At the beginning of the lockdown – well, at the beginning of the year, really – one of my goals was to write more. In the last few years, since I started working in editorial teams of various publications and organisations, I've had limited control over what I write. And when there's time left over, writing is the last thing I want to do. Yet I know that I should, and that it makes me feel better when I write for myself.
The way I think about blogging has changed too. I have themes, essays in mind, long-form writing that is still personal but not random or rambly, but it seems too daunting when (and if) the time comes. I'm not sure when this shift happened, but perhaps social media has something to do with it – Instagram sometimes feels like a micro-blog, and why post on a blog that very few people read and which requires more time if you can share quick texts (and watered-down images) on a platform that gets instant responses? But it isn't as satisfying, and I'm trying to change this. I'm not ready to give up on this beautiful blog that has stayed with me for so many years just yet. So I'm going to attempt a revival, starting small, with little flashes of things I want to express. I've been sitting on this post for a while, but now that I've put it out there, I hope to follow through. There may be listicles, but bear with me.
Here's a brief history. I started my debut personal blog in 2007 – in the liminal phase between high school and college – and called it Reflections. It was a slightly serious title for what would mostly be light-hearted glimpses of my everyday life, and its URL was somewhat strange, nothing to do with me, a phrase borrowed from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Shortly after this, there was The Wayfarers – a group travel blog with friends who fancied themselves globetrotters but weren't, and this fizzled out quickly. A blog of all things Harry Potter, Felix Felicis, had a somewhat better run, but my personal blog was the one that stuck, that I put all the discipline I could muster into.
Those were the days of active blogging communities, where we would read and leave comments on other people's blogs, strangers even, and they might show us the same courtesy. Some of these strangers would become friends who I'm still in touch with, some would become hostile and worthy of a full-out online "war". This active community kept us regular, and the idea that there was someone out there who actually wanted to read about my life was reassuring. Blogs would be redesigned periodically (shout-out to my brother for helping with this all those years ago!), and we would celebrate "bloggiversaries". We would tag each other in challenges, give out awards, adorn the sidebar with badges.
I find myself thinking about those days as we form new virtual communities, more so this year. I've always been comfortable in this space, making friends online that I may or may not go on to meet "IRL", but which in no way diminishes their significance. The blogging community is no longer what it used to be as we all moved on to bigger things, but I've kept my blog alive in some form, always finding it reassuring to have a corner of the internet I can call mine. Onward has existed since 2015 – a transformative year – and it was born mostly from the desire for a fresh start. The title was inspired by a feeling I was consumed by at the time, to become unstuck and keep moving. It's how I used to sign off my emails. I remember a friend telling me that it felt like a good representation of my... philosophy. That life is transient, and we must go, and wander, and seek, with the flow.
Gradually, selected posts from Reflections and other blogs were transferred here, as were all the photographs from my photoblog, Vignettes, started in 2011 to coincide with my first dSLR and travels abroad. A lot of my life is on here – or at least the parts I want people to see. And after five years, it was time for a facelift, so I spent recent weeks fixing up its look. Blogger, a platform I've been loyal to and used for all my blogs, has been frustratingly slow in updating its templates, so when they finally offered some new ones, I jumped at the opportunity to switch to a more mobile-friendly look. They're still not perfect, but it'll have to do.
There's another – perhaps more compelling – reason to keep my blog around. As much of my online writing disappears into a void as though it never existed, this blog has endured, and absorbs that too. Two publications that I wrote and edited for over a period of five years are now defunct, and I have nothing to show for my work there. Others delete articles on a whim, without notification or respect for authors. So this blog will now double up as an archive of my published writing on art, photography and travel, as well as creative writing and interviews. This assimilation will provide a fuller picture of my writing life since 2014, filling in the gaps that have been missing here. I've already begun the process of adding this content, published on the day of actual publication, and these can be accessed via the Archive in the menu. If you have subscribed to this blog, you may occasionally get updates of posts I wrote years ago even though they're back dated – but hopefully they are still relevant and interesting, and you wouldn't mind. Digging into archives can be fun.
Here's to sharing thoughts that cross my mind, scenes that make me smile, niggling questions, and changing vignettes of a changing world. Onward.