Monday, 28 February 2011

Words Are Flowing Out Like Endless Rain

Only problem is...paper cups don't hold much.

If you asked me to write about social issues, current events, international news and Malaysian politics, I could write hundreds of articles, but I wouldn't....unless I got paid for them.

Not only are there countless things to discuss (local politics alone invites endless comment), I can honestly say I enjoy writing about things I care about.

Of course, this being a non-profit blog, and me holding a hectic full time job, it's very, very difficult to find time to write consistently.

You'll notice that often I will write about one thing and not about another. In this blog, the Chilean miners never got trapped, very few famous people died and nothing has happened in China (no booming economy, no earthquakes, not a rising power and I can't remember mentioning the Olympics or not). There have been no natural disasters in Australia, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand since 2009. There was no change of government in Britain. There was no healthcare reform controversy in the US. There was no pullout from Iraq, no surge in Afganistan. There was/are no revolutions in the Mid-East/North Africa. Yet in real life, all these events and trends have captured my attention and imagination.

A specific example: Yasmin Ahmad's death was mentioned, but not MJ's. Both were deaths of people who left important legacies, both were adored by many and commented on extensively, but to different degrees. So, do I love Yasmin more than Michael? Can't say so.

I reacted strongly to both their deaths, and if I had more time I would have wished to write on both. But I wrote about Yasmin as a sort of gut reaction, her death felt close to home, thus the post was short and reverential. For Michael's death, I felt it was more a talented, but relatively distant star that had passed away. I saw Yasmin next to me at Starbucks KLCC, I never saw MJ. Besides, I don't see the point in talking about something everybody else is talking about, unless I feel I have a particularly different take on the subject, or I feel strongly enough to add my two cents.

But I do feel strongly about local social issues (especially those off the general public's radar), civil society initiatives and activism, artistic and creative movements and moments in Malaysia, and of course politics, both local and elsewhere. Yet, I have not written (or if I have then very inadequately) about countless social issues that face our country today. I have not touched on Malaysian politics except here and there, fleetingly. My writing on local arts has been very limited (even though in the area of theatre alone, I must have watched a good 15 - 20 plays and performances since 2010).

Again, why write on a few things and not others? As I said before, if I were a full timer, I'd actually love to write widely, non-stop. I really would, but since I'm not, I don't bother. Not because I don't want to, but because I can't. Time-wise, I just can-not. I have an "all-time job", and plenty of other responsibilities and interests besides.

Also, my approach to (non-fiction) writing, especially with regards to sensitive issues such as race and politics, is to write with civility and carefully considered, sensible points (or at least thought out enough not to be flippant). That is how I want to participate in any discourse, no matter how small my voice or how insignificant my contribution. I want to speak for reason and moderation and progressive reform. I want to speak up, but I do not want to shout and scream (unless absolutely called for). If, due to lack of time, I cannot meet these standards I've set for myself, then I'd rather not write at all (which, last year, had more often than not been the case).

I do not want to be be judged as unfair, or worse, inconsequential, if I write often but with little care for quality and reasoned arguments (as many bloggers do). I'd rather be judged as someone who has reserved his voice, for whatever reason. Of course, I don't want people to think I don't know or care about these things, which is just as bad! I suppose that's why I wrote this piece. I just find it unnerving that people place judgments on me based on the most fleeting or shallow of reasons or observations.
Actually, I almost always have something swimming in my head I wish I could write about, be it about some story for a play or some controversial political development, and by writing I would like to see if I'm able to develop the idea or argument into something worthy of sharing. Yet often I have to let these ideas slip away due to other commitments. It is just frustrating to have so much to say, so little time to say it.


Post a Comment