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From the Archives: On Writing

photo credit: annabelle agnew

Originally Published June 11th 2015

Titled: Adventures in Writing: A review of the last 30 years


I wrote a book once, or rather I tried to write a book once. I was in grade 4, it was about a castle. I illustrated the cover, typed 2 pages and caved to a snack attack. Cue bowl of blueberries and some 35% cream (oh yeah) and I went back to the typewriter. Nothing came out. I looked at the books on the shelves in the den and realized they were all over 15 pages long, and that's when that dream died. That was my first foray into writing as a hobby. It lasted about 3 hours.

At the Atwater Marker last week, I bumped into my CEGEP teacher from my first English class: Mr Wadsworth. I had never written an essay and coming from a french high school, I was pretty lost. I got by in his class, and worked kind of hard, but writing to argue a thesis was not going to be my strongest asset. I could debate like no one else. Oral presentation? Killing them. Small group work? No Brainer. Essays? Disaster.

CEGEP turned to University and the writing got much harder. And mine in particular, got much worst. I remember never wanting anyone to read my papers before handing them in, I was so embarrassed by them. I got a particularly shattering grade followed by a call from the prof, who was very perplexed by the paper. In front of him was a student that, when in class (note the WHEN), participated keenly and made bright comments, but the paper in front of him made no convincing arguments and had poor structure. Really, I was going to need to work much harder.

And so, I did the only thing I thought I could do: cut out my classes, didn't show up to exams, spiralled into some dark anxious times until one day, paralyzed by the shame of having screwed up so completely, I decided that University was over for me. I withdrew from all my classes, left my bestie behind and convinced myself I could audit all the classes I was really into. At that time, I was going to start a catering business. And a vintage furniture business. And a personal shopping business. And then I got a job in the hotel world and eventually found myself in design school.

Fast forward 5 years and I would be writing my first blog post, and guess what, it was about fabric! I knew I had lots to say, but doubted my voice and still carried the shame from my academic writing past. I kept on, and eventually really enjoyed this digital process of journaling. Writing in a diary had stopped after my Jim Morrison Poetry Phase (oh hi Jim!) and I could never keep my penmanship clean enough.

So when I discovered blogging, I knew it was going to be something that I wanted to do. It have me access to the creative world outside of my baby brain, and offered a small enough (read quasi-non existant) audience. I documented the addition of Luca to our family and ended up stumbling onto the concept of a sewing lounge. Annabelle and a few other moms were also blogging and that led to a mini community, which eventually led to E & A.

With my rose-tinted glasses on, I remember blogging for E & A as one of the funnest parts of that business.   I know there were periods that were harder than others, but writing an Either Or? I still have jitters in my stomach thinking about the excitement of the Saturday Morning post..

After the shop closed, I created this blog, and worked at keeping it up, but eventually got overwhelmed by the pressure to post and my overall lack of good ideas. I stopped all together, and carried that same haunting shame for some time.

Having made the decision to move to the country, the desire to write welled up again. In my mind, writing about the process was going to be half the benefit of this whole change! But as the universe usually orchestrates things, the idea and the reality of things right now are so opposite.
We settled in to the house and no work happened. That's when reality set in very quickly and I knew I had to ditch the almost laughable idea of relaunching Cochonet Rouge as a pretty DIY Design blog.

I knew that if I was going to keep blogging, I was going to stop trying to be like other blogs. It took MANY After The Jump podcasts to realize that! For years I had struggled with all these resistances: I need better photos, I need better blog categories and stick to thematic posts, this should look more like a design blog, I should have more traffic. I had too much to say to just write a design blog, and re-reading past posts, they all felt flat, impersonal and imposter-ish.
Home Lifestyle blogs rely heavily on pro photography and Pinterest, neither of which I want/can dive into.

I still am not sure what I'm doing here, but I do know that whatever is coming, well it's coming from a much realer place. All those other beautiful blogs? They're amazing to look at, (that Fresh Exchange Blog? They're NAILING it!) and can so inspiring. But more and more , I find myself overwhelmed by all the consumerism and I end up feeling like I should buy all new throw cushions, so CrossFit and rename my kids Hyphon, Leif and Ampersand.

Nope, not for me.
This isn't a design blog, this isn't a lifestyle blog, I don't know what the hell it is!

What I do know is the following: this is the space to air out my struggles, to share my attempts at making a good life, to visualize my work and put on display the little things that I love and think the 10 of you will love too. And while it all seems self-serving and narcissistic, there's something telling to me to not stop. Keep writing, keep sharing the tough stuff, don't look around, everything you have is enough. This is our lives.

So if you can come up with a name for all of this, you'll let me know?

I'm off on a solo trip to Edmonton and I am so looking forward to the break that it will provide.
Have a great weekend and I'm leaving you with our family cheer. The three words that have been helping us all avoid some familiar pitfalls. It's kind of embarrassing to post, but that's why I know I have to do it


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