As Su had predicted, the article I posted yesterday attracted only a handful of likes. Su had said one needs to put photos with everything one posted on Facebook to get more likes.  But those of us using Facebook would know that the number of likes is at best an indication of how many people have looked at the post as opposed to having read it, let alone going to the website and read the article. And even those who have gone as far as looking at the posted article may not have read it or read it in full. Then there are those who have read it in part or in full, but would provide no feedback – a case in point is my brother with whom I had breakfast today. He asked me last night and I said yes. We had some small talks at breakfast; his wife also came and had more small talks; but then I couldn’t figure out why he wanted to have breakfast. He reminded me that I hadn’t posted anything on my website for some time – as if I needed the reminder.

Francis is probably the closest amongst my siblings. When he was studying in Brighton, we used to write letters to each other. I recall one time he wrote to me after he was rather drunk; and I replied telling him to seek advice from his brother who had a lot more drinking experience.  In another letter, he told me he was on a ferry – I forgot where he was going – when three policemen pointed guns or rifles at him thinking he had drugs on him. I am not surprised, because he was often in flip flops those days. He joined my Rotary Club of his own accord, but many of my friends thought that I was pulling their legs when I introduced him as my brother. It reminds me of Mike Rowse whom we call one another brother and who talked about how it came to pass at my wedding, but that is another story.

I actually had thought about what I would put in my memoir, though not for very long. I think I would probably write about my parents, my siblings and my children, but I am not sure all of them would like the idea. Similar consideration would apply to friends, which is why I didn’t use their real names in most cases, at least in the past, which could present problems. Over time, I might forget and I have forgotten in some cases already whom I was writing about, which is why writing a memoir could be a serious proposition.

This could be the reason why people prefer to write about food and recipes, or about their travels. Our flat is full of books on food and travels; ad there are more at the storage in Tai Wo Hau. Another reason why books on food and travels are more popular is the many photos people would put between the pages, which in turn have two very useful consequences – it saves the author a lot of writing, and it saves the readers reading them.  The fact of the matter is, people don’t read as much as the last generation used to, if at all.

If people don’t read any more, why does one still write at all? The short answer is that one writes when one wants to write and when one is sufficiently motivated to do so. The next obvious question is, what motivates one to write? Apart from fame and fortune, which may not be easy to achieve, the more obvious answer would be the one I have already stated, namely being in a state of wanting to write at the time.

I’d like to believe that I have a reasonably accurate assessment on myself, or put it in another way, I know what I am doing most of the time, such that I know at this particular time, or for that matter, in any foreseeable future, I would not make fame and fortune through writing. It means that I would be writing for myself and for that community of friends who would give me likes on Facebook if I ask of them hard enough. This is how I see my writing future, for now.

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One Comment

  1. it’s not the first time i tried to write in response, but it seems every time i failed to leave a material message via this device. yes i also realise, as john probably does, that writing has become something of a luxury nowadays. indeed what’s more cruel to a writer than writing without an audience. i somehow believe today we all technically read much more than we did, though mostly on our mobile, and sporadically. the sight of someone reading a genuine book on mtr is as rare as spotting someone shooting with a film camera.

    nietzsche once asked why people read his book. there were people more influential and probably more interesting, and there were other things to do than reading. indeed he claimed he wanted to be misunderstood, and dont forget it was 19th century germany. alas, weve all got a bit of nietzsche in our blood – that we sincerely want to be read, but secretly wish to be misunderstood… yes how hard it is to understand someone fully, not even one’s own self.

    i remember every year during our book fair, sir david tang would bring in a few interesting writers from abroad, and amid all the laughter generated in the convention centre, he would pose the same question: What and Why do writers write? yes with his global connection and personality, getting those celebs here might simply be one or two clicks on his phone. he indeed once got carol thatcher, daughter of margaret thatcher, and erica jong(fear of flying), and william shawcross, the queen’s biographer here.

    and of course the question remains unanswered.

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