After 9 Years of Blogging Tirelessly…

silver macbook pro
Why do you keep blogging if you don’t make money of it at all? (Photo by Pexels.com)

I am still going strong!

The 27th of October has been always a special day on my calendar since forever. Besides the fact that it’s my birthday (cough!), it’s also National Blogger Day in Indonesia. Today also marked my ninth year of blogging. I’ve never thought I would’ve gone this far. Especially these days, when social media enjoyment has taken over the joy of hitting ‘publish’ button on your blog dashboard and get some likes and comments from readers of your blog(s). But this is definitely not the end of my blogging pursuit.

It’s true that I’d never planned to develop this blog to be a really professionally-managed one so that I can make some money of it. As you can see, this blog has some spots of Google Ads but to be brutally honest, it doesn’t generate even a single cent of income for the blogkeeper. That said, I get into thinking that I must soon take down all these useless ads and quit being the disgruntled ad publisher. It doesn’t add value for my readership anyway.

So why do I keep blogging if I don’t make money AT ALL? You may ask.

In my first amateurish blog (akhlispurnomo.blogspot.com), in the most confident and shameless way I picked a tagline, “Blogging, My Second Religion”. You can laugh at it now, but that’s somehow still the perfect description of my reason of writing this blog (and some others).

Very few of these write-ups on my blogs generated enough money to feed me, at the very least. Yet, I always long for the satisfaction that I can only feel when there are some readers who leave comments or silent readers who never leave comments but someday I ran into and told me they liked some of my articles a lot. Probably this is very self-centered. It’s a way to satiate my hungry ego, but once again why should I stop blogging when I can entertain and inform people around me or around the world with some bits of my thought and opinions?

I’ve got to admit that I almost completely abandoned this blog’s domain, which is like a hard-earned domain. I once had a domain of my full name but along the way I failed to renew it (blame it on the M@#$%^& credit card!) and it got bought by some opportunistic domain buyer who may have thought I would beg him or her to give me the domain at a much higher cost.

Just a month ago, before my domain expired, I came to a decision that I might just let this go. “It’s a hobby so why bother spending money for it?” I thought. I considered relying only on the free blog hosting service like WordPress.com and Blogger.com but then I reweighed it after a course of content marketing that I took. It said owning a domain that bears our name is a must if we aim to be a competent, competitive digital player. Well, I made up my mind and renewed it.

Each word in this blog (and some others) shows you my ups and downs; progress and regress; happiness and sorrow. It’s a long winding road of my life journey and self-development. I get almost completely intellectually naked in my blog write-ups, which I further think is quite scary and risky in the future. That’s why every time I write, I keep reminding myself of the risk of posting stuff on the web. No blogging allowed when I get angry and emotional!  Or else I’ll regret it. And even if I intended my write-ups to be less offensive and more helpful for some, I still find some others getting upset by what I write on this very blog.

Lesson to learn? We can never satisfy everyone.

Though I humbly admit that my blog is not an extremely popular one, I take pride of it. In this social media age, when Instagram caption or Facebook status or tweets is what you call ‘write-ups’, I can still find time and collect my intellectual energy for this seemingly pointless undertaking.

I guess this clearly defines what passion is really. Passion is something we still do even if we no longer (or never) can make money of it, or something we keep doing even if we have to make money from other jobs but we still stick to this one ‘useless’ thing.

So I can say after 9 years of tirelessly blogging, I hardly made money from this blog but the blog has made it POSSIBLE for me to land many jobs, ranging from a journalist, a copywriter, a translator, an editor, a book writer, a magazine writer and even a guest lecture, which never snapped on my mind. All these jobs are paying ones (forget about the image of a lonely, tortured, poverty-stricken writer). This would be different if I had spent my time for writing Facebook updates, producing tweets like crazy, or selecting the right diction for a caption on Instagram to impress followers.

Anyway, happy National Bloggers Day! Keep blogging no matter what! (*/)

 

 

 

 

My Portfolio [as of February 2018]

Here is a collection of my published works in various media, both print and online. Some are written in Indonesian and some others English. They’re chronologically ordered, from most recent to oldest. Click on the titles of article to read further.

