*coughs* IS THIS THING ON? It’s been so long since I’ve written anything here I’ve forgotten how it works. Or any words. Or how to string them together. Indeed, don’t faint with shock if I start misusing “your”. Yeah. As if. The problem is I don’t actually know what to write about and this is something I’ve been struggling with for some time. I started my blog a few years ago now, egged on by a friend and was determined that I would be one of those people that wrote something every single day. In my idealistic, frankly addled mind I saw myself as the next Belle du Jour. No, it isn’t that kind of blog but is it so beyond the realms of possibility that something could go viral? Yes, yes it is. Well, it is if your kind of blog is the kind where someone rants a bit in a small-minded way. Yep, I’m a small-minded ranter, delivering my own unique take* on such scintillating topics as eyebrow acting and that solid haired BBC moron Charlie Stayt. *small-minded rants
I did get over myself pretty quickly. I enjoyed writing my rants but I soon started to worry that I was becoming one of those people (and we all know at least one) that moans and fusses in type in what we consider to be an amusing way when in actual fact we just sound like miserable, negative bores who only like the sounds of our own voices and for whom the only opinion that counts is our own. I hope I’m not like that but I certainly can be opinionated and Charlie Stayt really is a moron. Not surprisingly it wasn’t terribly long before the ranty ideas dried up and my blog posts got a little thinner, a little shorter and harder to give any time to. I never even wrote that oh so important piece on how annoying other parents are on the school run and what woefully inadequate drivers they are. Some of my posts were fairly well received (I have very generous friends) and there was even talk of a “style” to my words which gave me pause for thought but I couldn’t begin to see what it was for myself so didn’t try. It’s very easy to see such things in anyone else’s writing but in my own…well, even now I’m unsure. Generally, what I write is a stream of consciousness and I rarely bother myself to go back and edit a blog post. It’s just a blog post. I wouldn’t know where to start, anyway. Without going back and rewriting the whole thing and probably changing its whole message. Not that my blog posts even have a message. Sigh.
Then something happened, a terrible TV show about prison was made and I had something to say about it. Many, many thousands of words’ worth in 13 not-that-small parts that even got picked up by Comment is Free for a day. I enjoyed myself, for the first time I felt like I actually had a message to give, a story to tell and once the fair few readers got over their initial shock of my tale of woe they were supportive and encouraged me to take it further, maybe make it into a book. A great idea in theory. But where writing the Porridge series was cathartic and enjoyable, fictionalising my tale and making it into a whole book seemed daunting and, frankly, terrifying. Not only that, I’d already written it in the blog, the hardest thing to then do was rewrite it from scratch for a completely different audience. Blog readers can be quite forgiving; I wouldn’t expect the same of novel readers. And with the difficulty of writing a book I also faced the difficulty of trying adjust others’ attitudes towards people with criminal records. I saw it as a one-woman mission and I was going to change the world, who knew I had it in me to be such an idealist? Certainly not me. Needless to say I failed somewhat. And I think maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m so loath to go back and try again. Family and work mean I’m not blessed with a great deal of time at the moment but when the opportunity arose to go on to Saturday Live on R4 I took it, why wouldn’t I? Still in idealistic mode I really thought my message would get out there, show those with the Daily Mail mentality that, actually, what happened to me could happen to anyone (there but for the grace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster go I). But no. reaction outside of the studio was almost completely negative and it has taken me some time to realise it but I came away wholly demoralised. I haven’t really written anything since, I’ve lost confidence even in my ability to rant about unimportant stuff and I am far less likely to talk about prison to random strangers any more, fun though their shocked faces were to see. I still get nagged about getting on with the book occasionally but I don’t have excuses, really. At this moment in time I simply don’t want to think about it very much. They say everyone has a book inside them, and I probably do, but only the one and by the time I finish it I suspect I’ll be a very old woman indeed.