A few months ago I created a video in answer to BritMums' question, "Why Do You Blog?"
I don't even want to look back at it right now. Partly because Little Man is currently being entertained by In The Night Garden, providing me with the chance to write this post. But mostly because I know that I wasn't entirely honest in that video.
That's not to say I lied. Just that I tempered the truth by failing to admit some of the things that seemed rather "egostistical" or "shallow".
So when I saw on Twitter today that both Tots100 and SAHDandproud had been focussing on this very same question I realised that it was probably time that I 'fessed up to myself and answered the question properly.
Holding nothing back.
So where do I start?
I guess the best place to start is why I began reading blogs. I mean that's pretty crucial, right, as that led to the creation of my first blog (I've had several!)
I don't even remember how I first came across a blog. I do remember it was in my final year at university, way back in 2006. I guess I probably searched for something and found a blog in the results list without realising what it was. But I was quickly sucked into and hooked on the blogosphere.
The problem for me at first was that the majority of blogs I found were mummy blogs, and I was years away from having a family (I hadn't even met TJ at that point!) You know how it goes, you find a blogger whose writing you like, who just happens to be a mummy blogger and you look at her blogroll to find some other reads you might enjoy and they all happen to be mummy bloggers too.
So I lurked around for quite a few months before taking the plunge into blogging myself after graduating and getting my first job. It was around this time that I stumbled upon the world of craft bloggers and fell in love with blogging all over again. The things that some bloggers create are just so beautiful and inspiring. But again I felt "out of place" because nothing I created ever looked as good!
It's at this point that I guess confession number one needs to arise. I have always wanted a family and always enjoyed crafts. So at the age of 22 I was reading the blogs of women 5 or 10 years older than me (maybe even more) because I wanted to be with them already. I didn't want to be a single girl, just starting out in her career and sharing a house with random strangers. Which leads to confession number two: the reason I began blogging was an attempt to join a world that I wanted to be a part of. I couldn't talk about wanting a family and all the craft projects I dreamed of doing with my colleagues at work, so I did it at home on my laptop instead.
Oh that makes me sound quite sad, doesn't it? I did have a life... I promise!!
So anyway, that is that. I've taken a big breath and decided that if you're still reading then you might actually want to know the rest... right?
In 2007 I met TJ and my life began to change. I moved in with him early in 2008 and so my blog grew with me. I had a loving partner and a flat of our own (well, rented, but still just the two of us) and so blogging became something different for me. I no longer used it as a way to write about things I loved and wanted, but about the things that we were doing. And this included documenting the first of my chemically-induced fake menopauses. Actually, that was a private, password protected blog at the time, but I was starting to see several new reasons to blog including: finding a community, raising awareness, and (most importantly) getting out all the rubbish things you couldn't talk about anywhere else!
During that period of time in late 2008 and early 2009 I began to find another set of bloggers who knew my heart so much more than anyone else ever had. I found the "Endo Bloggers".
Despite my health-related posts being somewhat downhearted at times, I actually started to think that my writing about everything was not just for me but also to help others. And in some ways I think this was when I started getting a bit "big-headed" about it all. Which leads me to confession number three: I desperately wanted to be a "writer" and gain the audience of some of the bigger blogs I used to frequent. I honestly believed that my writing was important enough to one day gain me that kind of audience and it became my focus. Don't get me wrong, I wrote about things I was passionate about, but at that time I also desperately wanted the validation that seemed to come from having an audience. I lost the "me" focus and began trying to write what I thought others wanted to read. That was mistake number one.
In 2010, I reinvented my blog for a third time. When I look back on those first two blogs I find it amazing (and slightly cringeworthy at times) to look back and see how naive I was. I started blogging 6 years ago as a single girl and am now a married mother who has been to hell and back with her Endo and Hyperemesis. And I guess this is one of the joys of blogging, the fact that you have a constant reminder of all you've been through to get to where you are now.
So in 2010, having just left full-time work, I started Amanda's Patch (which was later renamed to The Family Patch). I was still hoping to follow in the footsteps of so many bloggers and start my own craft business. But it was a tough year financially and with a relocation and a wedding, followed closely by my pregnancy in 2011, the business never really took off! I guess that was mistake number two: trying to follow everyone else's paths instead of making my own.
As a blogger (and a writer) I have come a long, long way. I got the chance of a lifetime at the end of 2010 to write for iVillage.co.uk and continue to do so to this day. That helped me to make a certain distinction between writing for others and writing for myself. I began to realise that I could get that professional writing kick out of producing articles for others, allowing myself a certain freedom to write about what I wanted to here on the blog. And yet here comes confession number four: I still haven't got that balance right!
There is still a part of me that wants recognition. That for some reason doesn't value myself enough to trust that whatever I write it enough. There is still a major part of me that sees the success of other bloggers and wonders why I still haven't got the balance right.
But I am getting there!
Since having Little Man my whole focus has changed. In many ways he has made me realise what is truly important in life. And yet, with being very isolated where we live and trying to support TJ through an awful lot this year, I haven't had much time to be "Amanda" anymore. And I've been grasping at anything that might give me that chance.
I get frustrated when I have no time to write (either here on the blog or for the HG book which I am working on). But this frustration has helped me realise something big about myself: I need to write for my own sanity. I need to write to know that I am utilising the skills I have to make a difference. And I need to write so that I don't burst with all that I have to say (and in the case of the HG book, all that I have learned and want other people to have access to).
And that, my friends, is why I blog. It is totally different to why I started, or why I have blogged in the past, but it is why I blog today.
So tell me, why do you blog?