The New Columnist

When i was young – far too many years ago now – i hankered after a life in writing, books primarily, but journalism would have done. I applied for one position before i went to Uni, got knocked back and left it at that, getting a few degrees in Literature and a career in Education instead. It’s okay, i’ve travelled, met amazing people, some really stupid ones too, but the writing’s never left me and i wonder what my life would have looked like had i pursued a life in the media – print or tv.

I’ve had stuff published in papers and magazines over the years, I’ve won a few competitions, I’ve been on the radio. I liked it all, but i’ve never quite cracked the freelance scene – possibly come to it too late and too far into a life that needs a decent regular income. Thus, we write in the night, the weekends and on holidays. Novels, like children seem to be made better at certain times of the year.

I always thought I’d have made a good columnist, you know like Caitlin Moran or Slummy Mummy – something witty, insightful, topical, a bit of light mixed with a bit of deep thought (not the computer) – something that garnered a devoted following and gave me a nice little income stream while the children flourished and i wrote substantial things, novels of both poetic beauty and financial power. Fay Weldon and John Irving were my main heroes, who i wanted to be. We all have our dreams and we cling to them as life overtakes and mundane things swoop in and almost drown us.

So, dear reader, I was struck by the fact that blogging in the way that i do (although agreed, not as regularly as a good columnist) is in fact the newspaper column for the 21st century. I am writing about a variety of topics, that i find interesting – hopefully you do too – and am free to play with words and ideas as i want. In fact, freer than the desk bound journo. Although they do get paid. Swings and roundabouts again.

In a truly post-Modern world this is how it all works. I’m quite sure someone sharper and more erudite than I has already postulated and posted on all this. But I like the meta-considerations of all this writer-reader and mediating the message now. Especially when one is blogging about blogging – which is the essence of this post – and about the third time by my reckoning that i have made a comment about all of this. Tis even more up to the reader than ever good old Derrida, Barthes or Foucault could have hoped for (yes, I have a post-modern university experience that i find stays with me more than i had expected at the time).

This is the medium for true interaction, for finding more than ever your own meaning, your own truth. Very much a take or leave it approach. And even though columnists in traditional print media are theoretically read more widely, just because someone buys the paper doesn’t mean they read everything in the paper. I rarely read the Sports pages, and never touch Finance – it’s all too gloomy and full of numbers not words.

I like the idea of blogging as the modern columnist. I like the idea that i am achieving one of my early ambitions through this. It’s cool isn’t it how a simple thing can be so effective, so positive. I like the democratising of the new media – read me if you want, comment if you please, ignore if that’s good for you too.

I’ll keep writing anyway – my audience is out there somewhere; finding me, searching for me, enjoying.


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