I've been blogging here since February 2009. Originally it was an outlet for things connected with Mum dying, and the suddenly-fractured relationships with Dad and my partner at the time. Then it chronicled the taking-control of my own life, and the transformation of a person who had lost her way into a person who found herself, and made good. That process was surely complete - or as complete as these processes ever are - some time ago. I often now see 2012 as the pivotal year in which my self-confidence and self-assertion fully recovered from past damage.
Since then the blog has diversified to include all kinds of topics and interests that must seem irrelevant or incompatible with its original remit. The format has remained the same - the blog has always looked liked this, with only very minor changes - and I don't see any reason to alter it as I take the blog forward into the future.
But I do think it's time to be frank about where it has been going, and to acknowledge that nowadays it's no more than the continuing story of an older woman who likes getting out and around, seeing new places, meeting new people, and exploring life through her camera. That may be interesting to a lot of people, and it may touch their own lives, but it's well removed from the original scope of the blog.
So it's time to take stock and make a new start. I like writing blog posts very much, but I want to escape three strait-jackets that I find limiting, and inhibiting to the creative flow.
One is the vague connection with feminism. I am not politically inclined. I am not a lesbian. I am not angry. I don't want to be known as a 'woman's writer', with a passionate message to shout from an official platform. I do have opinions about how one section of the population seems to oppress the other, intentionally or not, but I represent only myself on that, and don't want to ally myself to anyone else on such things. I am not part of any movement, nor want to be.
Another is my connection with the LGBTQ scene, specifically the one in Brighton. Only one of that string of letters ever touched my life. For a time I was close to that world, seeking friendship and support. But I have developed and changed, and I now feel awkward about claiming an association. I remain friends with individuals, but I feel at odds with the community as a whole. My personal situation is far removed from that community's everyday experience. I am unable to talk about my life with them, and have to keep my mouth shut. I am too comfortably placed. Indeed, I have become an embarrassment, and a target for resentment, overt or not.
No-one whose life is in limbo or full of grief wants to hear someone's else's success story, especially if that someone is free to do as they please, has a home of their own, and a swanky car. Too many of the Brighton community face severe difficulties with income, housing and health. Or, despite improvements in public attitude, may still experience prejudice and discrimination, or the humiliation of not being taken seriously. Their lives are marred by impermanence and an inability to map out a clear future. These awful things don't come into my life at all. Nor am I stuck in a benefits and healthcare trap. I have in fact never claimed a single welfare payment in my life, and have no conception of what it means to be clinically depressed or forever close to destitution. People see that, and they dismiss me for it.
Thus we have little to share in conversation. I remain an ally, but I am probably an unwelcome face nowadays, a living reminder that some people have all the luck.
The third thing that doesn't sit well with me is the pressure to generate online popularity. The total viewings of my blog over the years since February 2009 presently stand close to 859,000. That's good. I appreciate having a loyal readership. I'd like - who wouldn't - to see a million viewings, then two million, then three. But going for impressive statistics is the enemy of good writing. And I certainly do not want to carry on with a punishing schedule of one post per day, or every other day, simply to keep the viewings total on the boil. That's a game I'm not playing.
So I propose to take the blog where it will, and not write to any kind of schedule. Ten or twelve good posts a month will be enough. The mix much as now. This is my personal platform, and I will always have things to say. But my life nowadays is much fuller than it used to be, and there isn't the time to be pounding the keyboard like I used to.
Should I go further, and change the layout and colour of my blog? No: continuity is important. I will simply confine myself to a minimum number of tweaks, to simplify what one sees, and preserve familiarity. But anyone will see that a fresh start has been made. That includes the blog list. I will initially prune it down to just two of my personal friends, plus one other local blogger. No doubt it will expand again in time, to reflect what I find interesting, but for now let's enjoy a 'bare bones' look.