Writing

I hadn’t written much of anything for sometime. My words were boring me and I kept wondering why anyone would be interested in reading what I had to say when it was so much about myself?

The writers’ forum that is so much a part of my daily ritual these days had invited entries that made a case for winning a “Worst Writer of the Network” crown. Quite the paradox, for in order to make a strong case that you were the worst writer you needed to write well and if you wrote well then how could you be considered a bad writer? Members of the network have been outdoing themselves trying to win the worst writer crown.

Ironically, a while ago when I asked the very same members of this network to choose for me their five best pieces of writing, not a single person responded. We are all very comfortable saying why we’re bad and coy about saying why we felt what we had written was good enough to post for public consumption. Can it be said that we never put our best foot forward or is it that we secretly think we did write our hearts out but it is for others to say? Many of us nurse a secret desire to be published and to be recognized as writers, why then do we not want to say that we wrote well and that the reader was seeing us at our best? And why are we always defensive about negative feedback? Because if we all feel we are the worst then we should feel right at home with negative feedback, shouldn’t we?

That was just an aside to what I started to say earlier, which was, why I hadn’t written in sometime. Like I said, I was sick of how all my writing revolved around myself. I was scrolling through the archives of my blog and was mortified at my earlier writings. The latter pieces show some evolution but the central focus stays unchanged; I am still at the center of my ever-expanding universe. The closest analogy is geometry class and drawing a circle with a compass. You could draw a circle with a small radius and then draw a larger circle followed by a larger one but the center of this circle remains the same. Why for once couldn’t I write from outside or tangentially to this circle? Or write from the vantage point of someone else’s circle? Other writers do it all the time, don’t they?

Those were some of the thoughts that crossed my mind but then my copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s – Summing Up – arrived, a book where he takes stock of his life and his writings. He admits to being a most introspective writer, one whose writings were all about his experiences, his perceptions, his interactions with other people. So if Maugham could get away with this so lucidly, elegantly and euphoniously, perhaps there is hope for me.

So I am back here, writing. It is my blog, I say on my blog that I am introspective in the extreme and have also set it up with the lines from a U2 song as an epigram – “…Have you come here to play Jesus, to the lepers in your head?” That is the raison d’etre for my blog. To capture whatever stray, coherent or incoherent thoughts cross my mind. The weight of living takes it toll and sometimes the lepers in the head can only be played Jesus to by words. And since my words are playing Jesus to the lepers in my head, perhaps I shouldn’t care to have a worldwide audience, represented by the red dots on a world map at the bottom of this blog? But wondering whether or not I should care for an audience and being grateful for the presence of the stray visitor or commenter here are two different things; two irreconcilable things. Those red dots are the reason why I don’t pencil these thoughts in a journal and save it away under lock and key.

Perhaps writing for oneself, for ones own peace of mind, is a cherished or vaunted ideal but the desire to be read and heard always rears its ugly head. A point Paul Auster made in his novel – The Book of Illusions – where the subject of his protagonist David Zimmer’s research – Hector Mann, a filmmaker – disappears in 1929 and no one knows of his existence until David Zimmer unearths him in 1988 on a New Mexico ranch. He finds an old and dying Hector who had spent the last 59 years making hundreds of movies that if viewed would have revealed the essence of this man. But his wife had instructions to destroy these films within 24 hours of his death; he had made these movies for himself, for his own piece of mind, not for the world. However, in his last moments of weakness he had had the book’s protagonist – David Zimmer, a college professor and author, summoned to the ranch. He wanted the world to see his creation; he sought remembrance. We all seek remembrance.

We can deny it all we want but we need something out there that reminds the world that we exist, that lets us earn our minor immortality [Milan Kundera’s book – Immortality]. I leave my words here in cyberspace in the hopes that cyberspace will go on beyond me. Even then why anyone would want to read what I had to say is not clear to me, but it will be there to read all the same.

This is just a fraction of what I really wanted to say but this blog isn’t going anywhere. More later. If you read I’ll be honored, if you don’t, well, it wasn’t written with the intention of finding a wide audience anyway. 🙂

3 Comments

  1. you mirror my thoughts…nisha

  2. How right Pragya. I think there is this vague ambivalence about writing: most people want fame but are shy to admit it. Rather like the attitude to money, something faintly disreputable about wanting it. Therefore how could one seek fame through writing, thereby making the pursuit mercenary?Very well articulated indeed. And I'm very very happy you've got hold of Maugham's book: it must be required reading for every putative writer.

  3. But you always write so well…I have always been ur fan..for inspiration and comfort of knowing person who thinks like me…keep writing for yourself..I will peep…its very healing…:))


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