I’m having dinner here on my own tonight since Deric has headed off to my parent’s place to catch a game of English football on the telly with Pa.
I usually don’t tag along whenever he goes there for such reasons these days, since I figure some peace and quiet at home will do me some good. Plus, we both tend to head over there to have dinner with my parents (and my sis too) pretty often so I have a plenty of opportunities to spend time with them on most weeks, anyway.
So here I am, finally with some time on my hands to blog. It’s been a nagging thought at the back of my mind these few weeks, the fact that I haven’t been keeping up the blogging habit. I mean, I’m actually paying money now to keep this website alive, hence I really should make the most of it in order to get enough bang out of my buck.
But alas, you know how things are. Life tends to get in the way.
Most of the time, I’m busy dealing with what’s right in front of me (which is usually work, social obligations and other equally urgent commitments) that other whims and fancies such blogging tends to take a back seat.
Well, actually, you could say that about me and writing in general. By this I mean the type of writing that I would like to do for fun, and nothing else.
It’s kind of an ironic thing for someone like me to be saying this since I do actually write for a living. Every day I engage in some part of the writing process – be it fact gathering and research, interviewing and transcribing, writing a draft or making corrections to such a draft.
But trust me, writing for work versus doing it for pleasure feels really different.
When it comes to work, once you’ve been doing it for a couple of years or more, you kind of have it boiled down to certain tried and tested formulas.
Your favoured methods are typically safe and predictable, and you come to rely on them time and time again because you are certain that by following these certain number of steps you can be assured of arriving, at the end of it all, with some form of consistent writing output.
But these sort of devices usually leave you with little room for creativity. It’s never quite as satisfying as, say, hashing out a short story or even penning down a poem.
Writing for fun, on the other hand, allows you room for complete spontaneity. You can change your mind as you please, take whichever whimsical route of imagination strikes you as best, and craft characters, places and mystical objects of the universe at will. A blank page is a real treat; an invitation to flex your creative muscles and take a chance on the wild side.
While you’re at work, however, a similarly blank page is instead a cause for panic, especially when you’re due to show something concrete to your editor within the next 15 minutes. Panic will most certainly ensue, followed by a frantic hammering at the keyboard, just so a few dozens of paragraphs culminate quickly on the screen before you.
Never mind whether they make sense or not. They will, eventually, when you feel the final few seconds of the clock ticking, and the walls and ceiling seem to start closing in on you. When you hear that familiar stern voice calling out your name from across the hall, and your pounding heart urges you to hurry up and finish the deed before it decides to permanently stop circulating blood supply to your body and you inadvertently have your very life taken from you.
I hope you can see by now, my dear readers, the distinct differences between the two.
For us writers, more often than not, writing the things we love won’t pay the bills. Hence, we inevitably have to make a sacrifice: we give up the right to choose what we write in exchange for money.
Typically, this profit motive involves supplying a form of writing that someone else out there wants, but cannot generate for themselves because, God bless their poor souls, they cannot write to save their own lives.
Reports, speeches, advertising copy, scripts, letters… these are the sort of things we have to resort to just so we can get enough bucks transferred into our bank accounts.
But deep inside the heart of every writer whose love for the craft goes beyond finding a means by which to survive there is a soul that yearns to pen beautiful prose…
Words that will make people laugh, cry or energise them in such a way that they decide to act nobly for the good of humankind. Profound sentences that inspire and challenge, which will be continually remembered across the sands of time. Poignant tales of wonder, adventure and mystery.
It is in the hope of earning the time and liberty to write such things that we keep pushing on. We endure the mundane, in hopes that someday we will discover that diamond in the rough. The treasure that will make us rich enough to set us free from the shackles of deadlines, debts and desolation.
We write to live. We live to write.