Behind the Scenes at The Word in Edgeways #3

I set a rule for myself that I wouldn’t bog down this blog with boring personal life stuff or me-me-me story time but I suppose I should explain why I haven’t been blogging regularly in the past ten months.

Shhhhh

When any blogger on the internet tells too much about their life

Let’s go back to November 2013. This time last year, I was unemployed and still living in Edinburgh, passing the time by hopping around the UK going to fruitless interviews and cringe-inducing assessment centres for jobs I wasn’t suited for whatsoever. When not lying to myself and wallowing in bittersweet post-graduation limbo, and later getting torn over a future of waiting to strike lucky in Scotland or taking a risk and going to a capital city where there were all the jobs, I was forgetting my problems by hanging out with good friends and family, getting out and about, pluckily reading books and, of course, keeping up with this blog.

While it’s true that I like partaking in reading, creative writing and a good indulgent session of literary analysis (who doesn’t!), I should be honest about my other motives for creating and maintaining this blog. Now that I’m comfortably in a role for the foreseeable future (let’s hope this post doesn’t jinx it), I think I can afford to reveal why I started this blog. And I would wager that it’s secretly why a lot of young graduates start their own blogs. Employability.

“You bastard!” scream the numerous imaginary followers of The Word in Edgeways, devout denizens of wordpress.com so socially lubricated online that they click the like button for articles and yet scroll down their feeds without actually reading them, according to my dashboard stats. “You don’t really enjoy literature or books with the voraciousness and passion as you imply! You only really did this blog so you could get a job! You’re a phony!”

But what else can you do when you have zippo going on in your life and you’ve just graduated with a literature degree? When you’ve never previously networked, interned or demonstrated enough autonomy, authority and responsibility to be snapped up by headhunters or taken seriously in the bureaucratic hoop-jumping selection process of a graduate training scheme? Where even going back to a service-related job is nigh impossible because of over-subscription for vacancies? You start a blog and you do as much as you can to develop yourself personally and professionally to make up for lost time.

But I am confident in saying that it worked. I am now in a job where being able to write well (or at least having good grammar, spelling and I hope, an engaging writing style) is imperative for the role (something I didn’t really believe until seeing firsthand our recruitment process…). Creating this blog and being able to work on and publicly demonstrate my writing skills was one thing out of many that managed to earn me an interview and then a call-back for an internship. And which, extremely luckier than that, turned into a full-time role.

How it feels to finally make more than minimum wage

How it feels to finally make more than minimum wage

So of course, with an awesome new job and new chapter in life came the 42.5-hour work week. My job is extremely interesting and varied, but doing anything religiously for eight and a half hours a day, five days a week, plus London’s mental tax of making getting from A to B painful and time-consuming (not to mention expensive, holy shit), means all you want to do when you get home is conk out and eat pasta in front of the TV like a good capitalist. Setting up and adjusting to a new life, focusing on the job, sorting out the flat, training for a half-marathon, exploring a new city, relishing crumbs of holiday and finding one’s feet in this new point in life meant the blogging shifted in my list of priorities, to the point where I nearly forgot my email password were it not for its being written down elsewhere.

I dropped the ball because I didn’t need this blog anymore. It fulfilled its underlying function – to help me get a job. It’s shamelessly true. And I didn’t feel guilty about letting it slip because, hey, I have bigger fish to fry now. Reading books and writing them up takes up heaps of time so if I have little incentive to do it then I won’t bother. I’m not sure why I’m being so brutally honest, cause what does this mean for my followers, the ones that do apparently actually read what I have to say about books and stuff? I’m not deluded enough to believe that they would truly give that much of a shit about my mixed motivations to blog or even that any of this would deeply affect them but I do feel bad that I am not giving my own readers, the few that have engaged with my writing, the respect that they deserve.

Career motivation aside, blogging is a masturbatory exercise. This one really is. What am I really offering with this blog? Does anybody really care for a personal evaluation on the different books, films and TV shows I consume? Why am I wasting precious wordpress kilobytes by punctuating my indulgent heavily-borrowed self-satisfied analysis of Pynchon novels with complementary gifs in a vain attempt to attract an audience? I haven’t been doing this for an audience’s interest in mind. I have been doing this for me.

Which explains furthermore why I haven’t keep it moving. If I’ve learned anything from this year, it’s that when it comes to the success of blogs and online media, although content is king, making anything engaging online takes actual effort, care, consistency and a certain enthusiasm for it to be worth visiting and worth others sharing, something to which I had neither the willingness, interest or capacity to commit. Replying late to the odd comment or asking a vague question at the end of a post and expecting a discussion to magically happen would never cut it. And if I am so reluctant to use Twitter, Facebook and other networks to share and spread my blog, what really then is the point in keeping one? Should the success of blogging be measured by its instant appeal and shareability? Blogs are meant to be a social medium. An opportunity for dialogue, news, community. This blog is one-sided and selfish. Despite my previous protestations, I have been going about this blogging business the wrong way.

I’ve candidly revealed what I think about this blog after letting it break away for the last ten months and realising what it really amounts to. I’ve gutted it and laid bare my past motivations behind it, but do I walk away and leave The Word in Edgeways to rot or let it rise out of the ashes of self-awareness and disenchantment like some clumsy apologetic phoenix and totally change it to offer something of genuine value and put a whole lot more effort in? I read something somewhere, I think from imgur, that has stuck with me for the past couple of days and that nails what how I feel and what I need to do if there will ever be a future for this blog: “Do you tell jokes to make people laugh, or to make people think you’re funny?”

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