A Sussex based blogger sharing a candid tale of 20-something humanness

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Who am I as a writer?


There are so many things I want to write about at the moment, but the words haven't been coming easily of late.

Who am I as a writer? That's the question I've been asking myself in recent months: the question that seems to crop up time and time again as I return to this personal literary space, hoping; the question that has a frustrating tendency to throw me off a think piece five sentences in and opt instead to abruptly close my laptop and hide behind a cushion during a climactic Netflix marathon. (Dirty John, though...)

My writing has naturally evolved over the years. I started blogging when I was 19, and truly those first posts epitomise the foetal phase of my creative adventure. The words were clumsy and unsure, and a little too self-deprecative in places, and I wrote about things I didn't care about because I wasn't confident enough to write about the things that I did. Over the years, that confidence - at least in parts - came, and the words grew up with me and became more candid and vulnerable and perhaps more poetic at times, because as it turns out, I love a little unnecessary poetic prose. Eventually this blog itself evolved into other opportunities - the writing spilled off of pixelated pages and into other areas of my life - and I guess that's where it all got a little confusing.

I've worked as a Communications Manager at a hospice for over two years now, in which I spend near enough all day writing. In my day job, I write everything from web copy, magazine editorial and event strap-lines to clinical literature and press releases, and every word of it needs to be as widely accessible as possible: simple and honest and compelling and warm, with no room for elaborate adjectives or a casual f-bomb. It's professional writing, and it exists - primarily - to tell stories in the simplest of forms and to connect with people and inspire positive action. I love doing it - to write so many words for such an important cause is, whole-heartedly, one of the greatest privileges of my life - but that voice does not belong to me. That voice is not me.

I'm writing a book too. The book is me at its heart, of course - elaborate adjectives and f-bombs galore, and it is undoubtedly the most interesting and exciting and magical project of my life, but the book is a more commercial me; it has to be. Book-writing is an art of detailed considered approach: words, while totally authentic, looked over and polished and edited and carefully structured, in a way that this personal blog is not.

Naturally, I am at the core of both of these pursuits. The words only end up on the page because I put them there, and the style of the book especially isn't dissimilar from some of the pieces I'm most proud of on here. However, they are both particular voices that I inhabit, and combined, it means that the majority of the time I spend writing these days is with the reader in mind, which isn't how I started out, nor, ironically, how I began connecting with people in the first place.

By definition, I've become a better writer. I'm more experienced, for sure, and I've written things that have really made a difference. But I've found it frustrating when I sit down to blog and find that what often comes out in my most personal work these days is a bizarre amalgamation of everything. I don't want to lose this. The rawness. The messiness. The prose that exists for no other reason than that I think it's beautiful. The sentence that might feature both a resounding curse and a completely excessive, intricate string of adjectives describing a Sunday evening in which I devoured a 49p Lidl doughnut whilst watching the sunset. (Try it sometime, you won't regret it.) I don't want to lose this documentation of my life in its most authentic, unedited form, which started with what hair conditioner I used and became panic attacks in supermarkets and imperfect love stories.

This space is my most freeing, unrestricted stream of consciousness. It has sparked connections with amazing people over the years, which has been such a joy, but it exists for me first, and that matters. I suppose this post is me recognising that it hasn't been what it was, and that I'd love to salvage it, and invest more time in it, and perhaps find a way to relax into it again - just write, like I used to, about life and love and mental health and the books I'm loving and why I recently thought about Yorkshire puddings for days on end.

Have you experienced anything similar? Do you have any advice?
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2 comments

  1. This is so relatable. I also write in different ways in my life, professionally in my job and more true to my own voice on my blog. I do struggle sometimes to write authentically – even on my blog. I can become too mindful of the different people that might read my blog or I might want to write as accessibly as possible – like you, I enjoy throwing in poetic prose into my writing, which isn’t always very accessible. One thing that has helped me is to write just for myself sometimes, without expectations of publishing the work anywhere.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear you can relate to the struggle, though I'm very reassured it isn't just me!I think that's probably the best advice... Just to go ahead and write for me. I definitely need to relax more; I'm sure thinking about the authentic voice too much probably impacts what comes out a fair amount. In other news can I just say I LOVE your blog. I don't know how I have not read it in depth before, but just spend a while going through some of your recent posts and I adore it. It is so calming and inspiring and you have a truly soul-enriching approach to life. Bookmarked and can't wait to read more! X

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Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Don't forget to leave a link to some of your own writing; I'm always on the look out for more reading material.


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