So that’s it!
Nine years and one thousand posts later, I’m writing my last item as Spence Kennedy.
When I started Siren Voices I had no other ambition than to make a diary record of the people and situations I found myself in, to report what happened each time as sympathetically and non-judgementally as I could, and most importantly, to get myself into a routine of writing.
For a long time no-one outside the family read the blog, which wasn’t surprising, because I didn’t do a thing to promote it. But I kept going, and it was gratifying to see the word-count build up. I fiddled around with the style a few times, experimented with the voice. Innis, a good friend of mine (and a brilliant photographer), let me use some of his photos in the header. My writing style changed, and I started to feel easier about confronting the blank screen each time. The whole thing began to feel quite solid.
Still, nothing else would’ve happened if my wife, Kath, hadn’t emailed Suzi Brent at NeeNaw. Suzi recommended Siren Voices, and suddenly I started getting comments!
I was quite worried to begin with. I felt uneasy about writing under a pseudonym (‘Spence Kennedy’ because my mum’s dad’s middle name was Spence, and Kennedy because I was reading The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy at the time). I knew how important it was to protect patient confidentiality, but I couldn’t think how I’d be able to maintain the degree of intimacy that I wanted if I had to ask a patient for permission each time. The easiest thing seemed to be to change identifying details and stay anonymous, even though I really wanted to be honest about who I was. In the end I decided to stay writing as Spence Kennedy. Years passed. I became two people: Jim Clayton at work; Spence Kennedy on-line. It all seemed to balance out. I didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardise the blog.
When it came to self-publishing my first books, I stuck to Spence Kennedy because I thought the only people who might feasibly buy & read them were the followers of the blog. It was frustrating not to publish under my real name, but then again, I figured that I wouldn’t be in the ambulance service all my life. When I left, I’d be free to pull off the mask and start writing as myself.
So that’s what I’m about to do!
My day job will be with the Community Rapid Response Service – working alongside Occupational and Physiotherapists, District Nurses and so on, helping patients avoid hospital and stay at home. I won’t be blogging about my work with the CRRS, although if I come across some interesting stories I might conduct a more open interview and get permission from the patient before I publish.
The new blog will be much more general, I think. A collection of sketches, poems, stories – anything that occurs to me. I’ll try to make it as entertaining and interesting as possible, with more pictures and clips than before. I look forward to hearing what you think.
I won’t be posting on Siren Voices any more, but I will keep the site open for people to read and comment on if they want. I’ll certainly publish any comments that come in, and make a few of my own. I’m proud of what Siren Voices represents: as true a picture of life on a front-line ambulance as I could make it.
There are so many people I need to thank, I hardly know where to start. My wife, Kath, for reading everything and editing it into some kind of meaningful order. Blogger has been a great platform and I recommend it thoroughly. But most of all I’d like to thank everyone who’s ever read, followed, commented or Tweeted about Siren Voices over the years. I really couldn’t ever thank you enough. I hope you all stay in touch, because I feel like I’ve made some good friends over the years.
Here’s to the next nine years!
Jim Clayton(feels good to type that...)
Check out the new site: www.jimclayton.net