My last post dates back to 13 September; that’s about one month and a half ago. I can’t remember the last time I went this long without an update, but I know for sure that, whenever that was, the nagging feeling I was letting myself and my readers down would surface at least once a day. This time was different. I sometimes felt pangs of guilt, but never for too long. I enjoyed the pleasure of shutting down my computer, not looking at my phone, and going back to things I’ve hardly had time or patience for in the past few months: reading, cooking, taking stock – even coming up with ideas for new creative projects. It didn’t take long to realise I was taking a break from my blog. This came as a surprise; I never thought I needed one. But once it was under way, I didn’t find myself planning when to put an end to it; I found myself wondering if it would ever end at all.
I’m having mixed feeling about being a blogger, and what blogging means to the world out there. I’ve come to realise that perhaps I don’t fit into the standard food blogger mould as well as I should, or had hoped to. That’s no surprise: trying to fit in is something I’ve never done with much conviction. Not at school, where I developed a love for learning and a hatred of studying, and swore by books and music most of my peers never felt the desire to engage with. Not at work, where anyone trying to micro-manage me has only ever succeeded in waking the dormant rebel teenager in me. Not in the game of dating, which always escaped my logic: there were guys I wished I could get to know to a deeper level, but never had the guts to approach; guys whose advances I made myself blind and deaf to; and that was all. And not even here, in this space I’ve carved out for the food and experiences I love. I’ll always strive to be my own person; I’ll always want to do my own thing, even though it might be the complete opposite of the golden rule everyone preaches.
Three years ago, when I decided to become more consistent at blogging, success had a very precise meaning to me. I looked up to many bloggers who seemed to effortlessly engage hundreds of followers, churn out magazine-worthy pictures without fail, and collaborate with brands and magazines I also hoped to get closer to; I thought reaching their level would mean I’d made it. By those standards, I haven’t achieved anything noteworthy; three years is a long time for anyone to not evolve, though. One my favourite Italian saying roughly translates as “only fools never change their mind” – and the more time goes by, the more vividly I remember why I started this blog in the first place. Because I love writing, and because I love food. Because I don’t write for a living, but don’t want to live without writing – and because I wanted to share things that made me happy, in the face of the everyday struggles of making a living in London. I did hope my blog would help me kickstart a writing career, but that’s another story, and not one for today. I’m proud of how much my writing developed and improved. I’m proud of the progress I made in finding my own voice…in a foreign language I didn’t master too well when I started. I’m proud of everything I’ve learnt about food, and of how much stronger my passion for it has grown over the years. Nothing can take this away from me. I haven’t failed, or wasted my time. But I still feel jaded, I still have doubts.
All my life, I’ve dreamt of being a writer. To me, “being a writer” means creating something meaningful. A beautiful story, a human connection. It would mean the world to me to know that, somewhere in the world, a complete stranger feels touched by something I’ve written, or understands it as if it had come directly from their heart. That’s how my favourite books and stories make me feel; but I have no means of knowing whether I’ve ever made that happen, and that makes me feel incomplete. When I’m at my worst, I blame it on the world we live in; I question the point of writing for audiences that seem to care more about how polished your photos look, and how perfect a lifestyle you’re selling, than they do about the story you’re telling. Even I know that’s self-indulgent bullshit, a get-out-of-jail card that saves me from accepting my own shortcomings. My rational, put-together self argues that I should get better at reaching out to others: tweeting more often, embracing Instagram, or whatever the best way to share content is at the time; curbing the feeling that self-promotion is wrong (you might be comfortable with it, but I feel it makes me sound like a twat), and putting my name, my face, my writing out there. That sounds more constructive, more proactive. But I still struggle to put it in practice.
I’m fond and proud of my blog, but don’t feel I run it in the same way as most other bloggers I know of; and that’s not necessarily good or bad. I don’t obsess over how many posts I publish per week, how many social media platforms I’m on and how many followers I have, or what all this means for my media kit (I don’t have one, in case you’re wondering). I’ll welcome events as opportunities to meet people and make new experiences, but won’t spend more than five seconds wondering why my inbox isn’t as full of invites as this or that other blogger’s. And yes, I will post that blurry, badly lit picture I’ve taken with my not-so-smartphone, if that helps me tell a story. I’m not in this for the fame, or to fit in; I’m in this for the writing. The honing of words, and the constructing of sentences, and the overjoying pride I feel when I publish a post I’ve spent hours perfecting. Those “How to get better at blogging” guides that recommend never writing more than 500 words, because no one will ever read any further, make me cringe. Words are beautiful. Words are powerful. Why should anyone restrain their words, when they feel like letting them flow?
You might beg to differ, but I think I’m a good writer. I think I’m good with words. And I feel sad, discouraged, frustrated, when I realise my words are no use to anyone but me. It feels like shouting from the top of a mountain, and listening to your echo resound in the void. Throwing objects in the dark, hoping someone else will catch them, and hearing them hit a brick wall one tenth of a second later. If you’ve ever worked hard for something, and felt it wasn’t paying off in the way you’d hoped, you’ll know what this means. It means you start questioning everything you’ve done, even the good things. Wondering whether it’s time to start afresh, or stop altogether. But hey, I’m here, I’m back. Now that this is out of the way, I feel I can focus on my ten-plus unfinished drafts, and slowly catch up with everything I’ve left aside in the past few months. If you’ve read this far, or chose to open this post in the first place, thank you. Let’s give this another go, shall we?