For some reason, I feel lonely today.

Perhaps it’s to do with having to constantly interact with my almost three year old son’s imaginary friends. Or the fact that out of the blue, a few different friends have decided to dub March as Meet Up Month, calling for reunions and catch up sessions.

Nothing wrong with all these things, I suppose. On brighter days, those may actually be considered good things. Funny things. Treasures to cherish.

But today, for some reason, I feel like I want something else. I want space. I want time. I want the liberty to do things I like. Not that it needs to be for long, or that I need a retreat away from everyone. I suppose I just need that metaphoric quiet spot I used own. That cloud from which to sit upon and dangle my feet, where I can watch the world pass by and think my own thoughts. Be comfy in my own sea of emotions.

I am a melancholic. I guess try as I might, I cannot run from that reality. And when there’s too much noise, too much talking, too many things that vie for my attention that I cannot hear myself think, I feel uneasy. I don’t feel like myself.

Funny that I should be admitting this to you, my random reader and friend. But that seems to be what life is coming to. A senseless bunch of events, strung together like beads on a string. And someday, when the space on the string runs out, its time to complete the loop and say goodbye.

(Okay, next I write, I promise cheerier things. TTFN!)

Michael W. Smith: A Million Lights

Just heard this song for the first time awhile ago. And I felt I just wanted to post it. However short this post may be. It being 4+am in the morning and all.

Michael W. Smith’s music has been such a big part of my life, all throughout my growing years. So many songs with tons of memories to go with them. I even had a book of piano scores for his The First Decade album which I meticulously learned to play, even memorising quite a few of them.

Even in the not-so-distant past while I was still a journalist, I remember being greatly encouraged by his more recent tunes such as You Won’t Let Go.

I don’t really know much about how he gets the inspiration for his songs or puts together the content, but I can say I have been greatly blessed by his music. This guy who is much older than I am and who lives so far away in another continent from me has made an impact in my life. I can only hope that I can someday have such a great influence on someone else.

Anyway, with regards to this presently new tune, what struck me the most was the lyrics of the second verse:

A million days
In every one I’ve seen Your face
I know I’ll never be alone
Even darkness comes awake

For You
All the stars are singing
With You
Every day I’m feeling

Even darkness comes awake.

Easy to forget, and yet, it is right there amidst the opening lines of the Bible. And if He can command light from darkness, surely everything else about my life is just a cinch to Him. It’s this assurance that makes all those million days or more of life worth battling through.

I’m not as alive as I used to be, especially in a spiritual, inner being sense. But perhaps the stars ought to remind me of those things that never change: how He holds everything together.

Hope you like the song as much as I do.

Hidden treasure

The days slip by quickly, and each time something shifts in leaps and bounds.

Dear Globetrotting Friend,

As wonderful as it is to see these picturesque views you encounter at each magical destination you arrive at, I often wish you would not post them on social media. It’s not that I would want to deny you the right to revel in the beauty around you, but sometimes your endless stream of picture perfect images makes me feel a little out of place.

I spend most of my hours behind the same four walls, living a quiet, unnoticed routine. Views like the one you see above are what my eyes feast on every day. It is nothing extraordinary, but it was important enough to me that I decided to be bound by them. To be this hidden person, seen only by a tiny pair of eyes to whom I am the world.

I wish I had inspiring images to show others just as you do, but the ones I take are instead mostly commonplace. They do little to hide the mess behind them. The haphazard tumbling through hours. Days slipping by quickly, one after another; each time something shifting within them, an unnamed thing, growing in leaps and bounds.

My husband is often discouraged with this dull, mundane world we live in, enamoured instead by the adventures you tease us with from your Instagram feed. He always had this bit of wanderlust gripping him, and at times, I feel sorry as if I am the one holding him back.

But this is the life we are building now. And it is called Family.

Beneath the mountains of laundry, behind the unkempt array of toys strewn all across our living room, there is this little boy coming into his own. His is a slow and steady journey, years stretching ahead of him, yet uncounted, unwritten. Mine is the heavy burden to shape this life, to offer it meaning and hope in a universe that often cares little for the crumbs that fall from the tabletop or the stories that need to be read… aloud…. and right now. Or else.

