Here I am…at the start of a new journey. Terrified, to be frank. Sophie’s Voice is expanding and I’d just got comfortable.
I’ve used a moving house metaphor in the past and it couldn’t feel more perfect today. Facebook was my starter home. I spent a lot of time and effort making sure that the colours were cohesive. I made my own curtains and cushions. I sat on the slightly too expensive sofa with a guilty sense of enjoyment (surely the best kind) and I loved – and still love – every minute.
I threw myself on the mercy of others – and the kindness of strangers made It Took Two (Sophie’s Voice’s first incarnation) into a modest success. Modest – but a success, nonetheless. Having started something as therapy – a kind of antidote to childcare related insanity – it became more than just a means of communication for me. It helped me connect with people at a time when I was terrified of the loneliness and isolation (that I had felt when I had my first child) recurring.
Better than that, friends became readers. Then acquaintances did. Then friends of friends did. Then total strangers did. Finally, readers became friends. That was wonderful. It still makes me emotional to think how you all welcomed me into your homes – via your phones, via your tablets, via your laptops, via your much more sophisticated electronic equipment that I haven’t even heard of yet, probably.
I didn’t have a particular direction when I started It Took Two. If I had a manifesto, it would have read ‘I swear to write about anything and everything that sparks my interest – but I guarantee that that will never, ever include anything maternal’. It’s true that I rarely write about my children – and I admit to thinking that bringing up children is too contentious a subject for my attention – but I still, sometimes, write deeply personal pieces. What surprises me is that anyone’s actually interested.
What shocks me is that a blog which I thought would cover all the glamorous stuff that I missed from my life ‘B.C.’ (before children – and I’m not going to repeat that, so pay attention at the back) took on a totally different and unexpected shape. Sure, I still cover the famous Sophie’s Voice important topics – nail polish colours, catwalk updates, cocktail recipes and the odd bit of celebrity gossip – but I’ve used my (not inconsiderable) brain to do good. I know – take a deep breath, old friends. Stay with me.
Thanks to having time to keep myself informed, I could find causes to advocate for. It was amazing. In 39 years, I’d never found anything that I felt comfortable shouting about. When Marcia Neufeld Buono Pennock called me an ‘activist’, something clicked. I reach people – why not say something worthwhile?
However, there’s a place for cosmetics chitchat in a serious world too. And who doesn’t want to debate important subjects like ‘which Kardashian wore it best?’? Only nuts people, readers. Only truly crazy folk. Life is hard and I’m happy to put a Freaky Friday dance mashup clip on the Facebook page every Friday. Or House Porn on Thursdays. And I will always commiserate with you on Monday mornings and wish you a very happy weekend. At the same time, I’m not going to stop banging on about the things which lie beneath – those subjects that I feel passionately about.
I’m proud that my post about the censorship of female imagery by Facebook and Instagram went viral – it led to a spike in petition signings. The 4th Trimester Project has more followers now and that led me to the I Woke Up Like This project – and the indomitable Jillian Powers (such an appropriate name, by the way) – which I believe has already gone a way towards provoking debate and raising awareness of the sad levels of self regard which many women hold themselves in.
I’ve been able to cover lots of contentious subjects – contraception, domestic violence, furs in fashion, politics, FGM, war criminals, maternity rights – to list only a few. I’ve been able to do that because you have supported me. In lots of ways – with feedback, with encouragement, with practical advice, with suggestions and – behind all those things – with your kindness.
So, as I reflect on all of those things, I feel the need to explain myself. I’m not moving per se – it’s more a natural transition. I need to write longer pieces at more regular intervals and Facebook just doesn’t accommodate that. Sadly, a blog doesn’t support the fun stuff that Facebook is so perfect for so, as I promised, I’m going to try to keep a balance. In everything – in content, in tone and in location.
I’m trying to avoid the moment when I find myself standing in an empty house – looking at the shell of the structure which was my host and constant friend for the last year. I’m procrastinating, I know…it’s time to hand the keys over to the estate agent and walk out into the bright sunshine – and the promise of greater things.
As Richard Branson says ‘ Screw it, let’s do it!’.