Nick Ang profile picture

Nick Ang

This is not a personal blog anymore

(This is #4 of 30 raw essays in 30 days. The topic is my own. #3 was published on my newsletter as a paid subscriber only post and won’t be found on this site.)

I would like myself to disappear and write about life in a way that is about the tiniest kernels of truth that exist in every moment of each of our lives. I would like to be entirely irrelevant in my posts except perhaps for my credentials to be recognised to put you at ease that you can trust what I write is free of personal agenda and any bullshit. Maybe even this credential part is something I’ll learn to prefer to be tuned out eventually since I can imagine feeling the pressure of living up to some invented stable version of me that is supposed to always show up in a particular way on the page.

I’ve been exploring the craft of writing since my first year in university. I kept a blog. I would write whatever comes to mind (and I still do write this way) but most of them are based on my experiences and I tended not to edit my background out of them. Which is to say, you probably needed at least a little — if not a lot — of context on who I am to get the most out of the post. I haven’t extracted myself from the equation.

This, for the most part, seems to still be the way I write any posts that I end up publishing (now mostly on my Substack). Think of something that happened recently worth pondering, write about that thing directly, edit, and publish. The problem with this is that I’m not helping the reader look past my shoulder enough to see the thing being discussed with their own eyes. My shoulder is in the way of the reader seeing the whole picture as intended. It shouldn’t.

For example, circle back to two paragraphs earlier when I said this:

I’ve been exploring the craft of writing since my first year in university. I kept a blog.

That’s me writing as me, which is making you, the reader, need to know a little about me, like why else did I “keep a blog”? Am I a lonely kind of person, and blogging was an outlet for me to feel like I was talking to someone? Or am I the extremely outgoing person who has many experiences packed into each day and just has plenty to talk about? If you didn’t know anything about me, hearing that I’d “kept a blog” would mean almost nothing. But if you knew that I was indeed feeling lonely and that was why I kept a blog, you would then be able to make your call about how you feel about me having kept a blog (it was his refuge) and you might reconsider how to engage the things that I wrote about (but I’ll be careful not to take his words too seriously because I know my thoughts when I’m lonely are far too untrustworthy).

I have another motivation to shed my identity from what I write: some friends and acquaintances have started to expect from me something of a changelog of my life through my posts (write more about campervanning!), and that’s not what I want. Not anymore. I no longer wish to write to be understood; I wish to write to understand.

A feasible way out is to write short stories where I use fictive characters to describe what I’m thinking. This seems to come with the desirable friction of requiring me to explain the backgrounds of these characters, in some detail as to be useful, so that I can then do something like letting Character A talk to Character B, and seeing what B might say in response, and letting this intermingling unfold in a controlled way. I would have successfully disappeared from the story, and I would probably learn something new related to my original observation, born out of the creative energy of characters interacting with each other.

The process could be fun and the result could be great!

Nick Ang profile picture
Senior software engineer, dad, writer-thinker type. Big on learning something everyday and trying to have fun before the lights go out.
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