When I started my blog, I felt I needed an outlet for writing, and to clarify my thoughts. It was mostly about me, and less about what others might see or think about what I wrote. I wanted to use this blog to become more disciplined in writing, and to write something that I felt captured what I was thinking.
That was then. Now, while that is also important, I would also love what I write to have value for others, too – I want it to have more purpose. But in what way? (and also how?)
This thought has been swirling in my mind, as I’ve been trying to think about the next step, whatever that might be. And I keep coming up with the idea that, whatever it is, it needs to be ‘useful’.
Why? Because that’s what they (you know, the great unnamed ‘they’) always say it should be – and also, really, there is so much out there, who has time to read anything which is not useful?
Fine then. Useful this blog will be.
BUT – then sometimes I get stuck.
- What can I write about that might be useful for someone else?
- What makes something written ‘useful’?
- What is ‘useful’, anyway?
One of the quotes that we love in this house is the William Morris one below, which we first read, in many of the castles and manor houses we visited on our mid 1990s trip to Europe (we might even have visited a Liberty shop or two, just to really sink the message in – it was the mid 90s, after all).
And this quote sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
But actually – it’s not.
- Because, unless we live on our own, we don’t always agree on what’s beautiful or useful *. (And even if we do, what seems useful
- Or because what we see as beautiful, or consider useful, can change.
- And because what is useful (or beautiful) to one person, at one time, is not useful to another.
It’s pretty much the same with writing, I think. What might appeal to one person doesn’t to others (as I found it recently – check out the discussions on the Pink Fibro bookclub to see a diversity of views on this month’s book!)
Being focused on ‘useful’, always, runs the risk of forgetting other reasons for writing – to express yourself (cue sound track – yep, I’m stuck in the late 80s / 90s!)
And writing without the aim of being useful can actually be better – it can be less dry and moralising, has a greater chance of being engaging and generating discussions, and lead to new or stronger friendships.
Now I realise I’ve probably written enough, and never really got to the useless bit (opps) so instead, I’ll just leave you with a little of what is going on right now, writing this:
- Drops of rain patterning the window, matching the steady sound outside. It’s been raining all night – so good.
- Waking up with a good feeling in my belly, after a nice dinner out with my husband and sister in law. Penny, the thai broccoli side dish really was a good addition, wasn’t it? (glad we convinced Al).
- Still in my pyjamas, wondering if the rain was really a good justification for not going for a run this morning (I know it wasn’t but I’m trying to convince myself).
- Finished the third of those Neapolitan Elena Ferrante novels in bed (because I didn’t run) – do I need a break before the last one, or should I just push on? Oh, the dilemmas!
- The sight of Rosie, our terrier, coming in the doorway, with her Elizabethian collar. I’m feeling a mixture of pity for her sore paw and laughter, because it always looks funny. She is not amused.
- The warmth of a little dog lying across my feet, undone a bit by the scratching of her collar. All right, yes, that collar is annoying. Rosie looks satisfied, like she’s proven her point, and then settles properly, with a full on sneeze, at my feet.
- Otherwise, the quietness of an empty house – thanks to kids having had a sleep over (thanks Mum and Dad and loving school holidays, and Al having an early shift.
- The clock on the computer, telling me I have just enough time to stop this, have a quick shower and get dressed, to get to my own work.
Better stop here.
I don’t know if any of this has been useful – maybe not. But it’s a little insight into my world – and maybe might spark a bit of reciprocation back (I’d love to know what is going on in yours!)
And really, who’s to say that’s not useful?**
*From personal experience – some of what I find beautiful, my husband sees as clutter. And some of what my husband thinks might be useful, I see as ‘Something we will NEVER use and just put it back on the side of the road where you found it’. (and that’s without even going near Christmas gifts from others – a touchy subject!)
** For more on this subject, you could also read ‘Useful belief‘ by our friend Chris Helder. By adding this link, I also achieve my aim of adding an additional link (lots of connections) and letting you know about Chris’ book – and that is surely useful? #uselessblogging #usefulbelief