Lovely Rosiero has nominated me for an award.
Awards are always nice to receive, little endorsements that yes! somebody actually reads my stuff!
But this one, this award, underlined for me what blogging is fundamentally all about.
Non bloggers might recoil, gawd how cheesy they might sneer. Or, worse, and they may snigger into cupped hands, Sad Cow, her and her imaginary friends.
And some bloggers, some who have their feet planted resolutely on terra firma and only venture into cyberspace to test its coolblue ethereal waters now and again (and don’t hang about there on an almost permanent basis, loitering, waiting for conversation and company) might not quite comprehend the phenomenon entirely.
But for me, for me in the bush, a metaphorical million miles (though it often feels like it in reality) from most of my brood, all of my friends and a bloody good evening out, for me blogging is – predominantly – about connection, communication and, by extension, friendship.
Friendship with people you have mostly never met, never clapped eyes on, probably never will.
I can’t remember why I began to blog, cannot identify with one immediate and emphatic answer the precise reason that I dragged my personal life into the glare of the frequently unforgiving spotlight of the internet, and started to describe to invisible strangers the minutae of my days.
Perhaps it provided creative vent? Perhaps I believed it would, as one editor suggested, elevate my profile (it didn’t and it doesn’t matter). Perhaps because I had nothing better to do that day.
But I know why I continue. Because I am often lonely. Blogging has become the crutch I use to limp about the isolation of the Outpost. I cannot imagine being here without it; I’d be brought to my knees. It’s better than a diary because I observe more than just what I ate, where I didn’t go and how pissed off I might have been with Husband that day. And it’s better than a diary because even I cannot read my own illegible scrawl were I to wish to re-read what I had written. And it’s especially better than a diary because it obliges me to rationalise the way I feel as I articualte myself, and in so doing I often unravel the confusion. Bring some tiny order to a mind strung out in frustrated reaction to trying to fill a day full of nothing with something. Anything. Often my blog. My children understand how vital this compulsion has become, how it percolates my thought processes: my son pleads ‘oh Christ mum, pleeeeeeeease don’t write about that in your blog’ but my exhibitionist daughters beg, ‘put it on your blog, ma, put me in your blog’’.
Rosanna E. Guadagno, a researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, recently published the findings of a survey: Who blogs? In her report she acknowledged ‘that women may blog as a means to cope with loneliness’. (She also had the audacity to suggest that women who blog may be more neurotic. Qui? Moi?!)
Judith O’Reilly, brilliant and widely read blog to book Wife in the North told me when I approached her on this for a piece I was writing for The Examiner (which just goes to show what a marvellous platform for connection blogsphere is: frequently chronically shy I, emboldened by the veil of anonymity spun of ether, had the confidence to approach literary celeb) that loneliness was definitely a catalyst for her: having moved from London to the remote countryside she began to blog as she ‘’found it was a place to vent’’ at a time when she had ‘’things to say and no-one to say them to’’.
According to Technorati, which tracks 133 million blogs to which 900,000 new posts are added every 24 hours (10.4 new posts per second), four out of five bloggers are personal bloggers.
And most of them are women.
Most. Not to say all. Mr Sherman who has been a constant and kindly reader of this blog since its inception is obviously not a woman. Nor is Primal Sneeze, who was full of encouragement when I first began to write, even if I thought he was a she.
But predominantly, according to the research, bloggers are birds. One or two I know in reallife, like Janelle, and our mutual blogging habit has, I like to think, enhanced our friendship. Two or three I have never met in person but communicate with off-post, Iota and Potty Mummy (who invited me for coffee and cake in London; I never got there) and Good Woman (who I so wanted to meet For Real when she was briefly in north-of-the-border Kenya) and Mzungu Chick whom I might have seen in Karen Dukas when I found myself there in my bedroom slippers. She suggested a rendezvous. I declined. Afraid that my real life persona may disappoint. You might be able to brazen it out on the page but it doesn’t mean you have the verbal conversation to support the invisible poise you assume in the ether.
There’s lots of friends I’d like to pass this on to, I had to think hard, and simultaneously give my choice good geographical spread.
So if I may I’d like to extend this award to Pig (in France), who understands abandonment and whose site is so delicious. I urge you, if you have not been there, to visit and take a big bite. With a dearth of delectable eateries in the Outpost, Pig’s page is where I cyber-binge;
Boisterous Butterfly (in the Netherlands) because I would like to sit in a café and drink cappuccino and white wine with her for she sounds so colourful and interesting and warm and human (can I say that about an intangible entity?);
To me blogging is the whispered rallying of a gentle sisterhood; so much of what we experience as individuals is recognised and experienced universally: marriage, motherhood, Making Jam. There’s something enormously reassuring in that, something oddly empowering. You really aren’t on your own. Even if it sometimes feels like it.
And talking of which, talking of marriage, motherhood, Making Jam, it’s Carnival time: further proof, as if we needed it, that lots of us mamas are at it.
Blogging. I mean.
And a brief postscript for the eldest exhibitionist who, because she is applying for scholarship entry to a sixth form, was obliged to write a letter to the Head:
I am very nice and you should totally accept me into your school.
Personally, I don’t think it matters that I have three kids, am on forty fags a day, have an IQ of 23 and consider Heat magazine amongst the best of Britain’s contemporary literature. It’s what’s inside that matters, innit?
Ought I urge her to have another go?