Friday, September 28, 2007

Why I Blog

"Better to Write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." So said Cyril Connolly. That phrase aptly describes the irony of my whole writing career up to the present. I spent the first six years of my career as a newspaper journalist writing or more accurately reporting on anything and everything that hardly reflected my 'self' I was merely a hack that communicated what the government/judiciary/or so-called 'important people' (Those privileged enough to be given a say in the media) wished to say to the public. It was they who had the voice, not me. I merely made their fluff look intelligent, newsworthy, and easy to comprehend for the benefit of the masses.

The writer in me lay dormant and silent. The hack/reporter had taken over. I spent a huge part of my thinking time compressing facts into neat paragraphs. Not more than four lines long. The challenge was to tell the whole story in ten paragraphs or more. The moment I arrived at an assignment I would already begin to mentally compose the article. By the time the press conference had ended the whole story would already be neatly written in my head. The final part was to get it down on my computer back at the office and send it off down the production line: Edit-Sub-edit-Layout-Print. Weary from yet another long day, I would leave the office. A good meal and some sleep was on the agenda but hardly anytime to think real vintage writer thoughts. So my 'writer being' slunk deeper and deeper within. Years went by and I was too busy earning a living to ponder on why I had originally set out on this path.

Sometimes though the writer within would emerge, stirred by a thought-provoking opinion or two. Without me even trying the opening lines of a paragraph would form in my mind either in the midst of an assignment, trawling the streets of KL or while having a conversation with friends. I would remind myself to jot down my thoughts on paper when I had a spare moment. As always I would promptly forget. Many ideas or what I thought would make splendid opening lines died a natural death that way.

After six years as a hack, I decided that a more mundane office job with respectable hours that involved staring at the computer a lot but also involved a fair degree of writing would be more in keeping. I got the respectable office job with the tidy pay-check but less of a chance to be the kind of writer I wanted to be. And then something happened. My 'writer being' was no longer content to stay silent. Thoughts and opinions came to me in a frenzy, sometimes several in a day. Even in sleep it would no longer stay silent. I had no choice but to resort to jotting down words, thoughts and phrases on scraps of paper. Soon the scraps became a bit of a hill. Something had to be done. Realistically I am nowhere near the stage where I would write a book anytime soon. The next best thing I decided was a blog.