Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WHY I WRITE – A CELEBRATION OF MY 100TH POSTING

WHY  I WRITE – A CELEBRATION OF MY 100TH POSTING



When I was on the forty fifth posting in my blog, I suddenly realised that I would soon reach that figure of fifty. Why did that have to make a difference? I felt like a batsman racing towards his half century in the match. It is of course a landmark. Though I had opened my blog in the latter part of 2009 and made a few postings, I spent a silent year during 2010. May be I was busy preparing for my retirement and my second daughter’s marriage which took place in December 2010. Thereafter the events took their own course and I underwent my heart surgery in July 2011. It was only then, after my recuperation and subsequent visit to the US, where I spent a quite six months that I really became active. In fact it was while I was there that I found I could start writing again, and it was there I did write my fiftieth posting. At that time my immediate goal was to reach that figure. You may ask whether that really matters, I would have said no then. But now reflecting on that, I feel it was necessary, I had set myself a goal and I had to achieve it. Of course this does not mean that I had to sacrifice my credibility in doing so. I continued as my thought process was active, it was as if I was writing at a retreat far away from the madding crowd. It was winter and very cold outside and given that I was recovering I did not go out much. I spent most of my time there playing with my grandson, a delightful phase seeing the child grow up and seeing the child within me resurface. My writing was done mostly late into the night, even now it is like that. But I had the luxury of getting up late in the mornings.

It is important setting a goal for oneself, for that is what makes you move forward. It is on the way, on that journey, that we start seeing and experiencing things which we have never really understood before. You see things with a new perspective, a perspective that has been sharpened by the experiences on the way. As we travel, the goals keep shifting as new ones are formed when you reach the earlier ones and ultimately that’s what life is about. Isn’t it? I had written quite a bit over the years which I had recorded in my diaries. As I read them now, I know the path that I have travelled and look at them and know that they have been an essential part of my growing up. Now when I write, it has been the result of all that experiencing and an enhanced understanding of life.

Initially when I became active on my blog it was more an inward journey and more for myself. But a few inputs from some of my well wishers made me realise that when I write something which I place on the public domain, it has to have a certain interest to the reader. I was and am interested that people read what I write. Why, I shall come to later. My elder daughter was the first critic with whom I spent those six months. She said “Appa, you write very well but most of it goes over my head”. She used to diligently read them after all she was my daughter. Another valuable input came from one of my senior colleagues in the bank, quite senior in fact, who had retired long before, a person whose views I value a lot. He said nearly the same thing but in a different way, he said “Subbu you write well but most of it are philosophical excursions, the only thing I can say is that I like them by way of comments but that does not really mean anything. With your varied interests you should be able to write on things which the reader can connect with”. I took him seriously and changed my approach. I found in the process that I could explore all those things that I have been passionately interested in like art – painting and music. I found that slowly the number of page views increased and knew that I was now connecting. Now I record my introspections separately elsewhere.

I write in the only way I know. I write what comes to my mind with words that appear spontaneously, there is no thought behind what word I put down. I go through it for fine tuning to ensure its readability. I find that more often than not, we loose ourselves in the labyrinth of words and in the process loose the authenticity of the feeling that we are trying to record. This happens more in poetry. Like painting, poetry has also become so subjective that the reader is not able to understand what is meant to be conveyed, the images become so obscured. One cannot be a judge for ultimately it comes to the point whether the artist or the poet wants to be understood or is satisfied trying to understand his own self. The point I want to make here is that your inner emotions can be made intelligible to the reader or the viewer through whichever medium you have preferred. There is a joy in sharing, a satisfaction of a need to be understood and a need for adulation. This is especially true of any creation that is put up on the public domain for consumption.

