On blogging

I started blogging at the beginning of 2012. I’d been working on the blog for a couple of months prior to that, getting it ready to ‘go live’. My blogging, at first, was inconsistent. Whole months might go by when I wouldn’t post anything and then three would come in quick succession. Once we set sail in summer 2012 I had limited internet access and limited electricity to power our slightly old laptop. I had lots to write about, but was frustrated by my lack of opportunities to blog. About a week before we set sail for France in summer 2013 our laptop broke and we didn’t buy a new one for four months. I quickly gave up trying to blog on public computers in France, as the French keyboard drove me towards insanity and I couldn’t think slowly enough to type.

At the start of 2014, with a new laptop and a permanent move onto Carina imminent, I made a New Year’s Resolution to blog ten times per month. I’ve generally stuck to that with only a few blips here and there. Lack of electricity or Wifi no longer cause problems. Carina’s solar panel and an energy efficient current adapter means quick and easy recharging of the laptop battery no matter how long we remain at anchor (this might be put to the test when we return to Carina for the winter). These days I write all my blogs as Word documents and, when I get an hour of Wifi, copy and paste up to five blog posts a time to my WordPress site, and schedule them to come out at three day intervals. That way, there’s never a break in my blog posts due to being anchored somewhere remote or on a passage at sea.

I’m generally not short of material to blog about, and indeed I have quite a few posts written as Word documents that have never (yet) seen the light of day on the blog. Julian sometimes criticises my broad reach. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I should stick to stuff about sailing and life aboard Carina and our experiences in foreign places. But the way I see it is that I blog about what happens to me and my family and what inspires me or amuses me or gets my goat. So I blog about sailing, living aboard a small boat, the places we visit, the encounters we have with humans and other-than humans. I blog about our experiences home educating the girls and about simple living, and I blog about things that spark ideas or thoughts or memories of other things.

We’ve been away from Carina for four months now, back in the UK while I await my surgery. Being away from Carina is part of our live aboard story too. You could think of it as an interesting experiment of sampling life back in what used to be normality but now feels decidedly abnormal (blog post on this theme to follow!). It’s also about trying to maintain a sense of continuity and normality for the children when we are away from home and our lives are very much up in the air.

The truth is, I love blogging. I enjoy putting my thoughts out there and I enjoy reading comments from people who make the time to share their thoughts and ideas about what I (and occasionally Julian) have written. Since January 2012 my blog following has grown by slow increments. I don’t have the tens of thousands of followers that other bloggers have. In fact, I don’t even have a thousand followers. But with every new blog post I usually get one or two more and when I’ve had some media coverage I pick up a few more. I’m happy with that.

But a strange and unexpected thing has happened since returning to the UK. I usually write at a great distance from my readers. Few of the other sailors and live aboards we meet have any idea that I write a blog. Amongst our fellow live aboards our family is much like everyone else’s. We’re just one of the thousands of families out there on the world’s oceans, sailing to our own compass. In fact, many of them are probably writing their own blogs too. In the course of Skype conversations my mother or mother-in-law will occasionally comment on the content of the latest blog post, and a few people comment via the blog itself or on Facebook. But generally I’m oblivious to readers’ reactions to what I write and I rarely think too much about who I write for.

Since returning to the UK, however, friends, family members, friends of friends, friends of family, have told me they read my blog. My reaction is always terrible embarrassment hidden behind mumbled ‘oh really?’s and ‘thank you’s! But now that I’ve discovered some of the readers of my blog, I see their faces as I write and have become a little self-conscious, imagining their reactions to what I write. Some censorship has crept in. I’ve always censored my writing. There are subjects I will not write about and subjects I’ve avoided writing about in particular ways. But now I’m censoring as I think about how specific individuals will react.

Silly me. Because the truth is, I’m delighted that people take an interest in my blog, and enjoy reading what Julian and I write. I just don’t react to the face-to-face reality of my readers’ existence very well. I’m sure once we’re back aboard Carina my self-consciousness will wane and I’ll once again forget who I am writing for.

But for now, thank you all so much for continuing to follow my blog!

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9 thoughts on “On blogging

  1. It must be a matter of days before you go into hospital, so best wishes that you have a speedy recovery and hope you return back on board Carina very soon. Thanks for continuing with your interesting blog!

