Blogging Like a Writer, or Something Like That

blogging-as-a-writer

I’ve been writing more often here lately, which is a good thing.

I didn’t commit to anything, but I think putting my intention out there in the world helps create a space where the thought can materialize. In effect, saying I want to write more often, as oppose to promising I will write everyday, becomes a commitment but without the burden of accountability.

In my mind, I have this desire to write but I’m not pressured to do it on specific days or with regularity. But the desire is there and it’s like keeping a mental note to write when the opportunity presents itself. Surprisingly, I find that there indeed are opportunities – small pockets of time that I can devout to writing a post for this blog. Maybe I wasn’t really looking before or I just couldn’t distinguish a time to write from a time to do other things. And I always end up doing other things when I should be writing instead. (No, I’m not referring to my end-of-the-day movie indulgence.)

So if the problem of finding time to keep the blog updated is somewhat solved, let’s shine a light on another one: the actual process of writing itself.

I’m not a prolific writer let alone a good writer. In fact, I’m not even a writer. I’m a blogger and there is a big difference. For one, blogger can publish anything – grammatical errors, typographical errors, or just plain poor sentence constructions and all. No one will hold a blogger to a certain standard because there really is no standard when it comes to blogging. There’s just traffic, as far as we’re concerned, hehe. But kidding aside, unless the blog belongs to a news agency or an educational institution, having poorly written posts won’t ruin the blog or the blogger’s career. The worst that can happen is being called out in the comments section, or in really extreme cases of bad grammar, being shared on social media and going viral, which is actually a better scenario because it’s free publicity. Again, traffic.

So no, bloggers are not always writers. But writers can be bloggers. And in some occasions, a blogger like me can aspire to write like a proper writer. Specifically, I want to be a creative writer. But the problem is how to do it and how to do it with the amount of time I have to write. When I said I’m not a prolific writer, I mean I can’t write fast. It would take me at least half a day to compose something decent. And that’s just the draft. I still have to proofread and/or rewrite parts of the article a couple of times or more. Sometimes, I let it sit for a few days when I feel like I wasn’t able to express my thoughts correctly. Sometimes, I rewrite a big portion of the draft that the final article becomes a totally different piece.

If I write the way and the pace that I do now, publishing a post daily will just remain a dream. What to do?

Because a problem defined is a problem half-solved, let’s identify the weak points in my writing process.

  1. I haven’t find my voice and my style yet. I feel this is so important because this is the creative part of the process and the two things that can define me as a writer blogger. Or a blogger writer, whatever.
  2. I need to write fast. Which I think can be solved by writing short posts with lots of pictures instead. Or by fixing some of the items on the list.
  3. I need to have coherent thoughts and solid subjects/topics. This has always been my problem. I think of a good topic and start to write. But I usually get carried away and include too many thoughts, too many points that just muddle the intended subject and weakens the article.
  4. I have to improve my vocabulary. I always have Dictionary.com opened in another tab because I’m often lost for words.
  5. I still have to polish my grammar. Scared of them grammar police.
  6. I’m bad at closing.  Often, I don’t know how to conclude an article. A bad ending can make a good thing look bad. Like in the movies or TV series, it leaves you feeling confused. Sometimes, ripped off. Worst, enraged.

And that’s where I’m going to leave this at because I don’t know how to end this post. I told you I’m bad at closing. But really, like in this post, I’m just laying out the problem here and my intentions to find solutions for them. Hopefully, something comes up soon.

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Valentines Thoughts

valentines-day

Okay, so Valentine’s Day came and went. The day wasn’t monumental for me. I didn’t allow myself to be lured by my “one free night“, as I fantasized here. But we didn’t stay at home the whole day either. We went out and watch the movie that my husband had been wanting to see for a week. So I would say, it was at least good, not something for the books but good especially because I was able to reflect on some things which made me feel like a tad bit mature.

