As I sit here writing this, I’m actually trying to catch up on a recent episode of ‘The Secret Life of Dogs’ (whilst enjoying a far-too-large glass of Baileys) but I’m not really watching it. My husband’s out at a gig, the girls are asleep and during this precious alone time it’s all too tempting to pick up my phone and scroll through Instagram and Twitter, catch up on my YouTube subscriptions, research for future material, browse ASOS… Before I know it, the programme’s over and I didn’t watch a bit of it. But that’s not the half of it.
I’m also tracking my blog site’s viewings, the key referrers and countries my readers come from (at this early stage of blogging and vlogging, I’ve still developed a keen eye for monitoring this data, it really fascinates me), doing my homework for an online photography course, contributing to a new post, researching popular tags, hashtags, and key content markers, getting inspiration for future videos and scheduling posts on social media for the next few days. Just months ago, I knew almost nothing of this world (instead, I’d have been sat here dribbling, almost asleep and with a cat snoring on my lap).
I started blogging because I love to share: I’m a teacher, it’s in my blood. I have plenty to say about things too, which helps. What’s also in my blood is learning (I like to feel content that I’ve tried my best at whatever I do and I can’t feel like that if I haven’t got a clue); from the moment I created my site, all I’ve done is research, translate and practise. What this has done is make me substantially busier than I’m used to (I work full time too) but that’s fine by me, I definitely had the brain space for it. When I started blogging (on maternity leave) I was physically busy with two young girls but mentally quite bored, so it was nice to introduce something new, just for me.
The thing is, I never gave a thought to how I would do it. I don’t exactly get time where I can sit for a period, in quiet, undisturbed… So I snatch minutes here and there: while the girls are occupied, while my husband takes them up for a bath, while I’m waiting for the pasta to boil I’ll write a few lines. I even dictate my text, when I’m on a roll but typing is just too slow and my daughter Louie looks at me and asks who I’m talking to! This isn’t the way I like to work: I’m super organised and I like to devote time to focus on something wholeheartedly, I like to do few things but well, so working like this goes against the grain completely. But my want to do it overrides.
I’ll let you into a day in my life: this morning, at 5:44am I stirred, 6 minutes ahead of my alarm (I always sense when it’s about to go off) and I pressed the home button on my phone to check the time. This also showed me tonnes of separate notifications from my website and various social media accounts. I didn’t read them but as I rolled over to enjoy my 6 minute snooze, I smiled to myself thinking “good, it’s been a busy night”. My alarm is actually set so that I can kick my husband out of bed, so that he gets in the shower on time and while he does, I doze for a few minutes and then pick up my phone to catch up on the night’s activities. Primarily I’ll be checking my site’s hits and subscriptions, replying to comments, checking out YouTube views and adding to the post I’m working on but (and I know how silly I am) the moment I hear my husband come out the bathroom, I put my phone down, in case he finds out what a loser I’ve become. I’ve only just started out, so how many followers I have shouldn’t be a big deal (and it’s certainly not why I started) but somehow, I just like to know.
All day today I’ve been planning to film this evening: I set up my lighting ready to use and I finally settled on the video topic I was going to cover. I haven’t filmed in over a week because of time (I’ve started my phase back to work after having our second baby), a lack of inspiration and also upload problems (which I’ve finally sorted). So this evening comes, the girls are asleep and my husband is going out. Our bedroom appears to be the best place to film, as it’s the prettiest and brightest room in the house but we’ve just got a new bed, which is HUGE and so I have to think about where my lighting’s going to stand (there aren’t many places I can put it!), where I’ll prop up my camera, which direction it’ll face (because we have so many bloody mirrors, it’ll almost certainly show up something I don’t want it to!) and where I can sit, so I’m not totally blinded or melted by the soft box.
In the mean time, I’m buying time until my husband leaves for his gig (I still don’t like the thought of being listened to when I film!), so I’m also sifting through my baby’s old clothes and taking pics of them to try and sell on Facebook and they’re strewn EVERYWHERE (how do tiny people have so much clothing?!). I feel I like I should freshen up my make-up before I film too, so that I might at least look presentable (despite feeling like a knackered, sweaty, gobbed-on mother with snot streaks down my leg) but in doing so I tripped on a pile of baby clothes and managed to get my lip gloss wand stuck in my freshly washed hair (I never wear bloody lipgloss, it always gets me into trouble!), so now I have a sticky streak to hide before I film too.
It’s 8pm, and hubby will be leaving soon, so I tidy up Sadie’s clothes and get my filming stuff ready. Tonight I’m propping up my camera with a storage box, two tissue boxes and a teacup. Standard. I can’t decide whether to sit in the corner or by the bed, so I move the laundry basket to find out and oh great! That mould problem’s back again and now it’s up the wall (didn’t I only just blitz that like last week?!), so I put the laundry basket back again so you can’t see it. I settle for kneeling up against the bed (it’s a good backdrop behind me and it’ll look like I’m just sitting in front of a table, right?), despite knowing that in just 5 minutes’ time, my legs will be totally dead and I won’t even nearly be finished. I’m all ready to start and I catch sight of myself in the screen: seriously, is that what I look like?! After the girls have gone to bed is the ideal time to film and I thought my lighting would make up for the fact that it’s still dark this early at this time of year but the lighting is shockingly bad… I definitely can’t pull this off.
I’m just not feeling it tonight, so I call it a day and go downstairs to pour the (not so large anymore) glass of Baileys that I’m still sipping at now. I’ll have to come up with something else tomorrow, in daylight but away from the volume of the girls, maybe not in the bedroom though and I can’t take too long about it…. Hmmm. This is the process I go through most times I try to film; squeezing it into normal life isn’t easy but I’m determined, I’ve come to love it. On the other hand, something I never anticipated was that I would get a following (regardless of how big or small) and I would therefore feel the need to be predictable and reliable. I’ve put a certain amount of pressure on myself to blog and post videos consistently (whilst being realistic about the time I have) and if I feel like I’m pushing my luck time-wise, I start to get a bit ansty, like I need to get a move on.
My aim here is not at all to moan or make this new venture sound like a chore but more to illustrate and share the reality of actually doing it, fitting it in to normal life and the awkwardly funny situations I get myself into. Does anyone else share similar stories?
I feel nervous at writing this honestly, at the risk of sounding like such a novice. But the thing is, I don’t feel like a novice. In the short time I’ve been doing this, I’ve enjoyed successes I didn’t dream of, I’ve learnt so much, I’ve gained so much confidence and I’ve realised for definite that this is what I want to continue doing. Initially this was all an escapism for me but now I have feedback and that’s all the encouragement you could need to keep going. Sure, it can be inconvenient as hell and at times embarrassingly make-shift but I’m loving it; loving learning and sharing my thing. One day I might have a bigger house with a designated office/filming space, hell I might actually have a tripod (heaven forbid)! But until then, tissue boxes will do…