The stories behind the blogs: Blog Week 2012
When Mumsnet Bloggers Network began a year ago, we celebrated a range of voices on parenting, politics and everything in between. Now at the grand old age of one, we're asking our bloggers to take us behind the scenes and share the stories behind their blogs. From activist to art history buff to autism expert, they each have an intriguing tale to tell.
"I originally starting blogging as a way of showcasing the things I'd been making. I had been posting pictures on Mumsnet and getting positive feedback. When Mumsnet started their own blogging network and publicising it, the call to arms was hard to avoid. I started out by just posting about things I was making, but soon found my blog was incentivising me to do more crafting just so I could post about it.
I soon found my blogging voice and wanted to use it for good, and if I could do a bit of crochet in the process then great. So I blogged about the Mumsnet Woolly Hugs project, where Mumnetters contributed crochet and knitted squares to make blankets for bereaved families. One of my posts about the project is still one of my highest hitting to date, such was the support for the idea.
I also discovered craftivism; using craft to spread a message. The Mumsnet "We Believe You" campaign seemed like the perfect opportunity to make my first foray into the craftivism world.
It wasn't my first attempt at public crafting though; I quickly gained the reputation as Mumsnet's Yarn Bomber in Residence, adorning public spaces with my woolly offerings.
Blogging has stimulated my creativity, and not just in the things that I make, but also in the way I write. But more than anything, in writing a blog, I have become part of a community, with whom I share ideas and opinions, and most of all - attention!"
"What could be more natural than co-writing a spoof Mills & Boon romance with your own sister? When it comes to blogging, the answer is 'nothing'. My desire to blog was largely kindled by the sibling rivalry prompted by the brilliance of my sister Anna Tims's blog, Adventures of a Middle-Aged Matron, and it happened to coincide with my sister's attempts to galvanize her book club into a little literary lampooning. They failed, so I stepped in.
It occurred to me that romantic parody would be ideal beginner's blog material; the rest, as they say, is… Mills & Boon Wannabe. I don't wannabe, particularly, but I did wanna find an outlet for creative writing. And it was an excellent way of staying in touch with Anna, who had moved to the wilds of Worcestershire. She's back in civilization now, but Mills & Boon Wannabe continues, just — we're about to close with a grand finale. But I have a new blog up my sleeve..."
Oliver Tims, Mills & Boon Wannabe
"I'm a writer but I wasn't writing. Just beating myself up instead. My American friend Meredith came to stay and bullied me into taking action.
"Your life is hilarious," she said, "put it in a blog!" When I protested about not wanting to scupper a potential future novel, she threw her hands up in incredulity."We're so far ahead of you in the States," she said. "Writers get a following on their blogs, and then they become hot property for publishers."
So I created my alter ego, Eliza Gray, and wrote my first post. "Gray by name, grey by nature. That’s what I’ve become! Invisible to the opposite sex, doormatted by my child, selectively ignored by my dog." Meredith loved it, and Eliza took off with a distinct character of her own. She is me with a big twist - Eeyore meets Bridget Jones in middle age. As soon as I started writing, I found that Eliza couldn't wallow. She had to entertain. And so I've had to flip whatever I'm feeling, give it an Eliza spin and either make it hyperbolically worse or deadpanly comic.
It's been fantastic therapy, lifting my mood and even getting me through the tragic death of my dog last October. I love the immediacy, the sense of achievement when you press 'publish' and can see what you've written (virtually) in print. Amazingly, as Dusty dog was dying, Eliza suddenly went off on a fictional tangent. I couldn't wait to sit down at my laptop and find out what would happen next. I'd only write for a few hours, but each day I'd clock up a post or two, and by January I had two thirds of my novel.
Once I'd reached the denouement, I fell flat. Bloggers' block. Or belated bereavement. Since then it's been a struggle, but I'm almost finished editing and stitching together the early action to finish my novel. Meanwhile, Eliza is back, alert to comic/poignant situations around her, and the proud owner of a new puppy, Dolly."
50 is the new black
"I started my blog, A Life Unlimited, as a thank you to an unknown Mumsnetter. My son Archie, is 13 years old, severely autistic and non-verbal. In the summer of 2011 Archie had trialled a 'talker', a communication aid, called a Vantage Lite.
Using a system new to the UK, known as LAMP we found that Archie responded very well to this communication aid. It was felt by us, and by professionals working with him that this would be a key way to further develop his communication skills. There was one problem, the Vantage Lite is an expensive piece of equipment, costing over £5000.
I had mentioned briefly on Mumsnet that we were looking at ways to fund the Vantage Lite and had been struggling a little with our local authority, when an anonymous Mumsnetter contacted Justine at Mumsnet HQ to arrange to purchase the item for Archie. We were incredibly grateful and Archie was delighted to receive his own 'talker'. It now goes everywhere with him. I felt the best way we could say thank you would be to create a blog where I recorded Archie's progress with the talker. This has been rapid, he now produces long sentences and his vocabulary is growing all the time.
The blog has evolved a little as well and hopefully presents a more positive side of living with severe autism than the typical view of the condition being a tragedy. In particular I write about surfing for people with autism and severe learning disabilities as together with the talker this has had a huge impact on Archie's life."
Saintlyjimjams, A Life Unlimited
"I started blogging in 2002 and eventually started writing about history and art. I felt completely lacking in direction, self esteem and confidence thanks to a messy break up, relationship problems and staying at home with two small children and not much of a social life.
Since my first rather embarrassed and self conscious posts about eighteenth century art, I've grown in confidence and now my blog gets around 4,000 views a day, mostly from other history buffs like myself. The blog was initially intended to be a repository for mumblings about my book research but over time has evolved to incorporate women's history, fashion, art as well as my twin passions for Revolutionary France and Jack the Ripper.
When I first started blogging, I could never have expected things to have turned out as they have done - I thought I'd get a couple of readers a day and sink into obscurity, but instead I've become a successful self published author earning enough to be able to write full time; connected with thousands of amazing people all around the world and had wonderful opportunities like visits to royal palaces and behind the scenes looks at museum collections.
When I graduated from university with a degree in Art History and a sinking feeling that I'd just wasted three years of my life, I wish I could have looked forward to the future when the degree that everyone told me was a complete waste of time would turn out to be both a life saver and my livelihood."
"As a beauty writer and a forever running late mother of two, I loved the idea of bringing busy mumsa daily dose of feel-good beauty and style.
With nonstopmama, I wanted to provide the sort of quick lift you get from glossy, but tailor-made for mums who haven't got time to hit the sofa and flick through one from cover to cover. Something to read in the middle of a mad day, wherever you are, with beauty tips, gorgeous new products, sneak previews, freebies and advice on how to take the latest trends from runway to school run (or avoid them altogether!).
I love the interaction with other mums, who ask me everyday beauty questions on the new Facebook wall, sharing and helping mums of all ages to feel their fabulous best!"