February 2018

“Indonesia’s Top Foreign CEOs 2018” Book

With Pieter Daniel Van Zyl of Allianz Utama

With Marc Louette of Sampoerna Agro

December 2017 

Perjalanan 3 Dekade Nurhayati Rahman Lunasi ‘Utang’ La Galigo [Magdalene.co]

November 2017

One of Writers of “Indonesia’s Top CEOs 2017” (Warta Ekonomi)

August 2017

Writer of Art Republik Magazine (3rd edition)


August 2017

Co-facilitator at Social Media Workshop (August 8th, 2017) for Itjen Kemenkes’ public relations division

 

July 2017

A keynote presenter  and facilitator at Social Media Workshop (July 27th, 2017) for Itjen Kemdikbud’s public relations division

 

A keynote presenter  and facilitator at Social Media Workshop (July 27th, 2017) for BPKP public relations division

 

June 2017

Translator of “Ensiklopedi Suku Bangsa Indonesia” by Zulyani Hidayah (funded by LitRI and to be published by Springer, Singapore)

October 2016

Runtuhnya Wibawa Pusat Bahasa

 

September 2016

Penulis, Pajak dan Kesejahteraan [Detik.com]

Mengapa Entrepreneur Perlu Lebih Skeptis Saat Membaca Biografi Orang ‘Sukses’

 

Kenapa Seks Sehat bagi Wanita Tapi Bisa Memperpendek Umur Pria?

August 2016

Jebakan Kuantitas dalam Inkubasi “Start-up”

April 2016

Kintamani Bali Dog (as editor)

 

January 2015

One of authors in “Menemukan Makna, Merayakan Cinta” (Yoga-themed collection of writeups)

October 2014

Writing for YogaInIndonesia.com. (click to read the article)

January 2013

Featured on Tabloid Nova as social media officer of @ciputraway (which I initiated in August 2010)

 

 

YEAR OF AUTHORITY

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Writers versus authors: Who wins? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Dear beautiful souls,

I have a friend who is kind but sometimes likes to make a scene. I don’t mind all that because again she is basically kind.

One day she blurted out. “I’m no writer. I’m an author,” she rebutted. She claimed writers and authors are different. How different are they, besides the spelling? According to my WordWeb dictionary, the word “author” itself refers to “someone who writes professionally” and “writer” “a person who can write and has written something”. There is some overlapping between the two obviously.

Writers are, she argued, those folks with exceptional and versatile writing skills. They can write about anything they ‘wish’ to or, actually, anything their big clients want them to. It’s more about making a great deal of money through publishing and media industries.

In a tone full of pride, she declared:”While authors have more freedom. They are more independent from this marketing and sales factors. Writing for the sake of passion is what they more likely do.” We almost threw up. Luckily, we didn’t. We hadn’t had anything to eat so there was practically nothing to be thrown out of our system.

I remember how enraged she was when an editor told her to read a best selling book and ask her to revise her works based on it. “Why don’t you try to write like this man? He sells a lot,” the editor blatantly suggested. “Blahhh!!!” the thin skinned lady stealthily sneered at the editor. An epitome of pig-headedness she truly was.

Yet, in some way I agreed with her thoughts. Authors — compared to writers — have more authority over their literary pursuit. They are liberated creative souls that seems to be utterly fearless, intuitive, easy going and fun.

Apart from that innate talent of picking best words to convey messages and knack for playing with words and sentences and all those literary tools, in the word of “author” lies also a meaning of the power or right to give orders and make decisions  not only in one’s literary journey but also life in general.

Be the author in our own life. And let God edit the drafts. And no matter how ruthless the editing process may become, promise ourselves we don’t quit writing and rewriting.

Happy new year and may we all live a year of more authority in 2016.

XOXO,

AP

JK Rowling Shared Her Writing Tips

“Would you like to be an author? Read as much as you can. I’d say read anything. The more you read the better. Because it’ll teach you what you like and what you think makes a good writing. It will increase your vocabulary. And you just have to keep on and on writing and then you’ll find you hate most of what you write at first but sooner or later you’ll write something that you quite like. And lots of trees would have to die and it’s because you’ll be crumpling everything up…” – J. K. Rowling

Elevator Girl

‎Do you know the feelings when someone – of all people you have encountered in a place this huge and tall you frequent – happens to know a book you are reading? Exactly know the book like you do! That is what exactly what my friend feels today.

