Ten years ago, on October 15th 2016, I wrote my first blog post on Blogger. I sat in the kitchen of my housing commission apartment in East London with my flatmate, who’d suggested to me, ‘Perhaps you should think about starting a blog.’
‘If you’re a writer, it’s a good way to express your thoughts and create a presence.’
She showed me how to put together a template, then I had a look at her blog, & poked around on the internet, and slowly, hesitantly, I began to write.
Mostly, it seems, I wrote a litany of complaints about London, where I was constantly unhappy. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t complained so much and that I'd appreciated my time there more – a lecture with Donna Harraway & Rosi Braidotti, after all, is amazing – I use them both in my research now. But there were mitigating circumstances: a broken heart, debilitating homesickness, the constant craving for sunlight.
I wrote lightly about books, and not with the intent that I do now; these were more musings, whereas now I write reviews so that I can contemplate the craft and structure of a work. And for the past five years while I’ve worked with the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I’ve reviewed books by Australian women. It’s given me a good feel for the market and for the issues which women writers face, but I’ve been so pressed for time this year I’m not sure if I can commit toreviewing next year. I also want to broaden my consumption; I miss my 19th century literature and I want to read more globally.
I wrote about my travels around Britain with H, and when I returned to Australia I stopped complaining and wrote about the gorgeousness of running and swimming again. I made an effort to learn about and become part of the Brisbane literary community, which was difficult at first, but I got there in the end. Thank god for Avid Reader’s literary salons; that bookshop was my intellectual home for a long time.
These past few years my posts have thinned out, due to my incessant busyness, and have alternated between reviews, politics and descriptions of my trips (which are handy for working out where I was & when!). However, my book on Rosa & Maud Praed is largely done, and now that my weekends and evenings are my own again I’d like to return to my earlier style, with whimsical descriptions of things that I notice, rather than banging on about politics all the time, though that is important too. I also want to review books for pleasure; I have pushed myself with the Australian Women Writers Challenge, & that can make it a chore, at least this year when I've been flattened by work.
When I began blogging, I leapt into an online community, largely care of a friend, Heidi, who now blogs for Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off in England. I found it strange, negotiating the manners of an online world, but it was also lovely to chat to random folk & quietly find out about them. I didn’t sustain it though, & I’ve noticedI’m not very good with commenting in general on other people’s blogs, or even with interacting on Twitter; I remain insular in that regard. It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore; I love writing for the heck of it, & am not particularly interested in using my blog for any other reason. It’s mostly a place of brain dumps.
I began with a red room & finish with a red building: the exterior of the Powerhouse, lit up by red lights on the night I gave a reading from my story published in the sport edition of Griffith Review. It’s a nice way of showing continuity: I remained captivated by ideas & am drawn to the institutions that deliver them, even as I remain ambivalent about that. And of course, there’s writing itself – still so hard but so satisfying, even despite poor pecuniary returns & the government’s abhorrence of the literary arts. With a pen, a pad of blank paper, a café with good coffee on the corner and the jacarandas blazing along the river, the next ten years promise much.