The worst posts on blogs are the first ones.
I always wonder why the writer bothers with that awkward, self-aware first post that has to acknowledge the fact that it is the first post; and they are giving blogging a go. Paragraphs begin with ‘So,’ and end strangely with ‘XOXO’ because first-time writers have seen it on Gossip Girl, or perhaps because they know their only readers are likely to be their parents.There is always a shy, testing-the-water subtext; a self-deprecation at having the balls to take up valuable space on the internet despite the fact that the internet is endless and full of much weirder and more pointless shit than you and your mild-mannered film review blog.
Why not just skip it and get to the goods – ‘you join me reader, midway through my annual dildo-testing month.’ (Raise your hand if you had to go back and read ‘annual’ again).
I used to do the same thing every time I started a new diary as a kid, which was as often as I read any novel with a child diarist as the central character. I would crack the spine of a new WH Smith notepad and introduce myself, presumably to nobody but the wide-rule lines.
‘My name is Hannah Louise Murphy, I am (x) years old and I live in England,’ I would write.
‘I have straight, silky brown hair, large brown eyes eyes and am slim-to-chubby.’ Personal descriptions were very important and also often fabricated.
Looking back, I think that need for constant reintroduction was also an opportunity for reinvention – this time, I might actually go somewhere with this, I might record something other than what I ate for lunch at school and one day in a hundred years people will read THIS diary, not the many that have gone before, dissect my wise observations and declare me the modern Anne Frank, albeit with much, much less of the persecution. But still some.
This is not my first blog. I have had two others. The first was basically an ill-thought out extension of MYSPACE and I am so ashamed of it I won’t even tell you what it was called, but the colour scheme was black chrome and it had an ironic French title that, when I eventually checked with an actual French person, turned out to be ungrammatical nonsense.
My second blog was somewhat more successful – I started it when I first moved to Korea, thinking I’d keep it up for a year as something to do while I taught English and also to reassure my mum that I had not died alone in a rice field. People used to read it, some commented on how funny it was. I congratulated myself on being an extremely talented travel writer. I kept it going for about a year, then I stopped. Why, you ask? When I was such a talented travel writer? Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t travel. Ever. Yes I was living in Korea, but almost all of my free time and money was spent sitting in bars in my little Korean town, drinking with my new English teacher buddies, laughing at South African swear-words and just being grateful that I had friends.
I also became aware of a tone I had cultivated, a tone of Me vs Them; the Them being all Koreans and the Me being an increasingly pompous-sounding outsider holding Korean culture up to the light and shouting ‘HERE! LOOK! THEY DO THIS! AND THIS! ISN’T THIS SILLY? AREN’T THEY WRONG??’ This is endemic in blogs started by foreigners living in Korea. It ranges from a playful, gentle joshing of the culture to full-on acid bath. The former is OK, we’re all people after all and we’re bound to find some cultural differences that amuse and perplex us if we step out of our front door. But the latter is not OK, especially if you have chosen to live in the place, surrounded by the people you’re tearing down. And anyway. I had a lovely Korean boyfriend (now my lovely Korean husband, since you asked) and so I no longer felt that it was Me Vs Them. If I were the sort of person who makes graphs, I think you would see a strong correlation between my rise in personal happiness and the decline of my second, ill-fated blog. (DISCLAIMER: There will be NO use of graphs in this blog.)
So what’s the deal. I’ve made a first blog post about how much I hate first blog posts, and yet here I am blogsplaining in the manner I have professed to hate.
Basically, I have been farting about since the age of 6 telling people I want to be a writer without ever really doing anything about it. I mean, I’m almost finished with my Creative Writing MA and of course I write, I have always written. I write short stories, and long stories, and flash fiction, I used to write poetry until I quietly told myself to stop, I once wrote half a play and honestly it’s either VERY bad or a masterpiece but I just can’t get the ending, I frequently write book and film reviews on various retail sites because I feel like other reviewers just don’t do their subjects justice, and if writing letters to BBC Points Of View was still a thing (RIP Sir Terry Wogan) no doubt I would compose letters to them.
BUT it only occurred to me very recently when I was job hunting, that the kinds of jobs I look for and am qualified for no longer float my boat. And if I love writing, I should try to get some writing work, because life is short and terrible, so at least try to enjoy a modicum of it, right? Enlightened, I trawled the internet for the kind of sites and online magazines that welcome contributions from inexperienced freelance writers. I have even had responses. The general consensus is ‘we quite like you, but we need to see more examples of what you write. Why don’t you have a blog? Everyone has a blog. If you say you’re a writer and you don’t have a blog, then frankly you look like a serial killer.’
So, here’s my awkward first post, on a blog that will cover a number of things, as and when I feel like writing about them. These could include anything really but mainly film, books, TV, food, beauty, style and just general blather about things I think and like, or don’t like. I hope it proves that most difficult of things, that I am not a serial killer.