I’ve been writing for quite a while now; this is probably the fourth or fifth (or even sixth – I’ve honestly lost count) iteration of my original blog, which I originally put up on Geocities back in February 2001. Since then, I’ve written on-and-off since then, with fairly large swathes of time when I stopped writing completely. And the impetus for writing hasn’t always been the same: initially, I wanted to write to share my opinions on things about my life as a university student; eventually, as I started work, I wanted to share neat things about what I was working on, like a neat hack to to generate frequency counts from a table in SQL – which, in hindsight, would have probably been better done had I known about window functions.
I started journalling when I was a teenager. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable being introspective, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to also write online. The question though, as always, was what I felt comfortable sharing.
I wrote on my journal back in my youth, if I were being honest to myself, out of a bit of teenage angst. It developed quite afterwards as a way to look at my day, to reflect on the good or bad that’s happened, and to think about it, or at least to try to detach myself from it and to introspect.
So why do I write now?
Nowadays, I write to talk about my life as it is, as someone who writes software for a living in general, and as a Filipino writing software in particular – and that might mean thinking out loud about the business of writing software as a freelancer, or about my journey so far. I still do write about code on occasion, although I’m admittedly struggling to do that now, as there isn’t much I can write about in that vein without getting myself in trouble.
My blog is in one form or another quite autobiographical, no matter how much I try to keep my private life private – not that I’m famous and of note, mind, but then again social media is autobiographical, and I prefer to do it in things on my own terms. I want to tell stories, and sometimes those stories are my own.
I also want to at least share those little things I’ve learned along the way, in the same ethos as open source and free software. I might not necessarily contribute directly (or as often) to the community of code, but hopefully I can contribute something, nonetheless.
I have to admit though that there’s a bit of narcissism involved in keeping a blog online, similary to posting selfies on Instagram – in a relatively more old school fashion, however. There’s always a dimension of self-indulgence in writing in this blog, This, in a fashion, my public journal, although definitely more curated. What keeps me honest, hopefully, is always keeping that fact in mind, and to write with some humility.
And my (sometimes failed) attempts to post regularly are at least a realization that a blog needs an audience, and previously I had likely lost chunks of that audience when I stopped writing for long stretches of time, spans when I took hiatuses. I’ll try not to do that, and I can’t yet promise I’ll be more consistent. Maybe next year. I’m definitely trying to get better at this, so bear with me.
In the end, this isn’t all indulgence. Writing is a skill that I believe has a large bearing on my actual day-to-day work. You might see it as something quite orthagonal to the cold, logical, rational act of writing code, but I see it as actually another side of the same skill: when we write code, we are not only describing an implementation of some algorithm, but we are instead communicating ideas to other humans reading the code. That’s why there’s such an emphasis on readable code, as code is read more often than it will be written.
True, the art and practice of writing words on a page is definitely different from laying out the logic of a function, but the skills involved in honing and organizing your thought processes so that you tell a story in your prose is in my mind one and the same as the ones you should use when writing your code so as to be readable by your colleagues, or your future self.
So hopefully I can keep this up, and write more. And hopefully writer’s block never beleaguers me.