Are you feeling as reflective about 2017 as everyone else on social media? Perhaps. I took the opportunity to go through some old posts I wrote back in 2015 where I claimed I saw 64 operas and 34 theatre shows. Impressed with these numbers I wanted to compare my past efforts with how I did in 2017 and the results were pretty sad, but far from dramatic. *Drum roll please.* I counted what I saw in the theatres, concert halls and auditoriums in London and it came down to 19 operas, 26 theatre shows, eight classical music concerts and seven dance shows. Am I surprised? Not really. I knew this was going to happen.
Back in 2015, I was a student focusing on my postgraduate studies, constantly reading and writing. I had time to run away in the evenings to see shows and write reviews in the mornings, but life moves on and we all have to get a job some time. Or if it isn’t a job that’s unrelated to our passions and interests, then it’s life itself. We all need a break from work, and blah, blah, blah. You need to schedule in dates for life’s many pleasures. I say that sarcastically, FYI!, and for that simple reason, I’m not going to beat myself about it.
Despite the setback in my blogging life, 2017 has been a very successful year. After gaining some ‘interesting experience’ working at Sky I got a new job for a media agency based in the West End, which makes my theatre and opera viewing experience much more accessible. I moved out of my Putney-based one-bedroom flat into a studio in Roehampton with my partner. I became a blogger in residence for Bell Square London’s outdoor arts festival in Hounslow and shared my blogging experiences at a few blogger events. On top of that, I managed to visit seven countries including the city of Rome where I got to see the Sistine Chapel for the very first time. For those of you who haven’t been, I highly recommend it. On top of that, there was the 2017 Olivier Awards live ceremony, reliving 90’s nostalgia by having a go at the Crystal Maze games and my first Escape Room. Lastly, there was Glamping, which really tested my comfort zone as I absolutely detest camping. (The idea of no showers and sleeping on mud for days grosses me out.) I guess one can call it ‘a start’.
I also had the pleasure of meeting theatre writer and Ph.D. student Megan Vaughan who interviewed me as part of her research on theatre blogging, and one of the major things I kept barking on about was my lack of time to write and review shows as much as I would like. It was good to hear that she experienced something similar, and I wasn’t alone. After all, we are human, we aren’t machines regurgitating words online. I am sure many bloggers feel the same way. Blogging is a calling. It is a vocation that people take on to keep their passions and personal interests in writing alive.
Alongside Megan, I also met Terri Paddock, the founder of WhatsOnStage, StageFaves and MyTheatreMates websites, at a theatre blogger event she had organised at the end of 2017. When introducing ourselves to many theatre bloggers, some of whom I had just met, Terri said I was almost a blogging ‘grandma’, noting I had been blogging and reviewing theatre for a while, and we are talking since 2013…. Cricky, and it has just turned 2018! I see this as a compliment nonetheless. I don’t feel ‘blogger’ old but just experienced. Experienced enough to know how I can improve on making time for Trendfem.com.
I’ll spare you the paragraphs on how I will do this and leave you with a sweet quote by existential philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard from an article he wrote called Two Ages in A Literary Review, 1846.
Reflection is not the evil. The evil is the state of reflection, and the stasis that comes with reflection. These are corrupting and dangerous because by conceding the possibility of withdrawal, they make retreat an easier option.
There are many ways to read these words, I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas, but I’ll take with me the idea that we need to be doers, not reflectors. Of course, it’s good to have a moment to reflect and evaluate things once in a while, usually on the weekend ;), but too much reflecting can be time-consuming when you could be getting on with what you’re reflecting about. ‘Enough dithering Mary! Just get on with it! That’s the kind of thinking I’ll try to carry into the new year. I hope I stick to it. My fingers are crossed.