Hello, the blog. I'm sorry that the past month has mostly been cross-posts and reposts. This has been a particularly hectic week, since after the Cif piece and this Evening Standard Article everyone seems to want a slice of me. Which is very flattering and quite exciting, and I'm trying hard to remember that it won't last, because things like this don't ever last if you're socially awkward, politically unorthodox and a bit personally weird.
Right now, I'm beyond sleep. On top of my regular work for One In Four, I've been so busy and so tired I haven't even had time to get angry about things, which is unnerving. And it's given me some insight into how writers can get carried away with their own self-importance, to the extent that they lose touch, first with the reality of their emotions and then with the rest of the world. As I explained in the 'Penny for your Privilege' rant, even if you're coming from a relatively privileged position it's such a cunting slog to make it as a professional writer these days that by the time you even start to get there, the sense of numbing relief threatens to overwhelm what you were actually trying to do with your writing in the first place.
Despite having some parental financial help, I've been dirt poor for three years, living in filthy tumbledown houseshares, trying to support other people in similar situations through the knock-on effects of disillusionment, low wages, hard work and under-employment. And that inspired a lot of properly angry, impassioned writing, but it also came very close to breaking me entirely. Looking back, I've been sicker and more miserable than I have wanted to acknowledge, and this week, after two higher-profile articles, I've had a giddy sense of what could happen if I just sold out a little bit more. After eating frozen pizza in cold, rat-infested inner-city houses for months on end, the idea of a nice fluffy column, a warm clean flat of my own and enough money to buy new stompy boots is deliciously inviting. And that's how it happens. That's how they get to you. That's how they get you to write what they want rather than what you think, make you write what their advertisers need rather than what needs saying.
I've not yet had any sort of phenomenal crashing success, but it's been enough to distract me briefly from sitting down, thinking properly and writing proper polemic for the sheer joyful process of writing it and engaging with the responses. I've even caught myself wondering if I shouldn't delete some of the stupider old posts so that this blog looks better to people who might pay me money. And that urge to self-censor (not to mention all the great comments that would be lost in the process) is ugly, and it's terrifying, and frankly I'm setting that impulse down here because if I acknowledge it in public I probably won't act on it.
*[I confess that another part of the reason I've been neglecting this blog is that I've been getting a stream of really ugly, abusive comments in my inbox every day. I don't allow all the comments through, but I do read them all, including the trollish ones telling me I'm useless, spoilt, boring, fat, ugly and atrocious, that I can't write, that I don't deserve a job, and worse things, much worse. That hurts, personally and ideologically. Because I believe in the importance of blogging, and I believe that censorship is drastically unhelpful, especially online. And I know I should be a big tough writer and take it on the chin, but when I've been trying to force myself not to kick it in for three years, those sorts of comments are more damaging than I actually like to admit to anyone. Trolls are wily, and they are malicious, and they have a way of figuring out what the part of you that hates you wants you to hear and then aping it moronically in poorly-spelled diatribes that nonetheless manage to hit ever so slightly home. And that hurts. It turns blogging from something that's supposed to keep me honest, something that's meant to make sure I think in structures and form debates in ways that move on from the staid, restrictive, one-sided paradigms of fusty print, into something that makes me anxious and irritable, something that I resent prioritising.]*
I went for a drink recently with a well-known and accomplished lady columnist, who told me that although she'd started out writing diet blogs and gossip columns, which is a perfectly reasonable place to start, I wouldn't be able to. I would resent doing it, and it would show, and others I was working with would resent me for wanting something different. She told me that I would very likely stay poor for quite some time, and that eventually, maybe in my thirties, people would start paying me actual cash to write the things I care about. I think she's right, and I think that's okay. I have no interest in fluff writing and cheeky, packaged misogyny, and - when it comes down to it - I am a mediocre straight reporter at best. In fact, there's no part of my thought and writing that's straight. I've always been rubbish at pretending to be normal, and I refuse to be a mediocre, resentful square. I refuse it, and I will be keeping this post on my desktop to remind me why I refuse it, in the many long grey evenings when the consequences of that refusal come to bite me on the arse.
I think what I'm saying is: please be patient with me. I'm trying to negotiate an untested career path and keep on paying my rent in the process, and this blog is becoming a frantic slalom between my personal life and my professional writing. In return for your patience, I promise that whatever else happens, I will at every instance attempt not to be boring. Being boring should be punishable by network disconnection. Fuck my privilege, or lack of it: that's the baseline. If I'm boring, in this fucking exhilarating new online world, with its new rhetorical structures, its dazzling ephemeral paradigms and its endless pictures of slightly amusing cats, then I don't deserve to be in it.