That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Blogging, voice and writing out loud

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As a 7 year old, my burning desire was to go on Young Talent Time. Every week mum and I would tune in to channel 9 and our eyes would glaze over with delight at the sight of sequined pant suits and whitened baby teeth. After the show, I’d say goodnight to mum, run to my bedroom, shut the door, and dance in front of my mirror, indulging in my dream of one day being a YTT cast member. Sleep didn’t come easily on YTT nights.

Part of the appeal of this fantasy was that my family had no idea. I was ‘the quiet one’ of the family, and my passion for jazz hands and high kicks was kept in the dress up box. It was all blown sky high when one of my older brothers walked along our front veranda, past my floor to ceiling window and caught me mid mince singing into my hair brush in front of the mirror. That I had pulled my hair into a side pony tail and donned my white plastic clip-on earrings bought in Noosa meant that I couldn’t pretend I was just doing … something … else. I was caught.

I did a poor job of disguising my inner theatrics in my family of very straight people. Perhaps this is why I’ve since given up on YTT and taken up other creative pursuits: namely, writing.

Writing has always been a private exercise for me. Part of it’s appeal is that I can be writing and no-one will know. Like a child hiding high in a tree, there is great satisfaction in being able to see and hear the world, and be able to report upon it, without being seen. Like dancing in the dark, you’re completely uninhibited when nobody’s watching. You can go wherever you like: say and do things you wouldn’t normally express in real life.

But having enrolled in a writing program, my fellow students and I have been forced out of our respective cubby houses amongst the leaves. Down on the ground, in plain sight, we’re expected to do writing exercises in class and workshop those pieces in groups. We have to write in front of other people who are also writing, as we listen to each other’s nervous swallows, nose whistles and chair shuffling. And then – horror of horrors – we have to read our writing aloud, and listen to the feedback.

Reading aloud is probably my second least favourite thing to do, the first being wearing lycra in public. In both instances, there is nowhere to hide your flaws.

Blogging is another kind of writing entirely. Here, it’s really nice to have an audience because you get to read aloud but do so from the comfort of your own track pants. Hell, some may not even bother with the pants … Blogging allows the writer to develop a feel for what works, and what doesn’t: the sense of immediacy allows you to gauge whether your writing is singing, or if it’s full of bum notes. If it feels like skinny dipping, and no one’s hurt, embarrassed or defiled, you’re hitting the mark. If you shake it, and it doesn’t wobble, your writing is tight.

So many bloggers wonder what it takes to make a successful blog. I’ve often wondered this myself, but watching Eden develop (explode is probably a more apt description) over the last 6 to 12 months, I’d have to say successful personal blogs are all about voice. Not so much about nice photos or typography, although these are important for style and lifestyle blogs. Personal blogs or writing blogs hang on voice, all the extra bits are just bling … a side pony tail and some clip on earrings. Bravery and attitude is key. Wearing that spangled pantsuit and Vaseline grin with a determined confidence: hearing your own voice bouncing back at you, and owning it. A truck load of self awareness also goes a long way too.

For me, this is a work in progress, starting with leg warmers and very low light.

I’ll be at the DP Conference on Friday in Melbourne. BYO dance pants, ladies.

20 Responses to “Blogging, voice and writing out loud”

  1. Lucy

    Hahaha, I was just about to type the same thing as Al,

    Cannot WAIT TO SEE YOU on Friday!! xx

    Reply
  2. Stella Orbit (@stellaorbit)

    I so wish I was going to DPCon. I would squeeze you til there was no air left in your lungs!
    This is a fantastic post. So glad that the writing program is going well.
    Now excuse me while I go and cry that I will not be in Melb this weekend.

    SOBS

    Reply
  3. Donna @ NappyDaze

    Owning it – amen to that! Blogging is getting tricky these days, so much more than pouring your heart out in posts and think an overhaul is on my own personal horizon. But as you say, its all about the voice – the rest is surplus to requirements!

    Will have to track you down at DP Con and say hi!

    Reply
  4. Jess WhoaMamma

    Your writing is perfection (with or without the lycra) and I hope I get the opportunity to tell you that in person at DP Con! Keep on shimmy-ing! x

    Reply
  5. Christina

    Being a ‘closet’ blog reader I’ve been stalking you since you began. Am so impressed with the way your voice is ringing loud and clear. Personally I think you’d be fine now in lycra in public–all that exercise is paying off! XX

    Reply
  6. MultipleMum

    Waving my jazz hands at you. Rock on dear Karen. Rock on. I would so love to meet you but alas will not be at the conference. Hopefully another time x

    Reply
  7. Kim H

    oh I hate reading my own writing out aloud. That’s the very thing the stopped me going to our local writing group. I hope you push through with your writing sharing and come out the other end with a sense of major satisfaction and motivation to go further and further and further with your writing. I just love the way you write. you’re so funny and poignant and your voice is so real. Love, love, love it!

    Reply
  8. katepickle

    Loved this!

    You know I’ve only just discovered that I have a voice… though I’ve been dancing round my bedroom and singing into my hair brush for years so you’d think I might have figured it out a little sooner!

    Reply
  9. Michele

    I feel the same as you. For some reason, blogging is not that scary. But the thought of sharing and workshopping a piece of fiction is still terrifying. Your voice is wonderful – never doubt that!

    Reply
  10. edenland

    I always, always wanted to wear a side pony tail as a teen, but could never quite do it.

    I can meet you today! Shitting my lederhosen at the thought of all the people.

    Reply

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