Blogging: There and Back Again

When I revived this old blog some months ago to mark my 10th year of blogging I thought I would be able to be consistent about it. But somehow, at one point I began contemplating about distancing myself from social media. I have lived without Twitter. Scrolling on Facebook and Instagram on the other hand, was (and is still is) something I should work on reducing – so I resolved that’s where the focus should be.

After all, they are greedy time-eaters, I told myself. The longer I immerse myself in the matter of akhlaq and purification of hearts the more I could see that these media are not compatible with the practices of the Salaf in protecting their hearts from diseases. Name any diseases of the heart, and you could see how these social platforms can make it worse. To an extent, I believe that the benefits could never outweigh their harms.

But for some reasons, including that feeling of isolation being 24/7 at home with minimal adult interaction if I were to free myself from these social platforms, stopped me from doing so. So I told myself to set a limit and work around it.

Then I am left with another social account to deliberate on – this blog. My blog.

That is an undoubtedly a difficult decision to make. It is apparent that I have been on a long writing hiatus whether intentionally and unintentionally. I am truly weighing the alternative – my friends have, once in a while, warmed my heart by remarking the beneficial things they gained from some of my writings – but I am aware that I am, albeit subconsciously, creating an online persona that is perhaps could not be further than the truth. Words I chose may portray what I am not, an image that is deceiving to say the least. The stories I am wrote may have been subconsciously curated and filtered to let only the good parts show.

I certainly am not writing to get famous or have my posts viral. If that is what I have in mind, I have no business writing in English (on another note, I have to shamefully admit that my thoughts flow better if written in my second language, English). Posts in Bahasa Melayu, on Facebook,  with clickbait titles will get better hits if that is what I am looking for. But no, I don’t seek that, and hopefully never will be.

So some months ago I decidedly abandon this blog. That was the end of my personal public rantings, I concluded.

But as I finished Zinsser’s ‘On Writing Well’ , I was coaxed into writing again.

Maybe a private journal or a diary will suit the purpose I was trying to achieve too. I did try to reason against that change of mind. But would not a little consciousness that somebody else may read my posts persuade me to write better? For years my writing skills have benefited from that awareness of a readership, despite small, does exist for my blog so that is a winning point I should not discount, I concluded.

Paradoxically, as Zinsser admitted, I should never write for an audience of more than one.

Soon after you confront the matter of preserving your identity, another question will occur to you: “Who am I writing for? It’s a fundamental question, and it has a fundamental answer: You are writing for yourself.

You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.

And deep inside there is a growing urge to have my voice to be preserved – that is I am fully aware off.  As much as I know how impermanent WordPress is – I feel the desire to record my thoughts for my children to know me. Not myself as a mom, but how I feel and think as a person. It is an odd objective alright, one I didn’t particularly think of when I started the blog 10 years ago but somehow feels relevant now, and a desire not easily killed.

As Zinsser advised, I will only write on matters that I know most. And that, is certainly on myself and my life. I write above all, to introspect, to organise my thoughts, to clarify on them and understand my own feelings better.

So this is my blog: there and back again.

Because after all, I am a lifelong learner. And if I am writing to learn, there is no way I should ever abandon this again, shouldn’t I?



A Retired Diarist

I was reading an article on Anne Frank yesterday, and it had me thinking about my long-lost daily routine – writing in a diary.

You see, I was a consistent diarist.

But for the past seven years, I have personal, written notes whatsoever. And I feel that due to that, I am lacking in something.

I was a consistent diarist. I started writing in my primary school years
through secondary school (or high school) and foundation college.

Then blog and blogging came.

I had my first personal blog in my first year of University (which I used for six years) and then the idea of writing in a diary just vanished.Unfortunately that comes with a cost.

Many times throughout my blogging years I know I should have started back with recording and structuring my real, deep and personal thought. I have to emphasize those adjectives. Writing for a blog is different, especially as I was not writing anonymously at that time, and most of my audience were people I knew. I consciously filtered what I wrote – not really because I wanted only some parts of myself be revealed, but because deep inside I am still a private person. I wrote about issues, and my thoughts about certain things but nothing really personal.

It sure has its advantages. My articulacy in conveying my ideas in English (despite it being my second language), is largely contributed by my writing a blog. It helps me to structure my thoughts, present my ideas, improve my vocabulary (I do research before writing a post, not just randomly!) and that allows me to talk more eloquently in the real ‘offline’ conversations.

But a blog is a blog. Even if I write it anonymously (which I did not at that time, or even now), it is a platform where the whole world have the chance to see it.

I don’t feel comfortable writing about the spiritual side of me (or the lack of it). I don’t feel easy sharing publicly about my deepest hope, fear and ambitions. I obviously will not write a simple note on how I should plan my day for instance, which I know is something I would write in a diary. I am in no rush to join the bandwagon of sharing my secrets online.

When I found all my old diaries from those high school years and foundation college days, I could see how these jotting-downs of thoughts helped me. In many moments I could see notes of my frustrated teenage self on how I had been astray spiritually, my so-called crushes, new resolutions that I made from time to time, some copied quotes I found inspiring, some ‘5 steps to become XXXX’ I picked up from my reading. I learnt to find my own strengths and weaknesses, put them down in writing, and started my detailed action plans. Putting them down on a piece of paper is a reaffirmation.

In short, I became more aware of myself through writing a diary.

All of these are done freely, knowing that there is no one who will judge me, no one will ‘like’ or ‘hate’ it, not trying to woo readers or increase hits.

I tried to maintain a blog and write a diary before, but it didn’t work. Too much time needed. So concentrated my writing effort for my blog.

The outcome? After seven years being a retired diarist, I feel that I have lost touch with my very deepest self.

I am thinking of making a comeback, trying again to find my innerself. I need to again be in touch with it.

I need to, like urgently.

Maybe at the expense of this blog.