The motivation to write always hits at the worse possible timing, I swear.
I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve just been motoring and chugging nonstop for fourteen days straight. Of course that’s not true – on Monday night I purposely did not do work for instance, and last night I worked for seven hours straight during the day so that I could go to the concert (still reliving the magic, by the way) – but my god, I am exhausted.
So naturally, I did what I always do when I procrastinate: scour the world wide web for reading materials. My discovery today is a fellow WordPress blogger, particularly this entry. I’ll be honest – at times he sounds rather pretentious, other times patronizing and sometimes both, but the depth and fluidity in his writing is really something. He is eloquent and obviously cultured; I enjoyed reading the write-ups under the Travel category. If you’re a fan of Thought Catalog (which I am not), you’re probably familiar with the writer because according to his profile, he contributes to that site, too. The reason I’m bringing him up though is because honest truth? He is the kind of writer I’ve always hoped to be, or rather the kind of blogger I wish I am. His write-ups are basically essays and while they touch upon trendy topics like pop culture, culture, and travel, the approach is scientific; each piece is clearly well-thought out and structured.
You’ve heard my blogger’s birth story a million times: when I opened this blog seven years ago, I was an emotional sixteen years-old who believed my voice needed to be heard by the world. I know, I don’t understand why either. I can’t remember how much I paid attention to blog stats back then, but to be honest – and you’ve probably realized this too – even though I kept insisting my main purpose here was to write freely for myself and no one else – of course the truth is glaringly apparent: I wanted to be recognized as a writer. I wanted a writer’s credentials, just like anyone else. I secretly wished to wear the writer’s bragging rights with pride. I imagined what’s it like to be Freshly Pressed.
A couple of years ago, without realizing it, I started writing more about dramas. This started out purely for fun, but over time I noticed sharp spikes in my stats. Reaching hundred views per day was unimaginable before then, and suddenly there you go. Early last year, in the heat of all the drama-writing and giddy with newfound blogger friends, I admit – I got bitten by the ego bug. Fame, could I shamelessly call it that? I thought I’d reached a certain pinnacle, finally, in my years as a blogger. Of course that’s when things went downhill – repeated blogger identity crises, multiple slumps, writing to please others, writing even when I’ve nothing to write about and spending way too much time here. Time and again, my stats-manic self would make a reappearance – early this year for instance, when I wrote twice (or more…) about feeling upset and bummed over losing followers.
Last night I chatted away with a newly-made friend after the concert. By sheer coincidence, she is a fan of KPop. In my usual denial mode, I harrumphed being in the know, though I probably gave myself away once we started talking more in-detailed because it is obvious that I know my KPop vocabulary. Still though, what struck me as funny – or odd, depending on how you look at it – is my reluctance, almost an inability, to admit that I write about KPop and Kdramas regularly. Hell, that I blog – seven years and still going strong. It’s weird. I’m weird.
These days when I think of blogphilic, the truth is, I don’t know what to think. In the past I was always so set on having defined rules and whatever when it comes to this space, repeating multiple times the goals and objectives I believed so strongly in, during my early years. I was also obsessed with keeping my blogger persona and every other persona separate. I was insistent on not calling myself a blogger, but a writer. This is not a blog, it’s an open journal.
Pffft, the ridiculousness that is me. I know, don’t worry – my embarrassment at myself is enough to compensate that which you feel for me; you’re probably cringing as you read this. Trust me, I know.
Moments when I actually muster the courage to admit that I own a blog, one that I’m basically devoted and have a long-term commitment(relationship) to, the follow-up question is often, “So what do you write about?” Funny, I have a hard time explaining this without cringing. It’s easy to mention the Asian pop culture stuff, but what about the part that’s about my life? My thoughts? I write about… life? My life in general? Pffft. Worse, what if I’ve written about the person who’s waiting for an answer from me, i.e. he or she is standing right in front of me? That’s when you hear the stutter in my voice and before you realize it, I’ve coolly rerouted the conversation to a different topic. These days I’m known as ‘the one who writes’ among the classmates, no thanks to my Facebook and my silly self, but the truth is, they don’t know what I write about. I don’t know what I write about either.
How and just where do I begin in admitting that I just like the act and thought of writing?
The madness of fall quarter changed a lot of things – my perspectives and how I carry myself now are two most apparent traits. I think what’s most significant though, is how it brought me back to written words. Can poetry save one’s life? My answer is a resounding yes, because I am testament. If it weren’t for the hundreds of prose and poetry that I deliberately sought after or randomly came across in the painfully long eleven weeks, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out. I don’t know if I could rise like a phoenix, the way I secretly think I have. If it weren’t for the spilled and spoken words of others, amazing writers and poets in this wide cybersphere to remind me to reclaim my own, I wonder if I would still be here with the same amount of fervor and focus.
