6/29/2016
Tagesthemen

Some time a few weeks back, I had a think about how I would describe myself as a writer. By that, I mean how I would sell myself if I ever went freelance, not that it's in my plans, or something, or whatever.

Niko Batallones writes about supply chain, urbanism and transportation in a professional capacity, and about politics, culture and society in a personal capacity.

Okay, that looks snotty, but frankly, that covers all of it. In between all of the things I write lately - that day job, the two blogs - I really do write about a diverse, if not arguably random, range of topics. It's come to the point when I could, plausibly, make a connection between, say, local music and urban planning. Say, how urban planning is killing the live music scene. But yeah, I know people will get angry at me for saying that the live music scene is dying. You don't even go to gigs, Niko. How dare you!

The catch is, I'm not necessarily an expert on these subjects. I'm one of those writers who were emboldened by the Internet and the belief that whatever we write online will make us heard. You know where that has gotten us now.

Sure, I can always defend my record on a few points. Yes, I do work with the supply chain industry. Yes, I have loved music ever since I was a baby, apparently. Yes, I played with toy cars as a kid, building cities around those with whatever toys I can get my hands on. But that does not make me an expert on urbanism. I never even pursued my childhood ambitions of becoming an architect.

Or maybe this is my tendency to look down on myself, to always look at my peers as more accomplished than I will ever be.

Hey, at least I'm not narcissistic.

I've had a good part of the past twelve years honing my writing, all the while thinking I'm getting better, when actually I'm just making a fool of myself especially as time goes by. (And don't get me started on my occasionally inspired phrases.) And all that time, I have the sense that I write about certain topics more than others - not always by choice; I just land there sometimes, if you know what I mean. Maybe, if I make sense of what those themes, I can, um, sell myself as a writer better.

Step one: wed out the really humiliating things. Goodbye, then, essays about my crushes.

Step two: read back on everything. I don't really have to do this, because I have been reading back on everything I've written whenever I feel like it. I get lost in a hole, and then I hit myself for thinking such things, more so writing them down for posterity. Remember, Niko, nothing gets deleted on the Internet. Well, maybe until the whole "we have a data capacity crisis" thing actually happens. But I did not know that back in 2005.

Step three: make sense of everything.

There are common themes in my essays. They're things that always end up hovering in whatever I write about. Whether I'm writing about the worsening traffic in Manila, the local indie scene (shudder, I hate that term, scene) or the people I see in basement food courts, I end up writing about a few things more than others.

Defining yourself.

Connecting with others.

Feeling alienated no matter what happens.

You can say it's because this is what I've been trying to do all my life, what I've been struggling to do all my life. I have a hard time being able to tell people, confidently, what I really am, what I really do, what I stand for. I tend to have a million thoughts as I approach and make conversation, or at least attempt to make conversation, with German businessmen and Filipino bankers and my peers - my peers, even. In the end, I go home wondering why I even bother, because I will always not be good enough.

Niko Batallones explores themes of connection, isolation and self-definition in his essays on a wide range of topics, from supply chain to urbanism, from politics to culture.

Help. I just sound like some guy on the Internet spouting bullshit, hoping someone picks up on said bullshit, and says it is the greatest thing ever. But then again, others have done that, successfully.

And your responses...

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