If I could see the future…

Image by the incredible Stuart F Taylor

Sometimes I wish I could see the future before I make an important decision. I’d jump at the chance to gaze into a murky crystal ball and find out which relationships would work out, which heartbreaks I could avoid, which projects would be successful. But if I really could see the future, I’d probably have had less fun.

Today an interview went live in the Indy that I did quite a while ago – I had a long chat with the journalist (Maya Oppenheim – she’s great) about the nitty-gritty of sex blogging and anonymity. There are a lot of references to mental health – specifically anxiety – and how keeping an anonymous sex blog has turned me into something of a panicking wretch.

And I definitely am. I also bang on about it a lot, because my ‘thing’ is honesty – I try to tell people the bad stuff as well as the good. Thing is, while blogging has definitely made it harder for me to chill out, I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t be an equally quivering wreck if I’d stayed in my day job. I certainly had a tendency to get overenthusiastic about certain projects, throwing my entire soul into something and then weeping miserably if it didn’t work out exactly how I’d hoped in my head.

But if I could see the future maybe I’d catch glimpses of how much extra stress blogging would cause me, and decide never to start in the first place. Alongside saving myself from the more painful aspects, though, I’d miss out on so much – all the joy of writing something that people like, or the excitement of getting blogs shared with or by someone I really like. The genuine nerdy thrill I get when stats graphs go up and I see more people are reading. Working with Stuart – the incredible illustrator who takes my half-formed blog ideas and transforms them into beautiful pictures like the one above. The cold, hard cash that I am still surprised I’m able to make – by writing elsewhere or selling books or what have you.

Point being, if I could see into the future I may well put emphasis on the bad stuff at the expense of the good. And it’s not just the blog itself.

If I’d known just how much time, effort, sweat and (occasionally) tears would go into planning this year’s sex blogger conference Eroticon, I would definitely have run for the hills. I say that with love, but my God it’s more work than even I could have dreamed in my overactive panicky imagination. But it’s going to be awesome, and I get to have that pure joy of seeing it come together. If I’d glimpsed the future and seen a pile of work, I’d probably have refused to join in, and so missed out on the nervous pleasure that I’m full of now: the anticipation of sharing a whole year’s worth of work with other writers I admire.

If I’d known in advance that some of my one-night stands would end with me traipsing three hours across London on night buses at four in the morning, I might have chosen to stay at home. But I’d have missed out on the chance to fuck those amazing people – the tricks they taught me and the stories they gave me to tell.

 

If, on glimpsing my future, I’d seen some of the fights I would have with my last ex-boyfriend – the gut-wrenching midnight conversations where we picked in detail over our failings – I might have chosen to skip the whole thing.

But I’d have missed out. On his sarcastic jokes, his warmth, and his weapons-grade sexual depravity. I’d also have missed out on the sensation of falling out of love – a thing as wholly wonderful as falling in love in the first place.

If I knew when I started this blog that sometimes comments and emails would make me weep, I would never have begun. I’d keep a diary somewhere, most likely in email snippets to close friends and lovers, where I shared my sexual fantasies and odd adventures in a much more private way. I’d have used that searing glimpse of the future to protect myself from the bad stuff.

But I’d have missed out on the bits that make me cry for good reasons. The stories people share in guest blogs and emails. The jokes people send me on Twitter. The community I get to be a part of.

Every relationship, project, and ambition causes me a world of stress. When measured by the hardest times, nothing would seem worthwhile, because I’d be far mindful of the potential pain something might cause me than the pleasure. Calculating not the best option but the least terrifying option.

This blog post was prompted by a burst of intense gratitude, today, that I can’t see the future. How lucky I am to be able to make uninformed – or barely informed – decisions, take on projects which excite me, and jump in at the start of something without knowing how it will end.

Safe in the knowledge that I have no knowledge at all.

6 Comments

  • Rebecca says:

    I am selfishly glad you can’t see into the future. It is an interesting piece just as “hindsight” is a wonderful thing. I find it interesting the emotions you have put behind the blog, I still work and carry the worry that my identity will one day be discovered and the implications and it was nice to see that a successful blogger such as yourself have revealed your vulnerabilities. I want to come to Eroticon, I am just wondering if I can be the quiet mouse in the corner x Thank you for such an insightful piece, your gratitude shone through at the end that it is better not to know what adventures await us !

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hey, thank you so much! And we’d be delighted to have you st Eroticon! I was definitely the quiet mouse in the corner my first year, then gradually came out of my shell a bit asthe years went on. Especially with name worries etc, it’s always nice to meet others with similar constraints, and reassuring to know that the community has your back x

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    After reading that Independent article – oh wow, I hadn’t realised how awful running this blog (and trying to keep it secret) has been for you. :(

    I can totally understand why you want to remain anonymous, in terms of protecting your own personal security, and the privacy of your family and sexual partners. But if you’re worried about your reputation, the old saying applies: any ‘friend’ who would think less of you for doing this isn’t a friend worth knowing in the first place. It’s when people try to shame and smear you that you find out who your true friends are.

    I hope you’ve been able to tell your day job, at least. There are some pressures that no one should have to put up with. Good luck.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Oh blimey, don’t worry about it – I was kind of inundated yesterday with messages from people asking if I was OK, so that’s partly why I got this post up quickly. The blog and anonymity stuff is sometimes hard, but they’re all decisions I’ve made and all ones I’m happy with – I think a lot of the mental health questions in the piece were follow-ups from my book, where I talk about this in a lot more detail. The day job thing isn’t an issue any more because the blog (and associated GOTN work) is my full-time thing now. Thank you for the concern, though – it’s appreciated!

  • New to this says:

    Great post here and great article too. Will be interesting to see what that does to your graphs! :) x

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