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Hello 2014! And Why I Started My Blog

Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2014 in: Nerd Life

First post of 2014! Hello again nerds. 

After a lovely Christmas and New Year’s break (which included CAMPING… yes… you read that right… and I’ve put a few pics below, but more on camping later) I’m back at my desk, ready for another year of writing.

Hope you guys all had a great holiday. I have to admit I feel like I could go for another round! It wasn’t long enough.

A CRAZY YEAR

I knew 2013 would be a crazy, tumultuous blur of a year and it was. We got married; and threw a big wedding for 140 guests, and also threw a tacky wedding-themed party for my birthday the weekend before the wedding (I was convinced at the time that it would be a faaabulous idea). We renovated our disgusting 1970s ensuite, turned our creepy side garden into a vegie patch, and I turned my junk room into a craft room

Mr Nerd changed jobs; I indulged my terrible workaholic side by taking on way too much work in my freelance writing job, got stressed out of my brain too many times, and then struggled to get on top of it all. I realised I had to cut back somehow.

I made the difficult decision to give up my regular freelance work writing about health, fitness and beauty for the paper, something I had done since I was 20, to focus solely on devoting more time to Modaokon and to write solely on what I was most passionate about – homes, renovations and interior design. The blog took on a bit of a life of its own and got bigger, and I also discovered and connected with more and more Modaokons not just in Perth but across Australia and from overseas, too. I have met many wonderful people just through this blog, some of those who are now close friends, and some who I have never met in person, but feel like I have!

Thank you, nerds, for all your support of my little blog in 2013. Modaokon is such a fun creative outlet for me and the fact that people actually appreciate it makes writing it even more enjoyable.

Photo by Heather Robbins of .

STARTING HOUSE NERD

I started writing Modaokon late September in 2012, but it feels like yesterday that I started writing my first post. I still remember how it felt sitting there nervously getting up the courage to click Publish. It was weird that I felt nervous. I had been submitting stories to magazines since I was 15, and since then I’d had hundreds and hundreds of stories printed with my byline on them. But blogging… for some reason the online world felt vastly different to magazines and newspapers. Way scarier! Here there was no team of eagle-eyed subeditors there to read over every story and tell me if something was crap.

When it came to starting Modaokon, I didn’t just Julie and Julia it, deciding on the spur of the moment, “I should write a blog!” and then jumping onto Wordpress and tapping away. It was a bigger decision. If I set my mind to something, I want to do it 100 percent (which is not necessarily always a good thing), and blogging was one of those things. I wanted Modaokon to look beautiful and professional, but I also decided I wanted this little blog to eventually become part of what I do for my job.

I know that is not as romantic as the thought of someone writing a blog purely to document her days. But although I always wanted to be a print journalist, I also realised that print media is starting to change and I felt like my career would benefit from adopting another avenue (which it has).

My ridiculously talented designer friend Catherine Lynn jumped on board with me and designed my branding and the look of the website; and we got an excellent web builder to code it. I planned Modaokon a lot before I even started writing the first blog post. I even told people I was going to start blogging about homes and renovations. “What’s a blog?” my mum asked. It wasn’t an uncommon reaction. But since then the support I have gotten from my family, friends and editors has been absolutely fantastic.

ABOVE: Me and Nala in our vegie garden. Photo Heather Robbins of .

WHY I BLOG

I have always written stories. I loved writing before I could actually write. Some of my earliest memories are of making these crap “books” when I was four where I’d draw pictures in exercise books and add “writing” before I actually knew how. I’d put together these long lines of creepy made-up letters, like little kids do in those horror movies where they’ve been kidnapped and trapped in a secret room for a long time, or where the kid is possessed by a demon spirit and the teacher is showing a disturbing drawing they made in preschool to their alarmed parents. I insisted on ‘reading’ aloud my excruciatingly terrible stories page by page to my suffering parents. Stuff like, “Mickey ran to the house but the door were closed so then the frog ate some cupcakes but then the fairy fell over.” My writing has improved since then.

Later I started writing for my job. Before Modaokon, I had already been writing full-time for years. I still work as a freelance journalist, writing mostly for The West Australian newspaper and magazines and predominantly on homes, renovations, building and interior design – my passion.

