This Is Why Nobody Wants to Be a Wordsmith in Indonesia

Living as an author or novelist or short story writer or journalist is TOUGH, regardless of countries. Though people are inclined to see only the glory of renowned authors like JK Rowling, Danielle Steele, Elizabeth Gilbert or Dan Brown, many ignore the story behind their glamorous lives. One may find these authors’ past period as depressing. There’re millions of authors even in Western countries who are just as impoverished as we are in developing countries. These wordsmiths (people earn a living by means of arranging words) are living pathetic way of life and not many know it or even they know, give it a single damn.

Suharso (38) is one of the poor Indonesian novelists out there who struggle to make money. The man whose pen name is Aveus Har mostly makes money on daily basis by setting up a food stall selling chicken noodles. Yes, the level of the challenges in the Indonesian publishing industry may seem so overwhelming he can’t make money by writing alone. An author may be published but it doesn’t mean they’re getting more prosperous after their books are marketed. They still have so many tasks to complete:i.e. marketing their works. And this is not a part-time undertaking. S/he needs to plunge into it days and nights. Relentless, as we know it.

Suharso who lives in Pekalongan, Central Java, mentioned about not hoping his works (6 books all together and other writings fro printed publications) are making much money. That’s something I’m strongly opposed to! For God’s sake, you need to make money to live better. You’re entitled to it. If you can live better and deserve it, why shouldn’t you? I don’t know about others but this ‘humility’ should stop or wordsmiths never deserve the rewards they ought to enjoy.

Surprisingly, the novelist writes on an LG touch screen phone which screen looks ridiculously small and narrow. That’s exactly how he writes when he has spare time. I wonder why he doesn’t buy a BlackBerry instead. BlackBerry or any phones with a QWERTY keyboard would make sense, but a touch screen phone? I don’t know.

He has hopes though in spite of the authorly humility he has shown us. “I’m learning how to write a filmic novel, so if anyone wants to buy the book to make a film based on it, it’ll be much easier.

Suharso added,”I read a lot so I can write more and more. That’s how it all works.” But then I’m thinking, what if the food stall gets flooded by diners after he’s now seen on television? Could there be a food stall with a writing studio inside it?

That said, I wish him luck with the new endeavor. Now that everyone knows he’s about to write a filmic novel, I guess some potential movie directors in the country are interested in the book. Still, he’s such a phenomenon.

But hey I also have a writer friend who worked at Alfamart and now being a marketer for a telco company. Probably I must tell television journalists to cover his story.


Writers’ Moral Responsibility

‎”The first job of a writer is to be HONEST.”- Irvine Welsh

I typed the word “honest” in capital letters as I cannot tell you how much I find this quote inspiring to me. ‎This quote at its best teaches us writers in general (whether they be bloggers, published authors, print journalists, online journalists, novelists, short story writers, or even mere Facebook updates’ creators) that nothing can substitute integrity and honesty.

But for some reason I cannot fathom why some writers plunge themselves into this kind of abyss named politics a little bit too far.‎ Take Indonesian moslem writer Jonru Ginting as an example. The self-proclaimed writer, entrepreneur, and internet marketer (as he himself stated on He is allegedly to be the culprit behind the photo showing Jokowi as a priest at a church giving sermons according to (another site with unknown track records). The photo was found to be photoshopped and thus fake. Jonru (@jonru) himself denied the accusation via Twitter and Facebook. But long before that, when Egypt crisis broke last year, he was reportedly releasing a hoax to change the perception of those who did not believe in the sincerety of Ikhwanul Muslimin movement (source: badaruzz on, 14/07/2014). He was said to have used a photo of a smiling corpse, with the intention of convincing readers that Ikhwanul Muslimin casualties were died heroes. But the photo was found to be sourced from the web. The photo was allegedly taken from Malaysia, where the woman was only mimicking and acting as a corpse during a simulation of taking care of dead body before the burial based on Islamic regulations.

I am not going too comprehensive about who is wrong or right in this politically sensitive case but it may also be due to the implications of his involvement as a cadre of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) , who openly criticizes and frequently attacks Jokowi on his Twitter account and Facebook fanpage (

And that being said, I am not either about to judge him for being a politically biased writer ‎because that is his own preference entirely. Yet, what I want to highlight is how perilous it may get when you involved in affairs such as politics as you may lose your integrity and neutrality as a writer. Because as far as I can see, those two things are the most invaluable and intangible assets for writers of all kinds. You can tell lies in fictional works as much as you want but never ever spread lies in your reports, non-fictional works since it may put your credibility at stake.

Because I believe there is NO fine line between liers and truth tellers in writing. Either you tell a complete lie that still makes sense of course in some way (i.e. fictional authors) or tell the “truth” ‎as far as you possibly can do (i.e. reporters). Certainly, subjectivity may intrude in between but can subjectivity or bias leads a writer to lies or even worse libels, or defamation? Have your say.

How Blogging Landed Me a Job

Watching and Blogging
Blogging (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true that blogging is my savior. I guess blogging is another channel to bring my writing to a much wider audience, which later paved my way to the job I’m having now. Here’s my story.


It’s been always my fascination to live a life as a writer. Not only as a career choice but also life path. I was still always shy to show my writing for an excuse that it was just a shameless show-off. And I didn’t feel like there was an audience out there wanting to read my writeups, with my academic mentor as exceptions. But I got sick of writing thesis. Because it was more of a chore than a calling or passion. That’s what may happen to someone who thinks that his/ her favorite pastime would be a great choice of academic pursuit. It turned out bitter. I am certain that I love English and some literary works but doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed having to attend philosophy or ethics classes.


At that time, I was a teacher. A lecturer working part time to be frank. Realizing I’d never gone extroverted so much, I then seriously considered writing. Writing, in my mind, seemed like the most logical career field for me. I don’t have to meet many people every single day. And that’s such a bliss.


With nothing else other than writing on my mind, I quit my part-time teaching job and started to seek any possible writing-related job vacancies. I still remember how I always would pray for my dream job in my everyday prayer. For almost 8 months, I was literally unemployed. I knew I had to get myself a job but what still came to my mind was that the new job ought to be related to writing. I can’t stand another teaching gig. I’d had more than enough in 3 years and 6 months and would be glad to move on to the next bigger thing.


While searching for the vacancies online, I also naturally looked for some space to write as well. It was way too maddening and frustrating to stay at home 24 hours a day 7 days a week with only my laptop showing rejected job applications. So one night after a few weeks of my resignation I stumbled upon a web article explaining how easy it is to earn money with a blog. Yes, I needed money! That’s exactly how I can value myself before others. You’re someone after you earn money. That’s it.


From that moment on, I started blogging. Every morning I checked on my email inbox, responded to very few responses and sent as many online job applications as possible. After these mundane daily routines, I always logged in on my blogs. It is still live up to now ( I just blogged about a topic I’ve been familiar with so far: English learning.


That was how I began blogging. I was blogging relentlessly the entire 8 months. I really had nothing else to do other than blogging and doing virtual networking. It may sound funny but I knew a guy who happened to be an Internet marketer. He lives in Malaysia and  another young man whose passion is everything about digital world and entrepreneurship.


(to be continued)