Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Morning Musings - reflections on a decade of blogging

The first post on this blog dates to March 2006. It was just a test post. The first substantive posts appeared in April 2006. For that reason, I count the anniversary of the blog from that April. On 8 April in my opening post, I wrote:
Since my first test post, I have been mulling over how I want to use this blog. 
Much of my professional work is client or management focused. There is so little time for reflection, for integrating the things I do and learn, both professional and non-professional. There is also little time for conversation. 
I work mainly from a home office. On some days I am alone for six to eight hours except for the constant email traffic, most focused on work issues. This adds to the conversation gap. 
So, thinking about all this, I want to use this blog to chat about all those things that would otherwise be submerged.
It took me a while to work out what I was doing. There were three posts in April, just one in May, six in June. Posting then accelerated. The first comment came in July from Geoff Robinson in response to a story I had written on his then blog.

Ten years, 3,037 posts, 10,176 comments including my own responses later, I suppose one could say that the blog has settled into something of a pattern! I haven't felt the need to be especially reflective about the blog's history, although I have been enjoying Neil's reflections and repeats over at his latest place. I say latest place advisedly, for Neil has been through several phases of what I once called that dreaded blog instability, changing templates and opening and closing blogs with gay abandon. I, too, have done a bit of that, although Personal Reflections itself has remained relatively stable.

Neil and I first began interacting in August 2006 following the death of writer and playwright Alex Buzo. I have been enjoying his present posting in part because of our shared interactions over what is now almost a decade, more because there has been some really interesting stuff there.

I said that I haven't felt the need to be especially reflective. April 2006 was a different world, one I remember quite clearly. The girls were still at school, my routine still dominated by the rhythms of domestic life. I was wrestling with particular problems at the time.

All my writing is at least tangentially autobiographical, if only because it links to events or issues that I selected as interesting if not important at the time. One result is that the last decade is the most documented of my entire life. I hadn't realised the extent of this until I started editing the Belshaw's World columns for possible publication. I became very uncomfortable as I did so.

Belshaw's World was a weekly personal column in the Armidale Express written over the period from the end of 2008 to early 2012, over 120,000 words in total. While it spans many topics, it contains many then current personal stories and anecdotes written to entertain, from house moves to cats to school stories to the minutiae of domestic life. I hadn't actually realised how strong the personal was until I came to editing. Therein lies the rub.How much to edit, how much to retain?

In 2006 I was in a different place, at the start of a change process that would affect every aspect of my life.

In 2006, I was wrestling with the question of a return to the more conventional workforce, of just finding a new job, of the extent to which I was prepared to be ambitious in a work sense, of getting back on the ladder, of giving up certain dreams. In 2006, writing was important, but still ancillary. In 2006, family life was still central.

Over the next decade, everything changed. Today, in 2016, I am in a better place, but the passage to that place has been hard and often very painful. One change was the progressive realisation that I did not want to return to the professional rat race, if indeed I could after my sidetracks. A second was the transformation of writing from something I did on the side to a central position with other things on the side. A third was the importance of valuing what I have now, what I have and can still achieve, something I alluded to in my connections post.

So I have decided to let most of Belshaw's World stand. It is real, part of the story of a life. The target publication date remains July, although the pressures of my new job may mean that slipping a little.



Winton Bates said...

Congratulations Jim on your first decade of blogging. Time flies!

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Winton. It sure does!