2017 was a strange old year. The world continued to come apart at the seams, my health, both mental and physical, wasn’t great (again) which affected my writing and I spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to figure out how, y’know, to do life. It wasn’t all bad, mind; I wrote some stuff I am proud of, dedicated even more time to activism and met some brilliant people.
Authenticity is a word that thrown around a lot, so much so that I’m not even sure what it means anymore. Yet, if you ask what attracts me to certain bloggers and writers ‘authenticity’ is the first thing that comes to mind.
I’m drawn to bloggers whose words never feel forced, even if press samples are being featured. I’m drawn to writers whose love of writing leaps off the page or screen. I’m drawn to writers who aren’t afraid to write what hurts, even when it still hurts. I’m drawn to writers, who use writing to explore what they think, who aren’t afraid to change their minds and admit when they’re wrong. Is that authenticity? I can’t think of a better way to describe it.
“Write hard and clear about what hurts” – I’ve had this Hemingway quote stuck in my head for months. There’s this thing I’ve been struggling to write. No, that’s not quite true. There’s this thing I’m writing that I’ve been struggling to make sense of. This week I realised that it’s actually multiple things and I’ve been trying to push words together, even when they don’t fit. Last Friday I took myself out for lunch, trusty notebook in hand, and I wrote and I wrote. It felt good not to stare at a screen for a while. It felt good to remember what it’s like to write by hand. It feels good to finally make sense of things that haven’t made sense in a while. It feels good to have my faith in my ability to write restored.
Have an idea. Compose paragraphs in your head. Jot down some notes. Come up with a title. Scribble some more notes. Sit down at laptop. Open Word document. Stare at the blank page. Consult notes. Struggle to read your handwriting. Vow to makes notes on your phone in future. Stare at the blank page. Check emails. Re-read notes. Figure out what the title is. Jackpot. Type the title onto blank page. Save document, just in case. Stare at the page. Design a really basic title graphic. Check Facebook. Stare at the page. Check Instagram. Stare at the page. Decide music is needed. Open Spotify; decide which playlist to listen to. Stare at the page. Open new document. Write a book review. Check Instagram. Decide silence is needed. Turn off playlist. Stare at the page. Admit defeat. Stand up. Grab the lead and take the dog for a walk. Breathe in the spring air. Breathe. Just breathe. Know that you can try again tomorrow. The words will eventually come. They have to.
If you like writing that’s full of authenticity then here are 5 blogs you should read. No matter what these bloggers write about they come across as true to themselves. Their content never feels forced, even if press samples are being featured.
In the ever expanding world of blogging (particularly beauty blogging) people who write because they genuinely love it are always a breath of fresh air. That’s why I look forward to seeing these blogs appear in my Bloglovin’ feed.
The world is full of blogs, on pretty much every topic you can possibly think of, I’m sure we’ve all got ones that we visit over and over as well as just dipping in and out of others as and when a particular post catches our eye.
One of my favourites is Derek Flynn’s Rant, with Occasional Music and it turned one last week. Now I realise that I’m a little late with this (time keeping has never been my strongest point) but I wanted to mark the occasion by sharing just some of the reasons why I love Derek’s blog.
1. New Music Monday – Mondays wouldn’t be complete without me checking in to see what song Derek has to offer this week. Some weeks it’s original material and other weeks it’s cover versions.
2. ‘Do You Dream At All?’ – April 2nd saw the release of Derek’s debut album ‘Do You Dream At All?’. You can read his thoughts on the whole experience here and here.
The album contains ten original songs which take you on a journey that manages to both hit you where it hurts and compel you to sing along (often at the same time). The two stand out tracks, for me, are ‘The Way We Lie’ and ‘Original Sin’
Here’s the official video for ‘Do You Dream At All?’, the first single from the album.
3. What Can Writers Learn From Songwriters? – I love this series of posts which examines the writing lessons that can be found in the songwriting skills of the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
4. This post which made me full on sob while I was on the bus on the way to #dubtweetmas. Okay so it was actually a post that was linked to that set me off but Derek was the one who led me to it and it was the inclusion of the Leonard Cohen lyrics at the end of his round up that tipped me into full on sobbing territory. I’m pretty sure I called him all the names under the sun, to his face, when I arrived into the pub with puffy eyes and mascara streaming down my face. I meant them in the nicest possible way, of course.
I could go on but we’d be here all day at that rate so you’re just gonna have to go read his blog for yourself. No seriously if you’re into music, are a writer or an aspiring writer and/or just love reading then you’re bound to enjoy Derek’s unique blend of music and writing.
On a personal note, thanks to Twitter and the power that is the tweet up I now count Derek as a friend so to see both his writing and music going from strength to strength is brilliant and it’s richly deserved because apart from being talented he’s also one of life’s good guys.
He’s always on hand with an encouraging word or two when it’s needed and is a big part of the reason why, amongst other things, I’ve started entering short story competitions as opposed to just throwing a story aside and forgetting about it once I’ve written it.
This post is just my way of saying thank you Derek and wishing you every success for the future.