I don’t envy you, my dear Privileged Traveller friend. I just wish I didn’t often find myself making comparisons between us , thinking how vastly different our paths are now, and how we were walking the same trail once upon a time, long ago, when we were but youth.

Because it seems like I have lost myself, and that my days will be endlessly meaningless as they feel. And that I am not living life to the fullest and condemning myself to a predictable outcome.

Perhaps someday I will find greater confidence in the choices I have made.

It’s just that right now those photos of yours don’t seem to be helping.

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.

Journalling: Another year, another attempt

My new journal for 2017. Hopefully.

I stumbled across a Facebook post on my Feed today that piqued my interest. It was about Bullet Journalling. It’s the first time I’m hearing about it. Or well, rather, reading about it. 

I used to be an ardent journal writer back in my teen days, but since turning into a Boring Adult, I have failed time and again at resurrecting this deeply satisfying and extremely therapeutic habit. 

Part of the difficulty is being disciplined enough to write regularly so that whatever I jot down eventually forms a year long tale that makes sense. My journalling has reached a point of being so sporadic that it feels like it is useless to do so at all. 

Hopefully this Bullet Journalling thing will change that. 

And even if it doesn’t, I do so love making lists (and usually end up never being able to cross out much from them… sigh) so perhaps it will serve its purpose as some form of therapy. Which I do sort of need right now given that I feel a combination of depression + boredom + discontentment + aimlessness in my life. 

So here goes. 

Good thing is that the New Year has just begun, so it doesn’t feel so out of place to start this thing right here and now. Teehee. 

Well, I’ll report back later on if anything much comes out of it. Don’t want to have too high expectations. Toodloo!

Blog buster

Bloggers these days seem to have lots of important things to say. 

More often than not, they’re busy dishing out advice. 10 secrets to becoing a successful mompreneur. 20 things to do to make your professional life stand out. Why following a paleo diet will set your love life on fire. So on and so forth.

And when they’re not busy giving their expert opinion on something, they’re busy plastering product endorsements and reviews all over their site. 

All that writing mostly stemming from the motivation of either getting lots of views and/or clicks, or capturing the attention of advertisers who are looking for virtual product ambassadors and supporters. 

Where oh where are the bloggers out there who just blog for the sake of creativity or in the spirit of the arts? 

This deeply disheartens me, and has many a time made me feel like my blog posts were useless and futile. Because no one would read them. No one would notice.  That my voice wouldn’t matter. 

Thanks to some of the bad experiences I weathered as a former journo, I also began self censoring a lot of my blog posts in the past. Such a sad thing to do, because it has made my ability to be spontaneous about posts literally vanish. 

I wish I could go back to the days when I was in uni where I used to just blog without concern for what others would think or say or do. I need to return to that notion of freedom. 

But it’s hard. It’s become especially harder ever since I made a career out of writing. In some ways, it was as I feared: I’ve gotten writing down to a science when it comes to making money out of it. But when it comes to the form of writing that I truly love and crave (that being creative writing, namely), I have little to show for it. 

I am especially jealous and sore to note that a long time friend of mine who started out even later than I have in a writing career is actually closer to her dream now than I have ever been. 

So many times I have thought of closing down this blog. In fact, a lot of the themes I write about here aren’t new. I seem to go round in circles, revisiting the same old tunes and stories every few posts or so. 

Have I lost that little bit of magic? That penchant for just letting words take me wherever they will, not caring about what story might ensue? 

I feel I have. And honestly, I feel empty. Like I have nothing to offer. It’s frightening. 

I have more than a dozen articles to my name. Google searches turn up articles I have written in the past, some of which are, in my opinion, pretty decent. But none that I am really proud of. 

How do I keep the passion bit of the equation alive in my writing? That is something I continue to struggle with. 

I also tend to beat myself up (virtually, of course) over the fact that I have no nice images for my blog posts. As if images themselves were the main attraction. They do help, no doubt. But they aren’t necessary. They’re just another one of those impulses that I’m stuck with thanks to journalism. 

So what do I do now? Be as random as can be for my blog posts, I suppose. Till I find my true voice. Till clarity descends and the fog in my head lifts. 

Until the day the prose I write is golden, and it moves hearts the way I have always wished it would. 

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.