Finding my own voice

The Internet is a funny place. A person with an opinion or a dream can easily set up a platform to communicate any serious or silly thought without anything more than a browser and an Internet connection. Some people make their entire living this well either having a sponsored blog or online store for their works. 
My presence on the Internet has been rather light in comparison. I’ve been sharing my thoughts and opinions, in one way or another, online for some 10 years now, starting with Blogger back in 2006.

I’ve had my Twitter phase, Facebook phase and dabbled with tumblr and other weird social networks (anyone remember Path?). So far the only platform that’s felt the most substantial has been WordPress. 

On the 11th of November 2008 I started ‘The Saentinel’ not quite knowing where it would lead me. At the time I wanted to be able to type whatever popped into my head. I’d had a blast back before on blogger releasing a constant stream of thoughts and insights, often with a Christian slant. But blogger felt very ‘juvenile’ somehow and I was drawn to what appeared to be a more mature product at WordPress. 

But my life had changed by then. In 2008 I wasn’t the same student with all the free time that entailed. I was an employee at a small firm and working progressively harder as time passed. Other than a couple of longer posts my output slowed to a crawl. The blog had taken the back seat in my life as I worked, pursued the girl of my dreams, married and returned to Singapore for good in 2009. 

By 2010 I was the father of an energetic little boy and lost more of my free time as I juggled being a husband, father and employee. In 2011 we’d bought out own place and began the arduous task of renovating and moving. By end 2012 we were blessed with another baby boy which filled our lives further. Around 2011 we were also seeking to set down roots to grow as we settled into a church and started attending regular bible study. 

Come end 2015 and our family unit is finally complete with the introduction of our daughter. The dust hasn’t settled yet and we’re still settling into a routine but having to put a baby to sleep has given me some time to ponder the direction I’d like to take for this blog. 

I’ve been fascinated by the success that some Writers or (for wont of a better word) Creators have had online. The common factor that I’ve been able to discern from all their examples is this: they’ve remained true to their vision to write/draw/pursue their craft that emphasises their unique take on the world. 

Some put it this way; if you want to be a writer than be the writer that you want to read. Same goes for designers, song writers, artists etc. Produce the stuff that you want to see created on the net instead of waiting around for others to do it. 

That’s incredibly inspiring. 

I’ve linked to some of the blogs that I enjoy reading and most of them practice the above advice in one way or another. They’ve been relatively consistent over the years, so much so that over time it’s possible to tell the personal interests of each writer. All have gotten better at their craft over time. 

Tumblr is full of self published comics that have emerged just as the publication of comics in newspapers has declined. These online webcomics are no longer confined to the 3 panel format of newspapers and some have developed into incredible mediums of graphic expression. Most just remain humble doodles as their authors have confessed to having limited artistic ability. Despite this apparent ‘handicap’ they are no less hilarious and by churning out regular updates they’ve developed a unique style. This persistence has won them devoted followers and they’ve been able to monetise their artwork through sales of merchandise. All that from having a computer and a sense of humour! 

Considering all these examples online it’s made me more convinced that I just want to be able to write more online. 

Looking back to 2006 my initial attempts resemble an online journal more than any kind of serious discourse. More recently I’ve turned to sharing links to articles that I’ve enjoyed with some quick thoughts. This was my way of continually updating my site without having to type too much. This was fun and satisfying to a degree but I never felt that I was really developing my own opinion which I feel is more valuable and worth sharing. 

Echoing the work of others online has been slowly losing value as different companies have been developing algorithms to find and curate articles online. Places like Reddit are superb at discovering articles online filtered according to a person’s interests. 

Being a content maker on the other hand is still incredibly valuable. The medium might be the same since the barriers for entry are low but my singular voice is the sole differentiating factor. And I hope to exploit that. Looking back there have been some pieces I’ve written that I’m incredibly proud of whether here or on Freshlibaked. I’d like to double down and continue to churn out more posts that make me feel that way. 

I doubt I could actually achieve much success online. That just isn’t my aim for doing this. Still I’m certain that if I keep on practicing my writing and never stop developing my style I could eventually make a mark online, carving a space that’s mine alone. 

So what will I write about now? At this moment I have a few ideas rolling around the back of my head that I’ve been meaning to develop. The Saentinel has always been a place for me to air my opinions and I hope to continue to develop that far into the foreseeable future. 


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