***

Three days before Valentines, we – all three of us: husband, baby and me – went to watch the opening of the Pyromusical Competition at SM Mall of Asia. For the uninformed, this is an annual international fireworks competition where different countries show off their best musical fireworks display. By musical, it means that every bursts and sparkle are choreographed to match the beat and rhythm  of their chosen music. Every show is a spectacle and I’ve always thought that this is so much better than the fireworks display that we see during New Year’s Eve.

It was really fun to watch and we’ve probably gone to 2 or 3 competitions in the past. This year, having a 2-year-old toddler who will most likely enjoy seeing the night sky being lit up by hundreds of colorful lights, my husband was determined that we go and watch. But I wasn’t as thrilled in the beginning. I mean, I would want to watch a fireworks display any day of the year, but the venue, SM Mall of Asia, is just a little too far from where we live. And I know that the contest will last until 9 p.m or even later.

So I had this picture in my head of travelling for at least an hour in a car with a toddler who refuses to stay still (no, we don’t have a carseat because she hates being strapped); and waiting for hours because we had to get there early to get a good “viewing” location; and getting tired from running after an energizer bunny or carrying her when she doesn’t want to walk anymore, even before the contest starts; and going home late and all the other things that could happen between the time we drive to the venue to the time we drive home.

I think you get the picture, especially if you’re a mom. And it’s a picture of utter exhaustion. I could already see myself feeling so tired from all the things that can and might and will happen that day. Just thinking about it makes me want to curl in my bed and sleep.

In the days leading to the event, I kept dropping hints to my husband that I don’t feel like going. But he ignored them and as far as he’s concerned, we’re still going. On the morning of the competition, I found out that we don’t have a car to use (because my brother borrowed it and my dad didn’t know that we’re going to use it that day). I told him maybe we shouldn’t go because, you know, if I can already see myself feeling tired travelling in a car, how much more it will be if we’re going to use public transportation. We ended up getting into a little argument, and he said that if I didn’t want to go then they’ll just leave me. He and Yani will still go and watch the show.

I am at the point in my baby’s life where as much as possible, I want to be with her when she goes out and experience something. Toddler years are important because this is the time when she’s discovering the world and starting to make sense of everything around her. And I don’t want to miss these moments of wonder and marvel. So even if I wanted to show my husband that I have a point for not wanting to go, I went anyway.

The commute from the house to the venue went rather well. There were no meltdowns, no tantrums, no baby giving us a hard time except for that incident when she pooped on her diapers. I told my husband that I’ll take care of it because he needed to stay to save our “seat”. We’re way outside the mall and I had to carry her all the way back inside to find a diaper changing station. But that was the most tiring part. Overall, everything wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it would be.

When night fell and we were counting down the minutes before the competition begins, I was looking out into the sea and feeling particularly reflective. The sea has this effect on most people, perhaps because it calms our minds and enables us to think better, deeper thoughts.

When the fireworks started, amidst the people ooh-ing and wow-ing at the dazzling pageant of lights and sounds against the  evening sky , I realized something.

I realized that I’m losing my adventurous spirit fast. I’m forgetting how it is to have fun no matter what happens. I used to be that person. Now everything has to be comfortable and fuss-free. Otherwise, I’d rather stay home where I can babysit while resting, or have someone to babysit for me. Maybe it’s because I get tired easily now. But my baby is still young and I don’t want my lack of energy to hinder the things that she could see and experience.

And you know what, it feels good to be out there, even if at the back of my mind, I was thinking how are we going to go home at past 9 in the evening with the rest of the people who watched the contest and more people who were at the vicinity. We managed to after 2 bus rides, 1 jeepney ride and a baby sleeping like a log. We were exhausted, my back was aching and I knew I was hungry but too tired to eat.

But it was a good day. Yani was smiling and laughing a lot, clapping her hands in delight, singing nursery rhymes, talking to other kids her age. No, actually it was a great day even if she  slept through half of the show and couldn’t remember the next day what she’d seen the night before.  I realized it wasn’t the fireworks show that made her day. She didn’t really care about it at all. It was all moot to her, the fact that we went all the way there and waited for hours just to watch an hour’s worth of fireworks.

