Time and again

Ironically enough, it's become extremely hard to write anything that I feel is heartfelt and of significant worth nowadays. I've been feeling so ever since I made writing my official career path, I think.

Funny, isn't it, since you'd think that because you're devoting more time perfecting your craft, you should be better at it and everything should come so much more naturally than it did in the past?

But this is how it's been. Regrettably too, might I add.

I revisited the old, first proper blog I ever wrote, Veritas Project, recently. It surprised me just how differently I used to write. So uninhibited. So candid.

In some ways, I wish I was back at that place and time of my life, and that I had utilised those moments more fully to revel in the emotions of that season more, to write more wholeheartedly. Because now that I am where I'm at in life, here in my 30's, there's a great difference in the things I'd write and how I'd write them.

Yet, of course, I'm not discounting the value of experience and where it has gotten me. I write now through the lens of someone who has seen more, who realises what she is capable of, and who now knows so many more precious things about the world and the seasons and rhythms of life.

Time and again, though, I keep returning to this point of contemplation that I need to put forward a more genuine version of myself whenever I write. Particularly when I blog for a wider audience, like I do here.

The difficulty here lies in the fact that having been a journalist in the not-so-distant past, my writing disciplines have been shaped to habitually involve the practice of self censorship. We do it all the time in the newsroom, although the reasons for doing so may differ each time. The words we allow to escape our keyboard are filtered: tapered down in its depth of feeling, politically correct, shifted and sorted to take on a supposedly neutral form, appealing to the average reader. Which is, in reality, probably no one.

Here in Blogdom, everyone is writing nowadays to garner as much Likes as possible. Building a band of followers that will faithfully swallow whatever you put out for them, just because they feel like you know them. You are like them.

For that is what is being peddled. Writers putting on a front of being an expert and knowing something special. Teasing readers with minimal prose, abandoning the art of it all, and replacing it with GIFs, memes, haphazardly compiled lists of things that nobody needs but everybody identifies with and wants to know about. A place where words are money, so make as much as you can, with as little beauty infused into those sentences. Because, what is the point in poetry? It is unnecessary and underappreciated.

Then there are those writers' circles, those exclusive associations formed amongst writers on social media platforms. Where writers rant and rave about the perils of the realms of publishing and lament the naivety of rookies seeking their way into the fellowship. Spouting advice like, "If your writing is rejected by publishers, it's because it's worthless. Please move along".

I somehow cannot fit into this landscape.

As it is, I already have trouble believing that I am a writer, and even more so calling myself one. And all this… this massive community of successful people before me; corporations who make profits from the words crafted by others; the formality of it all; the formatting of pages, columns, fonts; the rigours of being part of the publishing process… all of this feels stifling to me.

I want to go back to that spot where simplicity and freedom of expression were. That quiet corner in the middle of nowhere that I could sit at for as long as I needed to, use as many paragraphs and pages as I wanted, and express precisely how I feel without fear of judgment or ruthless editing.

Where it was just me and you, my darling reader.

I still want to tell my story. But (and this may be hard to believe, coming from a person with a history like mine) I am having trouble finding the right words.

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Content and contentment

I was just talking to a church friend yesterday about blogging, and she was lamenting how most people nowadays tend to blog just so they can get attract advertisers and get sponsorship or freebies. I guess that’s what the blogosphere has become.

Not to mention even blog services themselves like this one here that have started to limit its free users from accessing source codes and tweaking themes to their own liking, then charging them before granting them the ability to do so. That’s just… mean. In my opinion, anyway.

In another conversation that I also had yesterday which was with my husband, we were talking about our blogging styles and saying that we were pretty similar in our approach. We both like to make our blog posts count and produce content we’re proud of, hence tend to blog less or until a brilliant idea strikes. This being opposed to the approach of most in the blogging community who tend to post really frequently, with some posts taking on the form of what my church friend had described.

Well, I suppose there isn’t harm in attempting to catch advertisers’ eyes and hoping to monetise your blog. Perhaps one day when I become a pauper (which may be pretty soon considering my income has less than halved now that I have turned into a Work At Home Mum) I will take on this approach too out of desperation.

But until then… I have mixed feelings about going down this route.

Having advertisers involved in the picture (however much in the background you think you’ve kept them) will undoubtedly affect your content because for everything someone else gives you in the world of business (read: funding of any form or function), it is NEVER for free or WITHOUT a agenda somewhere that’s meant to benefit themselves financially. I learned this way back in business school, where from day #1 it was drummed into our head that the heart of business is making profits.

I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me being picky based on my bad experiences as a journalist that’s got me thinking that everyone out there has evil intentions. But yeah, I’d much rather have control over my own content, thank you very much.

Even if it’s lousy content, at least I have creative license to present it however I please. And to blog as often or as infrequently as I like. After all, blogs were meant to be spaces on the Web for personal expression. It’s sad that we taint it so much with a desire to earn big bucks. Why not just limit such ambitions to .com sites?

I don’t really consider blogs where people are paid for writing content as truly blogs. They’re just websites. But that’s just me, I suppose.

This is probably because I remember a time back in my uni days where my friends and I used to connect through browsing each other’s blogs and leaving comments on the posts we read. As public as our writing was, it felt like a private community that was close knit.

