Be prepared for a long, and deeply personal, read.
Today marks the one year anniversary of my first post on this blog, Hello World!. Since then, I have written a total of 53 posts, an average of one a week (though the average per week has been steadily increasing). Today’s post will be a reflection on what I’ve learned from this experience, how I have grown, and where I plan to go from here.
One thing is clear, at least to me; I have become a considerably better writer over the course of the past year. If you look at my early posts (roughly July 2016 and earlier), and compare them to the more recent ones, they are quite poorly written. They are generally short, and seem incomplete. The early posts generally don’t flow well and are also quite timid. I don’t actually say much conclusively one way or the other. The focus is much more on summarization than actual analysis. Paradoxically, my early posts also feature some of my most unfounded claims and predictions (in particular, the posts about the US Presidential Election in which almost all the predictions proved wrong). They are also somewhat emotionless and cold. It is an odd mix of a fear of expressing myself personally with a desire to make bold claims and predictions. There is not much of “me” in them.
Here is where enters one of the main takeaways this experience has given me: confidence. Confidence in myself and my writing. When I first started this blog, it was out of desperation. I had not found a job, my college degree collected dust, and I figured that a blog was simply a low-cost way to be able to say I was doing something. My heart was not really in it, and I did not really believe that I had the talent to pull it off. I did not put much of myself in the early posts, my own emotions and passions, because I didn’t really believe that people would want to read it or that it would be any good. Since then, experience and the constant encouragement of friends and family (not to mention the musical magic of Kate Bush) has done wonders for me and my writing.
My whole life, I have had trouble expressing myself. I have always been timid and shy, and afraid of speaking to people. In my youth, I was in Special Education and diagnosed with mental retardation. (It was later to be amended to Austism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, and with medication I was placed in the ‘gifted’ classes and was a picture of academic success). I did not have a friend in the world until I was around 13, and as such I only really learned how to interact with people starting then. But all through this, I have always been a deeply passionate and creative person but unable and unwilling to express it. Through High School and College I developed into a talented writer, but only academically. I never wrote anything remotely personal. And then, after college, I began a blog out of desperation.
Writing, about myself and for myself, has proven to be exhilarating and liberating. As I have gained confidence in myself my writing has become more personal and expressive. While my writing is still about politics, for me politics is personal. I have always had a great love for heroics and romance, determination and bravery. In my childhood, I was inspired by the tales of Arthurian legend and images of knights fighting off dragons. Later came the Lord of the Rings, with its deeply poetic depictions of valor and courage. In more recent history I have been inspired by the Arab Spring and the romance of the barricades. A great activist desire welled within me, and writing has allowed me to fulfill it. A year ago, I never imagined that I would ever write something as personal as Donald Trump, My President. I never dreamt that I would be as free and expressive as in My Fellow Americans, Vote! or The Second Presidential Debate. I most certainly would not have written this post. Even my more conventional, journalistic posts have greatly improved and are much better written, benefiting from increased confidence in my writing.
But aside from personal growth, what does this all mean? What can you, the reader, take from this article and my experience? Ultimately, don’t be afraid to share what inspires you with the world. For me it is Kate Bush and politics, and I share them freely. One of the greatest fears we have in this world is the fear of ourselves: we fear what we can or cannot do, we fear how others see us, we fear how we see ourselves. Letting go of that fear is hard, and never truly complete, but also rich and rewarding. Also, don’t be afraid of failure. For all of my lofty, self-congratulatory remarks in this article the fact remains: after a year, almost no one actually reads my blog and my writing still has great room for improvement. Some of my most recent posts are still guilty of many of the flaws I described in my most early writing. In one sense, I have accomplished very little with my blog (though readership has grown considerably in the last two months, it is still painfully small). But the experience is still one that has given me a great deal of happiness and a renewed sense of worth.
Going forward, I hope to continue to improve as a writer and to write much more often. One issue that still limits my blog is that writing about politics, particularly international politics, is greatly dependent on investigative reporting. I simply do not have the resources to be a reporter, that requires money for travel and credentials for press access. As such I am limited to commentary on what I can find in the news, which is further limited by what I am knowledgeable enough to comment on. It is difficult to be an activist when you lack the resources to be active. To this end I implore my readers to interact with me. If you see something interesting, share it with me! If you have questions about a topic and want me to cover it, let me know! Let me know what issues drive you and I will do my best to cover them. Let me know what developments in the world trouble you and I will do what I can to investigate. You can email me through the Contact Us page, or connect with me through Facebook or Twitter.
Keep in touch.