Let’s Take The Piss Out Of The Blogger

I’m fuzzy on the date, maybe four years ago? If not, definitely three. The setting: a beautiful winters day here in Qatar, at a quaint school fete. There was bunting, cakes and jams, and a crowd of people snaking their way through the stalls. I had G and the children with me, we’d divided to conquer, he had two children and I had the others. As we shuffled shoulder to shoulder, I ran into a familiar face, a woman I’d met through an acquaintance a few weeks earlier. She was new in town and I wondered how she was going. She was a very cool operator, a pursed smile, a little aloof. She introduced me to her friend, a journalist with a local magazine.

“What do you do here Kirsty?” her friend asked

I didn’t want to say that I really had no idea what I was doing in Doha. That returning to the office with a child who was finishing school at 12.30 was proving to be problematic. So I shared the only glimmer of hope I had to staying sane while attempting to make a dollar.

“I’ve started a blog – I’ve picked up some freelance work – it’s called 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle”

Just as I finished my sentence, from the corner of my eye, I caught the tail end of an eye roll accompanied by a slight head shake and a gentle mocking giggle. There was no doubt that my new acquaintance thought both me and my blog were a bit of a joke.

“Are you a trained journalist?” her friend asked

“No”

“Did you write before you came to Doha?”

“No – well, only business proposals and tender submissions”

“Oh well – keep practicing!”

We stood awkwardly for a moment admiring the sausage rolls until I made a hasty retreat. Whatever confidence I’d had in my writing ability was left somewhere around the sausage rolls and hand made jewellery.

Writing is like that. One day you think you’re terrible, the next day you’re sure it’s worse than terrible – diabolical. On a good day you might settle with the idea that yes, that one piece was okay – until you realise you’ve put the apostrophe in the wrong place and written aisle instead of isle. The problem with writing is it’s so bloody public, every error, every faux pas, every typo. Not once in my professional life in HR did a girlfriend comment on my interview style or something I’d missed on a job specification. I got to learn how to do those things with a much smaller and impersonal audience.

It’s been five years. It was five years ago today that we landed in Doha. Five years ago that I arrived with Lizzie 9, Annie 7, Fred 6 and Henry 3. Five years ago we stepped foot in what is now the ‘old’ airport, without a friend to call or an idea of what we’d let ourselves in for. Oh sure we kind of knew, we’d travelled before, lived in much hairier places – but Doha has been a complete surprise for G and I. It has changed dramatically while we’ve been here; new buildings, new schools, new rules – we have bacon!

One thing has stayed the same throughout our time here – this blog.

On the night that I arrived in Doha I sent my cousin an email, she’d began blogging earlier. I can’t remember the exact words but the gist was “How do you start a blog?”. She told me the platform she used, and gave me a push to get started.

After the children were asleep I sat on the top of the bed, propped up by pillows with G by my side and wrote this – “it’s asking for a name?” I looked towards G for inspiration. He suggested a few things, nothing seemed right. I looked over at the bodies lined up next to each other, counted the suitcases around the room and typed in 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle. I had no idea that that blog post would turn into 1,000 blog posts, that I was about to learn about widgets, plugins, links, and tags. I had no idea that it would turn into a community, that I would eventually be paid to write, that I’d attend blog conferences, become incredible friends offline with readers and others bloggers. That I would happily sit giggling away in the bleachers at softball reading comments about sports snacks and cut up oranges and who in the hell brings bento boxes for half time snack?

This blog has been the biggest gift that Doha has given me. I’m on my way to a meeting with my fellow co-founder of BloggingME this morning. We have so many exciting things happening at the moment in our blogging community here in Doha. I am passionate about blogging, about writing, about what an online profile can do for someone who’s having to leave the workforce temporarily. I have two regularly paid advertisers in my sidebar, a sponsor for our video series, a regular writing gig with a magazine and a series of sponsored posts. I think I can now hold my head up and say, wait for it, ‘I’m a writer’.

So yeah, it turns out the woman at the fete handed out some good advice. I kept practicing. I’m still here.

And I just wanted to say thank you, I wanted to to say thank you for still being here with me.

Thank you. xx

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