He finally found someone who knew the book he is read‎ing is the one read and favorited by the murderer of John Lennon decades ago. And that is not a kind of piece of information anyone knows even for a literature student. So this person is so so erudite, literaturewise. A person who knows and recognizes the fictitious world beyond this mundane, floody and boring real world.

Isn’t it wonderful? Life always surprises us, he told me jovially. I can’t agree more with him.

“Should I fall for this person?” he asked.

That sounds absurd. To fall for a girl who happened to know the book you are reading is quite beyond my ken.

Yet I know if his heart wants it, I told him to simply ignore what I uttered.

He told me again and again how smart this human being seems to be at a glance. She looks more than just a lowly slave of a big corporate. She has got that thing, he explained. What is the “thing”‎ is something he cannot explain further. It is stuck there. Without any clear explanation whatsoever.

"Writing is an Art and You Don't Rush Art" – Super Wealthy Authors

‎I hate disturbingly affluent authors. Not that I want to choke them to death or beat them with pebbles or decapitate them like that poor Japanese journalist. I’m not that mean, seriously.

It’s more because they have the luxury and privilege ,or whatever you call it, ‎ to write their best works without having to give a single ( sorry) damn to what the market or readers or buyers or publishers desire. Deadlines are given but still they make sense and there’s still much time to produce and rewrite and rewrite like a thousand times so the best stuff can be served to people awaiting to read.

Joanne Rowling aka J. K. Rowling once said she never bothered whether she had to publish “The Casual Vacancy” or not. She for a period of time enjoyed ‎the secrecy and privacy of writing for the sake of writing, something missing while she was writing Harry Potter series for 17 years. She clearly didn’t write solely for financial purposes after being filthy rich. After the wildly successful Harry Potter series, Rowling seems to be very very very few authors on the Earth who least need more sources of income to support her daily basic expenses and besides, her spouse is a doctor!

Just like Rowling, Elizabeth Gilbert shared quite similar a fortunate story‎. After becoming a rich and illustrious memoirist, Gilbert also found solace in the abundant wealth she got in exchange for her privacy. You know what I mean because she wrote a heartfelt memoir on her love and spiritual life. Such a larger-than-life topic to cover within a single literary work, in fact.

But with the loss of privacy, she obtained the freedom of writing. She can use the money she’s got from the previous memoir royalty to fund the publication of her next ambitious fiction project‎, The Signature of All Things.

I’m convinced that these authors are not just lucky. Even if it is luck, I can argue that luck must be built. They worked their way up there. They started early, they’ve known what‎ they wanted to do since childhood.

Writing is an art, and you can’t rush art but why do deadlines exist in the first place? Anyone knows?

Lessons from the Book Launch

The coach mentioned, as long as my memory serves right, about this site called future.me. As he told in an exuberant manner on why everyone should visit the site and write down to his own future self, I got a shiver.

“You can write down your own life plans there to your future self. And what matters most is that… y’all will get the plans in your email inbox at the specified time. So if you set it to be sent 10 years from now, you’ll get the email 10 years from now. As simple as that. So if you cannot rach your desired goals, you’ll be so sorry. That means you suck and you must work harder and find the answer as to why you suck in this life,” the coach extolled the undertaking of planning life.

The audience kept silent. They moved nothing. Their eyes might roll in bewilderment. “What this ambitious, seemingly successful and wealthy young man was trying to tell us?”they might think.

I was stunned by this. Do we really have to think that way? Do we need to insult ourselves in the future just because we fail to achieve the objectives in our 10-year, or 20-year, life plans? Some people think we do.

I don’t, however.

I’m not that mad to plan my life in such a way. Not because I don’t have any ambitions in life. Not at all. I do have a list of ambitions. I want to get published a lot. I want to meet great people. I want to write books and anything useful for others. I want to have more freedom in life, making choices and taking responsibilities. I want to have my own family someday. I want to enrich my life with yoga, whether it be teaching or practicing. I want to be happy, ample and free. And the list goes on.

