Monday, December 21, 2015

Approaching 2016 - Rethinking This Blog

I wrote about a fresh start in 2016, but unlike all the grand plans of new beginnings I usually make around the year-end, this fresh start was not really that fresh. Rather, I am seeking to be boring, conventional, going back to a professional life etc. Was this about a burn-out, am I giving up, I was asked, and my answer that I am trying to be realistic did not have much weight. After all the years of attempting not to conform, this idea of settling in can only be seen as giving up, rather than a bidding time strategy.

The point, of course, is that I am not giving up on my ambition, but seeking a different one. There are certain assumptions I made about my abilities and what I wanted to do, and to be sure, I tried them out. It did not work, or at least did not work the way I expected it. Like a good entrepreneur, I have learned and now, I am trying to pivot. Stepping back and getting back to professional life is not giving up entrepreneurship, but rather seeing my life as a continuous enterprise, attempting different opportunities. What I am looking for now is not a sure shot way, but an opportunity to fail better.

At times like this, one needs to interrogate all the things that one does, and I am doing that. And, in that, one aspect is this blog, which is a big chunk of my time, but which, by design, has no real purpose. Started as a hobby, this is indeed the most prominent public activity that I have, and yet, I have steadfastly stayed away from connecting this with my professional interests. As I admitted earlier, the nature of this blog has indeed changed, as awareness about its readership has made me conscious of what I write and how I write. And, this is why it merits some thinking as I think of what I do next - it is an important time-taking activity, placed inbetween my intense desire to preserve a private voice and my consciousness about its public nature and my professional responsibilities.

One way to resolve this is to take this blog seriously. I decided, as I started this blog about 10 years ago, is not to take my writing seriously. This is why I chose to write a blog rather than trying to contribute to magazines etc. Blogs were, are, not serious stuff, as anyone can write anything, and I believed trying to take the blog seriously is succumbing to the same disease of self-importance that I hate in other people.

However, as I see it now, this is the root of my dilemma. I do not want to take my writing seriously, yet I spend a significant amount of time on it. Do I, if I have to make 2016 impactful, have that kind of luxury? Further, I do not want to take my blog seriously, but I am also trying to be professionally responsible and publicly conscious, a contradiction of aims in a way. If I have to default onto realism in 2016, I ought to settle on one of the two solutions about this blog, and my writing in general.

One option is to give it up. It is drastic, but not unreasonable. Thousands (or is it millions) blogs die every day, and I can claim some points on perseverance for carrying on for 10 years. It can be sweetly dramatic, as I can make an announcement on its 10th anniversary, only a couple of weeks away, and draw the curtains. It would still have visitors on legacy posts, as it happens for most blogs anyway, and it would live till the time the platform lives on. This action would make me stronger - there is no greater proof of commitment to the future than giving up something I so dearly love - and allow me to focus on the 2016 I want to build.

The other is, of course, to take it seriously. This means a range of things, from the trivial, like remedying the missing punctuation (due to a faulty keyboard that I use to write most of my posts), to the more significant, like taking on one or the other writing projects that I was pledging to take up for quite a while. There is a difference of writing seriously and taking my writing seriously, a distinction I missed for almost ten years. It is only at this point, a humbling moment, that I see the difference - the fine line between commitment and hubris, the two sides of the professional self - and see a potential resolution of my dilemma.

Indeed, these two are diametrically opposite conclusions. One would free up my time, and the other would devour more time, into an activity which has no apparent professional aim. However, this could indeed be my redemption for 2016, a safety catch from becoming totally consumed in the life of paying the bills. I have, persistently for ten years, refused to see writing as a serious activity, confusing it with the pretension of taking my writerly self too seriously. But, a commitment to write well without putting on the pretension to be a writer is actually quite consistent with what I am trying to achieve in 2016, being real about myself.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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