How I started blogging and why I write for me first
Ask anyone who knows me and most will tell you I’m a glass half-full kind of person. So working as a journalist at a daily newspaper was never really going to be a perfect fit. Then again, I guess successfully applying for said job says a bit about my generally optimistic, “I-can-do-anything-I-set-my-mind-to” kind of attitude. But the longer I worked as a newspaper journalist, the greater sense of duty I felt to look for things that were wrong in the world. This just isn’t me.
Working at a newspaper was never something I wanted to do. I just wanted to write and share people’s stories. That’s what I told my editor one Monday when he asked during the morning’s editorial meeting why we all wanted to become journalists in the first place. He said my reason wasn’t the right answer (or not enough, anyway). A journalist’s responsibility, he said (and I do recall hearing this during a uni lecture – I just chose to ignore it), was to “keep the bastards honest”.
Not long after that meeting I started a travel blog. I’d spent two years living overseas and travelling around 30-plus countries before landing the journo gig. I still had such a sense of wanderlust and craved the lightheartedness of the past two years of my life, so I referred to my travel journal and used blogging as a way to relive and share my stories. Even though I loved it, I was writing A LOT every day. So my blog didn’t last long.
I had to come up with and write six stories a day. One of my ideas, one day, was to write a history piece on the oldest pubs in our city. My editor liked the idea, but wanted an interview with a regular patron. I got the story. It went so well and my editor liked it so much that it became my first official column: “At the pub with Kate”. I enjoyed writing something more lighthearted. But, still, the daily grind continued.
Then came the story that broke me.
I got a tip off about an 18-month-old boy who died, allegedly due to neglect by doctors and/or ambulance staff. My editor said, “You won’t get that story today”. “Just watch me,” I said. Knocking on the door of the parents’ home… that was something I thought I could never, or would ever do. The story made the front page of my local paper and also the Sydney Morning Herald. It wasn’t until afterward that the emotional significance of what happened caught up with me – I had chased a story because it’s what “serious journalists” do and bombarded into a family’s grief. It was then that I realised I’d changed. And I didn’t like the person I had become.
That’s when I stopped writing.
I got an internal job transfer and worked as a sub-editor. A couple of months later, I started a new blog. I needed to write again, but I wanted my own space where I had room to move and grow, and where I could have my own voice. I wouldn’t be squished into a mould anymore; I didn’t want to write what other people wanted me to write. I wanted a place to collect and share and muse over all the things that uplifted and inspired me. It felt better, more natural; being, doing and writing what I know and love. It’s not always a clear thing. What I know and love is constantly evolving. But just like when I was in Year 1 – winning the local Show writing competition with a true story – it’s always been so natural to share a piece of me in my writing. I hope that in doing so I might inspire a little self-acceptance, self-belief and authenticity.