Sunday, October 11, 2009

Private Notes: Why I Write?

I have been writing this blog since October 2004. Yes, I have deleted all the posts prior to January 2006 - there weren't too many - when I decided to renew my blog writing efforts. Or, writing efforts, to be precise. I just read Julia Margaret Cameron and wanted to start writing 'morning pages', just to get into the practise of writing. However, despite her advise to keep the writing private, so that one is not conscious of what's being written but just goes with the flow, I chose to put my writing on public domain. Obviously, I hoped my efforts are going to be so obscure that no one is going to read it anyway, giving me the privacy of the morning pages along with the manageability of web based writing, and an opportunity to share some ideas with friends and colleagues when I have grown more confident.

I feel happy that I took such a decision because, since then, I have made about 430 posts, some private but mostly public. It feels good to look back at all that writing, which mostly are essays, but some autobiographical postings as well, which are very useful when, at times, I try to look back and signpost my life. I have got some visitors stumbling upon these pages. The rewards of this journey has been to make some friends with whom I share interests and ideas, something which could not have happened otherwise.

I have been asked by my colleagues how do I find time to write. Indeed, at least one of my employers deduced that since I find time to write the blog, a meaningless exercise, I definitely do not have work at hand. Others, more from family, complained that while I duck many family commitments, I am far more consistent in writing my blog, indicating that I am not being honest about how busy I actually am.

My consistent defence, so far, about blog writing as well as work, has been that it starts with love. If you love doing something, you always find time to do it. No matter whether you are tired or exhausted, whether you have time to pick up on some office gossip or understand the nuances of the invitee list of your sister's marriage, you still feel that you must write. Like one feels like walking, so to say. I would not draw parallels with eating and shaving, but I could have. Though these seem to be unavoidable activities, there is a certain amount of preference involved too - whether you have a sit-down lunch or a sandwich on the go, whether you shave every day or is it okay to skip a few days in between - and that preference turns the activity more like an act of habit than bare necessity. For me, this writing is a combination of love [like walking or reading] and habit [like shaving]. So, while it takes considerable time, the burden is not felt. More often than not, I am sleeping less and not talking too much when I choose to write.

Someone also commented that I don't get too many comments, so it must be difficult for me to keep writing. I have actually been given that feedback - that my writing is too verbose and complicated - to induce readers to leave feedback. I am not sure, though. I know that since I write about various things - technology, learning, education, culture, politics, India, diplomacy, books and even my own work frustrations - I am not having a consistent dialogue here. I am conscious that a couple of times earlier, I expressed my wishes to be more theme-orientated on this blog. It never worked, because the essential utility that this blog served in my life is that this was to be my scrapbook of ideas and reactions, a log of my life's journey more than anything else, and I felt powerless to change its fundamental nature without eliminating the earlier posts. Something I would not want to do anymore.

Back on the subject of being verbose, I think that's a question of style preference. I try to write closely argued essays, and often I am unprepared to make the whole case as my thoughts are work-in-progress. I do think that shows up in many places, arguments intertwined with thoughts and reflections. Again, I could not have changed that without altering the fundamental nature of the blog, and I chose to let it remain what it is, 'rambling', so to say, on the subjects I assumed is of great importance to me personally.

However, at the same time, since I have been writing for my own pleasure, I did not wait for reader feedback. Which I might, if I am trying some professional writing enterprise. But it would have been vain for me to expect people spend their time commenting on my off-time musings. I am not that self-obsessed yet.

But, while I did not care about being read, and was fairly careless about editing my own writing before hitting the publish button, I have this wonderful sense of being watched and supported by a wide, well-meaning community. That is indeed the power of the Internet. It is not the comments, but the silent readers, who only show up as numbers in a counter and sometimes connect up through emails or anonymous comments, who make the journey every bit worth it. I have reconnected back with friends through this blog and found new ones. I have discussed love, work and politics on these pages. I have found encouragement and forgiveness, opportunities and justifications, suggestions and foreboding - all part of being part of a wonderful community. In summary, the experience of my blog made me believe that there are far more good people out there than the bad ones, and outweighed my scepticism and made me a believer.

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