Pillows and Cushions. And Smooth Turtles, too.

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It didn’t teach me much, the education. At least not the kind I went to school and college for. The education outside of these fixed institutions stays with me, and makes learning such a sweet pain, it doesn’t hurt much, just a little.

I am a changed woman. Changed from who I was two years back. It would serve me well to leave the analysis to those, who study human behaviour, but I must study my own mind. Know it. Two years back, I was at a doorstep, looking towards the big, getting bigger, world of internet. I didn’t know exactly why I wanted to write online, but I did, nevertheless. Amongst the several contradictory reasons I came up with, the funniest was that I was writing for myself.

I could have used a paper diary.

Like I said, there is no clear reason. But there certainly is a clear-as-glass track I have left behind while writing this ‘diary’ meant ‘only for me’. It is replete with meanderings, confusion, changes, clarity, love. Love. My love for expressing myself through written words has grown with each passing moment. I cannot claim perfection. I can, however, claim passion. And that is a strong enough reason for me to write. But things aren’t all that simple for a mind that constantly searches, explores, and fuzzies everything it finds before letting some centrifuge throw out the (un)necessary, and keep some (un)necessary at the crux. Writing has become a spark that refuses to leave my much-colded soul. It is the rainfall that drops only to sate my deeply-warmed heart. How can I ignore it, then?

Over these two years, I have written quite a bit about how blogging has slowly dessicated the sap of unsurety even as it filled my senses with the newness of challenge, hope, dreams, and the comfort of friendship. It has, however, also put my mind in a whirl. That is nothing new for me, of course, the whirling. But it is strange to be so affected by something that is but a faint reflection, a chimera, even. So, I have shimmied and whirled, snickered and pillow-hid my face often while I wrote my heart out.

All this sounds so good. Like an experience one must have. But somewhere during this very educating and enriching outlet, I ventured into deep, dark woods that belied my confidence in me. I began to look for a ‘tit for tat’ as Patrice put it yesterday in one of her comments to me (which prompted this post). When you write, you write for people, it is said. I tried to follow. Shamefully, I even tried to fish people in. That shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

My daughter’s newest shirt has a number of little pink beings on it. The pink turtle says, “I am smooth.” It looks at me with its beautiful pink eyes and an impish pink smile, telling me it is quite all right where it is. On the white shirt, being smooth. I’d like to tell it that it’s doing a fine job. f

And I’d like to feel smooth sometimes.

I am tired of telling myself that I am blogging because I need readers. It derails me, this telling. Even though I shall forever continue writing for myself — mostly for myself — the lack of a response will be much too loud for my poor, delicate ears, much like that echo that never came. And yet, looking for readers, trying to employ the usual means to find readers will tire me. The enrichment I get from visiting them will stay, regardless. But I want to be there because I want to be there, not for any other reason.

B and I don’t visit people. We are a stay-at-home family. With time, visitors have stopped stopping by to say hi. Obviously, there is tit for tat. But when I do it for the sake of it, I find caricatures of the people I am visiting, and when they visit in turn, not the real people. It is an unfair thing to do to people, I think. So, it is best to stay away until we are ready to be visiting. With the same philosophy, I shall have to believe that this writing home that I have created will have to be a stay-at-home one. With a welcome mat placed with anticipation.

In these two years, I have seen people consistently, diligently, writing. Visitor or not, commenter or not, they simply write. “How do they do it?”, I’ve wondered. I’ve also met people, who’ve amassed a faithful set of many-people over a short while, and my question has been the same. The question remains when I see people changing with ‘demand’. People, who seemed sure in their oddity seem to have become confident of their acquisition of uniformity. I am none of these people. It is a lonely place to be in, so I try to barge in, gate crash, even. But feel like a forgotten sapling in a garden teeming with trees that have found their own irrigation system. (Ooh, I like the metaphor).

Especially since their water just might trickle towards my soil.

I take out time every Wednesday to write. Honestly, I do not write because I am hoping for comments, but I do need to remind myself that when I speak aloud, it is pleasant to hear a response. The responses are like those cushions that stop the ricochet of an aimless arrow, providing an aim just by being so.

Whenever I begin to write about the blogging experience, I end up talking a lot about commenters and responses. My mother has often told me that I must edit what I speak, because I sometimes give the impression of feeling what I am not feeling. A tricky situation. But I have neglected to learn to communicate succinctly. Perhaps it is because the mind whirls so? I am thinking of how thoughts and beliefs and actions change over time, and yet remain the same.

Symbolism works best for me. Almost like religion for a believer of someone else’s preachings. If Symbolism was a religion, I’d be a devout believer. Having spent most of my life just being, I find this thrill of ‘wanting’ such a pleasure. Almost like that slowly-baking cake for which you can wait, but can’t. The smell of which you breathe, the sight of which you fire your taste buds with. I want to write more. It is like knowing I have found a purpose, and I shall fulfill it, regardless of the public-ness of the scribbling; irrespective of whether or not the inconsequential ambition of being rich through it see the light. To write is to finally be me. To be me, so that I can get back as me to those waiting, appreciative arms that will soon hold a book — not to lick or taste with her tongue, but to devour these little black worlds, becoming a universe in herself. To not apologise for not being courteous enough to return visits. To be sure of who, and why I am.

Smooth, cushioned, above the pillow.

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8 thoughts on “Pillows and Cushions. And Smooth Turtles, too.”