These days I realize that I am a different person than I was last summer. More importantly, I’m a different person since grad school happened and have changed so much since fall quarter – a period that’s still a blur in my heart and mind due to its sheer intensity – and along the way, naturally, my writing reflects that. My thoughts about writing are now so different, too. Above all and most significantly, my writing voice is different.
This truth, seemingly so trivial, hits me with a thousand crushing impacts. Some days it feels like it is that long road home, though most of the time it just feels like an eulogy and ode to the girl I was … and this is why I’m here, writing this. Recently I realized that I no longer care. Purpose, goals, objectives what-have-yous? Pffft. I truly, sincerely, don’t care. Not anymore. I don’t obsessively check my blog stats anymore – in fact, some days I am so caught up with schoolwork that I don’t bother to peep for a whole day – nor do I obsessively try to device ten different ways to keep regular readers and new followers. Like the certified overthinker and scientist that I am, I’ve thought about this seriously and have since come up with a number of plausible reasons.
Maybe it’s because real life is so front and center these days that time is too precious to waste over stupid, trivial things. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally grown tired of my whiny self. Maybe it’s because I’ve come to terms with the kind of writer that I am – not great – and feel totally okay about it. Maybe it’s because I realize that my waging war against grammar and verbosity is an endless losing battle. Maybe I’ve come to accept that I won’t write for a living, not ever, because as much as I love it and despite the tireless passion I feel for the craft, the truth is simple: reality. I’ve chose to commit to the profession of my choice. There is no bitter aftertaste to that, and that’s key. Maybe it’s because these days I write here because it’s fun; nothing else but. Maybe that’s that and that’s enough. Maybe that is all.
How I feel towards blogging now is so different. I am a blank slate; zero expectations. It’s like I’ve reset my mindset when it comes to readership too. It’s strange, but incredibly relieving. I love new readers – who doesn’t? – and am always curious why other writers, especially more established bloggers would pay attention to little old me, but I no longer crave for any kind of recognition or bragging rights. I no longer harbor that longing for fame, if I could call it that. I actually prefer to keep this space small and personal; I like it better this way. It’s quality over quantity; I would much rather have readers who enjoy my writing, then obsess over having people check out blogphilic just because. There’s no longer any need to find out just why others are attracted (or repelled) to my space, because I don’t do this for business – it’s fun, and truthfully speaking, as of spring 2014, that really is all.
Whenever I come across bloggers or blogs who are obviously trying to milk readership, increase followers or woe about their stats, I realize that I’m indifferent to their plight. Or more appropriately, I no longer relate. There were plenty moments in the past I’d hold back posting certain topics, out of fear that I’d shoo people away because I wasn’t posting certain things or cos I was writing about specific topics too often. Basically for a long time, in my head, there were hundreds of different scenarios on maintaining readership because surely, isn’t this what blogging is all about?
Only – what if it isn’t?
These days I return to my writing roots and my fundamental belief about talent and skills – if you are good in what you do, they will speak for you. Maybe you shouldn’t heed my advice on this though, because maybe I’m doing it all wrong since I haven’t hit it big in both writing and life in general, but that’s my principle: humility above all else. The other day it hit me that this is probably not forever. Someday I’ll probably move away and shut down blogphilic. There are days when I worry if I’ll have any materials worth writing about, when I am home and no longer globe-trotting. There are also moments when I realize just how weak I am as a writer, truthfully – my struggle with written assignments for school is especially glaring, and the repeated feedback that I’m barely scratching the surface of a topic is even more evident of how my mind works; constantly all over the place.
But you know… it’s okay. That’s okay.
I don’t know when the change occurred, probably about the same time that I realized how different my writing voice now sounds like, but now I know with a certainty that wasn’t there before, that I am still here simply because I want to. I am here because it is fun to write here; it’s a pastime activity. I am here because I am a sap and sentimentality is my vice. I am here because lonely souls have a terrible way of expressing themselves in-person, but find comfort in being an open journal with the help of a pseudonym. I’m here because I get to write freely without having to care about grades. I’m here because I don’t have to worry about English as my second language (grammar, grrr, forever public enemy #1). I’m here because I’ve made friends, bloggers who feel real to me and some I genuinely wish we would meet in-person someday. I’m here because nine months ago, poetry and writing saved my soul.
And this is how I write now.
One writes to make a home for oneself,
on paper, in time and in others’ minds.
– Alfred Kazin