    • Hi Sandra,
      Thank you so much for your kind wishes. Only a couple more days to go. Looking forward to being on the other side of it. But I have made plans for the next two days to keep myself busy so I don’t think too much about it!

  2. Its tempting to ask you to not be self-conscious….. but i know that this usually has the effect of making a person even more so…. so I wont! What I will say is that those who enjoy your posts will keep on reading what you have to say and those who don’t… won’t… it’s really that simple. Having said that Im thinking of writing a blog myself and I really appreciate the tips you have given in this one. Thank you.

    I enjoy reading your posts and your views on various topics. Im Irish too, living near London for many many years so I love hearing tales of your visits home. Keep going… censored or not, its lovely to catch up with your news.

    I wish you well for your operation.. I guess we will have the pleasure of those saved posts when you are out of action. I look forward to your return to Carina… though perhaps not as much as you, the girls and Julian.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Susan

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for getting in touch. And thank you for your good wishes. Apart from the obvious excitements of eventually returning home to Carina, I’m looking forward to the potentials for new blogging material! I’m looking forward to seeing how life on the river has changed in the few months we’ve been away. The flights are booked and we are counting the days!

  3. I know what you mean. When I first told my family about my blog a couple of years ago, it seemed weird that they were reading something which had otherwise been only read by strangers on the internet (or at least, friends I knew on the internet, whom I’d met in online interactions anyway). Then other friends began to read it, and I sometimes wondered what they might think of some of the topics I write about, given that we don’t discuss them in real life. But then I realised that the reason they were reading it in the first place is to know what I thought and they had decided to keep reading because they liked what I wrote. Now I tend to not really think about it… nothing I say on there is so surprising, after all, I guess, especially for those who’ve known me a long time!

    Good luck for your operation and I wish you a speedy recovery so you can be back onboard very soon!

    • Hello! Thanks so much for your good wishes. Blogs are funny things, as you know! There are things that I steer clear of writing about, because I am always very conscious of my readers. I generally try not to write about bad stuff that happens to us. Or if I do, I write about it after the event when I can see the humorous side. And that’s partly because I don’t want our families worrying about us, and partly because writing the blog is a cathartic exercise – writing positively makes me feel positive. I avoid writing about religion or God. I have blog readers who I know personally (family and friends) and readers who I only know through their own blogs, whose religious beliefs are polar opposite to mine, and I don’t want to offend anyone. And sex? Erm…I don’t think I could ever possibly write about that with a straight face. Recently, I wrote a long journal entry waxing lyrical about my periods (I was having my last ever period, because I’m having a hysterectomy), about how they’ve always been there like a reliable friend, except for the couple of times they abandoned me and sent me running scared to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test kit. But I thought to myself, I’m not Caitlin Moran, I couldn’t possibly blog about this!! Maybe I should guest blog it somewhere! Keep up your own blogging…I love reading them. I keep meaning to respond to your recent blog about good children’s literature!

      • Ha! I know exactly what you mean about having certain topics that you just couldn’t blog about. I’m generally very open about sex when talking to friends and I’m happy to answer questions about it from our Offspring, but on the internet where it could stay for ever… yikes, no thanks.

        I really can understand that train of thought, though, with having your last period ever–it’s unusual because most women don’t know when it will be and having that very distinct end point is almost confronting, in a way. As much as I don’t really enjoy having them, I’m also glad when they arrive so that I know I’m not having more children! I definitely think it would be something that people would be interested in reading, so if you do decide to guest blog it somewhere, point me in the direction!

        Thank you, and don’t stress about responding to my posts… take the time to relax and recuperate. We’ll all be here when you’re ready (and want to discuss children’s literature! Incidentally I’ve just managed to finish a book: worked out I can read in between cooking stuff on the stove or defrosting in the microwave. Of course, I could be cleaning the kitchen while that is going on but pff).

  4. It’s interesting to hear you say that usually you don’t think about who will be reading your blogs – with most other types of writing, aren’t you supposed to think about the audience, who you are writing for? I guess maybe that’s something that’s different about this new technology, blogging and tweeting etc…
    All the best with your surgery xoox

    • Hi Martha! I guess I do think about my readers in general terms… What sort of people might be interested in what I write. But this summer I’ve met specific individuals and I suddenly confronted with what the blog might look like through their unique individual eyes!

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