Looking Forward and Back - 1 Jan 2013

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?


DS said...

Congrats on your story getting published, thats news to me!!! And I hope HC contest also brings good news for you.

Shanmu said...

Hey Lka, Happy new year!! and congrats on getting published!! I would recommend self publishing to start off with... Look at EL James ;)

T F Carthick said...

Thanks DS. This is the Fablery one. I think I already told you about it.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Shanmu. Wish you too a happy New Year. Good to see you after so long. You and Vishnu used to comment regularly when I started the blog. Hope to see you around more this year. Some of the nostalgia incidents I might write about might be ones you would also remember.

There are multiple views on self publishing. Self publishing people say is a risk because if it flops your chances of getting published drops drastically. But I am thinking about it.

And the anthology was supposed to come out this year end. But got postponed. January end is what I have heard as of now. Hope it comes out soon.

DS said...

Yeah, I think you did mention that.

Zephyr said...

You have your goals set out clearly and also clear about what you like and don't like. With such basic parameters in place, you can only be on the right path. More power to your creative fingers and may you achieve what you aim to in this new year!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Zephyr. Wish you too a great New Year ahead.

umashankar said...

Why, those are as reflective words as words were ever meant to be. I identify with the writer's existential dilemma, astoundingly captured by you. Each of those options have their own pros and cons. Sometimes though, the sheer number of fake bloggers repel me from the related ,medium.

I have loved your works and I have loved your candour; and I daresay I have loved your wit and disposition too. Battle speed, Crusader!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks, Umashankar. Nice to know you agree with my views. Wish you too a great year ahead.

Rachna said...

I am seeing your dilemmas, and it is good that the introspection will give you clarity. I have loved your blog reviews, specifically Subhorup! Do let me know when you are up to do more, and I would love to ask you to review mine. Frankly, Subhorup's blog review helped me declutter my blog and understand other nuances. Did you really participate in all contests? Wow, that is something. I think, I've taken part in a few in the past year but only those where I could relate to the topic. I just cannot mindlessly promote a brand, but I don't hold it against those who do that. Wish you luck with your fiction writing endeavors. You are good at it and serious about it which is pretty good. As far as opening out to other bloggers is concerned that is fraught with dangers as well as my personal experience tells me. You never really know what another person actually is!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Rachna. I will surely take up the review of your blog as soon as I clear my pipeline. But more than 20 people are waiting.

I have done close to 20 contests on Indi blogger itself and then there are other blogger contests without prizes and just prompts without any winning or losing. Trying to relate to a topic that seems distant from you opens a new vista of thinking when you are starved of content to write. But then at times the obsession with winning catches on and takes the fun away.

Any kind of friendship with people is fraught with risks - not just in blog-o-sphere alone. Actually I feel you get a better measure of a person by going over the content (if you are perceptive that is) he or she writes than the hollow interactions at offices and parties.

Bikram said...

Well sir all the best with what you have planned.
Reviewing books , I do admire everyone who reads a book and then writes a review, because I am a bad reader and I will never be able to do that.

I for myself have promised not to Comment on the Review of books, and only comment on blogs where I personally know the blogger as in 2012 , I have had a very bad experience. (the above lines are in positive way, please ) :)

I also want to attend a few meets, hopefully when i plan to come to india there will be some planned. It would be interesting to meet everyone in reality.

My best wishes from the bottom of my heart that may you acheive what you have planned ..

and I will second Rachna's views about opening up to bloggers, I myself have made a new year resolution to NOT DO SO at all, with a little experience that i have had a couple of times now in the blog world and especially from some Well knows bloggers , I am not brave enough to do so again.

I know you have replied saying any kind of friendship is fraught with risks, true but at least in reality , I can go upto the person and ask on their FACE.. rather than letting them back bite you and spread more rumours. I also feel that you are KNOWN for the company you keep , so its better to part ways then try to mend ways.

Anyway All the best and it would be a pleasure to meet you sometime in one of the meets :) Happy new year


T F Carthick said...

Thanks for the wishes, Bikramjit. Maybe we may meet some time when you are in India.

Misunderstandings and conflicts are common in human interactions. Somehow you both seem to feel it is unique to blog-o-sphere. Maybe your experience. I have had my share of conflicts in both the real and virtual world - I have hurt people and been hurt by people, more often the former than the later.Usually it has been worse in real world for me. But to everyone his or her own views.

indu chhibber said...

TF you are a versatile author & a deeeeeeeeeeeeeeep thinker.Sure you will go far.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot Indu. Wish you too a very happy new year.

C Suresh said...

Always wanted you to go in for writing for publication. Was very happy when you got in on the Fablery contest and great to hear the plans for this year.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Suresh. Last year had contest wins. This year publication in anthology. Hope next year holds something better.

debajyoti said...

i am a huge fan of your humor. so, little disappointed to know that you won't be writing humor posts going forward. and when your stories get published, how do we get to know about it? i don't read books but would love to read your published work!

have a great year ahead!!

Deepa said...

Reading this post, I get the feeling that you have reached into the depths of your mind and translated those thoughts word for word into this post. Like you put your soul out on paper. Those are very valid concerns and thoughts you have. The world for a new writer - for that matter - anyone wishing to make a life changing event (it would be a life changing event wouldn't it - from a personal standpoint - not the corporate one that affects taxes!) is one filled with apprehensions and questions, many of which do not have answers. I am glad you're listing those apprehensions and questions down as the first step - I wish you good luck and success in your journey along this path TF! Congratulations on the contest wins, the upcoming Fablery anthology and for everything else yet to come. Have a safe and peaceful 2013!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Debajyothi. As I mentioned I will try to have humor in all my writings and some of my nostalgia posts may still be fully humorous.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Deepa. Wish you the same too.You are with me on Fablery and possibly on other plans for this year too. So wish both of us luck and wish you too a very happy New Year.

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