Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Welcome guests

     I hate guest blogging. I hate it. I hate the enforced deadline that fires me into a sweaty, panicked caffeine overdose. I hate the suggested word count that hampers my thought process, alternatively hemming me in and cramping my thoughts, or filling me with dread that I will never fill enough white space. I hate the loss of control. For me, blogging gets done in the white heat of the moment, I think something, I’m consumed by it, I hammer it out, I hit ‘publish’ and that’s it. It’s gone. I may have to deal with reactions/comments/backlash, but effectively I’ve ripped the plaster off.

     Submitting a guest blog though, is different. For a start, when you send it over, it goes directly to one person. For Your Eyes Only. I never think of people individually reading my blog, ever. It just doesn’t occur to me to think of it in that way. But when you send a guest post to someone, you’re effectively marching up to them, forcing your appalling self-portrait in their face and shouting ‘HERE. LOOK AT ME AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK OF MY WORK. TO MY FACE.’ That just doesn’t sit well with me. I would never, ever do anything like that with anything else. But what comes next is worse.

     The Wait. The wait to hear back. Initially from the person who asked you to write the post, and… their readership. That’s the killer. Because… The Fear. The fear of not being good enough. Someone has trusted you enough to ask you to blog about something and… what if you let them down? What if they were only asking you to contribute something as a sop to your ego? What if, having read your post, everyone hates it? It always feels like a huge responsibility to me. That I’ve been entrusted with a little corner of someone else’s words, and chances are, I won’t match up to what they want from me. I won’t be able to. I can’t even hope to. I’m not a writer, not an author, not a journalist, nor an academic. I don’t have a job.  I’m not A Big Important Person who makes things happen, or someone to whom others bow down. I don’t get my ego massaged, or my thoughts considered useful or valid. All I have is a blog, full of sweary ramblings about all kinds of crap. That doesn’t elevate me to being the type of person who can really make any contribution to anything else. I mean… anyone can have a blog, that’s the whole point! And it might be a good blog, a bad blog, or somewhere in the middle, but blogging. It’s not the same as writing, or Being Someone.

     And the wait, oh god, the wait. I abhor it. I hate being reliant on someone else’s timing, I hate not being in control, I hate giving up a serving of my words, and not knowing what’s going to happen to them. I’m not being precious. I know that editing can only improve my initial scribbled ideas, but… if a blogpost on here succeeds or fails, it does so on my terms. When I guest, I’m involving others in the potential for things to be shamingly ignored. That’s the worst part. That someone else is effectively risking their a little of their reputation on your behalf. And when blogposts go tits up (as they sometimes do), it can be quite an upsetting and unpleasant experience. If I’m honest, one blogpost experience still haunts me, and since then, I’ve struggled, a fuck of a lot, with writing. That’s why there have been so many tortured handwringing self-indulgent twaddle posts of late, and not so many ‘C’mere whilst I tell you a funny story’ ones.

     And even after the posts has been and gone, even if the response was good, and people were kind, and didn’t mention the crap bits… there’s still that doubt. Still that feeling of ‘But how good was it really?’ I’m not obsessed with stats by any means, but it’s nice to look at what posts have been read, and see if something worked or not. When you don’t know if it really resonated with people, I feel in a kind of limbo. As though I’m not sure if I’ve hit the marks I needed to. It’s like practising scales,but having a tin ear for pitch, and not knowing if you’ve got it right or not. Oh, guest blogging. What you do to me.

     So, to sum up, the things I hate about guest blogging are:
i)                    Deadlines
ii)                  Word count
iii)                Waiting for feedback
iv)                Waiting to be published
v)                  The gaping pit of anxiety that opens like a fissure in the core of my being, leading to doubt every word I use, the things my eyes alight upon, and the way in which I breathe, knowing I have written the most tremendously awful post that is so boring it is actually offensive in its banality.
vi)                The potential for it all to go tits up.
vii)              Pretty much all of it.

     So why then do I agree to writing guest posts? If it’s that bad? Because it’s flattering. Because it’s a massive ego boost. Because although I will never be a writer, I can glean some idea of what it’s like to have your thoughts and words valued, respected, considered worthy of being read. That feeling of pride that only others can give you when you receive a compliment. I can live without it, but when it happens, it’s a gift. Being asked to write makes me happy. It is a genuine honour to write for someone else. Framed by their question, I get to explore something new, something different, instead of chasing my thoughts across my own blog like leaves in the wind. If you could see the look on my face when I’m asked to guest blog, you’d poke me in both eyes; such is the smug, conceited pride radiating from my massive face. And even post poke, I’d still be a puffed up bag of ridiculous wanton smuggery (with watering eyes, obviously).

     I’m not a writer, never will be, those notebooks went off in the blue recycling bin a long time ago. But, every now and then, writing a post for someone else allows me to pretend, just for as long as it takes me to write it, that my words count (and not just in a ‘suggested length of piece’ way).

(and cough cough cough.... most recent guest post's here. You can read it. If you like. Or not. S'about history, and ships, and church doors, and A Levels and staring at people. And swearing).


Marina Sofia said...

I don't think I've ever been asked to guest blog anywhere (unless I had fully passed out at that point), but I can understand all the pros and cons of this scenario. And I do really love your post about history - my older son would really like the subject, except it's having its lifeblood squeezed out of it at school.
I keep saying that schools have a talent for making everything really dull and putting pupils off it, so maybe they should do more sex education for teenagers...

Lucy Benedict said...

Ha! That is a genius idea!

And it's so true, what you say about lifeblood being squeezed out of subjects. I really wish there was more time in schools to make it more personal, and more passionate, to inspire young people to get more involved.