I had been blogging for 35 days and published 29 posts when hit it me… why am I doing this?
I guess the answer is obvious, it is because I need to. I need to say so much which I have kept bottled up for far too long, and sometimes it becomes like a stream of consciousness explosion.
But as most bloggers – and indeed writers – know, it is feckin’ lonely at times. Like writing into a vacuum which steals words and sucks out the soul.
So last night I had my first crisis of confidence and was slipping back to that desolate spot I found myself in last June. I told my friends via email and Facebook that I would be pulling the plug on my blog and stopping the daily writing. I went to bed feeling exhausted, and aside from dreaming about the ghost girl in our kitchen, I slept like the dead.
I woke this morning at 6.40 to my wife Gill shaking me and telling me, with tears in her eyes: “You are not stopping your blog. Loads of people like it and read it. I read it and if you are writing it for me alone you must continue. Just look at the comments on Facebook.”
I hugged her close and with sleepy eyes started reading a raft of Facebook comments.
That is when I started to cry.
All the comments were from friends, family and work colleagues – past and present – telling me to carry on, as they actually enjoy reading my stuff! They are all amazing. I think the ones which touched me most were from fellow journalists whom I admire as writers and editors themselves.
Then I noticed four private messages on Facebook. Each said the same. One in particular really touched me, from someone I have not seen in two years. Part of it read: “Hi Nic, how very random of me sending u a pm! Just read your status and don’t feel eloquent or brave enough to comment on your post but want you to know that I got so engrossed one day reading one part of your blog my little girl managed to get in far more Peppa time than I would normally allow. I was truly moved by your writing. Don’t give up… I would love to read more if I get the chance!”
Then came emails and text messages.
One arrived just a minute ago as I write this piece. It is from a very dear friend, who I see far too rarely and who has endured life experiences similar to my own. Her text was unexpected, full of love and life affirming. She ended it with the words: “You have brought a lot of happiness into people’s lives and that is what defines you the most, my dear, dear friend.”
Yep, I cried again.
So now have the kick up the pants I needed and continue where I left off. Suddenly friends have made me feel good about myself and made me realise that the vacuum is all in my mind!
Thank you everyone for everything.
But I finish this posting with something else that inspired me in that first hour of the day. Beth Orton shared on Facebook a wonderful eulogy to Lou Reed, written by one of my other heroes, Patti Smith.
The music and words of Lou Reed have been with me since I was 16, but the genius and poetry of Patti came far too late. It was only when she returned to recording and gigging in the mid 1990s – after an eight year hiatus – that I really discovered her.
Patti knows what pain feels like.
In 1989, her best friend Robert Mapplethorpe died of an Aids-related illness. The American photographer shot the iconic image of Smith on the front cover of her seminal album Horses. In late 1994, her husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, once a guitarist with pre-punk rockers MC5, died of a heart attack, leaving her with two young children. Less than a month later, her brother Todd died suddenly. Small wonder her return album in 1996 was titled Gone Again.
Her words move like few others I have ever read or heard.
Patti’s eulogy to Lou can be found here: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2013/11/11/131111ta_talk_smith
Read it if you get a chance.
Meantime I aim to dedicate my next few blog postings to writers I admire.