I have not been blogging actively for the past few months. This is mostly due to my commitment to The Malaysian Insider. I have discovered that maintaining a column is harder than consistently updating a blog. I do not know how others do it but I certainly have to make compromise among various choices.
Number of posts per month has dropped drastically. It was typically close to 30 posts per month. Ever since I began contributing to The Malaysian Insider, reaching the number 20 is not a guarantee any more.
Academic demand makes the whole issue harder than I had imagined it would be. Truly, there are times that I have to delay my column to focus on any assignment with looming deadlines. I need to do extremely well during my time in Australia — something that I consider as my time in self-exile — to justify whatever I am doing at the moment and open doors that I desperately want opened wide.
Or maybe that is just an excuse. Now that the semester is in a break, I am still unable to sort out my writing schedule. Funny that even when time is aplenty, I am struggling with my writing schedule. For instance, I missed my column for this week.
I am not regretting about contributing to one of the most popular news outlets in Malaysia. I admit, I do enjoy some of the attention I get from individuals that I could only imagine engaging without the column.
It also forces me to think harder of what to write. I want my idea to be able to withstand criticism.
It is also practice in consistency. By consistency, I mean to test whether my own opinion is consistent with my ideals. I place a huge premium on consistency; I tend to dismiss individuals who are inconsistent with their positions for I typically associate inconsistency with dishonesty.
That is yet another reason why I discover why I have trouble writing. I am becoming a slow mechanistic thinker. I need to consider so many things to come to a point.
Never mind the demand on grammar. I am always careless with grammar. With my blog, I tend to publish my stuff and re-read it after that. I could correct any mistake immediately. With column, that is harder to do. Moreover, with wider audience, bad grammar makes one looks stupid. I do not like to look stupid. Therefore, I need to be attentive to what I write and how I write it. The column helps to instill discipline in me as far as grammar is concerned.
There was one factor that prevented me from writing frankly previously. It was the oppressive public opinion. More than that, it is the opinion of friends and colleagues. By the time I was comfortable writing for The Malaysian Insider, my acquittance ranges from both sides of the political divide, sometimes going as high as up to positions of power.
Then, at my workplace, which was a government-linked company, I had a hard time shutting up as a libertarian. I thought, my decision to quit and come to Australia is one of the best decisions that freed me from that constraint that I found myself trapped in, even if it was not others that imposed it.
Then, there was a consultancy firm that was UMNO-linked. That was another tough spot that I found myself in. Friends within Pakatan Rakyat were definitely suspicious of what was going on, especially in times. And I think clients of the firm were suspicious of me. Nevertheless, it was definitely interesting, especially having the opportunity to attend the party’s general assembly but that is behind me now.
Also, many of my acquittance comes from countries with government that I deeply disagree with. Like the People’s Republic of China, for instance. My general hostility to religion is yet another factor that may open me to unfair criticism. I suddenly became self-conscious about these thing; I began to become acutely aware of all this while reading Mill’s On Liberty much, much earlier. I am glad to share that I have overcome that. Farish Noor wrote a short message to me, encouraging me to ignore the oppressive public opinion.
Furthermore, maybe, I think too highly of myself. Maybe, they do not really care whatever I write. Why should they care? Even if they cared, my liberty cannot be compromised. And so, I dismissed this concern of mine, thanks to Mill.
For the next few months, I intend to catch up with my slack.