An out-of date blog reeks wretchedness. It’s that feeling you get when you peer into them dingy ‘cybercafes’ with computers that are actually gambling machines—and while we’re on that subject, I wonder why they don’t just straight up break out the blackjack tables, because that shit ain’t fooling anyone.
That soul-crushing feeling comes not so much from the place itself, but from its patrons. There’s just something about people stooping to the shadiest level of the vice that digs a pit in your gut. You won’t find jaded compulsives here—yours truly excluded—but you might feel similarly disenchanted looking at the state of disrepair my blog has fallen into.
When I purchased this domain, I had a vision of myself publishing any first drafts that might’ve passed my fancy. Now I realise that if a piece is shy of the thousand-word count and hasn’t undergone an equal number of rewrites, it doesn’t get to see the other side of the publish button.
It’s not that I’ve given up on writing, it’s just that I’ve run out of things to say. If I were to choose from the myriad of excuses a writer typically stashes in their long-term memory, I’d blame the inactivity on my self-imposed solitude. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I excel at being alone, but don’t look at it as a skill. Think of it more like a character defect. And it’s affecting my work because as Wendig beautifully put it, “Writing is about words, storytelling is about life.”
“Surely, you must’ve gained something from all that time alone,” you ask?
I’d love to think so. After all, many great achievers in history actively sought isolation. The problem I face is that, everyday, I come closer to the conclusion that my introspective endeavours will bear no fruit, and that I’m not special, and that like so many others before and after my time, I’ll amount to nothing but a mere flicker in the vastness of space and time. I don’t even mean flicker as in a dying candle. More like a firefly, being observed through sunglasses. In daylight. Two hundred miles away.
But through these reflections, I’ve learned to be more accepting of myself. I’ve embraced what happiness means to me. I love minimalism, and I’m proud of being an introvert. That means I could probably pack my whole life into a 24-litre backpack and live in a shack somewhere in the wilderness without taking too much of a hit to the morale.
Then I realised Henry David Thoreau already did that. Told you I wasn’t special. Although I find it comforting that despite the couple of centuries that separate us, someone still shares my weird combination of interests in simple living, literature, and survivalism. We even got the tuberculosis thing down pat.
Sometimes I wonder if Henry screened the knocks on his door, and if his friends ever got annoyed by his wanting to be alone. I remember the day I inefficiently blew off my friend’s invitation to lunch. I used work as an excuse when all I really wanted was to eat without having to talk. Imagine the look on his face when he found me minutes later in the food court eating alone, Harry Potter in hand. He never spoke to me again.
But herein lies the challenge of the introvert. How do you tell people you’d rather not hangout with them without hurting their feelings? As it is, the double blue ticks are already giving me a hard time. It’s weird enough how many scenarios people can conjure through unanswered Seen notifications. Imagine their speculations when you tell them that you just want to be alone. Anyway, I have no idea how we got to my rants on introversion, so just bear with my stream of consciousness as I drag you back to the topic of writing (or lack thereof).
I guess every writer has their moments. I’m not even talking Hemingway or Salinger, but people who frequently use writing as a form of expression. Back when websites were still made through Notepad and FTP, there was a writer named Toni. I’d follow her work religiously, which would later be surpassed only by the likes of WaiterRant and Marina Shifrin. Like the other two, Toni didn’t know that her work helped shape my thoughts on writing. I read every article she put online, until one day, she posted, and I paraphrase:
“Today, I sat in my car singing along to a song I didn’t know the words to. Something just isn’t right. I’ve lost my passion. I don’t see myself doing anything for the rest of my life. Nothing means shit to me anymore.”
And that’s the last memory I have of her. Maybe she was depressed, or perhaps it was a passing phase, I’ll never know. But from time to time, I do wonder if she’s alright. And then I marvel at how strings of 1s and 0s are capable of compelling me to care about the wellbeing of a total stranger.
Perhaps it’s inevitable to doubt yourself in a vocation that’s so subjective in nature. WaiterRant had his moments after meeting a successful old friend, causing him to question his own path of writing while waiting tables. And despite Marina’s short tussle with fame, she seems to have a lot of shit to deal with, which is eating at her writing output. It’s a pity, really, because her work is pretty awesome. Also, she responded to my story request. Booya.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that in the long absences that look to ensue, I wonder if an internet stranger would spare me a thought somewhere down the road, or if I’ll just be nothing but a mere flicker on the grand scale of things. In daylight. Two hundred miles away.