But life doesn’t always go your way. You cannot control life anyhow, no matter how great you are. Life is too powerful to conquer and to be controlled.

All these years, it has dawned on me that being a human being means accepting the fact you’re microscopic cosmic dusts in this infinite universe. Seriously, we in fact almost means nothing. Whether we exist or not, the world keeps going as it has to be. The sun keeps on shining even if your most beloved ones are dead. The Milky Way is still up there even if it’s time for us to leave this world. We’re really a mere complement to this world. Not more.

That said, I arrive to the conclusion that life always offers you failures. But some failures are not real failures. This type of failure leads us to a better life at times. What seems to be bad luck sometimes changes into an unbeaten, hidden path leading us to a higher level of life achievement which you didn’t even plan or never cross your mind before.

So when my future self receives the email in 2025, I might crack a smile and write a satire of it. Because it feels like I read a letter from a childlike version of me. Life so far has taught me how fast humans can change their minds, their beliefs, their spouses, their careers. And chronicling it enables us to track down the development of our foolishness.

I may lose some things in life but it doesn’t mean I’m a total loser. So long as I do my best in life, how can I become a loser?

To the coach, I wish I could say this:”Get a life.”

But thank God I held my sharp tongue. He’s still in his twenties. I hope he learns a lot over time.

Why Tablets Never Attract Me

‎Tablets belong to a clumsy, awkward and outlandish category of gadgets, which is why I cannot care about them less. They are too cumbersome as a mobile device we can use at ease on the go. They attract more people with huge thumbs and fingers, and sadly also more pickpockets and thieves. While you can easily conceal your phone with a 4-5 inch display inside your pockets, phablets (phone-tablet) and tablets are slightly bigger. And it cannot slip smoothly into your trouser’s pockets. Never ever.

Tablets with cellular connection also make you like a dumb caller. I at times see people calling or answering calls on their tablets and I almost giggle when they holler,”Helloo?!” I would say using tablets as a phone is too unfashionable on so many levels.

‎And if you write on daily basis like me, ‎tablets are disastrous tools of writing. A novelist friend gave her tablet a try as a writing tool. She posted it on Facebook. “I’m now trying it!” she announced in a proud tone and ever since she has never bragged about the experience of writing (typing) on a tablet. I am certain she abhorres it to no end after learning how to accurately type words fast with fewer typos. Believe me tablets are not designed for writing. They are more for gazers, window shoppers, consumers, readers.

‎ (Image: GQ Magazine)

Life After the Book Launch

Nothing‎ changes after the book launch took place days ago. The blue boy still gets busy with his dreams, plans and future itinerary while time is floating subtly as usual. He goes to campus, attends classes, and takes notes. Everything a university student usually does.

Or not. I just find out it’s the time when university students take recess between semesters. So that explains why the book launch was on last Saturday.

He works like a slave even on weekends. I don’t even understand why he has to do so in the first place. Get a life, I say it to him but soon I find out it’s I who need the reminder more than he. I work ‎on weekends sometimes, I admit it. But it doesn’t feel like work because my pastime is the same thing I do for a living. I write.

Speaking of the intensity of my love of writing, I almost throw up when I want to declare: “Writing is my spouse”. That sounds a little bit too much for a normal guy. I then sit and touch my forehead lightly and mumble,”Gosh! Maybe I’m not.” I should see a psychiatrist perhaps. This is not good for my well being. Blame it all on Elizabeth Gilbert and her wildly inspiring TED Talk about writing serving as home. But as I realize how easy spouses can get divorced these days, I change my mind. I don’t want to marry writing.

The last time I wrote a long and more intellect-demanding piece on weekend, a silly and curly old spinster warned,”You shall not write too much. Your feeble mind can get tired and that affects your work quality.” And my everyday work is in fact writing. So what’s the point of the heed? I dump the ridiculous piece of advice instantly. She might be out of her mind. Needless to say.

The privilege of being young and healthy is you can do anything you want until you almost kill yourself from extreme fatigue. But who cares? The blue boy keeps on toiling like a bull even though his mother shrieks,”Where are you going to go again?!!” She gets frantic of course. The blue boy just got home and he refuses to lock the gate, saying:”Don’t lock it. I’ll go out in a minute.” The clock strikes 9.30 pm. Luckily no curfew is in effect in the house.

