Written in 2007 for X, who wanted his peace
There once was a time when getting a haircut was a sign that a girl had broken up with a boyfriend.
In this digital age, there are other, equally emphatic, ways of announcing one’s re-introduction to the, uhrm, market.
Like taking down one’s blog and putting up a new one.
Deleting one’s online journal speaks as strongly as cutting off one’s hair. It’s definite (because unless you back up, there is no way of saving those posts, unless you do it manually).
It says “I have a new life,” or “Enough with the complication,” and “I want a clean slate.” It means “I want to start over.” It conveys: “I don’t want you to know what’s happening in my life.”
Many (pre-Blogger) years ago, I was a faithful lurker of a Website by a California-based girl named Stella (I never bothered to find out if it was an alias or not). She was half-Pinay and seemed to be having a fun stateside life compared to my own: the proms, the Friday night sleepovers, the boys.
Stella wrote about her parental troubles, her struggles in school, her big crush (also Pinoy who dressed like Usher) and how she and this boy later hooked up, her college choices, her brother joining the US Navy.
She seemed to me a distant cousin whom I had never met but whose life’s daily inanities I was well informed about.
Eventually, my life got busier and I stopped visiting. Some years later I wondered how she was doing, if she was still the same Stella I had read about.
I went back and lo, a notice: she had moved to a new site (she was studying at UC Berkeley, that much I knew). She and the boyfriend had broken up, and “the memories were too painful” that she had to “abandon the site altogether.”
Friends and strangers who were following her online journal left comments asking for her new URL, but she never replied. The end.
I felt a little sad because I didn’t know how she was doing. After all, I followed her like some captive audience tuned in to Pinoy Big Brother. It was like this good friend had stopped talking to me and there was no way to let her know I could relate with how she was going through or that I knew how she felt. That it was not the end of the world.
I wouldn’t blame Stella. When one’s online life is shared by a handful of others, some of them strangers you would not face in the morning without brushing your teeth, the easiest way to move on, without password-protecting one’s blog, is to delete the entire site and find a new one, preferably with a handle that is totally different.
It’s like suicide.
Except, unlike real life, you can be reincarnated.
The goodbyes, like the breakups, are heart-wrenching. Sometimes moving on can be as simple as ceasing to write, the old blog left as a testament to what was once your previous life. Sometimes the goodbyes are as swift as clicking the Delete button, and with one second, more than a year’s worth of posts is obliterated. Nothing backed up. Nothing to go back to.
Sometimes you grieve over each of them as you would the passing away of a friend who knew all your secrets and stood by you through thick and thin. But sometimes, in the darkest hours, you wonder why abandoning ship was the final option. Maybe it was because you didn’t want to be documented while you were picking up the pieces of your life together. Maybe because you needed the privacy to grieve.
I wrote this in April, when I was in the middle of writing a book. I still haven’t finished the book, dammit! (I promise to finish it soon, so help me God.)
- Announce to all the world, “I am writing a book.” That makes you accountable to it, and it would be a shame if you never got to finish it. (Yes, I am deeply ashamed at the thought.)
- Procrastinate. Wait for those days when creativity just strikes you.
- Complain about so many things. Fill in the blanks. “I can’t write because . . .” Reasons may range from the summer heat, the lack of sleep, the need to shop and reward one’s self before one is compelled to lift a finger and type an entire paragraph.
- Write a thousand words every month. Congratulations, you now have 2,000 words; 18,000 more to go and you have only four months left.
- Repeat to yourself, “I am writing a book.”
- Disappear on the sixth month. That’s when you’ll finish the rest of the 18,000 words. (I’m still in that missing mode and I haven’t finished the book yet!)
Yes, I’ve been missing, but for a good cause. The last couple of months have been busy, busy, busy.
Let me say that again. B-U-S-Y.
It’s the kind of busy that sees me plopping into bed when I get home and tinkering with the latest time-management game, which puts me to sleep. I complained to K, a fellow writer, that I hardly have time to write these days because work is absorbing all my energy, and at the end of the day, I fall asleep in front of WordPress.
Lately I’ve been thinking about real writing and how I miss it. By real writing, I don’t mean SEO writing or Web content writing or blogging or copywriting, which is what I do at work. But one has to do all this professional writing to make money, because there’s no money in book writing. There’s no money in writing about the arts. As much as I want to write about the things I love, the things that stir the soul, the things that make us all feel alive, at the end of the day I need to bring home a paycheck.
And it’s just sad how this has become.
I told N the other day that I wish I had that love back, that same brand of energy I had many years ago when we started this other site. Maybe, like most love affairs, it was a case of “too much, too soon,” and I had wrung out my energy, because one’s enthusiasm can dampen when one has to think about bills at the end of the month.
Okay, enough of the ranting.
I’m proud to say that while I haven’t been doing some real writing, I (well, my company) did get an award from an e-mail marketing site for best performance. Ain’t that swell? At least I can add that to my CV one day.
Also, finally, after two long years of being with the company, we’re finally overhauling the shamefully bad copy and rewriting them. My Chicago Manual is happy to be of use again, I can sense it. KC, whom I hired as a freelancer to help us out in rewriting the copy for all the product descriptions, expressed glee that finally, what we had been wanting to do back then, when we first joined the firm, is finally falling into place. It’s a landmark in itself: a company that never really cared about good content on its Website, finally getting a facelift. I’m energized enough just thinking about it and knowing that all is not lost. What I learned back at Xlibris and Global Sources and with good old Joan Orendain isn’t lost. Content is king!