On December 15, 2007 – a year ago today – I started this here humble blog. The idea behind it was to use my words to spur me on to change my life for the better. Specifically, and most importantly, I wanted to lose weight, get fit, make some friends and fall in love. I gave myself a year.
Piece of cake.
On February 6, 2008, I received an email from one of my first regular commenters and brand new blog friends, Suburban Hen. Hen wrote:
‘It used to be easy to find a good blog to read, there were so few to choose from. Only people who were genuinely interested in writing as a medium actually bothered with starting a blog. It was for nerds. And then it suddenly wasn't, which is terribly depressing for those of us who really enjoy reading a good blog; like some people might enjoy reading a good book or the daily newspaper.
You will become increasingly popular and in as such you might change. Your blog might change. It might all go to your head and where once there used to be thoughtful posts about how ugly you are and how much weight you have lost and how delighted you are to receive one comment from a lady expressing her desire to nob you, there might instead be short posts that read something like this...
"...Oh, my EDITOR is so demanding. He/she is expecting me to finish the third draft of my BOOK by next week and woe is me, I just can't find the time, what with meeting up with MY AGENT to finalise the locations for my BOOK SIGNINGS, and with all the INTERVIEWS, you must understand that I haven't really felt much like blogging at all. As I'm sure you can all imagine..."
Please don't misunderstand my annoyance with them as begrudging their success, but that in their success they have mostly left behind the very medium that gave them their voice. I begrudge them that. I begrudge them...well, Mike said it better than me...
"From my own highly subjective little corner of the blogosphere, 2007 was the year that the Bloggers With Book Deals started yielding tangible end results (otherwise known as, coo er gosh, BOOKS!), with many more to follow in 2008. As The Blogsbury Set came of age, and as "portfolio sites" started to make their presences felt, you could also detect the first rumblings of an increasingly widespread shift in priorities. ("Sorry I haven't had much time for blogging recently, but I've been SO BUSY, agents, deadlines, press & PR, oh it's all been such a GIDDY WHIRL!") And what with stunts such as Shaggy Blog Stories, which saw over 200 bloggers left out on the pavement as the Blogsbury glitterati sailed through the velvet ropes, and Post of the Week (over 200 blogs shortlisted to date, so why wasn't YOUR blog GOOD ENOUGH?), there was a distinct sense of competitiveness in the air, as a new élite basked in self-regard ("SO wonderful to see my DEAR FRIENDS doing SO well!") while the Not So Beautiful People muttered seditiously behind their backs ("Who the chuff does HE think HE is, and SHE'S nothing special, and who the f**k made HER the Queen of Bloody Sheba?")"
This is me, introducing myself to you and saying hello, I love your blog. I love the way you write.
And that other people are going to come along, people more engaging and more important than me (if they already haven't. For all we know you're possibly being watched by an agent AS I WRITE) and they are going to fawn over you. While one can't begrudge another person friendship or success, one can sit back and wonder at it all. Coming into your own is one thing, but friendship because it's cool to be mates with the ugly guy... I dunno. I hope it doesn't happen, is all. I hope that if you find friendship with people through your blog, or better still, a lady love, that you will keep your feet firmly rooted to the ground... Meeting a lady love through your blog is probably going to happen, by the way. Completely. Because it happens to the best of them. Don’t Go To Vegas, for example.
Anyway, enough from me.
My reply began:
Thank you for your kind, if to my mind rather overripe, words. You’re the second person to suggest that my writing might change as I get more readers. I’m torn between thinking, ‘well that would never happen’ and ‘so what if it did?’ I’ve been writing, mostly corporate hogwash, for around 10 years, and it’s pretty soul-destroying on the whole. I’ve written other things, for my own pleasure, some of which I’ve tried and failed to get published. So this blog is actually the first time more than two people have read my words, and I do get a big kick out of it, yes. Therefore, if someone offered me money to write about something that wasn't pharmaceuticals or cosmetics or higher education, I would be delighted. Would I then start posting about the stresses and strains of lunch at the Ivy and pressing book draft deadlines and the like? YES!!’
And ended with:
‘Anyhow, I can’t help feeling that you’re rather over-egging the pudding with your confidence that agents and publishers might be interested in big old me… I think the idea of finding love through the blog is more likely than finding a new career, simply because there are lots more people out there looking for love than for someone to publish.
