From the point of view of writing as therapy, this blog has served its purpose well. My WordPress stats tell me I’ve posted over 50 blogs in about 18 weeks. This is far more than I intended or made a commitment to publish in my manifesto, my commitment then was a blog a week. The Gentle Author http://spitalfieldslife.com/, who led the Guardian course I took about setting up a blog, ran his Spitalfields Life blog by publishing a blog everyday. We, in his class, were deeply impressed, or certainly I was but I knew this would never be for me.
However, what you might call my high rate of writing has got me through a sticky patch, that awkward time of the early retirement period. My blog at the very least has kept me occupied. Given me a purpose. And it’s done a bit more than that.
One of my pieces of advice (and here speaks the ex-psychologist) to people like me, unsure of what retirement might or ought to be about, is to get a definite identity to replace the one you had as a professional, employed person. You know your response to the ‘what do you do?’ question. I decided that mine would be that I was a writer. When people say what do you do? not that they actually do, but if they did, then I will say without embarrassment – I’m a writer.
Here again the blog has been great. You can write what you like and publish what you like when you like and providing you don’t worry much about whether anybody reads what you’ve written, then hey presto you can legitimately call yourself a writer. And I do have readers or so Google Analytics say and I even get nice comments from time to time. OK, yes, I am getting a bit obsessed, just a little, about watching my number of unique visitors rise daily, so far at least. So far this has been a small price to pay for my peace of mind. However.
There is one aspect of this high literary output that is less good. Yes, I’ve gone off like a train, but big question is, can I maintain it? If my ranking in Google is primarily as a result of fresh content – any content – then can I keep this up?
From a more sensible, hard-nosed even, point of view, what I probably should be doing is saving those blogs, other than those with some topicality, those of a timeless nature, and spreading them out over the year I have contracted with myself to publish this blog. In that sense I’ve squandered a year’s worth in about 18 weeks. That’s probably not very bright.
I have no track record of writing regularly in this semi light-hearted way. I have no way of knowing whether I can continue to produce blogs over a period of time under my self-imposed pressure. A year’s a long time in retirement, who knows what my needs and / or capabilities will be in a year’s time. Yes, I keep writing stuff in my diary that I can go back and use to inspire and yes, at the moment I seem to have plenty of ideas and yes, I have been bright enough to look for guest bloggers but, no, I not sure that I can keep going for a year.
I mean take this blog, I’ve already published one blog today. God, I’m publishing two blogs a day, that’s even more than The Gentle Author. Crash and burn, baby.
I realise I’ve got this far and answered only one part of my title – what does blogging ‘bring to’ a retired person? The second part – what does a retired person bring to blogging, well, that’s more difficult for me to answer, only time and, perhaps, reader feedback will answer this – a certain wisdom, a different perspective, a worldly charm, a twisted sense of humour?Who knows. Probably none of the above. We’ll just have to wait and see.
And so this is what happens when you retire, you lose your sense of self and your sense of judgement.