Right from the title, this post is at severe risk of descending into a bona fide pity party. (Actually, the title itself may have already reached a point of no return on its own.) But I do want to reflect on why anyone would bother to write anything.
When I tell people I have a blog, they naturally ask if I have a travel blog. “Not exactly,” I reply, with consummate vagueness – It doesn’t always feel like it’s worth the trouble to try to express what this blog is “about”. The next question is often whether I use my blog to fund my travels. I laugh, because this blog is pretty much the least monetizable thing on Earth. It is written without an obvious audience, without any obvious regularity, and without any obvious purpose aside from… writing.
Even though I’m arguably a “creative” individual – putting aside any question of whether the things I create have any actual merit – I’m really much more fortunate to also have a set of bland technical skills, mostly unrelated to creative writing, that manage to keep me afloat financially while I fart my way around the globe. If I were forced to think of a way to monetize my writing, I might be reduced to churning One Weird Tricks, one weird trick at a time. Best-case scenario, I could write that pandering autistic travelogue-cum-memoir that I’ve been thinking about, which… hey, that’s actually a pretty good idea! (I don’t think I’d be very good at talk show appearances, though, so maybe not.)
But for now, I write without any obvious audience or purpose. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t want an audience – After all, I’d keep these posts as drafts (and also not occasionally spam links to my Facebook friends) if I genuinely had no interest in being read. But since I also make pretty much no concessions to any common notion of readability aside from kinda bothering to string together grammatically correct (run-on) sentences, I can’t want it very badly, can I?
As I reflect on the purpose and meaning of shouting into the void, I naturally contemplate the folly of wanting anyone to appreciate one’s creations, anyway. Whether one person reads your writing or a million people do, at the end of the day our creations will be dead, and so will we. In that case, the only possible benefit of writing is the brief pleasure it gives the writer – the pleasure of self-expression, of externally organizing one’s thoughts, of catharsis, and maybe – just maybe – of receiving appreciation and validation from the outside world. A totally-not-a-Buddhist Buddhist like me has to dismiss the final motivation as a petty and self-defeating one, even if I do devote about half of my waking actions to seeking out the most shallow forms of validation. And so, all that’s really left is the pleasure of putting one’s thoughts and feelings into a concrete form. And once they have been formed thusly, they have already served their purpose, and it would only be vanity and self-absorption to dwell on them further. Of course, I’ll still obnoxiously send post links to my friends every once in a while…
So why do it? Well, today, it’s really just because it’s an incredibly slow day for work. Anyone need a web developer/programmer/business analytics guy?