To my amazement it's this blog's second anniversary. I'm genuinely surprised because along the way many a time I've struggled with writers block, together with an overwhelming sense of my just repeating myself. But then, typically when I'm down and think it's all been said, something comes along and I can't seem to stop myself just getting it all off my chest.
Of course it's a cliche, but writing has proved to be very therapeutic. I don't know if it's ever apparent, but I often find myself laughing out loud as I type, so empowering does the process feel. The blog has taken me to some surprising places both intellectually and emotionally. Almost without exception the feedback has been both touching and thought-provoking. I can well understand how lonely an author of a book must feel once it's published and all the friends and family have finished feeling obliged to read it and pass comment. It just goes into a big black hole it seems to me, unlike a blog that grows and develops dynamically. The 'hit' counter keeps telling you that someone, somewhere might actually be reading it. With nearly 400 posts, I think I've possibly written that book I didn't think I had in me.
I never really expected to get much in the way of private e-mails, but contact from clients, former clients, relatives of clients, victims, worried and confused individuals together with numerous authors, trainee journalists and other media types has been both revelatory and taxing. It was a serious shock I can tell you to receive an e-mail from a former Chief Inspector of Probation only some twenty minutes after publishing an admittedly complimentary piece about them. Funnily enough, no follow up e-mail was forthcoming when some months later I had a pop at them.
Actually I've been pondering the whole thing about endorsement and acknowledgement recently - or should I say conspicuous lack of. Considering there is still so little out there on the internet about probation, I think there continues to be a role for an independently-minded contribution from an 'old school' officer like myself. More than ever, I conclude there's plenty of scope for carrying on with an unofficial view of the whole probation landscape, and in contrast to the new breed of officially-sanctioned facebook pages, tweeting and blogging that's trying to influence public opinion. The elephant in the room will be sticking around for a bit longer yet.
Still a relative newbie, I'm extremely gratified to have collected over 140,000 hits in two years - they can't all be friends and family, so thank you once again dear reader, wherever you may be.