A couple of months back I was feeling pretty good about things.
Then I had what you might call a wobble, which let the old self-doubt creep back in by the side door.
Working in the public sector, ‘change’ is a constant, the future always uncertain except for one thing – there will be less and less money.
But change can also have a tendency to focus the mind.
And, together with a newfound commitment to better physical health and management of my cluttered headspace, I’m feeling the ideas begin to flow and the mojo coming back.
I was going to blog about something completely different. But then, on a whim, I went looking for a vestige of myself from the dim and distant past. Another me – the music writer me.
And I found it, there in the overgrown digital backwoods.
I started a music blog back in 2003. It was a place to write about the records I was being sent and sometimes bought in London’s vinyl emporiums.
It was kind of anonymous, but with 11 years having passed since I shelved both it and my music writing career, I can tell you it was called Tufluv (or – to be typographically precise, ‘tufluv///’ – a moniker I self-importantly felt embodied my brutal-yet-from-the-heart journalistic ethos and the robust underground club music I thrived on).
Looking back, it seems faintly ridiculous. But then, I was in my early 20s. I was allowed to be ridiculous.
I had been made redundant from my first ever proper job, as reviews editor of the dance music weekly, 7 Magazine.
It had been a great job – a dream – which I only held for around eight months before the publishers (DMC, founders of the world DJ championships and ‘club bible’ Mixmag) shut it.
That hurt. And for a while I was a little lost.
But I was in London with a bunch of PR companies and record labels still sending me promo 12″s and CDs daily. I had to do something with them.
And I had to, just had to, write.
I guess these were the early days for blogs, when the phrase ‘blogosphere’ was coined and people started talking about the media landscape shifting forever.
It was before social media, too. Lone, isolated blogs coalesced into communities which then grew and nourished one another.
I felt part of a vital, digitally connected network of nameless, faceless yet brilliant online voices and revered, near-shamanic writers like Simon Reynolds, who amazingly linked to my posts and said nice things about what I wrote.
There were inspiring bloggers like the now-lost Heronbone, an angsty twentysomething Londoner who wrote equally passionately about grime music and the birdlife of the canals and wetlands of the east-end hinterlands.
Looking back at tufluv///, it looks pretty terrible.
I mean, how small is the type?! And what did I have against paragraph breaks? I’ve leant more about structuring readable copy in my PR life.
But some of it is, well, pretty good.
I was free, mischievous and ballsy. That was part persona – not the ‘real’ me. Some of it is pure stream-of-consciousness indulgence. Some of it is painful to read (not just from squinting at the blocks of tiny type). I don’t write like that any more. Could I write like that again?
The blog petered out barely more than a year after I started it. I had secured a senior editorial job on a film magazine back on the south coast and my connection with the music and the ‘scene’ had been growing more and more tenuous.
I was out of the loop – losing my edge, in the words of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, “to the kids coming up from behind”. Though I was still only 24. I changed my strapline to ‘Irrelevance’ and bowed out.
I thought by now it would have been hijacked by spambots or digitally decayed, but there it is. A digital relic. A past life. Still inhabiting a dusty, unvisited corner of the internet.
And here I am, blogging again.
To quote another musical hero, David Byrne, how did I get here? A local government communicator pondering the future of public services and public relations.
I’m not a boy in a bedroom writing about obscure electronica records made by boys in bedrooms anymore.
What can I learn from that former me?
A legible font size, shorter sentences and line breaks, sure. But the nervy audacity to put my ideas and, yes, opinions out there to be shot down or shared, too.
Don’t look back? It’s fine for a bit – but don’t spend too long there.