Childhood Dreams

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

A room full of memories

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like there just aren’t enough hours to get everything done? It’s strange, isn’t it? Some days everything drags by and you’re staring at the wall trying to find something to make life interesting. Others everything rushes by and before you know it, you haven’t got half as much done as you wanted to.

That’s been me for the last few days – distracted. And of course it always happens at the worst possible time. For me that’s just as I’m getting back into my writing, and just as I had some interesting topics to blog about as well. Plus now I’ve got to catch up with all my favourite blogs again.

The weird thing is, I haven’t been particularly busy. It’s just that my mother decided it was time to get her first computer recently, so after helping her choose and set it up, I started moving all of the old photos I’d kept on my computer over to hers. And I couldn’t believe just how many I’d forgotten.

It’s funny the things we remember. I know all the words to “Henry Lee”, but do I remember my first day of school? Or the face of the first girl I had a crush on? As I’ve grown older, the things I remember aren’t what I thought they’d be. Some of the photos bring it back but on the whole I can’t help but feel like I’ve neglected a large part of what should have been important to me. I suppose we all do that, though. We remember what was important to us at the time, but when we look back we realise it wasn’t that important and what really mattered is foggy and unclear.

It was a strange feeling, sitting at my computer and then opening up a few photo albums, seeing these images I barely remembered… it was like a room full of memories that belonged to someone else. It was nice to take that time, to remember and look at those photos, but it still felt distant. Makes me wonder what I’ll remember in another twenty years. To be fair, though, it does work the other way as well; a photo captures a moment, but it doesn’t always capture a memory. There was one photo in particular I kept looking at. It was taken the morning of my last day in Year 2. I was smiling and it captured that moment, but that’s not the memory that comes from it. Instead it’s that a few hours later I was pushed into a concrete pillar and spent four hours with a concussion in the school sickroom. That I remember; sometimes a photo doesn’t tell the whole story.

I guess this is important to me because memories are important to me; I value them as part of what makes me who I am, both the good and the bad ones. Photos are great for reliving a moment but I don’t trust them. They often give you a false memory; you see a photo, ask someone what was happening when it was taken, and from then on you remember it from their perspective, not yours. That’s the same reason I cringe when I see people photoshopping photos. There’s nothing wrong with touching up an image but when you start taking away too many of the flaws, or put a person into it who wasn’t there, you’re trying to improve the memory, not the photo, and it’s not real. Once again nothing is so beautiful that we can’t improve it by tweaking it just a little…

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t updated the blog for a couple of days; I’ve been busy in the past. I’m refocused now, though, and to my blog friends, I promise I’ll be popping across to catch up later. And maybe you can tell me if you’re as forgetful as I am. 😉