For anyone climbing anxiously aboard the blogging-bus for the first time – wondering how to make sense of the bewildering array of route maps, unintelligible fare systems and suspiciously-stained seats on offer – please know that you’re not alone. And since it’s a process of travel rather than arrival, no direction can ever be wrong.
Whatever the route, every bus has ‘learning’ as its final destination, so it’s simply the commitment to keep boarding that counts. And like backpacking adventures in Asia, it’s those where we’re cheek-deep in chickens – balanced unsteadily on a plastic micro-stool in the aisle and dry-heaving at the puppetry of roasted frogs touted through the windows at every stop – that we remember most fondly afterwards.
As Crocodile Dundees of a virtual New York, it’s perfectly normal that so little makes any sense at first. From the giant skyscrapers to the vast shanty-towns around the edge, the bustling metropolis of Blogosphere is an endless Escher-like labyrinth, an illusory winding confusion of streets and suburbs without any full-stops. Investing in property there is a peculiarly bewildering brand of real estate, one where ‘entire world’ is the narrowest search term available and estate agents don’t even speak in recognisable sounds. And then there are the touts and insurance brokers, prophesying certain death unless you pay more than your monthly rent for protection.
It’s easy to feel like Alice in Blunderland, crumpled at the bottom of the online rabbit hole and blindly groping about in the dark.
And while every new realm has its oracle – its Wizard of Oz – a google search of ‘How to Start a Blog’ brings up such a bewilderment of co-ordinates that it seems far easier just to scupper the ship and be done. Information, advice, must-do’s, deadly warnings and Endless-Acronyms-You Don’t-Have-the-Faintest-Clue-About all jostle noisily for your attention, blinding you in a paparazzi burst of flashbulbs while demanding you strike some savvy, lip-glossed pose to boot (I tried to smile for them, I really did, but I only managed a grimace of crusted cold sores and my darn dress was caught in my knickers).
How can anyone master their first sailboat in this melee of jet-skis and fog-horning steamers? How have so many gone so easily before?
The truth is they haven’t. Like anything worth doing in life, the key lies in the humility to be a beginner, and the willingness to do it badly first. It’s a practice in prising away each suction cap of perfectionism and doing the serious work of lightheartedness, calling upon our inner toddler in the bathtub.
We learn by doing, and so the only choice worth making is to take the next small step. Make a decision – any decision – and jostle free the log-jam of overwhelm. Otherwise the sinkhole of never-ending research becomes a safety belt that’s too tight to reach the ignition key.
Failure isn’t at the opposite end of the train line to success; it’s every small, tumbledown station along the way.
And the aim isn’t to board exactly where you want to disembark.
It’s to ride through new landscapes and welcome each and every barbecued frog, come what may.
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