So I start off the first day of this year continuing my reflections as a writer I started on the last day of last year. It is strange when you have written 20 posts, you feel as if you have exhausted all your content but when you are at 200 posts, you feel there is so much left to write. I have already mentioned some of the things I am planning to write in this year. But that is not all. There is more.
Reviews of my favorite books are something I have been doing since my early days of blogging. This I hope to keep up so that it helps me understand what makes good fiction and also introduce my readers to some brilliant books. Review of new books and blogs are also something I hope to continue. Finding weaknesses in other’s works will possibly help me discover the same in my own works. I plan to go a bit slow on reviews though as critiquing people is a stressful exercise and I have my bread winning activities already giving me sufficient stress. I might also do some analytical pieces now and then. But not too often as the best component of analysis is debate. Debate and exchange of strong opinions are again stressful. So I would like to keep them for the time when stress at office and home is not too high.
Then there is also satire, philosophy, poetry and humor. I probably won’t do anything specifically as humor posts though I will try and season all my posts with a sprinkling of humor. This year I have totally neglected poetry. I hope I can do some philosophical posts or poetry when I am deeply thoughtful. Otherwise also I am hoping I can incorporate these two elements in my nostalgia and Hogwarts origins. Satire is something I have been doing a lot for contests mostly taking a swipe at the sponsors. But then the problem is only contest participants get it. With my abdication from contests, I hope I can do more broad based satire that will appeal to all in the coming year. But I must frankly admit I am a bit of a coward to do the audacious political satire some of the more popular bloggers indulge in. The thought of seeing the inside of a police station like those Mumbai Tweet girls doesn't seem to particularly excite me.
Contests were indeed the highlight of my last two years of blogging. But the moment I mentioned contests, it was unavoidable to mention contests are not going to be part of my blogging any more. That took me into the year to come without doing full justice to the year that went by. Now coming back to the year that went by, the real highlight of the year was my emerging from my four years of isolation in the virtual world to connect with bloggers at a personal level through various mediums – both virtual and real. This has fostered a community feeling which one finds only during school and college and at entry level job. I interacted with folks on blogger forums; blogger chats, created a Facebook account and a Gmail account exclusively to interact with blogger friends and also attended 3-4 meets and met bloggers personally. There was also this interesting event called Indian Bloggers League, which though by itself was a failure, served to bring bloggers in different cities together and develop communities. At least in Bangalore, we now have a close knit community of bloggers thanks to IBL.
Also this year saw me taking a few baby steps towards becoming a genuine writer of fiction. To start with, I managed to write two longer stories – one of length 14000 words and another of length 5000 words. Then, one of the short stories written by me is going to be published in a multiple genre, multiple author anthology to be brought out early this year. Incidentally it is my favorite genre: science fiction. I shall probably write an entire post on my journey from a reluctant reader to a hardcore fan to a writer of science fiction. I also submitted entries for contests organized by Harper Collins and Penguin, though the genre is not my favorite one. In the coming year I hope to submit more entries for publication opportunities. I have also joined with a few liked minded writers and started an initiative to help each other develop our fiction writing skills. Another highlight of the year was attending a writer’s workshop where I got to meet a couple of published authors and a few aspiring authors. All this might even inspire me to work on a manuscript for a novel or a collection of short stories this year.
A confusion that continues to haunt me however is self-publishing versus running after publishers versus remaining a blogger for life. I think the basis of this confusion as well as my obsession with ‘genuine’ readers for my writing is due to my lack of clarity about my purpose of being a writer. So I gave a deep thought to it. Clearly I don’t fancy the glitz and glamour of a bestselling author. The loss of privacy and freedom of movement associated with being a celebrity I feel is definitely not worth it. Nor can I be like Charles Strickland of Moon and Six Pence and just create works of art for my own satisfaction away from the eyes of the world and burn them away before I leave the world. I feel the need to be read which explains my obsession with readers and their comments. I want to know if my writing had some intrinsic value or am I just indulging in an idle whim like a child scrawling on the wall with crayons? Or would humanity be better served if I devoted my time to more productive pursuits?
This line of thought brought me to the more fundamental question of why do I read, what is the value of art and the difference between art and entertainment. A science fiction book I was reading gave me an unexpected insight about art around a week back. Art might actually have a spiritual significance. My current view of purpose of human existence is a journey towards a state of absolute perfection. Art I feel is a physical expression of the striving of the artist’s soul towards perfection. From the point of view of the one appreciating the art, a genuine work of art should cause the receiver’s soul to resonate on similar wavelength thus giving an impetus to his or her own soul’s journey towards the ideal state of perfection. So art is something that should confer an everlasting benediction on the one experiencing it. Entertainment on the other hand is something that gives you a temporary high for a limited period of time like a glass of alcohol.
I think I am getting into deeper waters and this topic can go on and on. Also these kind of concepts can be felt but difficult to explain using logic and intellect. The bottom line is I see some value in art in general and my desire to write in particular. So that gives me at least a general vague sense of direction for now. But I still don’t have clear answers for specific questions of a more practical nature like whether I should keep my blog going or pursue publication opportunities more aggressively. I guess for now I will keep all options open and just keep moving on taking things as they come. Hopefully time will bring more wisdom. After all isn't the purpose of life itself in some ways all about finding answers to those difficult questions?
Picture Link : http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Ghost_of_Christmas_Yet_to_Come