Journal : Tell Me What to Write About

Choose the Topic

What do you want me to write about?

Recently I took up blogging again, and have been really enjoying the whole process. Especially the part where you can explore an idea or chain of thought without any limitations, except those I inflict upon myself. I’ve found it all surprisingly easy, which simply won’t do. Nothing really worthwhile in life is easy, or if it is, its gets boring very quickly. I love a challenge, and I thrive on interaction with my peers, I thought I’d ask my community to suggest some topics for me to write about. On the Thursday 29th February I put out two statuses, on both my personal and getonthesoapbox facebook page asking for topics. With a promise that I would write about (at least one) this morning. So here we are.

Due to the nature of myself & my work, I am connected with an amazing number of creatives, artists, activists, academics & interesting folks who are perhaps more unconventional than most. Im sure the list below will give you all the information you need. The topics they suggested were:

- Ostrich Racing.

- The Challenges of Living with Integrity.

- The World Donkey Shortage.

- The Trials & Tribulations of having Little Filter.

- The Challenge of the Villanelle format when writing in English.

- Waking up at 4am with the Best Idea Ever but have Zero Energy to execute it now because you were awake since 4am.

- How Difficult it can be to Write Blogs about Topics suggested by Friends on social media.

I promised I’d pick one and write about it this morning, so Im guna tackle the topic of ‘Integrity’, which also links in with my personal challenge of ‘Living with Little Filter’. Thank you to Caroline Kocel for the former, and Ed Ngai for the latter.


The Challenge of Living with Integrity

integrity /ɪnˈtɛɡrɪti : The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

I’ve been preoccupied with what it means to live an honest & principled life since I realised, as an adult, that I value honesty (even when it hurts) far more than than well-meaning obfuscation. As a teenager I got punched in the face because I was asked a question by a bully, and told her the truth. (Upon reflection, adult-me thinks I should have just lied. My face would have appreciated it). This story from my youth is a great metaphor for the implications of being honest in a situation where it is not welcomed, to a person that doesn’t really want the truth. Maybe she would have punched me anyway, regardless of my response to her question, but as I’m sure my fellow truth-speakers can identity with a response like this. Honesty is not always welcome.

If you’ve met me, you won’t be surprised to hear that I have a great many opinions on all kinds of subjects. I am a furious reader who loves learning about something new, and who will, for fun, decide to learn about a new topic/person/theory/idea on a whim. I am a member of all the libraries in Ipswich that will let me join. I read a book on economics the other day for fun. Yes. Really. I love debating ideas with people (in real life), and ‘used’ to always give my opinion, even when it wasn’t asked for. Unsurprisingly that hasn’t always gone down well, even if my intentions were to help that person. Over the past decade, my personal growth has been to say ‘Do you want my opinion?’ before launching into it. This has been a very helpful strategy that I recommend to fellow truth-sayers. Even with this approach, sometimes people say ‘yes’ when they don’t actually mean it. Perhaps they didn’t know before they heard it. People are weird. We are all mad crazy bunches of speaking talking thinking electricity infused meat suits walking about making it up as we go along.

Working professionally in the arts, charity and non-profit sector, might make you think I’ve the luxury of working in principled industry. I mean. The Arts darhling! Charity darhling! Surely they are all good, right? Helping people. Creatives. Fluffy lovely folks who care. Well. People are just people, no matter the industry. You get narcissistic arseholes where ever you go in life. Even in charities, money & reputation is still prioritised over people & truth. Even in the arts, ego is rampant, and people in positions of authority paid for by public money feel able to abuse that power.

I always had this idea that people & organisations in receipt of public money (funding, grants, donations) would have a strong ethical barometer. They would respect the great responsibility of such financial support. That they would always remember that we the public make their job possible. We literally pay their wages. I thought they would count every penny before spending it, and take their time deciding on how it can best be spent to align with the organisation’s core aims. But people be peopling, and experience has taught me otherwise. I don’t ever want to be cynical or negative – and Im trying hard not to be – but I won’t ever be naive about people’s intentions again. I like to think I’m more pragmatic these days. Yes, its lovely your website says you help people, but, do you? Really? You’re a supportive employer? Amazing. That is fab. Show me how you dealt with the last employee you got rid of. Let me speak to the last person who left your charity. Will they agree?

Words are amazingly powerful and can be such a force for good. They have comforted me at my lowest, and helped me celebrate my successes. It’s why I have promoted poets for 18 years, unfunded. But words are tricky things and can be manipulated by people with unscrupulous intentions. Its why Alan Moore said that 'writing is magic'. (I heard him speak on film about 15 years ago, and this statement has stuck with me). I’ve filled out more successful funding bids than I can remember, and I am more than aware of the space between what funding applications state will happen, what actually does happen, and how data can be manipulated to make sure it appears to have fulfilled its purpose. But, as Scroobius Pip says ‘Is a lie really a lie if you mean it at the time? Can a lie be a lie, if you mean it?’. I think about that a lot too.

I don’t really think there are many explicitly malicious or evil people in this world. We are all flawed, its the curse of being human. We all have the capacity to do good work in this world, and we are all also capable of hurting people. Far more than any one of us would like to accept. What with the increasingly divided political world we all inhabit – that conservative politicians foster because they are desperate to retain power – I think we could all do with a little less ‘othering’. I’ve known two murderers in my life. One was my favourite teacher at secondary school.

As a (vaguely) mature woman in her early forties, I have the luxury of age, experience and maturity. I’ve been called an ‘over-thinker’ in the past. And yes, I think a lot. I am a considered informed individual who reads widely, on both sides of a topic. In olden times I might have been a philosopher. Don’t call me an over-thinker. I am a just a ‘thinker’. Maybe some people are under-thinking. Maybe we would all do with a little more thinking.


P.s. Wana get involved? Follow my facebook page >>> HERE <<< and give me a suggestion for a blog. I will do (at least) one topic a week suggested by my community.