It feels like nowadays hardly anyone reads blogs of those they know anymore. Unless, of course, it shows up on a social media news feed somewhere. Or some supporter of the blogger concerned goes and posts to promote the said blog and then it goes viral and then everybody around the world suddenly wants to know who the blogger behind that brilliant post is.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s not just advertisers that have ruined blogging, it’s also social media. In general, social networking sites have propagated  a culture of using stickers and emojis, sharing videos and accumulating Likes, and in the process, have started a snowball effect of original content becoming under appreciated.

I open up my Twitter feed nowadays and practically all I see are just tweets posted by corporations. This in exclusion of the sponsored posts. How come I can’t even see what my friends are posting anymore?

I don’t hate social media nor am I saying that making profits should be an activity banished from the minds of humankind, but I guess I’m just expressing my sadness at how much money making has clouded out the good things and the freedom of expression on the Web.

For me as a writer, it is especially disheartening because it feels like no one really wants to read anything anymore. They just want a list of funny things to laugh at, plastered all over the Internet on quirky sites with dubious names that can’t possibly offer you anything deep enough to leave you with something to think about long after you’re done browsing the pages on their site.

Memes. Animated GIFs. Short videos that are solely for entertainment and have no hidden meaning in their presentation or story plots. Photos haphazardly taken and uploaded a dozen a day without thought about composition or any attempt at all to convey a meaningful message. Just an unending page of pictures of holiday destinations, food, we-fies, selfies…

This is what we have become on the Internet today. A community of people with short attention spans, with no voice of our own, only a collection of Liked posts to our name and endless streams of self indulgent photos and videos.

Keyboard warriors who are more concerned in voicing out our dissenting opinions and virtually bashing to a pulp anyone online who dares disagree with our views.

It seems like no one is reading or listening anymore. It feels futile to write anything. This is the climate I find myself battling each time I write a blog post.

But then I ask myself, who and what am I writing a blog for?

Is it to be read, to have my thoughts understood by another complete stranger trawling the Web?

Or to find my voice, to practice and improve my writing in preparation for writing that One Great Novel someday?

Or, could it be that I just want to express myself adequately and often enough that I feel satisfied to have sufficiently emptied myself of all alarmingly burgeoning emotions or thoughts?

My blog hosting subscription renewal due date is coming up. So these are the thoughts bouncing about inside my head as a result. I’ll mostly probably be renewing it. Just that… I feel I need a better reason to keep blogging but am not finding it.

I realise so much of how I post on this blog has become influenced by whether I think the topic I have in mind is interesting to the general public. And whether I have a suitable image to accompany my draft because well, nobody wants to stare at a page full of text with not pictures these days.

Since when did such things cloud my judgment? I am disappointed with myself for becoming this way. Why should I tailor my blog to suit the needs of a random stranger who cares nothing about my life or knows zilch about the person that I am?

This is why I still struggle whenever I blog nowadays. In fact, it’s not just for the blog, but just whenever I write in general. The value of honing a private voice seems to have been drowned out by the need to perfect a socially acceptable public voice.

But some of the most brilliant written works have been what was written in secret. While confined in some quiet, hidden corner of the world where no intruders could disturb the concentration of a writer freely articulating what was in his or her heart.

I feel as though I used to know how to get to such places once upon a time. I want to find a way to get back there again.

And I guess that’s what this is all about. Writing the stuff that matters. The honest words that someday, someone can reflect upon and feel nourished to the very core of their souls.

That’s the kind of fuel I need to keep writing. And I’m discovering, to my dismay, that the Web isn’t quite the place to cultivate such precious things, unfortunately.

Home before dark

Food I wish I had in front of me right now.

Good day, peeps 🙂

It’s a nice peaceful evening here at my apartment and I’ve just gotten back from work in time to enjoy the last hour or so of sunshine before night comes to call.

It’s the eve of a public holiday so my spirits are up and the hours seemed to slip by extra quick today at work.

Since you probably aren’t well acquainted with my habits, I am actually fond of returning home from work before dark because arriving home after nightfall tends to give me a defeated feeling. Like I lost to the sun in the race towards home, so to speak.

I’m feeling particularly ravenous this evening. Perhaps it’s because  didn’t eat up all my rice during lunch time. Hoho. So it’s time to grab a snack.

I know I haven’t said anything particularly useful in this post, but I guess not every conversation has to be a profound one, isn’t it? Our daily chatter consists of both useful and not-so-useful talk. So I hope you’ll happily devour this post even though it isn’t clever in the least.

But just to make it worth your while, I have a lot of stories in mind for upcoming posts. Prepare for a lowdown of my latest experiments in the kitchen, poetic interludes about my relationship with my husband, titbits from the desk of a mainstream media journalist, spiritual contemplations, poems, fiction, reviews and a lot more… I hope. Haha.

I’m still trying to tweak a few things about this blog. One of those things being the link for my posts. I want it to read “Chatter” but unfortunately, I have yet to figure out a way how to do it. Sigh. Nightmares return from the pits of my hellish programming days. Aargh.

Well, anyway, that’s a problem to be solved later. For now, I’ll head off in search of biscuits for my rumbling tummy. Bye ! 🙂