I have a very romanticised view, I think, of what it means to be a writer, even and especially on the internet.
I think of writers as people who get to go around all day, bulky camera in hand, seeing life through rose-coloured glasses and then write like no tomorrow in the corner of their favourite cafe with their gorgeous black ink pens in their leather-bound notebooks. They’d be the hipster-ish observer, thinking up the strangest thoughts that ‘normal’ people wouldn’t have time to or just deem silly. And that makes them all the more appealing because although they live in this world, they don’t belong here at all and they frankly don’t care that they don’t fit. They’d be unaffected by it. They would dress really prettily, all wood-ish and vintage, with a satchel and a trenchcoat and everything and have stretches of time to just watch the world past by. They’d know everybody and know a little bit of everything. That’s kind of ‘the life’ for me, my naive view on what I want to be when I grow up, what I want people to see.
Of course, it never takes long for one to realise that real life is extraordinarily dull and boring and material from real life isn’t going to get millions of adoring followers to recognise your talent for stringing a bunch of words together in the hopes of sounding somewhat intelligent.
So when I do come across writers whose lives actually look interesting, worth writing and caring about, all I can think of is: Lucky break for them! They’re living my high life of being a writer! Their lives of doing interesting stuff and writing about it… I want that! Now, I know that there are ways to make real life more interesting than it is. People have been doing it all the time on social media, acting like they’re having a whole lot more fun than they probably do (Instagram ahem ahem). It’s human nature, I suppose, to be just that little bit conceited.
But I do believe that some writers really do what they do, and then just write about it after. Writing is just another part of the process of living, but it isn’t their whole life. And that’s what makes them attractive.
I came across this blog of a perfect stranger whom I know nothing about. We don’t seem to share any common interests at all, perhaps partly due to the fact that we are at different stations of our lives. But I was immediately attracted to her life and her voice because it’s nothing I ever talk about in my own. She’s got all these brilliant pictures of her family and her job and she’s just writing it all down, inadvertently sharing her little bit of happiness to everyone who reads it.
After that online excursion, I went around looking for other interesting people to read. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find writers I liked through the tab promoting people who share common interests with me and I figure it’s because I don’t exactly want to read people who talk about things I already do. I wanted to read stuff I can’t experience in real life, someone else’s day in another part of the world. It opened my eyes to see what other people are writing about. So many interesting, thought-provoking, sometimes heavy topics and then so many light-hearted short pieces of humour.
Then, I came back to my own blog, my simple, understated little WordPress.
It’s hard not to be just a little sad when you’ve travelled all over WordPress and you see a hundred people liking one post and a thousand people following someone else when you’ve got…as many as I do.
Alright, alright, it doesn’t get to me as much as I let on but still. WRITER’S EGO, MAN.
Writers. They have the biggest ego in the world. Honest. I do think writers can be the vainest creatures that ever walk the earth. They can be pretentious and think that they know it all and have so much to say and they probably don’t. What they think is novel has probably been said a million times over in a better way, even. (Yes, I confess, I have a writer’s ego)
I don’t want to be that kind of writer, writing to attract a following and just to attract a following. I mean, of course, I’d like a following (ego boost much) but I wouldn’t want that at the expense of my integrity, writing to make my life look a whole lot more interesting than it really is and stuff like that. That’d just be stressful, writing to please people, to feel good about myself. Yeah, I get that no one would read about a boring life but I do want to write about what I really feel and think about.
I did consider trying a new style of writing. I know how tiring reading long posts on my thoughts can be so I’m trying to be more self-aware, trying to be a little more economical with my words. Maybe I’ll throw in more pictures, more light-ish topics and stuff. I don’t really know yet. But this is mine and as the writer, I get the final say. (And that feels awesome and sad at the same time because this is the only space I might ever get the final say ngahahaha. No, girl. Must think positive.)
I have admittedly been obsessed over the novelty of writing online such that I find myself constantly asking throughout the day if something (anything and everything I happen to come across) would be cool material for my blog, if people would want to read about this, and then if it’s not cool enough, tempt myself to romanticise it. That’s not where I want to be. It’s gotten to a point where I don’t even filter my thoughts fast enough, and it’s my reactions instead of my thoughts that become directly imprinted online. That’s scary. Too much info. Also, not enough time to live, have a private mo to myself and not report everything that happens (with some great moral anecdote) online. I usually post what I post because that’s what I really do ponder about and I’d like to see it to know what I am thinking. Sometimes, it just gotta be written out.
In conclusion (so scholarly of me), for writers out there, here’s my two cents worth:
> Get a life. Like a real one. And I don’t mean it in a bad way. Like, get a job and stuff (if writing isn’t your main source of income and it’s only counted as a job when you’ve published something and you’re earning from that instead of ads online ok). You can’t exactly be a writer if you haven’t lived life yet. Because what have you got to say that people who actually have lives need to know? Got to get your feet on the ground and start from there. If you find yourself starting to think of publishing your thoughts even before they’re formed, the warning signals should start to flash that maybe writing is eating up your life. It should just be a part of life, not the whole.
> Tone down the ego. Also a reminder for myself. Trying not to stalk my stats counter on WordPress every hour of the day. Write for yourself and keep to it. You don’t have to write to impress anyone. You don’t have to compare your life and someone else’s more glamorous one. They’ve been where you are and worked to get to where they are now. Don’t copy anyone else. There’s something in your own life that might speak to someone else. Your own experiences and thoughts, that’s precious. Nobody wants to read about something they’ve already thought about.
Yep, so I might take a little time off to just cool it with the writing, save for the thoughts on school texts if I feel strongly about them. Still. Hope y’all stick around some to see how I fare from this hoho.
(And now, because I have forgotten how to end posts, I shall just stick in this cool quote I found on Google. Hear hear.)
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD
Yea, no, I don’t know the dude, but still. What he said.