Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about making art, too much eyeshadow and becoming a grown up.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Blog Posts I Read and the Blog Posts I Write

The original title for this post was "Finding My Voice", but that made me sound like I'd had a reverse-Ariel moment and had in fact discovered I was the next Idina Menzel (ooh, mixing my Disney princess references... hardcore.). Anyway, I wanted to talk a little today about why I write, and what I write, and just generally to explore the difference between what I consume, and what I project.

Header image of a notebook bearing the title "Finding My Voice"

I first really got into blogs and started following along when I was 20, so six years ago. Among the first I followed were Lily Melrose, J for Jen, and, like a lot of other people I was hooked on Zoella and Essie Button. My Bloglovin' feed was filled with lipstick reviews, shopping hauls, Christmas makeup looks and cute hair braids and believe me, I couldn't have been happier. I had a Birchbox subscription, I bought suitably seasonal candles and I made this blog, of course, to write about, and bask in my love for makeup and everything that the beauty bloggers were. I wanted to be ahead of the curve, I wanted to be original, I wanted to be funny, I wanted to be wanted basically - but, if you take a look at the stats of this blog, you can easily tell, none of those things happened for me. I think it's because while, yes, I was besotted with the idea that the Lush PR team might send me the Christmas collection, and yes I really DID love writing about what shower gel I was using - oh and the photographs, I freaking loved taking the photographs - the reality was that it wasn't my love for a bargain concealer that kept me writing over the years. I LOVED writing about makeup, but somehow, it still wasn't my passion, on a deeper level - I think I wrote about beauty mostly because there were 1000 blogs out there doing the same, showing me it was safe to do so: that this was how to express creativity as a woman in my early twenties.

3 Lipstick Queen lipsticks laid out
Man, I loved taking these sorts of photos.

But actually, I've always written, right through childhood and through my teens, there has always been something being fervently typed up on my laptop late at night, or scribbled in my purple fuzzy diary after I had put the "padlock" on my door to keep my little sister out. The subjects have varied wildly from musings about whether my teacher was a witch (18 years on and I still think she might have been tbh), to huge, elaborate tales of pirates with incredibly emo names, and every imaginable subject in between until, of course, we came to beauty. Because there were already so many wonderful beauty blogs out there, in creating my own I instantly had so many of my creative "needs" met: I had goals to work towards, I had a schedule, I had motivation, community, validation and of course, control. When I wrote a "Top 5 Highlighters" post, I could have everything just so. I could take 1000 pictures and redraft 100 times in order to create something that I felt was correct. So writing a beauty blog allowed me to channel my fairly aimless writing into something that seemed 'worth it', that there was a point to, that I was joining in and maybe someday could become a way to meet people or even be a job. I felt like it turned my scribbles spread over 57 different notebooks into a clear narrative - but whose narrative was it?

Real Techniques blush brush and three baked blushes from MUR.

In retrospect, I think it's fairly easy to see that a  part of the reason that this blog never 'went' anywhere was because I wasn't being myself, and yes, I know that's incredibly cliche, but I think it's the truth. I DID rewrite everything 10 times, I edited and edited my personality to try and make myself better and more like Lily, or Zoe or whoever else: what do they have that I don't? Why can't be that together? I tripped over myself trying to follow every rule about post length, image placement, SEO and click-baity titles and really, all I ever wanted was to write what I felt.

A big turning point was joining the Project Panning community on YouTube, where, in stark contrast to the blog, I had a great time, almost instantly falling into an amazing group of women (Amber F, megsmakeup8, and Emily R being just a few of them) where we all communicated about issues we were having and gave each other support and encouragement. There, I didn't need to pretend to have it together or to have an Instagram-Ready flat - I could just be me, and they saw and appreciated that. I didn't have to always behave the same, or to self edit; I could have funny days, sad days, chatty days and, in contrast to how things had been on the blog - all of that was ok. I realised that I didn't need to try and be anything, I really could just be me.

Picture of me posing for a YouTue thumbnail
YouTube thumbnail shot from back in the good old days. Not completely sure what's going on with my blush/highlighter/bronzer situation, but it didn't matter so much then, I was happy.

As time passed and my interests changed and grew - exploring new topics like marriage, minimalism, vegan diets and home interiors, I realised that so many of the bloggers I once squealed to see on my Bloglovin' feed were now being completely ignored. Instead, I leapt on posts from A Cup of Jo, Extraordinary Routines, Rowdy Kittens, Jenny Mustard and many others who offer a more varied, lifestyle based content. Sure, you'll find mentions of a particularly fantastic lipstick, but they also explore more in depth topics like mental health, decisions about having children. women's rights and more - so why wasn't I writing about any of this when it's clearly what I was passionate about?

Well, it all came down to fear. While I may never have been good at beauty writing, it was safe, it was formulaic. I could sit down tomorrow and write a review of my Hoola bronzer (mmm... I can even see the photo props), and I would have a great time doing it. I could post it up, send out a couple of tweets, nothing to worry about. But, if I was to start writing about my anxiety, well, gee, I could give bad advice, or offend someone. If I wrote about the meals I cooked, well, I mean what do I know, I'm no Judy King? Writing about minimalism or jogging or mental wellness in general, I mean, I'm not an expert, I would hate to get it wrong. Best play it safe and write about some mascara then...

Fruitbowl on a wooden table
More recent blog photos have looked like this: nobody panic, we do actually keep more fruit than that in the house, but the kiwis were not very photogenic and the bananas wouldn't cooperate.

As time has gone on though, I've realised that I may not know much in life, but I do  know my own story and I know my own mind. At 26 I believe I am finally (freaking FINALLY) on the road to overcoming the anxiety that has crippled my life for more than 2 decades. I have quit trying to pursue a career with my degree because I just honestly don't want to work in that industry, and instead I'm working part time as a barista, surrounded by 20 year olds who're all way cooler than I ever was at 20, and I'm trying to teach myself Software Development to a degree level. I'm learning to love exercise for the first time in my life, I'm learning to care what I put in my body. I'm planning a wedding (erm, or well I should be planning my wedding...), I'm navigating a minefield of family relationships and I've managed to keep a plant alive for more than a month (well, actually, it's three plants, but I mean I don't want to blow my own trumpet) - all of these are stories I want to tell, and conversations I want to start. I don't want to be afraid of my own voice anymore, because I believe I do have a story to tell and ideas to share - I want to start being a positive force and writing the kind of posts I would like to read, that would help me, or inspire me or make me laugh. The bigger the subject, the bigger the risk of stepping on toes or embarrassing myself, but I know I have more in me than thoughts about blush, and I really want to get that out there.

So if you made it through this post, well done, and thank you! I'm so excited to get my teeth into writing again and begin sharing more dynamic, though provoking content on here, and, additionally (I'm making it public here so I can hold myself accountable), I've started work on my book - To Gatwick and Back -  which tells the story of growing up with an anxiety disorder, and now, as an adult, dealing with all the mess it has made. At the rate I'm going I should have it finished sometime in 2072, so, hold onto your hats folks!

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