Ramadhan Kareem and Quarterly Review

It’s the first week of April, and that means a whole ass quarter of the year has passed. It’s also Ramadhan, which is fitting for the theme today. I’ve decided I want to review what I’ve done with regards to my New Years’ Resolutions, and if there’s anything I could try to improve. People do this all the time. Listed companies tend to publish quarterly reports to keep their shareholders informed as to the performance of the company, so I thought I’d do something similar. Consider this a quarterly report for my progress. Except, you know, I’m not a company, and nobody has any shares held in me. It’s also not a report and more of a reflection of what I’ve done.

First, let’s talk about writing. If you’ve been following my progress along from my start in Medium, you’ll know that I’ve more or less done a great job maintaining the habit of posting frequently. Initially, I thought I’d make a 750 word post every day, but that was challenging. The problem was, that I just didn’t lead an interesting enough life that I could share something new with my life every day. I could of course start with something quirky and harmless such as calling people sociopaths for toasting bread and then putting the toast back in the packaging (seriously, who does that) but soon I’ll end up having to rant about my work parking situation for the umpteenth time. The fact is, I’m just not interesting enough to post every day. So I changed that.

Does that mean I’ve failed in my resolution to write every day? I don’t think so. The fact remains that I’ve had to write every day to keep up with the need to post, even when I’ve reduced the frequency from daily to three times a week. I’ve tried to keep the shower thoughts to a minimum (they tend to break through every so often though), and try to keep the posts interesting, but that means that I still need to do research, to write them up, to form my thoughts about them before I post. So just changing the frequency of my posts, I think, doesn’t mean that I’ve failed in my attempts to write every day.

No, I think the migration did that. In case you were unaware, I’d initially started blogging on Medium, because I already had an account there and was familiar with how posting on the site worked. But something bugged me about it, namely the fact that some articles were locked behind a paywall to view. I have no issue with paywalls, hard or soft. I do believe someone should be able to charge money for the work they put in, both in researching and in writing their articles or blog posts (I hope to be able to do the same). But at this nascent point in my online writing journey, which I literally started on a whim, I am not able to be too picky or to lock out potential readers. I literally just decided ‘Fuck it, let’s start a blog’ and decided to start a blog one fine day at the tail end of 2021. I had no audience, no plan, and no idea where this would all lead, so I needed to have as many eyeballs on my words as possible. I think WordPress allows that, and so I began migrating some of my posts from Medium down here to WordPress.

I’ve liked it so far. The tag system means that I get a lot of exposure from WP’s Reader system, and I’ve also been exposed to many blogs that I would not have otherwise learned of. I am not in love with the blog design I have, but it’ll do for now. I’m still learning the ropes – I just learned how to edit these posts in Markdown, which is a godsend. It’s finicky and doesn’t work very well half the time, but it does what I want it to. Overall, I’ve been happy about my decision to migrate to WordPress.

What I haven’t been happy about is that due to the migration, I’ve scheduled many, many posts, and because that took the urgency of a looming deadline out of my life for a couple of months. I’ve discovered that I work best when I have a deadline – thank my day job for that. If I keep a vague “someday” as my deadline shit will never get done. And so, without the deadline looming for my blog posts, I’ve actually neglected my daily writing. I haven’t done a morning freewrite in so long now.

In my defense, I’ve been busy with other writing. In March I’d attempted to try and write a story for the r/Malaysia WritePile, but then again I’ve failed at that. I’ve also been trying to write other things – some solo RPG adventures and a journaling game or two. I can’t say I haven’t been writing at all during that time.

Okay. I think for this one, we can consider myself having fallen off the wagon for a spell. There’s a grand opportunity coming up, though – this week is the last week of the scheduled posts. From next week onward, it’s all brand new content coming up. That means a deadline again, and that means I’ve got to get back on the writing every day wagon. Hey – just because I’ve fallen off doesn’t mean I’ve failed. I think I’ve failed if I even refuse to get back on.

Next, my reading habit. I think I’ve fared better here. At the moment I am on my fourth book of the year, which actually makes me a bit uneasy. I’ve read book blogs where the authors have finished just as many books in a month. I used to get a lot of comments as to how fast I progressed through books. What happened to me? I guess I’ve got to get my groove back. That’s actually me being way too harsh on myself. I can actually say with absolute certainty that I’ve read every single day of 2022, just maybe not the books that I was going to blog about. I read a lot of news nowadays, and I’ve been reading the many news and magazines that I’m subscribed to. The Economist, for instance, is a weekly rag that comes out every Friday, and I’ve never missed an issue so far. So maybe judging myself based on how many actual books I read isn’t a fair metric.

One of the biggest threats to my reading habit is actually video games and movies. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think video games (or films) are superior to books or vice versa. Each has its own merits and drawbacks, and each is enjoyable in its own way. It’s just that I find that I’ve grown easily distracted, and I find it hard to focus on a book if I haven’t gamed in a long time. Also, I used to read while I ate (a bad habit, to be sure). Now I put on Netfix and watch stuff instead. Is it any wonder my attention span has been growing shorter?

This resolution, I think, needs some improvement instead of outright rebooting.

I’ve noticed that I give myself way too little time to read, and way too much time to do other things. When given the opportunity to read, sometimes I don’t take it. Sometimes I spend too much time reading other things even when I don’t feel like reading that other stuff. So I suppose I’ll need to increase the time I spend reading my books, lessen the time I spend with video games, and overall just bolster what I’ve already put into place.

Finally, weight loss. Oh boy. I’ve actually managed to regain all 6 kgs that I’ve lost. I knew this was going to happen, but it still feels awful to have slid back after making so much progress. But then, I feel blessed to have this quarterly review happen just as Ramadhan starts; it’s not only about fasting and being able to find a perfect time to jump back on the old diet wagon and lose weight, but Ramadhan to me has always been about self reflection; who I am, what I plan to be, how far I’ve come since last Ramadhan. I may not be very good at practising or at the knowledge of Islam, but I’ve always held special significance to this, the Holy Month, and always at least tried to use it to become a better person than I was before.

Well, that was expected. One resolution completely broken, one half broken and another one in need of improvement. I did say I would fuck up. Still, let’s be fair and give credit to myself where it’s due; did any of you think I’d be able to keep this New Year New Me resolution thing going for a whole three months straight? Nah, me neither. That’s one win! In this day and age, where everything’s trying to weigh you down and keep you face down in the muck, it’s important to note not just where you’ve failed, but also where you’ve succeeded.

See you again for the half yearly update in July!

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