Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham.
Here’s Tim with more about why he blogs:
Where did your blog name come from?
‘Slouching towards Thatcham’ is derived from the final line of a poem by Yeats about the aftermath of WW1: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Sounds pretentious, I know, but I just liked it so I used it.
When did you start your blog and why?
October 2008. I’d been writing a (now defunct) sports blog for a year and a half already but wanted somewhere to capture my thoughts about being a new dad and my other random musings on life.
What did you do before you blogged?
I worked – and still work – full-time for a variety of large companies, ranging from WH Smith and Tesco to Royal Mail and the BBC. I’m currently heading up social media for West Europe for 3M, the company that makes (among other things) Post-it Notes. Writing has always been in my blood, though – I’ve always been actively participating in and helping to run various online forums, which were very much the forerunners of blogs and social media.
What was your first post?
My very first post was a general “Welcome, this is me” but my first ‘real’ post was a think piece on the ludicrousness of Sarah Palin as a US vice-presidential nominee. Little did we know then that Donald Trump was on the horizon!
What inspires you to blog?
I just love to write. I love the technical craft of composing and honing a blog post. The children (Isaac, 8; Toby, 6 and Kara, 4) provide a rich source of material, and knowing that I’m building a record of my kids’ early lives for future posterity is a big driver too.
What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?
My most viewed post is one of those parent blogging staples, a letter to Isaac on is seventh birthday.
I’m most proud of a post titled ‘The brother who never was’, a reflection on the brother who died aged only a week. We never talk about him as a family and it’s only been in recent years I’ve realised the hole this has left in my life. The post took me over three years and at least a dozen rewrites to get right.
The posts I enjoy writing the most are my parenting parodies of well-known songs. I love the fact they’re a different kind of writing challenge and they seem to go down well with readers. My favourite one remains the song I performed at this year’s BML conference, a version of the Psychedelic Furs’ Pretty in Pink that talks about Isaac’s love of pink in his pre-school years.
Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?
Not particularly, although I have received a few odd responses where people have tried to tell me that my opinion or my choices are categorically wrong, as if there is a definitive ‘right’ for every situation. There *so* isn’t.
Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?
No idea! I do review my blogging goals at least once a year but I’ve never had a specific aim to monetise the blog or to achieve X number of views. Generally I head in whatever direction interests me at the time and hopefully people will respond positively to that.
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
It allows me to express who I am in a way that I’m comfortable with. I’m shy and socially awkward in person – making small talk with a stranger is my idea of purgatory – but whereas I hesitate and stammer when speaking, I’m confident and clear when it comes to the written word.
…and your least favourite?
The constant obsession with stats, page views and rankings and some of the urban myths that surround them. I understand that they’re important to many bloggers, just not to me.
What’s the best blog post you have ever read?
My favourite blog posts are ones that have a really strong personal message. His blog is now closed but Ryan from Dad Creek wrote a post last summer about his ongoing battle with depression that was touching and thoughtful and raw. And important, as a means of reaching out to others who are in similar situations to let them know they are not alone.
What blog do you love to read and why?
I won’t name one specifically but I’m always drawn to bloggers who have very different experiences and who express themselves with a unique voice that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Whether it is coping with Down’s Syndrome or autism, or life as a single mum or a stay-at-home dad, it’s discovering the breadth of other people’s parenting experiences, especially when they’re well written, that keeps me coming back.
Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?
Ha, I write better! I cringe when I look back on some of my old posts.
I’m also more involved in non-writing activities than I used to be. For many years, I would write a post, publish it and then move on. Nowadays I’m a bit more savvy. There is social media promotion, engaging with others, linkies, working with brands/PRs, so many things that go beyond the mere writing of words. The biggest challenge with blogging is finding the time to actually blog!
Is blogging what you expected it to be?
Yes and no. In many ways it continues to be what it always was – a place for me to collect and organise my thoughts on my kids and life in general. But over the past few years it has become much more of an ‘industry’ and I have become more involved in that industry. That’s neither a good nor a bad thing, just different.
What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?
Not so much a brand collaboration as a people one, I love doing the Meet the Parents podcast, which I do every week with a team of other parents, both mums and dads. It takes up a lot of time that I might otherwise spend blogging, but I love doing it. It’s just another way to express our parenting experiences that people hopefully find interesting. (Also, people don’t have to actually see me. I refuse to do vlogs. Face for radio and all that.)
Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?
I deliberately don’t take on much work with brands but I would like to get more involved with science and technology education initiatives. I’ve worked with Gadget Show Live in the past and am currently working with the Inventors Workshop for toy entrepreneurs, so more of the same would be good.
Have you had any blogging fails so far?
Lots of small ones (on an almost daily basis) but nothing epic. Yet.
What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?
I don’t know that I really have one, other than writing that book about being a modern dad that I’ve been working on for the past 18 months – and have a pathetic total of about 1,800 words to show for it.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
Spend time with my family – not enough of this. Spend time at work – too much of that. Buy gadgets. Plan our next holiday. And plot my next blogging adventure. I’ve done general sports, football, cycling, TV (I used to contribute to the website of the Metro newspaper) and three podcasts at different times. It must be time for something new …
and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself
I appeared as a team captain on a 1980s BBC children’s TV quiz show. We won!