Where I am now

I started blogging because I had thoughts and opinions which I felt had to be put out into the public domain. I wanted to share my ideas with whoever would understand where I was coming from. I wanted to write.

2010 was an exciting time: blogs were becoming popular, and the possibilities were endless. The concept of curating my own online editorial space was very appealing. I updated with anything and everything, trying to figure out what my blog's style would be. For a brief moment, I considered taking my blog seriously as an occupation and not just a hobby - turning it into a website for my 'personal brand.'
It had potential, but as my life started to get complicated, I struggled to keep up with my online persona. Or, more accurately, with the online persona that I had imagined for myself. (No one is ever as successful as they think they are on the internet, are they?)

Posts came less and less frequently. I had no motivation or inspiration to update the website. Upon reflection, I realise my content dwindled because I was preoccupied with the progress of other bloggers. These were not even people in my immediate circle: it was all the upcoming 'social influencers' from Cape Town, Johannesburg and the UK. Cool, trendy girls who inhabited their blogs like second skins filled up my newsfeed and my blogroll. They had perfect photos, they used clever words and their lives were beautiful. What could I possibly add to that?
So I stopped writing, and focused on browsing. The longer I was away from the 'create post' page, the more convinced I became that nothing I wanted to say was original, memorable, worthy of being seen.

That has been my perspective on life in general for the past two years (maybe three). I stopped exploring ideas and articulating my thoughts in daily life. I never spoke up in class unless it was under duress. I didn't reach out to people to make connections, I didn't get into deep conversations with my close friends or family.
When I stopped writing, and stopped giving the busy-ness in my mind an outlet, I became closed-off and frustrated. I stayed that way because I didn't feel like there would be a receptive audience for me if I ever did speak up. 'No one cares about that.' 'Can't you be original?' 'That's so silly - if you say that no one will ever talk to you again.'
I've been having variations of the same conversation with myself for a very long time.

Until now, I have been talking about 'writing' as the act of producing work for public consumption. But writing is a skill that must first be practised and perfected in private. This means that the diaries I have kept since primary school, which have become increasingly important spaces where I write down random thoughts, make note of dreams, keep track of my emotions and start to admit some difficult truths to myself over the last few years, have helped to keep me in touch with the world of writing.
I have gone through periods when even the thought of picking up a pen and writing down what's going on in my mind was too much . Other days I powered through, and even if I only managed a paragraph before I lost my motivation, it was something.
Writing doesn't always have to be a public performance.

I am still largely unfocused, unmotivated and uncertain about my future in writing. I hesitate to call myself a writer because I realise the weight that title carries. Say your're a writer, and people expect you to churn out dazzling prose at a moment's notice, to make them feel something or teach them something with your words. At least, this is what I have convinced myself that people expect.

So 'becoming a writer' is an ongoing battle. It's a battle I need to win if I am ever going to make a living off of my words. I don't know where to begin, but I hope writing the words and putting them out there again is a good start.