Last year, not long after I re-launched MALTA NOTEBOOK, I read a blog post by a lifestyle blogger (I wish I could remember her name) explaining why she was closing her blog. She started the blog to have a creative outlet and she closed the blog because she had recently started a dream career that was incredibly demanding and creatively fulfilling. In short, she no longer felt the impetus to contribute to her blog because her new job was filling that former void.
At the time, I remember reading her words and being impressed by her honesty, but I also felt slightly jealous. I think many writers start blogs for similar reasons – to have a space to write, ponder, share, design and create. This is what makes the sheer existence of blogs so fantastic – the widespread availability of free blogs democratises access to a creative platform. If you have the desire to create and be public with your work, blogs provide a space. Of course, some would argue that although anyone can be a blogger, not everyone is a writer (or, in other words, if you did not make it as a writer then you probably should not blog), but I am far too kind and humble to partake in such snobbery. Wink, wink.
I felt slightly jealous reading this blogger's words because she achieved what so many had only dreamed of – she successfully parlayed her part-time hobby into an exciting, challenging and lucrative career. Q: What blogger would not want to experience a similar turn of events? A: Not one.
Fast forward months later and we come to the topic at hand. I am writing these words because it has been a while since I have updated this space. In January, I switched from a free blogging platform to a paid service, with the idea that if I improved the design, if I “professionalised” MALTA NOTEBOOK, I would start getting work as a freelance journalist (it was sort of an “if you build it, they will come” experiment). I committed to the blog for one year and if after this period, I felt that the blog did not enrich my life – financially, creatively, narcissistically – I gave myself permission to quit and cancel my account.
Four days (yes, four days – I just checked the dates in my email) after re-launching my site, I had secured my first assignment with a local magazine to interview the CEO of one of Malta’s largest corporations. Call it a coincidence, call it faith, call it dumb luck, but suddenly I was a bona fide writer. After that first assignment, I was offered another assignment and then another. Then I started pitching story ideas to editors and was given free rein to pursue my journalistic interests. I was so busy that I had to start turning down assignments and carefully choosing my projects. For two months, I experienced firsthand that old maxim, when it rains, it pours.
I have lived with two freelancers my whole life (my parents) and I know that having too much work is always a good problem to have. The great thing about the work was that it fit well with my first job – being a mum to my then 2-year-old daughter. I conducted interviews while she napped on weekend afternoons; I would write deep into the night, my fingers punching fervently across the keyboard. I tentatively considered the possibility of “having it all” – a beautiful family, a peaceful life, an inspiring career – never pausing too long on such thoughts in fear that I would jinx the magic and break the spell.
If this were a fictional account, then THIS would be the moment at which conflict would enter the narrative and the protagonist would experience a humbling fall from grace. I am happy to say that this has not yet happened. Although I have had a few moments of paralysing fear and self-doubt, I have – somehow – always managed to navigate my way out of the darkness and keep the family-life-career train chugging along. I feel blessed; I feel lucky. But again, I will not dwell upon such thoughts as I do believe in karma and I am stupidly superstitious.
And then came the icing on the cake – and I do not mean this sarcastically. Hot on the heels of my freelance writing contributions, I received an offer that I could not refuse. Editor of a prominent local magazine. It was a job that came with more responsibility, more commitment and more work. I struggled – like many other women before me – with the decision to focus my energies on something other than my family. I did not know if it would work out, but I knew I had to try. A few months in, I can say that it has been a remarkable learning experience. I will not dwell too much on my experiences thus far as I am still in the thick of settling in (my second issue came out only a few weeks ago). But, I will say that I feel content and am finding a new rhythm.
Going back to the beginning, I now know why that woman decided to close her blog. Her new job took up all of her time and all of her creative juices. She spent her days and nights, churning out fresh ideas and had not even a drop left to squeeze into her blog. Sure, she could have come up with some “fluff” posts, but she strove for quality over quantity. Well, woman, whatever your name may be, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I love MALTA NOTEBOOK, but feel strangely guilty with each passing month that it goes neglected. I am not throwing in the towel yet, but I felt the need to explain my extended absence. Hence, these words are written.
I must admit that it feels good to be writing this post, as I sit in the sun-drenched garden of my childhood home in Canada, while my daughter naps dreamily in a bed of freshly-laundered white sheets. If you are a writer, if that is your vocation, then you know what I mean when I say that I have to write. Whether it is for a blog, in a magazine, or on a cocktail napkin, the necessity to write never ceases. The goal, of course, is to write for the right reasons – to be inspired and not forced to put pen to paper or fingers to keys.
So, although I may not post as frequently, at least I know that this space is here should I feel the desire to fill it. Like that other blogger, I also aim for quality over quantity. And so, if you are reading this, please be patient, and if a new post miraculously appears, chances are it is a good one.