Life is still hard even for a published writer like the blue boy, who is still 18. But at the very least, he is already selling his maiden 143-page book‎. He’s got something tangible to show off.

I frown to find the blue boy not having a personal site or‎ a Facebook page for himself. He’s the brand right now. He has to market his book and his skills as an author. A published one! No one can deny that. And he has managed to separate himself from a zillion of unpublished hopefuls like me. He has a product to sell but too bad he’s not aware of it.

The next effort needed to make his book best-selling in many bookstores‎ is making sure he can sell with whatever marketing tools and strategies available for free or applicable at very low cost. And he seems to be disinterested when I mention about Facebook or social media sites other than Twitter. He needs a profesional help for this. Badly need one.

‎All he needs now is writing a blog to promote his book and tweet like crazy to build a bigger audience.

The blue boy doesn’t need it, so it may seem. The mentor has done it all for him. ‎Definitely he wants to show people that he succeeded as a mentor of a fledgling young writer.

I suppose the mentor will bring and obviously sell the books to every participant of his trainings and public talks or whatever event he holds, co-holds or attends.

‎The books are then brought and sent to several cities in Indonesia. The mentor may promise the blue boy a greater channel of distribution if he agreed to write under his guidance. And boy, did the mentor have it.

The Book Launch Finale

bookI step into the room, hoping to see a huge number of audience. They could be clapping now or making a round applause after a considerably inspiring talk or ultra meaningful presentation.

I feel like I came into a giant gut of a whale. And this whale is dying of hunger, which is why almost nothing is in the stomach.

The room seems too big or there are too few people inside. It could be because of both. I mumble to myself, “They might’ve picked a smaller room for this ‎so as to make it look more packed as a venue.” But the show must go on.

In a non-chalant manner, I pick my seat. I hate sitting in the rear row like a lazy university student I’ve always hated throughout my shortlived teaching career and decide to sit in the penultimate row. A seat ‎looks unoccupied next to a girl, as if it were trying to lure me into sitting on it. Without trying to be polite, I just sit. She might have a friend sitting there but why do I have to bother asking? Chances are she is younger than me and I’m a haughty, self-centered old jerk who attends an event for the sake of searching writing ideas. I assert my rights to be rude to younger people. That’s the privilege of being older, I’m sure.

It’s all green here. And the audience is so so quiet like a collection of sitting manequins. Most of them are young girls wearing hijabs, but all the speakers in front are males with almost all of them growing beards.‎ You know who they are typically like. I have a single or two strands of beard and that’s more than enough to prove I’m male without costing me much money to buy razors or any facial hair removal methods on a weekly or, if you’re Arab, daily basis.

I know no one in the room. I guess they’re all just under my age. A lot younger even. But thanks to the youthful looks and outfits I’m sporting, no one notices.

I’ve known this type of men. This one falls into this group of activists on campuses. He wears a hoodie jacket, speaking in a bold manner just like a trainer because he is. He says a lot about the book industry. He mentions a whopping sum of money, 25 millions for writing a book he ghostwrites. On another occasion, I found out he has a car. Brio car, which a lot resembles his name. So I suppose he leverages his book writing service by training more hopefuls to be writers themselves. Yes, he promises anyone to be an author, a published one, not just an intermittent blogger well known inside your social circles. He’s got the connections. Celebrities, he knows some of them. Thanks to his mentor anyway.

It is totally one of my life missions; becoming a published author. A well-fed author. A financially independent writer.‎ Whatever it is to earn a living with my writing skills because it frees me from talking too much with people or any living things that can judge or comment about how much I should ideally weigh or what I seriously need to fix in my life. That’s the best thing in any writing professions. I love being paid to be left alone, working and making lots of money.

He later details more about the joy of being a writer. “It’s a super lucrative business that makes you filthy rich,” he said. Probably it holds true about J.K. Rowling but I feel sorry for most of writers who still have to struggle for years or ever to feed themselves.‎ He tactfully excluded the miserable stories of Indonesian writers like N. H. Dini who leads a financially deprived life in Central Java despite having published many novels, and a prolific moslem author Pipiet Senja, who in her 60’s lost her house to a disease. She is really sick and to get rid of the illness, she had to sell her small brick house. Life’s a total bitch for most living writers out there, you know. And he sugarcoated this all.

