Saturday, 11 August 2012

“We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.” T.S. Eliot

Well, I didn't intend to head my blog posts with quotations at all, but I don't want to just leave them as Thing 2, Thing 3 etc, so having found this lovely Eliot bit, I'll stick with literary quotations for now.

Looking at other librarians blogs, as per Thing 2 (yes, it has taken me more than 2 months to find the time to transition from Thing 1 to Thing 2. This would seem quite unbelievable but I am only a librarian for 11 hours a week and man, have those 11 hours been busy! More about that in the future, I'm sure...) has given me a clearer idea of what I'd like my own blog to be like. I want to be honest, I'd like to feel like myself as I'm writing it - I'd also like to leave 'shoulds' out of it wherever possible (bit suspicious of what I think I 'should' do generally, as these things often for me involve, when you scrabble down to the bottom of them, unnecessary pressures). 

I think the reason why I'm so keen to leave the 'Things' out of my titles is because I don't really want this blog to be just about cpd23, which feels a little contradictory round the edges - I wouldn't have started this blog without cpd23 for probably at least another 5 years! But eventually (2015?!) I will do all the 23 things and come to the end, and I'd rather not just stop this blog to start a more personal blog, leaving this languishing and frozen in the ether of web history, unread, with icicles... I'm interested in change. Massively at the moment. Evolution, development. I am determined that this blog can be a representation of me professionally and personally without me having to leave things out or put extra things in (is that the same as exploring and arriving where I started and knowing the place for the first time?! Is that why I was attracted to the Eliot today? Hmm...)

I've been loving exploring various different blogs. It's fascinating to get insights into such varied librarians (job-wise and individual-wise too). I could keep on for hours. Reading about some of the stuff other librarians are doing in the course of their day-to-day work has made me realise just how rich the job can be. I'm still not sure where my career is going - or even, indeed, where I want it to go. I don't lack motivation, or drive, or direction - not by my standards anyway. Ultimately I still want to write, and that has always been my reason for not focussing on any other career. Becoming an Information Librarian - which I did for the challenge, the variety, the progression, the fun, the pay rise - has certainly started to shift what I now realise are ingrained attitudes about me and my career. Which I thought were noble ones - I don't want to distract myself from writing! I don't want to be anything else but a writer! - but am now starting to think were really born of fear, limitation, maybe a light smattering of self-sabotage? There are other career avenues which are very appealing to me - working in a nursery, working as a gardener, working with dying people - but all these things will require money essentially, for training, or to cover my rent if I need to work an entry-level job. Chartership is not on the cards, I'm certain of that, just as I'm certain that a PHD is not for me.

I've found Morwenna's blog, to be an eye-opener. She goes to conferences (and unconferences! An new concept) and gives presentations in lecture theatres! Presentations particularly are located well outside my comfort zone, on the tip of a peninsula far, far away. Although I've started jumping headfirst into that which scares me in recent years, even the word presentation makes me feel nervous.

I know this reaction is outdated. It just doesn't fit with who I am anymore. But my perception of it, and the validation I'm still somehow (where on earth is this validation drip feed? I have looked for it! Somewhere deep and hidden!) giving to the idea that presentations are scary and I can't do them is precisely what's keeping me nervous. A nervous circle. I've got a two day training course coming up in November which I'm really looking forward to as it is terrifying. You have to give a 20 minute presentation on the first day.

I've delivered staff training a number of times before without too many nerves, and got through readings (of my writing) a few times (yes, admittedly with nerves so strong my whole body shook and I could only taste metal). It's the idea that the buck stops with you, that you're isolated up there and the flow of communication is one way, you're the centre of attention but you have to keep going - a loss of control?

