It’s been almost a month since I wrote about my first reason for blogging. This evidence of my tardiness in writing helps to explain the second reason why I decided to blog: to make myself write more often than my self-discipline is able to do so. While I can almost write on anything of any length once I sit down and begin writing, my problem lies in taking the first step of sitting down. There are always other things that I consider more interesting or more pressing than sitting down to begin writing. Maybe I lack a reason to write. Blogging could play the role of offering me a reason to write. So this is my second reason to blog: to make myself write. But then why do I want to make myself write? Well, maybe it’s for giving my thoughts and feelings a place to anchor, to be known, and to be re-visited, not all thoughts and feelings, but those that are not too personal to the extent that they should only be in my personal diary .
Since I was a university student (quite many years ago), I have had the habit of writing diary entries. I do this rather infrequently: around three to four times a year in recent years. I can’t say it’s because I have to work and therefore lack the time to write. Why? First, when I was in my thirties and forties, I wrote a lot more often than I do now. During such times when I spent almost sixteen hours a day on my full-time work, I still managed to write two to three entries each month. Second, more than two years ago, around September 2005, I quit my full-time work and became essentially unemployed (I still occasionally do freelance translation and other income-generating jobs though). Yet I didn’t write a single diary entry during the rest of 2005 after quitting full-time work. Then I wrote only five diary entries in 2006, and even fewer entries – four – in 2007. Clearly, the fact that I’m no longer engaged in full-time work is not inducive enough to make me write. Perhaps that has to do with what I do when I write a diary entry. When I write a diary entry, I don’t merely record what I have done or what has happened to me. Instead, I would give an account of the important events happening around the world and in the Hong Kong community, before reviewing my personal experiences and reflecting on my very personal thoughts and feelings. At times, such as at the end of a year or midway through a year, I would also make plannings and come up with a list of ‘things-to-do’, although more often than not such things-to-do would just remain good wishes. Yet this way of writing diary entries makes it a rather time-consuming and, more importantly, intellectually demanding exercise. Even if uninterrupted, it often takes me a whole session of a day (i.e. either a morning, or an afternoon, or an evening) or even more to finish writing a diary entry. Of course, diary writing is very different from blogging. A diary entry, by nature, has to be something that we keep it only to ourselves — I never believe that someone who writes diary entries with the expectation that they would one day be published or ‘accidentally seen’ by other people is genuinely writing diary. On the contrary, given the public nature of blogs, what we post on our blog would be something that we don’t mind letting other people read. Rather, it’s likely that we expect other people to read what we leave on our blog. Life is complex, and each day hundreds of things happen around us that induce various thoughts and feelings in us, and more often than not we would, knowingly or unknowingly, desire to share such thoughts and feelings with other people. Expressing such thoughts and feelings in a diary entry means keeping them to ourselves only, but the blog serves as a platform for us to air them and at the same time share them with others. As far as I’m concerned, this blog would serve as a platform for me to express my thoughts and feelings that I would reflect on and yet desire to share with other people. If they could make any impact on the way other people see things, that’s a bonus, but that’s not my main concern.
Of course, there are still times that I would write my diary entries, when I’d like to record thoughts and feelings that I consider too personal (or evil) to be known to anyone except myself (not even my wife or my son).
There is another reason why I blog. I’ll write about this next time.