He says he’s written 7 books and ghostwritten 3 books. Very productive, I should say. I imagine he’s busily hiding in his bachelor pad with a laptop on days and nights in search of coherent and cohesive words to publish.

No one needs talents to be a writer, he claims, all you need is consistency! To a certain extent, I know it’s true and wrong at the very same time. With all the competition in the publishing industry right now, you also need creativity ‎and insanity to stand out, to impress potential readers.

Content and context, the two are crucial to our master trainer cum professional published author. Content is stuff you think useful for others; context is how you serve it to people you think will enjoy the benefits of your stuff. In other words, context is the packaging. Sort of thing.

The blue boy stands up. It’s now his turn to speak up. And he does speak like a lion. It’s hard to believe a mouth that small can speak that loudly. He reminds me of myself during my first class back then. But my audience was fiercer. Some of them were morons who ‎took another class after flunking the prior class in yesteryear’s semester. That was a difficult phase I had gone through so successfully. The blue boy is a lot luckier.

The atmosphere truly goes odd when the blue boy narrates a clamshell story. That’s the time when he shouts like a small boy asking for mercy. It makes me question him:Is it a book launch or theatrical performance?! I giggle impishly like a leprechaun.

Processes matter. My goodness, can’t we have enough with this? Results are what people want to see. You suck when things go wrong and people don’t forgive your failures. People just don’t. They blame you, they crush you for being a loser certainly.

And here comes the drill:What do you want to be in 10 years? The blue boy – who cowrites the book with the master trainer – asks the audience. His voice goes way up to the ceiling of the hall but fails to reach the eardrums of audience. No one answers. I can understand. They want to be successful writers, not speakers. So they don’t feel like they’re obliged to open mouth. They will write instead. Just like me, who silently follows how the discussion goes and takes notes on my offline phone.

‎It’s self-sabotage which is mostly the culprit of our failure, the blue boy utters. To convince us, they play a footage of a team of American Football players training like medieval African slaves. And the blue boy begins explaining while the footage is being played. I really want to scream,”Why don’t you just wait while we watch the brief movie and as the screening is done, you can resume explaining?!” He refuses to shut up before the movie is done. So we have to listen to both his voice and audio of the footage simultaneously. Very neatly done to torture our ears, young man!

The sinister sister makes a harsh comment on the secretively planned sudden appearance of the blue boy’s mother and herself,”It doesn’t seem like a surprise. So dull and ordinary.” She is a sort of sister you wish to disown at some point in your life. The one that makes you lament,”Maybe my whole life is a lot better without her being born.” However, life is not that simple.

So he brags about how he can write 50 pages a day, and fasting all day long in the process. While we’re at it, I remember the stamina of writing of Jonathan Franzen. He admits he can’t write 8 hours a day like a toil. Even 6 hours is already fatiguing for him nowadays. He touches on the issue of age (he’s not young anymore) and hence he has fewer things to prove in life. So when the master trainer tells us the need to push to the highest point of our potential, I simply think,”Way to go, mr Superwriter!” Well, you can’t write that way every day. It’s not a sustainable way of work.

The book signage starts right after the talks end. Only two people throw questions. Impressive, considering the number of engaged audience. I’m obviously excluded from the crowd. Maybe it’s only 10 people or so and the rest of the unsold books are brought back home. ‎The sinister sister and her mother and I go home right after that.

In the taxi, I am wondering how my first book launch will go. Maybe the historical moment would involve a million viewers, so I imagine. I waver, maybe I don’t need the stellar height of fame. There’ll be too much responsibility for my readers’ satisfaction. I can’t imagine having stalks or die-hard fans. Privacy always comes first, J. D. Salinger teaches us so.

All I can imagine is people gathering to talk about my books. I want them to create dialogs because words alone don’t bring anything but entertainment.

All I need is the happiness of being able to share what I have through writing. So to answer the question “What do you want to be in 10 years?”, I’d say I want to be a happy writer. Just be happy and be able to write and make a decent living in the process. Not too skimpy, not too much. Only enough.