ABOVE: Me doing a review at a house in Claremont. Styling by . Photo by Simone Anderson of .


I loved my job. I got to stickybeak into our city's most beautiful homes. I loved meeting new people and learning about new things. I have met some very clever and very talented people in interior design and renovating and was constantly inspired by them.

But after years of writing in quite set formats for print media, I realised I never wrote for ‘myself’ anymore, if that makes sense. I never wrote just for fun. (It had definitely been ages since I made a picture book with creepy handwriting). Even though I enjoyed what I did for work, it felt like I had stagnated a little bit.

The lovely guy you all know as Mr Nerd, who was my boyfriend-at-the-time, now-husband, could sense I needed another kind of creative avenue; another challenge. “You should write a blog,” he said to me and I spat at him, “BLOG? When do I have TIME to BLOG?” After I calmed down, I realised he was right. Modaokon has been one of the best things I have begun.

THE TRUTH ABOUT FREELANCE

One of my favourite things about blogging is that writing it is fun. And connecting with you other house nerds is so nice! Freelance writing can sound so romantic, but it is not always. I love the flexibility and the ease of working from home, but it is not all pros.

Some people who have never experienced it seem to think freelance means my life must be something like Carrie’s from Sex and the City. That I have long lunches during the day, do pretty much nothing except shop, wear amazing shoes, get paid heaps to write a weekly column and write at night by a snow-flecked window wearing a cashmere jumper, silky knickers and with a string of pearls spilling over my collarbones.


Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am usually in pyjamas, or jeans covered in paint (or pyjamas covered in paint) my hair is in a bad ponytail, my shoes come mostly from op shops and secondhand markets, and I have rushed to the front door in embarrassment to catch the Parcel Post man while braless and in my PJs many more times than I would like. I do write at night a lot, but it is usually with the dog crying next to me because she wants me to pull up a chair so she can sit at my desk also and be annoying.

The other truth of freelance is that when you work from home it can be isolating and hard to meet people. Let me rephrase that; for me it was not hard to meet people. I met and interviewed new people through work every week, but they never became friends.

When you freelance, it can be hard to make friends with the same interests without a base of colleagues around. But since I started Modaokon I have now met (and reconnected with) many other freelancers, creatives and small business owners, some who have really become true friends. They feel like the colleagues I never had when I started freelancing full-time at 22; setting up my ‘office’ in a corner of my bedroom at my parent’s house. If you want to meet new people who love a subject you are passionate about, I fully recommend starting a blog!

WORKSHOP: I actually never took workshops until I started to blog! And now I wonder why I didn't. Shannon Fricke came to Perth and hosted a fantastic Building Your Brand workshop for all kinds of creative people and small business owners. I don't know why my smile is so weird.

EVOLVING NERD

In the beginning, I never intended for the blog to be personal and didn't intend to really feature me and Mr Nerd in it. I thought I would write about the loveliest houses in Perth, the kinds I saw all the time for work. I wasn’t going to cover my own life or our own house. Because it was just your average 1970s house with arches everywhere.

ABOVE: The lounge room of the Crap Shack with my beloved fiddle leaf fig. The ponies I drew when I was a horse-crazy teen. The guitar is Mr Nerd's, and the Jurassic Park board game we pull out on a weekly basis. Ok not really. But Mr Nerd can't part with it. Photo by Heather Robbins of .

But slowly the Crap Shack weaseled its way into the blog, and so did Mr Nerd, my new husband (I don’t have an old husband, but I will call him my new husband because we have only been married three months) our dog Nala, and all our little adventures, our DIY projects, our (my) hissy fits. Not everyone has the dream house straightaway, or the budget to create one, and we definitely don’t. But we can still make a place feel like home without having a lot of cash to splash.


Writing a blog has also made me appreciate where I live much more; even with its flaws and all the things that still need to be done to it (a long list!) When Mr Nerd and I are old, I think it will be fun to look back on blog posts and photos. It’s a bit like keeping a diary, albeit one that your mum can read. And I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store!

So that is how and why I started to blog and how it has started to change my life! Do you blog, or write a diary? Why did you start? What do you get out of it? Maya x


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