  1. Just be yourself, relax and enjoy life. I keep telling myself this and it helps. No worries if people don’t pop in. That means more time to spend on doing your favourite things. Read. Write. I love writing, juggling with words….it’s as if you have a massive garden with hundreds of different flowers (words) and you then put them together to form a bouquet (a story). And you, Priya, always come up with a beautiful bouquet! 🙂

    1. Oh, Mal. I did it again! The mention of the readers (or the lack thereof) is not because I lament their absence so much that I forget my love for writing and creating. The mention is because they are a link to the entire chain of creation, and expression. That makes them indispensable. You indispensable. And yet, if I do not have them, I shan’t stop creating. Even though the creation is also meant to seek an echo or a call from a distance…
      I do take the tortuous route, don’t I?
      Thank you for showing faith, dear friend.

  2. Sometimes I THINK I’d like to be one of those bloggers who gets hundreds of comments. And then, I realize that with those comments comes the obligation of responding. And responding means less time for writing. I’ve seen bloggers come and go because the commitment is considerable – if you want to post something every day. I settle for what I have and what I get because I can’t imagine not doing this anymore – not putting words down that might touch someone out there. When it works, it’s so glorious.

    1. When it works, it is indeed glorious. Especially since it is intended to work for people. It helps me no end, however, even when it works for me. I can come back to the words again and again, and feel a certain peace. Lately, though, such words rarely come from me. It is often chaotic, the entire prose. And then, the missing readers aggravate the agony with their absence. I suppose the trick is to just keep writing. I wish I had paid more attention to Bhagvad Gita when it professed — “Do your Karma, and do not wait for the reward.”
      It is difficult to explain just how little and simultaneously how much are readers important in the process of writing, and then becoming a writer.

      1. I know, Priya. It can feel as though you’re writing in a void, in some extremely private place. But what we write has to resonate with readers – one or two even. If we write solely for ourselves, then we should not be concerned about the loss of readers and commenters. You write to touch others, correct? Now, that is the mystery and the goal of it all.

      2. I’ve always maintained that unread words are lonely words (well, almost always . There was a time when my words gave me secret company. I wouldn’t share them with anyone!)
        Now, I am not so sure about either way — for myself, or for the others. I guess the difference isn’t much. I normally write for myself, waiting to see whether what I write effects the others the same way it does me. That’s quite educational.

        Hey! I might have found out why I want to write, after all! Thank you.

  3. I marvel that I began this blogging endeavor with such clarity, and that I’ve escaped so much of the angst or burnout that afflicts some. You’ve made me wonder why – these are some conclusions I’ve drawn.

    1. I never saw myself as “a blogger”. I saw myself as someone who intended to use a blog platform for writing.

    2. Since I wasn’t “a blogger”, I simply threw out any advice that was meant to advance blogging success – things like daily posting, the use of memes, those blogging “awards”. I intended to keep control of the content of my blog, and that meant no posts describing “seven interesting things you might not know about me”.

    3. Believing that content is all, I wrote only rarely about blogging or writing, and when I did, I wrote in a larger context. For example, waiting for my 5,000th “hit” became a meditation on travel as miles traveled vs. travel as sights seen.

    4. I discovered that many magazines will not accept work that has appeared on a blog, because they accept only work that has NOT been previously published, and publishing on a blog counts. I stopped worrying about people who talk about “blogs” versus “real writing”. And I figured out I’d rather interact with real readers than count the number of books sold to strangers.

    5. I nurtured people’s willingness to leave substantive comments – and my own commitment to respond. There are some ironies here. I pray daily, “Lord, save me from being Freshly Pressed!” It happened anyway, and it was agony. Like Snoring Dog Studio, my days of thinking hundreds of comments would be good are long gone.

    And finally, my #1 Rule: “Write, and let go”. I work myself silly on each post, until it’s as good as I can make it at that particular time. Once I publish, I move on immediately to what’s next, and don’t worry a lick about how good or how bad it is. If I don’t move on but stay in place, I know myself well enough to know I’ll keep beating myself up if it’s bad, or keep congratulating myself if it’s good. Neither helps me become a better writer.

    Gosh. I didn’t mean to write a book here. But I’ve read your post a good number of times, identified with so many of your issues, and really did find it helpful. Next time I show up on your welcome mat, I’ll be sure to leave my backpack outside when I come in to visit!

    1. I had it all, Linda — a blog, appreciative readers with substantive comments, my own commitment to respond. I had it going until I began to ‘want’ monetary success through writing, assuming that blog readers were the only way to becoming a bestselling author (the objective of the latter being freedom from every-day struggle of earning a living). That and Facebook. But I wasn’t meant to be marketing myself that way. I am meant to just do as my heart says, and then wait and watch.
      Blogging hasn’t given me angst or burnout; if anything, it has fuelled a long-neglected fire. And that is what is confusing me. Or let’s say, has succeeded me in jolting out of my very laid-back-ness. That’s a good thing.

      In all of these months in which I first deleted my previous blog, ‘hibernated’, started another blog, then revived the old one with a new name (not to mention the countless ‘gravatars’ and themes), I have been steadily moving towards this old-new me. The old one, not looking for anything except a writing outlet, and the new one — more confident, more determined. I like it when the porridge is just right.

      Now the only thing to look for is enough patience to ‘bake’ my pieces over time. I have never had the patience! Write, publish, forget. I need to change it to — write, write, edit, edit, correct, re-write. Publish. Forget. Wish me luck!

      P.S. Your backpack will give mine company, I’m sure.

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