The basic question is “Why do I write?” however there are two other important questions as to how and when do I write. There is this excellent article ‘Writing, Typing and Economics’ by John Kenneth Galbraith undoubtedly one of the finest writers on Economics and who was at one time US ambassador to India. From his vast experience as a writer he offers some tips to the average aspiring writer who may find it to be immediately practical. When he talks about inspiration, he says that all writers wait for those golden moments when they feel themselves on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. He says that he has also experienced these moments and continues to say that their lesson is simple – it’s a total illusion. They end up doing nothing because they are waiting for that inspiration. If you want to continue to write, do not wait for these so called golden moments. Galbraith adds “The best place to write is by yourself, because writing becomes an escape from the terrible boredom of your own personality. Writing is not easy and all first drafts are deeply flawed by the need to combine composition with thought. The gains from brevity are obvious; in most efforts to achieve brevity, it is the worst and dullest that goes. It is the worst and dullest that spoils the rest.” As per him “Complexity and obscurity have professional value—they are the academic equivalents of apprenticeship rules in the building trades. They exclude the outsiders, keep down the competition, preserve the image of a privileged or priestly class”.
The first two points may be misunderstood, but what Galbraith is trying to get at is that the danger in these illusions is that you spend your time waiting for these moments before you sit down to write, till then you end up doing nothing. Instead he says that one better go to his typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. Do not wait for the golden moment. The lesson is simple make it a habit, set a time for yourself for your writing and sit down before your computer and things will take their course. I found the truth of this observation, for once I decided that I wanted to write I found I could do so by making it a habit of sitting in front of the computer all by myself every night. Inspirational moments occur day in and day out if you care to look around you. You cannot plan for such moments. Most of my thoughts occur while I take my evening walks along the seashore and I end up translating these in to words later at night. The result can be seen in the increase in the postings on my blog since I adopted this process. It is a ‘subject’ I explore when I sit down to write and the inspiration comes as I delve deeper into it. Galbraith also advises “My advice to all young writers is to stick to research and reporting with only a minimum of interpretation. And especially this is my advice to all older writers, particularly to columnists. As the feet give out, they seek to have the mind take their place”.
Now comes the question of why do I write. I have asked myself this question many times and have not been able to truthfully answer it. Is it because I want to get across to others so that I am understood as to what I am or because I am trying to understand more about myself. Is it because, I am seeking recognition and adulation or want to be a commercial success. It could be a combination of all these. But I know one thing, I write because I like it. I also like it when someone says that they like what I write.
I have always been fascinated by the word ‘Sublime’. For me it meant merging with greatness, an expanse beyond compare, beyond beauty, transcendental and ‘Sublimation’, the process of becoming sublime. So did I hope to achieve this through the expression of my thoughts, feelings, reactions and relationships? Was it going to be a mirror reflecting the distortions that I have failed to see, recognise and accept? That is why I named my blog ‘Sublimation’.
When I wrote my fiftieth blog I called it a celebration, a term I had borrowed from my friend Nandu who said the same thing when he wrote his fiftieth posting on his blog. My fiftieth posting was ‘A Dedication to Friendship’ addressed to all my friends who have made a significant contribution in my life. I did give the link in my Facebook page as well as in my email groups. There were not many responses or page views. Only a handful did go through it. I was naturally disappointed. I guess there were other interesting things they were occupied with. But I was happy that I got to say what I felt.
Now when I am writing this 100th posting, I want to celebrate again and share with my friends the joy that they have given me, a joy of connection, a joy of being understood and a joy of knowing them as they are. In fact I have connected with people I have never met and now feel that I have known them for a long time. The responses that I get on my blog have helped me understand and appreciate contrarian viewpoints and have contributed to an enhanced awareness of my own inner world.
In conclusion what can I say? Though there have been few responses, I know that my friends are reading what I write from the increasing number of page views of my posts and that gives me immense satisfaction and happiness. Thank you my friends, I know that you are always there to push me on to newer goals. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

So happy on the 100th...!!! Congratulations to the best father !
Svaathi

Varsha said...

That was a great reading. In your 100th you have given a good summary of quite a few things. A lesson too for writers...Really a very good blog.
Amrita Pritam too, if I remember correctly had written somewhere that she always sat down to write at a particular time every day. Thoughts do come at any time and I have found sometimes that entire sentences are beautifully constructed at random places, I sometimes forget them when I sit down to write. I therefore always keep paper and pen with me to quickly note it down wherever I may be.
Please continue to write. Comments or none, knowing that someone is reading, does make a difference. Nevertheless, it is a happy feeling to write, share, and enjoy your own creativity and expression.
These are the talents that one had hidden somewhere inside and as one travels through life, the stage has come when we can afford to indulge in writing and keep improving day by day. The self is the best critic and if one enjoys reading what one wrote, then carry on.
Congratulations.

Subhadra said...

Congratulations for the 100th. Very nice reading!

Sudheer Mankodi said...

Nice to read your 100th blog. Keep your pen flowing Subu.

Indu said...

Congratulations. To reach the figure of 100 is no mean achievement. As you keep at it, you acquire a certain ease and felicity with the language. Even the thoughts get formed more clearly. When you put in the hard work, once in a while your mind get in touch with the universal unconscious. It is at these moments the real gems are created. For that one has to keep plodding.