I’ve always made things, but I have had several periods of hiatus in my life, usually brought about by life changing events. When I had children I loved making them clothes and I made clothes for both my husband and me, then we all grew out of my home-made things, and I channelled my creativity into some exciting research which resulted in my PhD. I divided my life between my family and my work and lost the urge to create at a personal level.
Then something happened, I don’t really know what the catalyst was, but I started knitting again, then a couple of years later, I started sewing again. These activities led me to spend time on the internet looking at patterns, wool and fabrics and, best of all, other people’s makes, and I discovered the power of blogs. I taught university students about how I used communities of practice and social media in a business context, but I hadn’t really engaged in a personal way. Suddenly I was obsessively following other bloggers, lurking on their sites, waiting breathlessly for their next post, almost living my creative life vicariously through them, and certainly taking inspiration and motivation from them. I was a consumer and began to get an urge to be a contributor and become a member of what looked to be a vibrant and exciting community.
Where to start? Well with a name of course. I was on holiday in New Zealand at the time and conjured up several very clever blog titles, only to find that other people had claimed them before me. I tried making a play on my name – “Stoneybrokeandwindswept” didn’t quite have the ring that I wanted, so I thought about the fact that certain of my friends think I have fads and thought I could turn this trait into a name, and so “fadanista” was born and I was on my way!
I put my first post out there and then thought about who was going to follow me? Hmm, I invited some unsuspecting family and friends to follow me, but few of them ever made comments, so I was pretty lonely – I think I was considering “the loneliness of a long distance blogger” as a post title at one point, but it made me sound a bit needy, so I powered on regardless and decided that I was blogging for me as a way of keeping a record of what I was doing and journaling my journey, as it were.
I realised quite quickly that if I was going to be a contributor I had to do more than write blog posts, I had to actually engage with the community and this changed my life in all sorts of ways. I became a joiner. I accepted every challenge I could manage, given work and family commitments, commented on posts that I loved, instead of just privately oohing and aahing, and changed my attitude towards Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Instagram (I’m still not wonderful at these).
I found that I really wanted to share what I was doing and invited anyone who even looked at one of my makes sideways to follow my blog. I have renewed old friendships, found that my poor Mother-in-Law who lives in Hobart can finally get regular photographs of her son and grandchildren via my posts, my sister and niece in the UK can see what I’m up to, and best of all, I have made new friends, mostly virtual, but I have met some in real life and to a person they are warm, generous and quite delightful.
I think the most rewarding part of all this is the fact that I know that my blogging has inspired others to start their own blogs, or to make something that they wouldn’t otherwise have attempted. Indulging my fads has helped me get my work/life balance back, and I get more pleasure from the comments on my blog than I can possibly say. In short, I would exhort everyone to have a go – at something, anything, and then find a way to tell the world what they are doing, even if it’s just a photograph on a comment.
Why have I suddenly put up this post, which has nothing to do with what I’ve made and which doesn’t contain a single photograph? Well, I’m responding to a post by Karen of “Didyoumakethat?“, on the Power of Story, where she issued a challenge to have a go at a practical exercise for a story for a blog post. As I said earlier, one of my strategies has been to accept challenges where I could, and so here is my short story, which I hope has the added effect of helping push a reader over the line and into writing for themselves if they are teetering on the brink.