Forget all these labels.
Not all of you I consider fellow writers, but some of you are, some of you would have been “labeled” great writers and journalists in another time, except like I did you would have had to go through the wringer, you would have had an editor drawing blood out of you before you could sign your name on your work.
I dedicate my book — Write Here Write Now: Standing at Attention Before My Imaginary Style Dictator — to you because, when you think about it, in the blogosphere, indeed, you can just do it, you can just “write here write now.”
The blog has a special place in the evolution of reading and writing, in the changing landscape in which we share information and seek connections.
But all the virtues of good writing remain.
It’s not the medium, it’s the message.
It’s not the format, it’s the content.
This is the stuff of a great debate in a world like this, at a time like this, where visual is king. Sometimes, it’s not even the words. You could post one picture on your blog and say as much as Marcel Proust in his seven-volume tour-de-force A la recherché du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) — or even more, especially if you have a million hits translating to a million pairs of eyes sharing in your view of the world.
But this letter is addressed to the blogger who writes.
You are blessed with the opportunity to express yourself, to share what you know, to practice your craft, and to touch other people. And the medium is right there, literally at the tip of your fingers.
Unlike me, you need not the backing of a publishing company. Whereas I represent a magazine, a distinct honor, if you ask me, you represent only yourself, your point of view, your take on life.
Take very good care of your writing space. Recognize it as a precious gift and honor it.
You need no editor but you need to edit yourself — ruthlessly, without compassion.
Make your writing clear, correct, concise, coherent, and complete.
Practice restraint. Avoid indulgence.
Slow down on the opinion and the feelings or at least back them up with fact and evidence.
Uphold the truth.
See to it that what you put out there will make the world a little better.
What you have to say does matter. That is why some people sneer at you when you make a lapse in judgment or commit a grave grammar or factual mistake or abuse your access to information.
So whatever you have to say, say it well, with grace, with objectivity, with passion.
It doesn’t matter that it’s a blog and not Le Figaro or The New Yorker or an international bestseller or a Pulitzer Prize candidate.
It’s still writing (if only for which I hope you will do a lot of reading). It can — and has to be — as good as any and capable of effecting great change and making its mark in this world.
I wish you luck and all the right words.
ps: What an honor to have world-famous blogger Ingrid Go Chua, the woman behind The Baghag Diaries, at my book launch, queueing up to have her copy signed by me. I’ll do the same for you!