It was being out there, with all these people that are new to her. It was being in this place, even if she’s been here before but she probably doesn’t remember that – it’s being outside of her daily routines and surroundings at home. As I was saying earlier, she’s still so young that she experiences almost everything as if she’s experiencing them for the first time. And that’s what so wonderful when we bring her outside – how she marvels and takes in all the newness that surrounds her. Even if watching the fireworks is new to her, it’s just one of the many more new things that she experienced that day.

So now that I think about it, I’m glad we went and if I will be feeling reluctant about going out again, I will try to remember why we’re doing it and what it would mean for Yani.

***

I had another insight on Valentine’s day. It’s not really a light bulb moment thing, more like thinking more maturely. You see, we’ve been married for 7 years now and in most of those years, I’ve gotten a Valentines present from my husband. They are either bouquet of flowers or a bag of chocolates, or both. But this year, I didn’t receive any. I knew I wouldn’t so I didn’t expect. For a few months now, he hasn’t been getting enough work and consequently, a much lesser income than what he used to earn. I always discourage him from spending on things that are not important because we have financial obligations that we need to fulfill. A gift is nice, but it’s something we can do away for now.

But he still asked me if I wanted to go out to celebrate the day – do something or eat somewhere not too expensive. And we ended up going to the mall to watch the final installment of Resident Evil. I know, it’s not the most romantic thing to watch. But anyway, at the mall as expected, there were lot of couples, mostly young and middle-aged, and most of the girls are clutching their flowers, probably feeling giddy and special.

I must admit, there was a tinge of envy and maybe some nostalgia as I recall how it feels to receive a bouquet of flowers on Valentines. Nothing like flowers on Valentine’s day can make a woman feel adored. And suddenly my arms felt empty that day because I don’t have one. Don’t think me petty but it’s honestly how I felt.

As I casually looked on, trying not to linger too long at the pretty blooms in other girls’ arms, I reminded myself that if my husband had the budget, I would have my flowers and chocolates – no doubt about that. But we both knew and agreed that we have other more important things to spend our money on. It wasn’t his intention to make me feel less special on Valentine’s day.  Besides, I could sense my husband’s uneasiness when we passed by flower stalls and gift shops. It’s as if he feels bad that he didn’t get me any for Valentines. He’s hurting a bit, too and that made me sad and happy at the same time.  Sad because I wish that wasn’t the case but happy because it’s feels like we’re sharing this bit of sadness with each other.

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One Night Free

escala-tagaytay

Let me say first that this is not a review post.

Have you heard about Hotels.com’s Rewards program? It’s quite simple. You book a total of 10 nights, you get 1 night free. Unlike other hotel booking websites, you don’t accumulate points, which I must say, is better for me because these reward points can be confusing and in my case, totally useless.

I am an Agoda member for many years now, and I never got to use my reward points. Agoda points convert to a cash value that I can use for my next booking. But the thing is, they have a minimum amount for claiming the reward and I don’t always accumulate enough points to get to that minimum value. And then my points expire.

What can I do, I’m not a frequent traveler or hotel-goer, which I understand is the group targeted by the rewards program. And it being a reward means it’s not a right but a privilege of those who are using the website often enough. But it would be nice to be rewarded for the times I’ve used their services when booking our accommodations, when we have the luxury of time and money to venture out into the world. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t happen.

I would still be using Agoda if only for the ease and convenience in booking, had I not learned about Hotels.com rewards system. My dad and his colleague needed to stay in Davao for a week and my dad asked me to help him in buying their plane tickets and finding a hotel to stay. The hotel I was eyeing was not available in Agoda but it was in Hotels.com so I was forced to create an account. That was a blessing in disguise because I learned about their Collect 10 nights Get 1 Free reward. And guess how many nights I have to book? 5 nights but they need 2 rooms so that equals 10 nights.