Anyway, we shall see.’
So. You’ll never guess what’s been happening over the last couple of months…
Well, you know I started seeing Morag properly? Well, I did. And this time round we’re having fun. But serious fun. Grown-up, going out and forsaking all others fun, with no messing about, no mind games and no nonsense. Well, that’s the plan, and thus far it’s going well. I think not blogging about it all makes it easier. So I should really shut up right now, before I say anything I might regret. Although this is different obviously. Here I’m just sketching an outline, I’m not giving away personal details about Morag’s body hair, or loud toilet habits or the fact that she doesn’t clean her teeth of a morning. Oh. Those were just examples by the way, of idiosyncrasies a person might exhibit. I realise I made it sound like I was describing my lovely Morag there. I was not. Sorry.
Anyhow, as I say, it’s going well. So well in fact, that we’re planning on spending Christmas together, just me, Morag and the occasional special guest or two. And that’s not all. We’re also planning a trip to meet Morag’s old man and her step family, in Scotland, just after Christmas. And that’s not all. Also – on the sole condition that nothing goes horribly wrong between now and the end of the year – we're planning to give living in sin a shot come January.
In the same house.
I know this might seem a little previous to some of you - it certainly does to me - but it's what we both want, so we're going to just cross our fingers, hold our breath and jump. Just like Butch and Sundance. And if that means we're destined to die in our prime in a hail of poisoned pig-bullets, so be it. At least we gave it a shot. I’m very excited. And a little scared. But I want it. It’ll be fun. We have fun together, Morag and I. And as long as we continue to have fun together, I think we’ll be alright.
So that’s pretty good. I’m happy. Very happy actually.
Now, ordinarily this news would be more than enough of a wonderful thing to be able to make the anniversary post sufficiently special.
But these are no ordinary times.
Second big news item coming up… Drum roll…
You remember that writing project I mentioned on Friday? Well, it's a rather special one. I still can't quite believe I'm about to write these words, but here goes...
I’ve got a book deal.
Actually, 'ha' doesn't really do it justice, even with an exclamation mark. What I really feel like doing is running up a few walls like Donald O'Connor at the end of Make 'Em Laugh. But I don't want to be writing this book from a wheelchair. So instead, let's just imagine, just for one moment, that this is me...
Diana. You saw it. I shook my head at you, and I smiled and thought, ‘Who is this silly, simple-minded wretch?’ But you were right. And I take my hat off to you. Furthermore I promise, with my hat held out in front of me like – alas – a skull, I promise that I shall never sully these pages with tedious talk of deadlines and blog star-fucking. Also, I promise I will never whinge about the pressures of good fortune. Or if I do, I will grovel on the ground and wring my hands in abject and heartfelt apology just as soon as it’s pointed out to me.
The truth is, I have no intention of spending any time whatsoever with the agent, or the publisher – not because they’re dim-witted, spineless, self-serving imbeciles, as I’m certain they’re not – but because I’ve got a book to write, and as of yesterday, a garden to tend. More importantly, I've got a wonderful woman whose company I crave, and in a few weeks’ time, I’ll have a kitten to raise and tutor in the ways of righteousness. And frankly speaking, a kitten, a garden and the company of a wonderful woman are just about pretty much all I've ever wanted, so I can't see myself giving them up to go and hang around with publishing people.
Indeed, as far as the day to day business of my life goes, I promise that nothing will change. Except perhaps, I will be a lot happier as I potter around, from litter tray to oven glove to knicker drawer. (I am obsessed by the concept of the knicker drawer by the way. I would like to write about it at some length, but of course I simply don’t have time. Deadlines to meet, lunches to do, bloggers to schmooze....)
So there we have it. One year on and I can safely say, the decision to start this blog was by far the best decision I ever made in my entire life.
Thank you, the internet.
What a contrast this post is to this one of just three months ago. It just goes to show, something you probably don't really need reminding: life is irrepressibly, relentlessly surprising. But also, sometimes, sometimes, the surprises are pleasant.
Two more things worth noting:
1) Yesterday was my birthday. I am 31.
2) This is my 200th post.
Life - for the moment at least - is sweet.