I'm also enjoying Steve Collman's blog at He's also a writer (I love, love, love hearing about other writers' lives, how and when and why they write, as well as everything else. I am a curious, nosy little wren). And I can read his blog posts without feeling too intimidated by the references to online tools I've never heard of, which so many people seem very familiar and at ease with! I think it's important for me to get to know more about these things, even if they're not tools I'm using - or need to use - in my job right now. If this is where we're heading, the rate of advance is accelerating so rapidly that I can totally see how easily I could get left behind. I'm pretty app resistant, for example. I want to spend more time looking at clouds and trees and paying attention to my breathing, not more time on the laptop! Another tightrope to clamber on, amble along, swing from. Get more familiar with online tools whilst spending less time (or at least, not increasing the amount of time) that I'm on the computer. Hmm, I say again with relish. So far, writing blog posts leaves me feeling more quizzical than I did before I started. Not a bad thing?

P.S. I've seen very few spelling/punctuation mistakes in my cpd23 blog journeying so far. This does feed the part of me that is a little SPAG shrew, it just does.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

'And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.' (Anais Nin)

I have wanted to write a blog about books, reading and writing for a few years. And what has been stopping me? Fear, mostly, in all its different guises. Myself.

I've been afraid of taking on another thing and overloading myself. Afraid of not having anything to say that another person might consider valid - not having a wide enough vocabulary or being clever enough to write convincing or interesting book reviews - not having a thick enough skin to cope with trolls, or even the often illusory bluntness that appears when you read a stranger's comments on the screen, as opposed to hearing them speak. And a multitude of other anxieties.

Then I decided to take part in '23 things for Professional Development' course. Having become a part-time Information Librarian six months ago, a colleague forwarded me an email about it, and it really appealed to me. But - oooh, I thought. Hmm. Gotta write a blog as thing #1. Maybe I just won't bother - the time it'll take. Once I've set it up, it would really exist, I'd have to actually do it.

I looked at some of the other 22 things and I really, really wanted to do it. 

So I did.

Never mind all the fears. I'll just be honest about them and then they can exist and so too can my blog about books and reading and writing. These are the things that power me. I have loved books since before I could read. I held a pen in my hand ready to write long before I was able (I have very sweet photographs - and a lot to thank my Mum and Dad for!). When I properly think about the influence of the written word in my life so far, I get a surge of passion in the middle of my chest, and a dizzying feeling at how deeply intertwined I feel with the world of books.

This is from the cpd23 website:

So what is '23 Things' anyway?
23 Things is a self-directed course aimed at introducing you to a range of tools that could help your personal and professional development as a librarian, information professional or something else.  Each week, we'll write about one or more tool from our list of 23 things and invite you to try it out and/or reflect on how it could help your professional development.  Some of the tasks will be practical Things for you to try out straight away, and some of them will be less immediate: ideas to try in the future, or things you can start working towards now and realise in due course or when opportunity arises!

Who's it for?
23 Things for Professional Development is for anyone who thinks they might benefit from it. You don't have to be a qualified anything, you don't have to work in a particular sector or location, you don't have to be in work, you don't have to be at library school... If you think you can learn from this then please take part!

I love how open this course is - that anyone who thinks they'll benefit is welcome, that it's about both personal and professional development. These seem like good principles to have in mind for this blog - I'd love its boundaries to be wide and open, for it to encompass a variety of subjects, for it to reflect me both professionally and personally. As a librarian, as a library and information assistant (which is what I do for the other 26 hours of my working week), as a writer (I graduated from the UEA creative writing MA in 2007, and am currently writing my first novel), and as just another human lady whose life has been shaped and determined by literature and reading and creative writing.

I'm looking forward to being challenged every week with something new, doing cpd23. Doing things that I blatantly wouldn't be doing if not for the course, things outside my comfort zone that trigger little flurries of fear. I intend let them settle, then kick a path on through. 

Blogging will be a challenge for me, a new way of writing, which in turn will need a new way of thinking. Time to create some fresh neural pathways... Ever more than before, I'm enjoying identifying a challenge and just going at it headfirst. If something scares me, it's probably a good idea to work out why and do something about it. Being a librarian has done so much for my development already - my confidence is improving, my organisational skills are growing, as are my information skills. It's made me want to improve my knowledge on subjects like law, business, statistics (getting enquiries on any of these things has always set off a little panic explosion!). And it's finally made me actually blog, rather than wishing I did and then finding excuses not to. Bring on the skydive and learning Spanish! (One day...)