Saturday, 7 January 2012

A shiny new blog

Welcome to my new blog. You can still see the old one back at my website but technical difficulties have led me to create this freestanding one. So now I have no excuse for not blogging at least once a week.
I hope you like what you read here, enough to subscribe to new posts by email (see below) or to bookmark and drop by regularly. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me – @JanetOkane – and as well as my regular, ahem, nonsense I’ll tweet whenever I put a new post up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this blogging lark: why I’m doing it, what I should write about. My website went live two years ago and in the planning stages I decided it absolutely, definitely had to include a blog. This was in order to ‘build a platform’, an essential (apparently) for any writer who’s serious about getting published.
Ugh! What a dispassionate expression ‘building a platform’ is. ‘Networking’ is nearly as bad, ‘making connections’ less so but still not ideal. These words reek of technology, not the uniquely human activities of writing and reading.
We writers may spend much of our time at keyboards but we’re not machines. And nor are the agents, publishers, editors and readers we want to take notice of our work.
Two years ago I imagined I would blog solely about writing. It didn’t turn out that way. It’s fine to report on Twitter (in 140 characters or less) one’s word count for the day and one’s satisfaction/disappointment with that achievement. Blogging, though, demands a whole lot more. It should be entertaining or informative. The best blogs manage to be both. But an account of the minutiae of my writing life would hardly be diverting, and as I’m still learning my craft I have no authority to lecture others on how to do it.
Writing is, after all, only part of my life, albeit a huge one. This is the year I start sending out my first novel to find an agent, and start writing my second. I’ll share as much of this as I feel able. But because I’m not a machine and I’d like you to get to know me, this blog will also embrace several other areas of my life.

You can probably predict my taste in books and TV: yes, usually crime (and never reality programmes). My choice of films and music is more eclectic. While I don’t plan to become a review site, I’ll write about highlights and low points in my experience of these different media.
I know from Twitter how different my everyday life is to that of most people I follow. It’s hardly the one I expected for myself. Back in 1980s London I was a yuppy, working long hours but not letting that stop me from going out every night. I was on track to have, by the age of 35, a middle-management husband, two children, and a house in Surrey. Yet here I am now, settled in rural Scotland, 50 miles from the nearest John Lewis.
My husband runs his own, successful business but doesn’t possess a suit or tie (though he does have a fetching custom-made kilt). We drive his 'n her pickups. I’m happily childless and lavish care on a geriatric cat, three dogs and around 20 chickens. The rhythm of our lives is dictated by the seasons, the weather, the rising and setting of the sun. This sometimes isn’t as romantic as it sounds.
In my yuppy days I was sent on assertiveness training (cue howls of laughter from those who know me). The one thing it taught me was how to overcome the typically female trait of not being an ‘effective greeter’. So, with a firm handshake and making confident yet non-confrontational eye contact, I say again:
Welcome to my blog.

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