Disclaimer: I know the header pictures and the editing are bad.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed reading.
I would devour everything in sight: imagining being in a world created by another person or learning more about concepts foreign to me. My voracious appetite for text has only increased as I have gotten older, and I generally prefer long-form articles to YouTube videos.
Many writers (serious or not) get started with writing fanfiction of their favorite media properties. Not me. I just did not understand the appeal or shipping.
What happened was that I tried to design my video game console marketing material, with my limited understanding of hardware and software in 2000-2. This period also started me on the path of worldbuilding. The act of constructing an imaginary world.
The World of Xys (pronounced Keys) was an odd mixture of the real world as it was back then, fantasy and technology. Kind of like Anachronox.
I still have all those notes, and they have traveled everywhere with me.
I later put those pre-teen notions to the side and was focused on writing essays during secondary school.
My favorite form of essay was -surprise surprise- not the argumentative one, but the empathetic essay. That's what one of my favorite teachers used to call it. Or...at the very least what I think he used to call it. Listen, there's probably an actual name for it related to ethnography, but I cannot be bothered to look it up.
An empathetic essay is one where you write a diary entry of sorts, from the POV of that person. We did these in history class, and I was deftly able to merge narrative, sociology, and psychology into sub-1000 word masterpieces.
There were other forms of academic writing, but that was the best.
As I got knee-deep into teenage-hood, a flurry of negative emotions set in. Emotions that would inevitably creep into adulthood and contribute to my only suicide attempt.
It's here that I started writing poetry and prose, but not in equal measure. The former far more than the latter, and I experimented with different poetic styles. A lot of these were fueled by unrequited attractions and forced me to dig into a thesaurus to find words that matched. Much like how Eminem read the dictionary every night, but with far less talent.
Additionally, I abhorred the traditional forms and probably thought of myself as some maverick. Some people liked it, some people brought constructive criticism, but there's one critique that cut into me.
On the other hand, I started worldbuilding again. But this time, it was a sci-fi world (that I'm still building). I did not know it at the time, but I was an advocate for what Shamus Young calls domino worldbuilding.
Unsurprisingly, I now wanted to take my lack of talent to the blogosphere. WordPress came to save the day, and I managed to convince friends of mine that we were going to dominate the Southern African blog market.
We started strong with a regular pipeline of content that covered a wide array of topics. Opinion pieces, yearly retrospectives, interviews with upcoming local celebrities, guest bloggers, and whatever else an early 2010s blog was supposed to have.
It taught me a lot about imagery and an editorial voice.
I could not possibly tell you what went wrong. Perhaps life got in the way, or perhaps we lost our collective motivation. I am still in touch with almost all who contributed, and perhaps one day...I'll be able to muster up enough energy to grab a motley crew and conquer the world.
There were two other secret blogs that I started. But honestly, let's not talk about them.
Around 2013-2016, my writing output decreased significantly.
It physically hurt me to write, and it often felt as if I was taking random jobs at the air, rather than the laser-focused writing that regularly partook in years prior. This, coupled with work and an ever-increasing amount of responsibility and less time for myself resulted in my productivity dwindling to zero.
I then moved towards other forms of expressing myself...
Before to my first stint in Japan, I resolved to document my life using two songs:
- Alive by Chase & Status
- Burn My Shadows by UNKLE
In my free time, I learned more about design and cinematography. It didn't hold a candle to what my friends Kwena and Nam can do, but it became an honest expression of what I felt and how I saw the world.
I forced myself to use a single tool (an iPhone 7) to photograph and film everything I possibly could. My most common method was 10-second clips that I knew I could use later. In the end, I had well over 600 videos of varying length (and quality) that I could use to make these videos.
Most people would avoid using licensed music to make glorified travel videos, but I was adamant in doing so.
The first video represents how Japan made me feel alive in ways that I never felt before. There were amazing highs, and resounding lows during that first year in Japan. Pretty much how I predicted things would go.
The second video had a bit more of a storyboard approach to it and feels less....natural than the above. The period of my graduation was to be the end of the long shadow that was being cast on my life for a very long time.
I built up an increased circle of wonderful friends and acquaintances, picked up so many new skills and competencies, learned far more about the world and myself, and met the person who I had no qualms about introducing to my grandfather as the person I wanted to marry. I felt on top of the world.
It would be mighty presumptuous of me to name the age / phase I am currently experiencing. Much like how we call these days the digital / computer / information age.
Post-suicide attempt, I have found some clarity into how I approach writing. A badly mixed concoction of ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos. I usually write down topics ahead of time and conduct some research before letting it sit and simmer. I try not to let others influence my work too much, but it's nigh impossible to be affected by what' happening around me.
The bulk of the writing is done in a flurry at ungodly hours that follow a logical train of thought, mixed with some emotional heft. Some skew towards one side or the other, but all of them serve as a form of therapy: even though I do not think any of them are particularly good.
Because of this slightly unorthodox approach, it is difficult for me to set a schedule for the posts (I tried) or to know how long each piece is going to be. All I ask is that you be patient. Hopefully, it will be worth it.
If you have read this or any other piece, thank you. It's been the most consistent I have been with publishing thoughts on a teensy corner of the Internet.
I hope you're having an awesome week!