That means I, the account holder, get 1 free night! The value of the free night is the average value of the collected 10 nights, taxes and fees excluded. But I really don’t mind that. All I really care about is I get to claim the reward without too much rules and restrictions. This is a true free night after all, because I didn’t pay for the 10 nights I booked (my dad’s company paid for those). So I’m just thankful I found out about Hotels.com and now thinking where to spend my free night.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s a perfect excuse to stay somewhere nice and romantic. Or I can save this 1 free night and wait until my dad needs another hotel accommodation so I can get more free nights for a longer vacation. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

But if I were to spend this free night on Valentines, I have my eyes on these hotels/resorts:

crosswinds-tagaytay

Crosswinds Resort Suites, Tagaytay
Because I wanted to go to Baguio while the weather is still cold, but I don’t want the 6 to 7-hour drive to get there.

 

escala-tagaytay

Escala, Tagaytay
Because who would say no to this view at a more 50% off room rate

 

sol-y-viento-calamba

Sol Y Viento, Calamba
Because swimming in a hotspring pool surrounded by nature might be the next best thing to being on the beach.

 

Speaking of being on the beach, I’ve been wanting to go not for myself but for my baby, who I think will benefit from exposure to fresh, ocean breeze. I feel like her immune system is not up to par and she easily gets cold and cough. I know salty ocean breeze has lots of negatively charged ions that are good for the lungs and can improve the immune system. But the nice beaches near us are either still too far or too expensive, or both. I want to stay a least a week so room rate is really a big factor.

Anyway, going back to the free accommodation that I may or may not use for Valentine’s day, none of my hotel picks are exactly free. The room rates are more expensive than the value of my free night so I have to pay at most P2,000 to stay for 1 night in any of them. But the discounted amount is substantial enough for me to be tempted to make a go. What’s keeping me on the fence is, despite the reduced expense on room accommodation, we still need to spend on food and gas and other stuff.

Part of me is arguing that it’s Valentines, it’s a valid occasion – or excuse – to want to go somewhere nice and relaxing; after all I deserve this – or more importantly, I need this break because I’ve been busy and I’ve been tired and stressed. But another part of me is saying, as a matter of factly, that this is not part of our budget for this month and that I made a promise to myself to keep our monthly expenses as tight as I can. Going on this Valentines getaway is definitely going to ruin that.

So am I going, or am I not going?

The free night is valid until the end of the year and it’s not like I’ll be wasting it if I decided not to push through. I will have plenty of other occasions to use it for. But the thought of going feels so beckoning, like a fancy item that you wanted to buy, and you could buy but you know you shouldn’t.

It’s only a few days before Valentine’s day, and the rooms that I’ve looked at are probably not available anymore. So…

Like what I said, I can still use the free accommodation some other time.

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When I Can

Hello blog.

Honestly, I don’t know how to start you – to start this blog and keep it going. It’s been almost 8 months since I wrote something here, and even that something is about the intent to overcome inertia which didn’t really came into fruition.

Is it really so hard to start a blog and maintain it?

I’m a work-at-home mom. I have a 2 year-old daughter, Yani, who can be clingy and needy if I let her, and a babysitter who takes care of her during the day so I can work. At night, when the nanny goes home, I am left with baby’s care. Often, we play or read books or watch her favorite YouTube videos. Then when I feel that she’s winding down, I watch movies on my laptop while I nurse her to sleep.

Sometimes, she can be so sneaky and would sprang back to life after breastfeeding and stay up late (like 11pm late). This means that my movie time would often be interrupted by different pleas to get out of the room, or watch something else on YouTube, or read more books – all of which I would oblige to in hopes that all these will tire her out and she will finally fall asleep (and I can get back to finish watching the movie – that is, if I can still keep my eyes open). But when I’m lucky, she’ll start her journey to dreamland right away and I would be able to understand and finish the movie before I myself become sleepy.

