I Do Not Live In London

A question from Formspring:

Do you ever feel that your business is more difficult not living in London?

Other than “I am not a shop”, the phrase I use most often on a day-to-day basis is “I do not live in London”.

OK, actually it’s not: the phrase I use MOST often is, “Rubin, get out of the bathroom and stop licking the toilet seat!” But “I do not live in London,” is definitely in high rotation, and that’s because every week I get dozens of invitations to events in London, all sent by well-meaning people (most of whom work in public relations) who are absolutely astonished to learn that I don’t actually live in The City That Is the Centre of the World.

I’ve never really understood this. Sure, if I was running a magazine, say, I could understand the assumption that I must be based in London: most of the traditional media in this country IS based in London, after all. The whole point of blogging, though, is that it’s completely democratic: pretty much anyone, anywhere, can set up a blog, even those of us living ”all the way up there in Scotland!” Does a non-London location make it harder to make a living out of blogging, though? Hmmm.

I think there are two ways of looking at this one. Personally, no, I don’t find that my location makes it more difficult to run my blogging business. What I don’t know is how much easier it would be if I WAS based in London. Undoubtedly, it would make a difference: I’d be able to accept all of those invitations, for one thing, which would possibly open the door to opportunities I just don’t know about right now. I’d be able to “network”. To “make connections” with people who could perhaps help my business in a variety of different ways. I’d be able to attend all of the press days and launches and fashion shows and oh, all kinds of other things. Here’s the thing, though:

I don’t want to.

It’s nothing personal, London. You’re a fascinating city, and I love to visit you from time to time. But the whole “attending events/networking/making important business connections” thing? It’s not for me. I know that will seem really strange to a lot of people, but the truth is, I’m a bit of a homebody at heart. I’m neither a mover nor a shaker, and the phrase “working the room” is enough to send chills down my spine. I’m shy. I’m a bit socially inept. I don’t enjoy making smalltalk with strangers, being schmoozed by PRs or answering the question, “So, what do you do?” over and over again. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things: they’re just not for me, and when I set up this business, I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a super-busy career woman, because I had long-since realised the error of that particular “ambition”. I did it so that I could hopefully make a reasonably good living doing something I enjoyed. Turns out that what I enjoy most is just writing, and being free to do that all day, without all of the associated other things that would be expected of me if I didn’t have my handy, “Whoops, I’d love to come to your [insert event here], but I can’t because I don’t live in London,” excuse at the ready.

Yeah, I’m pretty anti-social.

I’m not totally convinced that living somewhere else would make that much of a difference anyway, though. Sometimes, for instance, I think that being a bit of an outsider (which is what inevitably happens when you’re based a few hundred miles away from most of the rest of your industry) isn’t necessarily a bad thing for my blogs. It gives me a certain degree of freedom in terms of what I write, and how I write it, and I like that. I also like the lifestyle it allows me to have: I’ve spent a lot of time working in stressful jobs which made me utterly miserable, and now I really value the slower pace of life I get from not being right at the very centre of things all the time.  The only people who have expectations of me are my readers, and that’s no bad thing.

I wouldn’t change things, is what I think I’m trying to say here, although I WOULD change my location if I could. Just not to London…

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