Something surprised me this year.
No, it’s not the creeping realisation that Wagon Wheels have shrunk since I first ate one in 1975. Or the fact that people seem to prefer the name Snickers over Marathon and Starburst over Opal Fruits – the crazy fools.
It’s not even the fact that reading an E. L. James book is akin to voting Conservative – no one admits doing it, but the numbers say otherwise. You know who you are.
No, the surprise has come through blogging.
Firstly, as an almost newbie to the inter-webby-netter-sphere, I thought I knew what the virtual world was filled with. Yes, there are websites that can sell you everything from double-glazing to head lice combs. There are ways to view every kind of entertainment known to man and some that frankly most people wouldn’t dream of without swallowing a handful of those pretty coloured pills the young man on the street corner sells. (You know, the chap who’s a walking dictionary of badly spelled tattoos and has a Rottweiler called Chlamydia because he overheard the word whilst standing in the queue at the pharmacy and liked the way it rolled off his tongue.)
But these decent, honest ways to scalp the public of their hard earned do not the bulk of the internet make. Everyone who reads the tabloids knows what it is full of.
If the web had substance and you could plonk it on your bathroom scales, the heaviest bit would be adult below the waist material. Because no one bothers looking at the top shelf in the newsagent anymore – why use vital energy reading when you can let other people’s ideas of eroticism slip from touchscreens straight into your hypothalamus, spreading its tentacles like some kind of sexy electric octopus?
And the rest of the web-mass is made up of trolls, isn’t it. Not the hiding under the bridge kind we had when I was a girl, but the sitting-in-a-dark-room-shooting-threats-off-to-strangers-just-because-they-dare-to-do-stuff kind.
As a side note, do you think kids realise there were such things as trolls before the internet and those spiky-haired, psychotically-smiley dolls? It would be so much easier to catch the cowardly keyboard jockeys if all we needed to do was hang around internet cafes with Billy Goats as bait.
Anyway, these are the two main things any middle aged, middle Englander knows about the internet and while I’m sure, if I Googled any rude word we used to circle in the school dictionary all sorts would pop up, expanding my knowledge of humanity and forcing me to have my hard drive wiped, blogging hasn’t really been like that.
In fact, most bloggers are just trying to send the best of themselves out into the world whilst simultaneously being a pleasant and supportive bunch.
And the surprises didn’t just come from the virtual world.
I was never the most productive writer. It’s taken me six years to date to write my YA novel. Okay, I’ve been learning on the job, I’m on at least the third rewrite and I’ve written a couple of other books along the way, but all the same, some writers publish a new book every year – James Patterson will probably have banged out two in the time it takes for you to read this post.
I’ve published over 100 blog posts so far, and with each of those being around 500 words, I could’ve written a novella since I started. If nothing else, it’s shown me I can write regularly and to order, which is no bad thing for someone attempting to spin words into a living.
Even if much of what I publish is nonsense, experience tells us good money can be had that way.
So, here’s to the next 100.
What has blogging done for you? Has it improved your writing or harmed it?