It is during this end-of-the-day movie indulgence that I often find myself thinking, “Should I just write a blog post instead? Am I wasting precious time watching movies when I could have used it to keep this blog updated?” Honestly, I don’t know. And I always choose to continue watching the movies anyway, instead of turning them off to write a post. So I guess that shows my priorities, eh? Or maybe, it’s not that simple.

Watching a movie vs writing a post, let’s try to dissect this a little bit.

Watching a movie is a mindless activity. It can be relaxing (although not always calming) or stimulating (depending on the movie I’m watching). But in general, it is a pretty dumb activity – a way for me to keep my brain busy but not engaged. It’s like doing light exercises at night to relax and tire your muscles at the same time to help you sleep better. I have to choose the movies I watch at night though and make sure they are not too disturbing or emotional. I like feel good movies or Sci-fi/adventure flicks because they are easy to digest and won’t provoke any unwanted emotions that might stimulate my mind and keep me awake and thinking. I stay away from heavy dramas and horror films for obvious reason.

Writing a post is the opposite of a mindless activity. It requires a lot of mind. Sometimes, writing in itself is a taxing process. Even if, let’s say my muse is pleasantly doting and my vocabulary is suddenly generous, writing engages my brain too much which ironically doesn’t make it feel tired and sleepy but makes it want to keep going and going and going and you know where this will lead. I won’t be able to sleep until I write every bit of inspired thought that crosses my mind. And if my brain is really fired up, those thoughts won’t stop crossing.

Of course, writing is just part of the process of writing a blog post. I also need to proofread and find/take pretty pictures to adorn my article with – because a textual blog content isn’t always enough. And these also requires time and a lot of mind, both of which are critical in my chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

So… yes, I know you understand now.

But… of course, there’s always a but.

When can I write? How can I maintain this blog if I don’t have the time and energy to write a post on a regular basis?

I write when I can. Like today, while waiting for something work related, I decided to burn the hours by writing this post. I know saying “when I can”, “when I have time” doesn’t sound determined or definitive. But that’s an honest answer. I can only write when I can, when I have the time. I wish I can say something more resolute like “I promise to write every day” or “I promise to set aside time to write blah blah”, but that would be making promises I don’t know if I can keep.

But here’s what I’m thinking. Maybe if I find more of that “when I can” opportunities, I’ll be able to write frequent enough to a create a semblance of a “maintained” blog. And maybe, if I write often enough, I will develop the habit and find it easier to write more often. And maybe, I will get my groove on and rock this whole blogging thing! And maybe… Okay, I’ll stop myself there.

Bottomline is, I still don’t have a plan on how to write regularly. The best thing I can do, I guess, is to try to find (or create) more of these “when I can” moments. Let’s see how it goes.

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Overcoming Inertia

overcoming-inertia

It took me almost 3 months to write this 2nd post. If that’s any indication of how things are going to be for this blog, then this doesn’t look good at all. But I’m not giving up yet. In fact, the reason why I finally took the time to write this 2nd post is because I want to get the ball rolling.

I’ve had this idea and dream for the longest time: to have a successful craft and lifestyle blog that has both a local flair and a global appeal. I dream of blogging about crafts, sharing beautiful things that I made with my hands, talking about things I’m passionate about, sharing anecdotes of my family life. You know, stuff that lifestyle blogs are made up of.

But for the longest time, I didn’t find the discipline to commit to making my ideas and my dreams, my reality. I’m stuck in the dreaming and planning stage. What I always find are excuses for me not to start anything – I’m busy with work, with family, with life. I don’t have the right materials. I’m not in the right frame of mind. I have writer’s block. Etcetera.

Every time I visit some of my favorite lifestyle blogs (which I do regularly), my heart is filled with longing and envy and wishful thinking. Some of you know how that feels. It is frustrating.

So here’s my first step to overcoming inertia. It’s not much, but it is a step in the right direction.

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