Thursday, 9 July 2009

Writing Ugly

I wonder if there's a case to be made for grinding out a blog post every now and then, as a way of reminding oneself that it can be done. I haven't written anything for a while now, and seem to be averaging about one post a month of late. Not because I'm too busy or anything, of course, just that most of the stuff I start drafting out in my head doesn't meet my own standards for publication. If it isn't good enough for me to read, I reckon it's not something I want to share with anyone else. And that, I think, is really the cause for most cases of writer's block - the problem is not that one can't think of anything to write about, it is just that one can't seem to find the words to express oneself in a way that is gratifying. Maintaining some standards is, of course, necessary, but I do think that sometimes we end up putting too much thought into whether something is worth writing (and posting) or not. Which, if you think about it, is rather ironic when it comes to blogging, because the 'cost' to post one's writing is pretty low (mainly in terms of time rather than money) as is the 'cost' to others to read it. In fact, when I first started blogging, I tried to get a feel for it by checking out one of those 'how-to' type blogs that recommended that I just keep on posting whatever came to mind - with enough quantity, there was sure to be at least some work of quality. I don't think I followed that advice much, but I did manage to get a fair number of posts out of the way pretty quickly.

But that was when I was still just enjoying the whole opportunity to write again and didn't care who read them. As I have become more conscious of the fact that some people actually read my blog (even if it was about 5 regulars and one or two misguided souls searching for naughty pics of aunties or whatever), I think I have become a bit more hesitant. I'm a lot more conscious of how potential readers might react or even if there will be a reaction at all. I find myself (sometimes) obsessing over whether particular posts got comments or not, or how new visitors arrived at my blog. Case in point: I'm now ruing the fact that I named a post "The Hep Aunties of Khan Market", since I now get a few hits each month from the aforementioned MILF-seekers. Google Analytics is more of a hindrance than a help in this regard - it gives me more things to ponder about, like whether that person sitting in Bristol who visited my blog 3 times in the last month is someone I know who's just checking in (though I can't think of anyone) , or if it's a new reader who might like my style and who I need to impress even more so she'll keep coming back and may tell more people about me so I can slowly establish an empire of readers across the South of England (it had better be a she - I don't want to have to find out I'm wasting my time worrying about strange British men...). And all this for a blog that's just a side-project that isn't even going to make me rich or famous or anything.

Of course, I was a worrier about my writing well before I started blogging. Back at College, I could only start writing my essays for tutorials after midnight, when I was just tired enough to not give a damn about how fruity my writing might sound. As a result, for the first 3 'tutes' I wrote for a subject called Comparative Economic Development I quoted, in order, Jesus Christ, Voltaire and Pink Floyd, because I knew that our prof didn't really care what the body of the essay contained as long as it started and ended well, and I actually got pretty good marks for them. I don't think I could have written any of those while completely in control of my senses, since it would have seemed too pretentious and cheesy for me to put my name to it (Yes, I know, trying to 'keep it real' in a tute is pointless, but so is reading an amateur blog so why are you here and what's your point?).

Which brings me to today. I had to write an article on 'Value Addition in Challenging Times' for a newsletter at work (not quite, I grant you, 'What the Well-Dressed Gentleman is Wearing', but we all have to start somewhere), and after letting it slide for a couple of days, I finally ground out the first draft today. I wouldn't normally have thought of myself as writing a 'gyaan'-type article, so I basically imagined the sort of stuff that my former department head at the Bank would have liked reading, and put it down. And as a reminder of my old tute-writing days, I even finished it with a quote from Rahm Emmanuel (you know which quote I'm talking about). It may well be that tomorrow I will find out I have to re-write most of the article, but just the act of writing without judging myself too much was quite enjoyable. And that led to this post.

Quite freeing, in a sense, like after when you've taken a satisfying dump. And now that it's done, I shall post it, and be done with it. Comment if you wish, I don't care.

Well, not too much, anyway.