In my defence, I didn’t realise it had been three months since my last blog.
Time is getting away from me to a ridiculous extent these days. I’m constantly busy. In between helping to organise a pretty awesome alternative arts night that I’ll be attending later today, volunteering serving meals for the homeless at my church every Monday, trying to visit a widely dispersed group of friends and acquiring a boyfriend who lives 220 miles away I could really do with Bernard’s Watch. This week I will see my mum three times and my dad twice, despite the fact that we live in the same house; since that just about sums up the last three months of my life, I think I’ve got a pretty good collection of excuses for failing to post anything.
But there’s something else, too. I write for a living. I spend all day every day writing thousands of words on topics I couldn’t care less about. Yesterday’s workload included 600 words on a Moto2 rider who has been offered at least “one firm offer” to ride in the MotoGP next season – despite the fact that I know nothing about motorbikes, less about motorsport and have no clue who this biker is. So when I get home, the last thing in the world I want to do is look at a screen again and type, even if I have the chance to write about something I actually care about.
And there’s been so much to write about lately. Several things get earmarked every week for blog posts that never get written. Since I last wrote anything Michael Gove has been given short shrift by teaching unions (and writers, and historians, and even some children) and completely rewritten his plans for GCSEs. Serena Williams has bitterly disappointed me and thousands of other women who saw her as an example of empowerment. France has kept its beloved ‘cultural exception’ – to some extent at least – in the European Commission’s quest to pave the way for the much-touted EU-US trade deal. The kind of things that I love to write about are out there, and I don’t have the time or energy because half my working day is devoted to tax.
My bank manager and I are both keenly aware that I’ll be an arts graduate until the day I die, but at one point I did begin to worry that I’m drifting away from my subject. The impact of the weaker yen on exports across Southeast Asia and the economic wrangling of the Federal Reserve are surprisingly interesting, if you look at them as indicators of geopolitics and human psychology But equally, in-depth knowledge of how contractors and freelancers “plan their taxes to minimise their liability” is often uninspiring, especially when you’re expected to write quotes supposedly from the client’s managing director. Whether I like it or not, I’m expected to know enough about business, finance and tax to communicate with people who work in those industries.
I confess that for a brief moment in the early stages of my post-university career, I was slightly scared that gaining knowledge in so many other areas might somehow make me forget my joint first loves of history and literature. Like Homer, but geekier.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I needn’t have worried. I’m genuinely enjoying reading fiction for pleasure – there may well be another post on The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s fascinating novel – and mixing it with plenty of other stuff that in hindsight would have been bloody useful for my Masters. Today I wrote about tax all afternoon, then got on a train and immediately pulled out a book called Sister Queens: Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile (another book to fall foul of the curse of the colon). If anything, the fact that I spend so much time writing about complex technical subjects that don’t remotely interest me is driving me back to the things that I like: literature, Medieval and Renaissance history and stubbornly insisting that Britain’s children deserve better than this government (a particularly apt phrase, since you can’t spell ‘government’ without ‘Gove’). And now, I’ve blogged again.
What I need, I think, is to re-establish a routine. Blogging is good for me – it reminds me that I actually like writing but more importantly, it’s where I write about the subjects I care about.