Sometimes writing on-line is worse than pulling teeth, because there are days when it feels like you are trying to pull gold nuggets out of your mouth, (without too much blood let), while your arch-enemy stands next to you ready to grab your bling and sell it to the highest bidder for her own gain.
Oh yes. There are days when this modern-day writing life hurts your head.
Not only because you have set your own goals so high that you will delay the sending of a much over-due section of one of the lovely PDF’s you sell while you drive yourself close to insanity dithering over every last word, but also because a quick scout around the hallowed halls of the internet quickly reveals that some of what you write is being copied almost verbatim and passed off as somebody else’s work, de-valuing your own and making you feel an emotion that sits somewhere between embarrassment and fury.
It is rare that I get on my high horse about internet related matters. I have been on-line for eight years now and I have seen bloggers come and go because they have failed to nibble their way into a niche of their own making and I have spawned my very own set of copycats who have eventually withered away, and that is fine: for the most part I consider imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery and I don’t get upset about it. Though I now limit my own personal blog reading to those blogs I can learn from as browsing around those in similar niches to mine, all too quickly has me worrying that I will, by some form of internet osmosis, absorb other bloggers ideas and convince myself I came up with them all by myself!
So yes. I live in something of an internet vacuum. Trawling around looking for inspiration without ever considering being a pale imitation of someone else. My blog is meant to be a reflection of my life. Not yours. Or hers. Mine. And yes, while it is occasionally embarrassingly personal, BrocanteHome is also the way that I earn a living for myself and my son and I have worked extremely hard to establish a business that I hope supports my readers too by providing daily food for thought and (admittedly erratic!) longer pieces of writing designed to help them create a life less ordinary, that I labour over, long and hard and only release when I am absolutely satisfied that every word captures the spirit I want to convey, without resorting to the kind of heavy advertising I now see drowning other blogs.
Eight years later I still feel the same passion for blogging as I did on the very first day I signed up for my Typepad account and gave BrocanteHome life. I still love it and I feel so desperately honoured to be able to make a living out of doing what I love, without having to sell my soul to do product reviews, or accept advertising for companies I don’t admire. But lately the blogging landscape has changed to such a degree that I hardly recognise it and I am uncomfortable existing on the periphery of a community where originality is fodder for stealing and good writing has been abandoned in favour of pithy quotes, snarky occasionally downright nasty writing and a litany of images pinched from Pinterest and passed off as blog posts.
I have never been in with the in-crowd and I have never tried to be. In the beginning I turned down TV and book deals because they didn’t encapsulate the message I wanted women to hear, choosing instead to bide my time and work at my own pace because I wanted my writing to be celebrated on it’s own merit, and the success of my business to be reflected in it’s year on year growth and my own development as a writer. And that is exactly what I have achieved: a reasonable living, the respect of women I deeply admire and enough good writing in The Art of Homemaking, Trash It or Treasure It, A Year of Puttery Treats and Muse to pull together the book I want to see sitting on the shelves of housekeepers across the land for always. Neither comment nor reader counts have ever been important to me because I understood from day one that having a few raging, dedicated Brocanteers would be more meaningful in the long run and I am thrilled that I continue to delight many of you who have been with me since the beginning, because blogging IS NOT a popularity contest and we don’t win by gaining a legion of “fans” but by doing the work we set out to do daily and quietly and persistently turning a blind eye to those who want to walk in our shoes without enduring the pain of the blisters we have earned walking the long road to this gentle, oh so very personal success we have lately come to cherish.
So this is where I’m at: though last night I nearly sent myself batty with fury after I wandered on to the blog of a woman who used mine as a stepping stone to create her own pale imitation of BrocanteHome and now spills out much of my work daily to an apparently eager, fawning audience, and for a moment or two seriously considered spouting off a solicitors letter, I have since come to my senses. I don’t need to do I? It is pointless and catty and I am bigger than that. I am Brocantehome and Brocantehome stands firm in it’s ambition to be authentic no matter what. To reflect my own growth as a writer, woman, vintage housekeeper and woman and to understand that those who remain loyal to Brocantehome in what ever form it might currently take, know that everything I write comes from the heart, not from wild ambition to dominate the housekeeping landscape, nor cynical means to line my own pockets.
I write because I have to. I write because I have something that I want you to know. I write because holding a place in readers hearts for eight long years is an honour and I hope you know how very much it means to me, so I will not sully it by getting hysterical about silly little girls with alley-cat morals and talent they have stolen and dressed in poor woman’s rags.
Ok. End of rant. I do so hope you will continue to hold me in your hearts regardless.x