When I started this blog two years ago I had a different idea of what I wanted it to be about. You see, ever since I’ve been young I’ve wanted to be a journalist. If you asked me why, I’m not sure I could say; maybe I just wanted to be like Clark Kent (I had glasses too) but I remember being interested in the news and knowing that was what I wanted to do with my life. It probably helped that I had an interest in writing, but even then my style was more suited to essays than fiction or poetry. In high school I wrote an article about life in the 60s which became my first publication and that just confirmed my feelings.
In the end it didn’t work out the way I had planned. My last few years of school were miserable; I was ill and and by the time I had finished, my dream of a journalistic career had faded away. For a while I was bitterly disappointed but after a couple of months I threw myself into the next best thing: my fiction and within a few months had several stories published and started studying philosophy on the side. Basically that has been my routine ever since but I never stopped wanting to be a journalist. In many ways it’s my biggest regret.
I had maintained a website for several years, a CV with links to my work, and in 2006 I decided it was time for a redesign… but then I had an idea. One of the problems I had was that my work was speculative fiction; I’d had feedback that publishers liked my writing but didn’t get what I was writing about. But what if I created a column on my site which explored the same themes? That way I’d have something else I could show to publishers as well, to show that my writing was about an examination of life and philosophy, not just science. And so I created an early version of A Writer’s Life, and moved it to WordPress in 2007.
A Writer’s Life was never meant to be a blog as such; it wasn’t meant to be updated frequently and I didn’t expect comments or care about stats. My early posts were like a newspaper column and the blog’s purpose was just to exist for my work. But then a funny thing happened. Some of my posts started getting picked up by other sites. Suddenly I was being cited as CJ Writer, not CJ Levinson. And then people started commenting. To be honest those first comments freaked me out and I didn’t know how to respond. I hadn’t written those posts to be read and suddenly people were asking me questions! Help!
But slowly I realised people were responding because they liked what I wrote and their comments made my posts much richer than if I had just turned the comments off. Over several months I started to look at blogging as an outlet and a means of communication rather than as a tool, and my writing style changed to reflect that. Blogging became part of my routine; I looked forward to it and A Writer’s Life started to take on a life of its own.
But several months ago that changed. It started with a comment I received on my blog about my name, that I used CJ rather than Christopher. It was just a troll and it shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did; and then a few months ago I was viciously abused in a comment I deleted – only for the commenter to come back, accuse me of censorship and make the first lot of abuse look eloquent. I deleted that too but I started to wonder if it was really worth the effort. Blogging had started to feel like a chore.
At the same time as all this I have been very ill; I’m only just starting to recover now and the result was that I decided to have a break for a couple of months, have a think about things and hopefully come back feeling refreshed. What I didn’t realise was that people would start to wonder if something was wrong and I’m sorry if I worried anyone. I appreciate all your comments and emails; they’ve helped me more than you can know.
But now I’m back! I’ve had time to think and I’m looking forward to writing some new posts. For a while I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to come back but in the end A Writer’s Life still represents, if only in a small way, the life I never had. I’m not ready to let go of that yet. But I will be making some changes to the blog over the next few weeks. I might not post as frequently and I’m looking at ways to stop these trolls – and splogs. I also plan to share some of my photography as well, which I’ve never done before. Scary. 😉
So that’s the story of how I came to blogging. I never really wanted to be a blogger but in the end blogging has given me the chance to fulfil a part of my childhood dream and that’s been a wonderful thing. The blog continues to evolve as I evolve as a person; it’s no longer a column as much as a reflection of my life and philosophy and there have been more positives than negatives. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that – but then, what dream ever turns out exactly the way we’d planned?
There are many childhood dreams I’d love to fulfil. I’ve always wanted to see more of the world; to own my own home; to have a novel published; to start a small bookshop; to meet someone to spend my life with. We’ll just have to see how those go. My dream of becoming a journalist won’t happen but in this blog I get to write about the topics I would have written about. I get to live a small part of my dream; not many people can say that.
Our dreams guide us and I think it’s the attempt that matters most, that we try to reach them even if we never do. They’re the reason I write; they’re why I started this blog after one of my dreams died. And they’ve helped me to meet people like you, who I’d never have met. Doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off now, does it?
A lone voice crying:
Tears of sorrow on the wind
A dream forgotten
A lone voice singing:
Music of laughter and joy
A future revealed