Here’s one of the perks of being a wallflower: no one notices when you sneak out of the party. No reference to the book or film of the same name; this is experience talking, as I’ve been the wallflower all too often, all my life. Saying that, I didn’t choose this opening to elicit sympathy, either. The past year brought all sorts of turmoil to me, to my loved ones, to the world; in the midst of all this, I’m genuinely glad I could let this blog fade away, without worrying about letting anyone down but myself.
There was a time when I felt proud, overjoyed to tell others I ran a food blog. In spite of the rejection I kept running against since moving to London – the publishing jobs I never got, the constant self-doubt and second-guessing, the nagging sensation no one would read my stuff anyway – I had carved a space for my writing, and goddamnit, I used it as much as I could. The louder life screamed “grow up” and “get a career”, the more insistent I became on making time and space for my passions. The clearer it appeared I may never write for a living, the more determined I was to keep showing up, and keep trying to write better.
It’s been nearly a year since my last post, but I’ve been playing with the idea of letting this blog quietly go for much longer. I wasn’t planning on shutting the door behind me, or throwing away the key; I simply wanted to free up time for other projects, and thought I’d still return from time to time, when I felt I had something worth saying. Blogging was the party, and after having the most fun an introvert could have without getting annoyingly drunk and laughing at my own jokes, I booked my cab home and left, feeling I should at least have said goodbye, knowing no one would notice anyway.
I’m the first to admit I didn’t miss blogging. I didn’t miss the pressure I put on myself to post more often, figure out what my personal brand is, master social media and self-promotion; amazing how all it took to stop feeling shame was naming those weaknesses out loud. I learnt I’d rather pick up my camera once every few months to go travelling, than struggle with it every week, to steal some half-decent shots of food I’d rather sit down and eat. My rarely-used cookbooks began sporting oil stains and thumb marks, as I fell back into the comfort of working with known quantities and following instructions. So maybe I’m better at executing other people’s recipes, than at inventing my own; so what?
So far, so good; until I began to think about what to write next. For a while, all I felt was fear. Fear I was stupidly letting go of the only place my writing would ever fit into; dread of blank pages, fuelled by months of scrapping everything I started; worry that the years of thinking in quantities, ingredients and star ratings had sucked plots and characters out of me. And finally, the worst of all: the crippling fear of missing out, of falling behind, of not being good enough. I saw hundreds of people out there, crafting stories I wouldn’t know where to begin and sharing them with the world, while I sat around feeling sorry for myself. How did they do it? How could I learn? Perhaps it was too late to climb out of the dark pit of comparison; perhaps I’d never catch up with those who started younger, gained readers quicker, wrote better; perhaps I’d always been behind, even when I thought I wasn’t doing that bad.
I’m here, today, to give you two updates. You may have guessed the first: you won’t see me here for a while. I haven’t worn the “food blogger” hat for some time now, and see no reason to keep trying it on for size if it no longer fits. If I come to think of it, I never wanted to just tell you what I had for dinner anyway. I’ve always been around for the stories, the memories, the thrill of tying threads together. Now there’s space in my inner closet, it only feels right to save it for what I most love writing: short fiction. Who knows, maybe it’s not too late.
The second update is the best news I received in months. The first story I have finished and felt confident to share in years has been published by Salomé, a magazine for emerging female writers. It’s been out for a few weeks, but let’s face it, it’ll be some time before I get tired of telling people! You can click on the image below to read it my story online, or, better still, get a digital or print copy of the whole magazine, to support future issues and Salomé’s commitment to paying contributors.
I’m figuring things out as I go along, juggling drafts depending on the day’s mood, thinking about the direction I want to explore next. I hope there will be more news like this. If and when that happens, I’ll stop by again to let you know. Until then, this is goodbye – you know where to find me if you’d like to stay in touch, so do come and say hi.