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.