Just before Christmas I was invited to do a few lectures at a University and a College which all were all around a similar theme, ‘my career.’ I pulled together a few slides for a presentation and tried to think back to when I realised I wanted to work in digital. It wasn’t hard because I’ve known since I first got my hands on a computer!
I was lucky that my parents recognised that technology was going to be massively important for me in the future and they upgraded our Commodore 64 to an Acorn when I was still in primary school (I'm giving away my age here). It was in our dining room and being the creative soul I am, I used to host imaginary classes on how to use the computer to my imaginary students.
The PC was upgraded again when I went to secondary school and that was when I was first introduced to the internet - it was fascinating! No one at school agreed however, so my Mom enrolled me in a six week after-school course at a local college where I learnt how to use a search engine and browse the world wide web. For some reason one night, the computer I was using broke and the tutor let me use their PC instead which had a lot more programmes available and I came across Paint Shop Pro.
I managed to get my hands on a copy of PSP at home and I was hooked. Once I'd mastered making pretty looking things, I wanted to get them online and that was when I discovered code. I got myself a Geocities account and I began to write, not just html but about my life and what I was up to... an online diary as such. I progressed round various hosting sites, I had livejournals and deadjournals and domains which were named things that make me feel a bit queasy now. I experimented with different codes as they developed, had a Six Degrees account (the first ever social network), met people in online chatrooms (some of whom are still lifelong friends), discovered Adobe and I still hadn't even had my 14th birthday!
My PC's couldn't keep up with me and my parents were sick of the fact the phone line was constantly blocked but for some reason and I'm very thankful they did... they let me. I was obsessed with learning all things internet and throughout my teens I continued to learn and to write my 'online diaries.' They came in very different looks and on different sites which I'm sure if I tried hard enough I'd still be able to find. During school I suffered at the hands of some bullies who eventually found my online life but it didn't stop me. I did an apprenticeship, went to college and then to uni when I eventually decided to create a dedicated Girl in the North website.
The idea stemmed from three places: I wanted somewhere to write and to practice what I was learning and also people kept complaining there was nothing to do in the city I was living in and I wanted to prove them wrong. Finally I wanted a job.
So I hoped and figured that my blog could help me do that and I'm pleased to say that it did! I kept writing and learning and soaking up all the information I could until I bagged that dream job at the end of my degree and even then I kept learning new things.
I often get asked about the perks of blogging and yeah, they're a few! It's nice to get invited to places sometimes and even though I'm no fashion or beauty blogger, I love doing reviews! I have always wanted Girl in the North to be a positive place and so I adopted the policy if it ain't nice I won't write about it and so far it's worked. The one thing people always do ask now is why? And I guess it's because I've been doing it for so long that I don't really know how to stop!
Writing online / blogging for over 17 years has taught me lots and I don't just mean about the experimenting with code and battling with Photoshop! It's given me people skills, made me realise not everyone will like me, taught me to network and to accept what I can and can't change and probably most importantly how to take criticism. And this all leads me to my next story...