31 snaps of my laptop as that’s where I’ll be all day, but i hope to mix it up and get out the house once in a while!

Some more thoughts:

1. The first rule of Fight Club the August break is that there are NO RULES. In other words, if you want to post a few photos rather than just one, or you wish to share a few words, or write a regular post, or leave a week out altogether – great! I know I’ll be freestyling too.

2. Use whatever camera you like. I’ll probably use my iPhone most days – as all my Polaroids are being squirreled away for the book(s), I’m really enjoying the zen of using my phone. And as I want August to be all about the words, it makes sense to use the simplest camera I own.

3. On that note, if you’ll be using your iPhone too, check out these apps – Hipstamatic, PS Mobile, Best Camera, Camera +, Perfect Photo, Monochromia

4. I’m sensing our month of few words needs wordless comments too, just like we did on this post. Maybe not every day – this is a great opportunity to get to know other bloggers so comments are encouraged! – but just so you know: smiley faces as comments are very welcome here in August :D

5. I’ve started a Flickr group for our experiment, so if you’d like to add your daily photos, and chat to other participants, you can. It’s a public group so anyone can join – all you need is a Flickr account (instructions on how to set one up (it’s free) are in my FAQ)

[I slipped on my Unraveller-in-chief hat then – ha!]

6. Other mindful things to try in August: Marianne’s fabulous 30 days of yoga; Unclutterer’s Thing-A-Day challenge – deeply digging both of these.

7. And lastly, there’s no requirement to ‘join’ this bit of fun, but obviously if you’d like to be on the blogroll please do leave a comment at any time and I will add you. And don’t feel obliged to add the badge to your blog, but blog bling is fun, so it’s there if you want it.

Here’s a new version of the code, as I know some were having problems with the code I shared yesterday:

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<img src=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ border=”0″ /></a>

(Samantha shared another way to get the badge on your blog in this post – thanks, love!)

Okay! We have T-minus 9 days to get all our words blogged out before we slide into a mindfully recorded August… I can’t bloody wait!