Caught somewhere between wanting to express and not reveal everything, and armed with the reserved emotion armour, that was me. Perhaps, this has not changed—not entirely. Finally, I settled down with a blog for myself. This time, I told myself, you are not going to delete this one and disappear like you did before. Over the last months saturated with unprecedented global lockdowns and escalating uncertainties, I was struggling with a massive writer’s block. Finally, in Feb 2021, I was debating on a writing hiatus. Anxiety and depression was catching up. I tried to ignore the discomfort as I kept busy with freelance writing and art commissions, but the lack of clarity in my interests forced me to come to terms that I cannot be perfect. There was no such thing as perfection.
This distressed me. Alarming, for a lot of reasons. It’s odd, and I can only summarize that I am a perfectionist. It’s not as beautiful as it implies. There’s really a lot that goes behind the scenes. Whenever a piece is published, that’s what an individual sees—a finished piece. What they don’t see is the number of times I edit a piece, hate it, start over, hate it again and realise my first draft was the best. Managing my blog has funnily but not surprisingly made me a little more insane than I had ever been. But again, I overthink and overanalyze. I beat myself up when I feel that my writing isn’t thought-provoking enough, when it doesn’t give my readers something to think about throughout the week. I don’t know why it is that way but it just is.
On the evening of March 9, 2021, I sat in my room hiding my loneliness behind a glass of beer. Suddenly moved by the special melancholy that comes from being alone, I placed my manuscripts away from view. My laptop was switched on, and I decided to read something, anything. Call it a fate, or whatever magical coincidence that you believe, and this blog just found me at the right time. Grey in background, and white were the fonts. The words read “Hollis Porter is a fiction writer in Hong Kong”. So Hollis Porter is his name. He had a certain way with words. “Enigma” was the title of his post, The first piece I ever read by him—It was so beautiful there. Vivid and raw. I didn’t ever want to come back to reality while I was getting lost in his writing. Emotions run free when you’re enraptured like that. He had allowed me into the dream of his writing, made familiar by his sincerity and human flaws. And each new post then, I would wait eagerly, for they would infect me with newer streams of insight and artistry. For it was in his words, I saw visions—colours of vulnerability, shades of poignancy, and the free strokes of freedom.
So what does this mean for me then? Gratitude. I was grateful for what he had to offer. It’s not often you come across creatives such as him. I think much of writing is about creating a dialogue with the world around you. The settings, the people, the collective thinking. When I was relying on my own memory and experience in what I wrote, there was a barrier that held me back. In the beginning I always tried to keep reassuring thoughts flowing in my head. But I slowly realised I wasn’t giving myself space to breathe, to live, and I grasped for solace. And to have this pleasure of reading his words, and relate to them in some ways, it was therapy.
I took a moment to unwind. Started to read more from other people. Now I am writing every day—not because I have to, but because it feels right for me. I think what Hollis had allowed me was to stop time, and in that moment when time stopped, it allowed me for reflection, both on my writing and my life. I essentially left him a message the very next day. That message underwent a lot of editing because I didn’t want to make a mistake for first impressions—Heck, I was bloody nervous. But I had to let this person know what his writing did for me. It justified a lot of my emotions and legitimized my desire to write about what I was experiencing in my own life. His words, they would dance on your lips and evoke an emotional specificity of that said piece. It’s something that I chase in what I write.
Whenever Hollis releases a new post, I would think to myself, “This is the best damn thing I’ve ever read” and then I am proven wrong with his next writing every time. I think most of us can agree that a lot of our writing comes from a deeply interiorized and personal space. So I can’t help but wonder sometimes, what was his writing process for his antiblog like? There was so much chaos in his writing, yet it felt like there was always something beguiling to take away from. He immerses his readers in hauntingly sweet tapestries of word, blurring the lines between unreality and reality, allowing one to revel in the alluring haze between asleep and awake. What’s more impressive is, the antiblog series was a pure and cathartic journey that flowed fluidly from beginning to end. His way with details either, it’s never too little, never too much. He employs them tastefully in his thoughts and writing respectively.
It’s not easy most of the time to be reading his writing due to its graphic nature, but there is real beauty to be found in knowing that one can face their demons in reading and writing. Now if something made me afraid or uncomfortable to write, I gravitated towards it. I started writing honestly—kind of like an experiment that allows me to talk to my anxieties, and then lets me see beyond myself, as I learn to access my situation with a more present vision. I have to add, while serious in writing, his natural gaiety knows no bounds too, and I am most privileged to be connected with him. And after reading “Life By The Sea And Out Of Time” and “Life Under The Sea. And Back In Time“, I am inclined to believe that when a person’s work has communicated to me any measure of something valued, to be remembered or recognised in the streets I have walked, then they are a success within very limited qualifications; that is, we have already met.
It cannot be expressed enough that I am constantly humbled that my amazingly talented writer friends and readers are willing to read what I write. It grants me a sense of gratification regardless of the outcome, and I hope to hold on to that feeling. As I rest my fingers on my keyboard and begin a new piece, I would think of what he said to me, “Take what you want from my writing—it’s your own interpretation that counts. Your own reality.” I have written this post for him, he didn’t know, but he does now. He will know who was the man who inspired this, who inspired me. Some people read Harry Potter; I read Hollis Porter. Thank you, Hollis.
From what I have gathered from his writings, he is open to life, and continues to learn. He is a well into which the sweet waters of experience and knowledge keep falling. But more than that, he is a writer who is unapologetic of who he is. There's no doubt about it. For those of you curious about his works now, you can find them at https://www.hollisporter.com