Friday, 28 March 2014

It's Been A While

I haven’t written a blog entry in a long time. I haven’t written anything in a long time.

In fact that’s not quite true. I’ve written plenty since finishing university nearly two years ago. Just very little has survived the dreaded delete button. Certainly I haven’t come close to sharing anything with an audience in months.

Writer’s block. Crisis of confidence. Being far too self-conscious. Call it what you will, all I know is I’ve struggled to write and hated the majority of what I have.

But I’m going to try and change that in the next few weeks. I worry that my difficulties have become somewhat self-fulfilling, that the block is now self-imposed. I hate what I write because I’ve convinced myself I can’t write anymore. It’s possibly often objectively no better or worse than what I used to be able to write (the quality of that is up to your own judgement) but my perspective shades what I do.

Now anyone who knows me at all will probably not be surprised at that possibility. I have never been someone blessed with easy confidence or certainty. The circle of self-doubt is brutal; I doubt the merit of what I do, so I do less and less and that failure to do anything becomes the proof that the original doubt was well placed.

What I know is that I really used to enjoy writing, that it used to be a great outlet for aspects of my hyper-active, self-deprecating and self-conscious internal monologue.

I’m not going to make any proclamations about how much I will write, I’ve gone down that route before and the words end up hollow promises. What I will say is that I intend to try my best to keep writing and to share what I can on here.

This first post will serve as a brief update on what’s going on in my life, to get it out the way before I go on to writing about films, politics and history.

I know I have retreated from posting online. I used to be much more active on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter. In itself a move away from sharing online would not necessarily be a bad thing. However I can’t pretend that that shift isn’t reflected to a degree by my offline life. For better or worse, for a whole host of reasons, I have become much more closed off and private than I used to be. I know that I can benefit from keeping some of that change, but I know I have done so largely in pursuit of some false concept of safety. 

I’ve always been very introspective, if not always classically introvert, but I feel I need to address this particular slide.

Getting back into writing is just part of the efforts I’m putting in at the moment, glacial minor changes that might, I hope, build to a marginally happier me.

Since university I have tried to get my life back under control, It was spiralling out a little by the end of third year. I was seriously unhappy and making a lot of bad decisions. I scraped through final year on the back of my ability to write; my ability to string sentences together saved my degree when through inaction and wilful self-sabotage I very nearly screwed it up. I’d gained a lot of weight, allowed friendships to peter out and was in a generally dark place. I wasn’t convinced I wanted a future and was, I now realise, taking steps to remove a lot of the things that might keep me going.

Now while it’s not easy for me to talk openly about that period, about my depression, I suspect it doesn’t come as a shock to many who’ve known me. I always had tendencies towards depression and probably always will. It’s a part of me that I’ve fought hard to bring under control. The reason I write about it at all is that I’m sure some of my friends are also struggling or have done and there is a tendency to suffer on alone when dealing with depression. It rarely helps anyone and that feeling of isolation often makes it much worse. I write because I have managed to pull myself back from a brink that looking back scares me, and if someone like me can do that it surely must give hope to others.

In the last two years I’ve begun to build a future I can enjoy again. I’ve held down a job for a year and a half, working in admin and retail. The latter was particularly important, a customer facing role was perfect, forcing me to engage with others rather than hide away. I’ve got back in shape, running 10k’s for myself and happily raising money for a number of good charities along the way. I’m now planning to run a 24k race this summer, a challenge that is daunting but exciting and will require me to put in hard work consistently for the next few months.

I have applied for a Masters in American History, a passion that developed during my time at De Montfort University. I can picture myself in a few years lecturing at a university and to simply have that picture is progress for me even If it doesn’t come to fruition. I can imagine myself enjoying work in that profession, though it isn’t one that occurred to me until the last two years. I’ve saved money to pay off the majority of my fees and that will allow me to, if I don’t get on the course, travel a bit this year, see a little of what the world has to offer, before saving up again and working harder to try and get accepted the next year.

So that’s where I am, where I’ve been and where I plan to go.

I promise the rest of the blog won’t be anywhere near this self-centred. I just wanted to get that out, wanted to start with a bit of a clear slate, and maybe update a few people who I’ve lost touch with over the years.

From now on the blog is going to be primarily film reviews; I have an unlimited Cineworld card this year so I’m seeing more films than ever before. I will also probably write about politics and history when a particularly interesting story catches my attention. In the meantime if you want to read about a range of political and historical topics you could do worse than check out one of my course mates from university, Jamie Smith’s blog - - his ability to write consistently impresses me.

So that’s all for now, but I will hopefully return soon. 

P.S Listen to the new Elbow album, it's stunning.

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