As today is exactly one year since I published my first blog post,  I tried to remember what led me to starting the blog in the first place.  I would love to have a story about how I had dreamt of doing this for years and years and finally built up the courage/found the time/ was inspired to give it a go.  The truth is much less interesting (as with most things in life).  I was standing in Urban Outfitters waiting to pay for my niece’s Christmas present in December 2012, and I noticed a few books as I was standing in the queue.  Yes, I do realise that what this says about me is that my behaviour is the reason shops actually display stuff in locations you would normally stand in at the end of your shopping experience.  Anyway, I was standing in line, and of course there were loads of us waiting to pay, and  nervous and incompetent teenagers working two of the four available tills.  I cast an eye over the display and noticed something I could get for A&K,  my sister and brother-in-law.  Then I saw a notebook perfect for D, so I bought that.  Of course, everything on that table was 3 for 2 so I thought I should take them up on their offer.  There was a book lying there called Blog, Inc. and I picked it up thinking it looked interesting,  I could learn something about blogging, and if I didn’t then I could just give the book to someone else.  I added it to the armload of stuff I was holding, paid for my purchases, went home and gave the book to D with instructions to wrap it and put it in my Christmas stocking.  Her reaction was one of surprise –

“I didn’t know you were interested in starting a blog” she said.

“Yeah, I’m not really, just thought I’d take a look at the book, it was on offer.”

I didn’t think anything more of it.  Christmas came and went, and when my parents went back to Greece and I moved back into my room, I was unpacking the big bag of stuff I had accumulated over the holidays and came across the book.  I put it on my bedside table in the vague hope that I would be able to keep my eyes open for long enough to read a couple of pages each night.  Eventually, one night I read a few pages.  I don’t think I actually read much further than the introduction.  Basically, the woman who wrote the pages I read, Joy Deangdeelert Cho, said that you could blog about anything that was relevant to you.  She said there was no topic that was off limits really.  I had never really read a blog before and I had always thought that it was for people who had important political views or deep religious insights or something.  When I read her words, I immediately thought of my upcoming move.  I had about a month before I had to be out of my rented house and I thought that was a chance to start a blog and see what happened.  I could have spent the next month packing, and falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted and reading a few more pages about how to blog.  Instead I elected to skip reading about how to blog, and just jump right into writing it instead.  I didn’t know what to expect, how it would go, if I had the endurance to stick with it.  But worse case scenario, I moved, ran out of things to say, stopped writing – no harm, no foul.

D’s boyfriend R had started a food blog and told me about wordpress, and the next day I started writing, and put up my first post.  The next thing to think about was how to let people know about it.  I sent an email around to several friends and family saying that I had started a blog, and that they were welcome to read it – but no pressure.  I was quite shy about telling people about it, so I really didn’t tell everyone I knew, just a few people who I felt wouldn’t be affronted at my nerve for asking them to read something (I am quite English it seems)  I included the link and left it at that.  I hoped that if they liked it, they might also suggest it to others and word would get around like that.  I didn’t harbour hopes of it being very widely read or anything, I just wanted to write, and have it read by someone.

So I started to write.  With each post, the words got easier.  I would sit down with no idea about what to write about and the words would just write themselves.  Often, I would start writing a post about one thing and it would end up being about something else entirely.  It felt good to do, and I found that clicking the blue publish button was quite addictive.

The best thing about it was that I wasn’t under any pressure from anyone.  I didn’t have anyone to please except myself, and if I wanted to write about it, I could.  There were no deadlines, it wasn;t forced, there were prolonged silences, and then bursts of activity.  It didn’t matter.  Along the way, I read some of the wordpress tutorials online, I took advice from other bloggers, and friends and family.  D especially was super-helpful. with advice and comments (she also points out obvious spelling mistakes I have missed).    If someone didn’t want to read it, that was absolutely fine, I didn’t need to know, or wonder about it.  I got a lot of positive feedback in those first few months, friends telling me that it was fun to read etc.  I imagine it made people feel like their lives were running smoothly compared to the chaos I was describing.  I call that the Supernanny Effect –  people with kids like to watch it because it reassures them that although their kids drive them insane, they aren’t actually as badly behaved as the kids Nanny Jo comes in to try and wrangle.

Of course, not everyone was positive about the blog.  A friend, H, called me up and said:

“What’s this, you’ve started a blog about moving?  Don’t you have enough on your plate?  I mean, what are you thinking?  I think you’re mad.  What are you going to write about?  How to pack boxes?  It sounds boring.  I’m not going to read it.”

I appreciated the honesty.  After I explained that I wouldn’t be publishing detailed lists of the contents of all the boxes I was packing at the time, and that it would be an attempt at a light-hearted look at the funnier side of moving, she was unmoved, and I left it.  I am not in the habit of forcing people to do things they don’t want to do.  At intervals, she would catch a conversation about the blog and the response would always be the same.

“Are you still doing that?  I don’t read it.”

I always reply:  “I know, and that’s fine, and also why I can say whatever I like about you in it…”

And the truth is it is totally fine.  There are people who read it who are close friends, and they’re very supportive, I get a good response from strangers too.  It was always good to know that it was making someone laugh somewhere.  I loved that (after biting the bullet and publishing a few posts on Facebook), loads of old friends started reading it and commenting too.  There are also friends, close friends, whom I sent the link to, who have never mentioned it or talked about it at all.   Also fine.  Just part and parcel of the whole experience.  It’s like when you bake a cake, or bring something to a party.  You don’t expect everyone to have some, and you don’t expect to be patted on the back for the entire duration of the experience.  One also doesn’t follow people around saying:

“Have you tried the cake I made?  Try it!  I spent all morning making it, it’s really light and fluffy, it’s good.  Did you try it?  What did you think?”

As the move got more and more complicated, I realised that the blog was actually helping me deal with some of the craziness.  Because the things that happened that –  at the time –  took me to the brink of insanity, became a funny anecdote in my head after I had written about it.  Writing about it gave me the distance to see the funnier aspects of it.  And the thing is that although I exaggerate about most things (it’s actually in my genetic make up to do so) I didn’t make any of the stuff I have written up.  This all actually happened.  All writing the blog did was reinforce my belief that there is nothing funnier than real life.  You don’t actually need to make stuff up and in reality you probably couldn’t if you wanted to.  I mean it helps that I have a large, crazy family, and that I have been doing ‘comedy routines’ about them and myself since I was about 10 or 11, (after all, I was a giant 10 year old with terrible teeth and glasses, a girl’s got to find a way to express her self-consciousness).  What the blog has given me is another dimension from which to view the things that happen to me.  I feel like I expend a lot of energy ranting in writing and as a result, rant less in real life  (at some point, D is going to interject here and tell me that’s total rubbish).

Anyway, so far, it has been a year, I am still writing, and I am still enjoying it.  Loving it in fact. But what have I actually learned?

1)      John Lewis have a one floor delivery policy.

2)      Having people deliver stuff to or collect stuff from your door costs extra

3)      I have ‘one of those faces’.

4)      I do not have the body for yoga.

5)      Women have a lower centre of gravity than men.

6)      Hanging paintings is a delicate and complicated process that requires several engineers, lawyers and opinions.

7)      Moving can be fun(ny)

8)      Mice don’t like peppermint oil or mouse men (and neither do I)

9)      Delivery men, movers, packers, and engineers are either lovely or awful.

10)   Throwing stuff away in my family is like severing limbs. (I did actually know that before but writing about it has solidified it in my mind)

11)   I probably should have read further than the first few pages of the book about blogging.

Thank you very much for reading.