Some of the most self-destructive people I know are writers. Vain, isolated and insensitive. Yet they are also some of the most interesting human beings I interact with. Prone to kindness, observant poignancy and witticism. A writer’s appetite to learn is often large, as is his/her capacity to love. But intelligent, emotionally-stable or even rational?
A writer’s block can be infuriating. It isn’t a melody to go out of tune. Neither a slip of the painter’s brushstroke nor an itch on the sculptor’s wrist. It is akin to a difficult conversation with someone you love about where the relationship is going. If things are messed up, you must find a way to work things out. There’s just too much to lose.
But it isn’t easy. It can be paralyzing. A sharp blow to the eardrums. A lone whistle reverberates inside your head and seduces a series of dull aches. You have stared long and deep into the abyss. Now the abyss is staring at you and mouthing, “What are you looking at?”
Writing about social issues used to give me fake powers. Arms stretched out, I jogged across a building terrace – pinching the loose ends of my superhero cape. I was on a mission way to save lives. Tackle injustice. Analyze political quagmires. Make bold statements about societal norms. No fear of consequences. Always ready to fight the good fight.
When I reached the terrace’s edge, I put one foot up on a raised platform. I folded my left elbow and cupped the right shoulder with the center of my palm. I looked up to the sky before peering, heroically, at the city below. I saw all the people on the ground. So many of them needed help. They wanted to be rescued.
Bad handwriting has been a source of embarrassment and anxiety in my life. Whenever I write in cursive form, the alphabets resemble ouroboroses in heat. Unglamorously entwined yet madly unhinged. I am saddened by it. Perhaps, as a writer – I feel obliged to be better at this.
I remember the first time when someone had asked me to sign on a piece of paper. I wrote down my initials as precariously as I could. It was as though someone had finger-walked me through it. My signature remained unchanged for about 8 years. Then, I had to come up with a new one at the behest of a lawyer.
As for my handwriting, it remained awful over the decades.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend about blogging a few years ago. I was making light of my attempts during the mid-2000s. In hindsight, I realized that I had made a few assumptions. One was that my older blogs were failures and the second – that the current one is a success. The third involved my friend’s nasal hair. I doubt if that is either a matter of interest or a point of concern for anyone else but him.
I jumped on the bandwagon sometime in 2004. For a decade, only a handful of people knew of it. I rotted away in digital elephant graveyards. I kept pretending that the lack of readership didn’t matter. I convinced myself that blogging was just a playground for writers.
A quiet place where we showcased our love for language. Shared our eccentric opinions on life. As if readers were predisposed to give a crap about it.
Writing might feel like a strange purpose when you aren’t paid for it. You should keep at it because improvement only comes with practice. However, a writer’s pursuit for perfection is a never-ending journey. That’s a fancy way of putting it. The truth is that there are neither zeniths for us to attain. There are no moon landings. No timeouts either.
But there are are perfectly-valid reasons for you to stop procrastinating and start writing.
I am at peace being a writer. I have been in the business for 12 years. In hindsight, I wish I had picked another profession, preferably in wildlife conservation or goat-farming. I can’t complain though. It’s akin to choosing a mode of commutation. I would rather fly from one place to another. But I can’t fret over having to walk briskly until I grow a pair of wings.
From start to now, writing outside the realm of my career has been a more satisfying experience. Any writer will tell you that. However, getting paid to generate content is a crucial part of the journey. It exposes inabilities and then builds confidence. The secret was also out years ago that successful brands are eager to hire the really good ones. Hence it’s important for aspiring writers to learn the art of powerful storytelling, without googling for synonyms.
As a writer, you are probably more self-absorbed than the average person. You find it cumbersome to socialize. You hate confrontations when it is your turn to listen. I am not saying you can be moody too. Just that there are motherless honey badgers in the Kalahari dessert with shorter fuses. Only in language have you found the comfort you need, without feeling inadequate about expressing your emotions. For you, writing is more than a celebration of the art form. It is your bomb shelter. Your refugee camp. You take it way more seriously than you should.
It is perhaps why you egg, at times, those you interact with to physically harm you or give up their respective belief systems to consider placing a voodoo curse on you. So here are five things – as a writer – you (we) can do to avoid getting punched in your (our) faces.
As writers, we sometimes feel like members of an exclusive club. We can’t wait for others to ask us about what we do for a living. We wait, in baited breath, to nonchalantly talk about ecstasies and erroneous ways of being writer. We want people to believe it isn’t a big deal. However we secretly hope that they do.
At times, we get lost in our delusions of self-grandeur as a writer to the point that our writing abilities take a backseat. We stop trying to fine-tune our skills, and better ourselves in the process.