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Some people know me as OrangeBlossomer because that's me on Twitter. This blog is a random collection of daily musings about life and stuff I love, such as journalism, dog (sadly my dog died in 2010 so probably no more), women, love and lack of love, boobs (only seldom but it does get me extra online traffic), taichi (I practise) and spirituality (should practise more). I have a day job as a jetsetting publishing foreign rights manager but I am also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and a writer/columnist at heart. Writing is my opium.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The day Liz Jones killed a succesful blogger's will to blog

I first learned about Catherine Sanderson, a Paris-based British expat blogger known as Petite Anglaise, on an article I read in a Saturday Guardian about how blogging can lead to unexpected business opportunities and book deals.

Blogging about her personal life story, in which she falls in love with a fellow blogger and breaks up with "Mr Frog", the father of her daughter (whom she calls "Tadpole"), "the Bridget Jones of Paris" attracted thousands of followers worldwide. According to the Guardian article, "at one point her site was getting 4,000 hits a day".

Sanderson landed a £450,000 book deal from Penguin, who had discovered her blog. The memoir obviously sold well, as a second book, French Kissing, has only just come out, this time a novel.

Yesterday, I happend to buy a copy of The Daily Telegraph and saw an article saying Sanderson, now 37, had written what appeared to be her last posting. In it, she admits she had been losing her inclination to blog for some time.

What struck me, however, was the fact that what made her take the final decision was reading an article in The Observer about...Liz Jones, whom she describes as "a newspaper columnist who has made a living out of sharing every aspect of her personal life, showing little or no regard for the feelings or right to privacy of the partners/lovers/neighbours that she uses for material."

Sanderson says:

"It left a nasty taste in my mouth. Personal blogging was something I felt the need to do during a short, pivotal period of my life but, as I hope I demonstrated in my memoir, I realised,with hindsight, that particular path was strewn with landmines."

Sanderson knows about landmines. When the British accountacy firm she worked for as a secretray discovered her Internet diaries, she was promptly sacked. She later sued the company for unfair dismissal and won the case, as reported in The Telegraph in March 2007. The Penguin book deal came two months after losing her job, so a case of one door closes, another door opens?

The tone of her last blog, "Over and Out?", seems to be one of relief.

"As far as personal blogging is concerned, I've turned the page. And it feels good."

Reading Sanderson's personal explanation of her decision in The Telegraph, I can see why a no-holds barred personal blogging style could have exposed her daughter and new husband to bullying and/or ridicule, and the more she restricted private life off her blogs, the less material she found to write about.

The conclusion might be that unless you have Miss Jones' boldness (or should it thick skin?), and can ignore bullet holes in your postbox and daily hate mail at your doorstep, taking up confessional writing as a means of living may always entail walking a thin line between fame and success and utter personal tragedy.

Here is Ms Petite Anglaise on BBC Breakfast talking about her blog:

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Blogger Charlie Beckett said...

This is interesting. I think that we are coming to understand that blogging, like a lot of new media, is permanently transitional. By that I mean that the uses we make of new media and the actual formats themselves will constantly change. So perhaps we will all blog personally for a bit and then move on to another format or style. That is quite disconcerting for people who like to put other people or forms of communication into pigeon holes - but for the rest of us, it's quite exciting.
As for self-revelation journalism of any kind - well, I am just a ghastly old puritan and I hate it.

2 October 2009 at 18:23  
Blogger Madame Dotty said...

Thank you for this insightful comment. You're right. New media develops so quickly. We talk excitedly about Facebook, Twitter etc today but what will the next big thing be tomorrow? Bloggers can also develop and change with time, and I agree with you that it is not a bad thing, just part of an organic growth process.

2 October 2009 at 22:04  

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