2016 will go down as the year I've never been more embarrassed of my blog, nor as proud. Bear with me. Earlier this year I was sat in front of a particularly snooty panel for a job interview. I didn't get the job (kinda relived to be honest), but I was left mortified after one panel man said "you have a blog called The Prosecco Diaries…" and started passing along some printed out pages that I could see had one of my blog posts on. The panel looked at this random post, I don't even know which one it was, but it was something that Snooty McSnoots had obviously decided summed up my whole blog.
I'm usually proud of my digital baby in work situations because I mostly do blogger outreach, blogger events organising and blogger consultation with brands, and they like what I do. I can impress people in a digital sphere or marketing department, I've been approached by wide-ranging companies to work on things behind the scenes purely because they saw my blog. This job was something quite different, and I had not put the blog on the application. I get that this is what people do in 2016, we all Google each other, of course employers are going to Google the bejeezus out of potential employees and check they're not online nazis or something in their downtime.
Having my blog brought up in this context, without my permission I suppose, and being judged right in front of me made me feel ashamed of writing about superficial things. I suddenly wished every post was intellectual and insightful, that they would say "Wow, you should be writing for The Sunday Times Magazine, not a blog!" Now they would all think I just review eyeshadows and socks and go to a lot of free parties. On the way home I even thought about deleting it all. I'm not kidding, I don't know why this occurred to me, to delete three years of hard work over the reaction of four old duffers who don't get digital content making or social media, but I didn't feel like any of them recognised the skills (yes, actual ability is needed to write frequent engaging copy, edit photos, pitch to brands, network and whatnot) that I've acquired since starting my blog. I felt like they thought it made me look basic, and I didn't like that feeling of not professionally being around people who 'get it'.
Luckily I got over this, though it made me ponder over just what it is I do on this blog and why. I've been caught up in a big spiral of commercialism, partly through the work I do off the blog, but also because I work with so many brands in my posts too. It's a bit overwhelming, but also simultaneously somewhat underwhelming; I like being a go-to place for reviews and opinions, but I also feel a bit like a cog in a capitalist wheel who isn't saying anything of note. I had to remind myself that one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place was not just to score film premiere invites, endless beauty products, and free meals in restaurants, but to become a professional writer. So, 2016 has also been the year I did something about this and became more proud of my blog than I ever have been. I got myself a literary agent, I signed the contract last week. I pitched a non-fiction advice book that I've wanted to write for ages, and is actually inspired by one of my blog posts. I don't have a publishing deal yet, but just the fact that I've been signed by someone who genuinely thinks this could be an actual book has made me feel so happy, and it was my blog that helped me seal the deal. I saw my work once more as exactly that – work. Not a silly hobby, not a sideline project or a waste of time, but a portfolio of my writing, my pitching, my collaborations, and of course my opinions, my creativity, my voice.
Anyone who has a blog probably has a love/hate relationship with it. It can be our strongest tool at times, our place where we most feel ourselves, the best thing on a professional CV, and at times we wonder why the hell we bother and question what's the point of it all? I still want to review eyeshadow, I still want to go to film premieres (walking the red carpet and having ALL the crowd and press lower their cameras as I pass is hilarious), but I must make more of an effort in 2017 to put me in the picture too. Not literally, good lord – no one wants to see that, I mean telling more stories, being more vulnerable, mixing it up a bit. I'll keep you posted on the book thing too, it might come to nothing, but I'm never going to stop trying.