Monday, December 22, 2014

Do I like writing?

The more I deal with the world of writing, the less confident I feel about whether I really like writing. Somehow, I had always had this feeling that a love for an art like writing is somewhat like the love for doing any other thing - not as in doing things in order to GET something you like but as in LIKING the thing that you do.

I have seen people who enjoy cooking, say. They may like cooking but they feel the enthusiasm to plan and cook elaborate meals only when they expect to be serving an appreciative audience. I am yet to meet someone who cooks an elaborate six-course meal, and take pleasure in merely having done it, with no-one to eat it. When it comes to times when the cook has only himself to feed, the likelihood is a simple meal or even just a cup of noodles. It is someone who likes EATING, and also knows how to cook, who is more likely to cook elaborate meals for himself, if at all there is any such person who would go to the trouble.

Apparently, someone interested in art is of a different mindset altogether. He puts together ideas, events and phrases merely for the pleasure of doing it - if he were a writer, that is - and, if any more pleasure was needed, he would read and savor it all by himself. Readers may also be grudgingly invited but the man is actually doing it all for himself - art for art's sake, you know.

Which is why it seems to me that I have no right to call myself a writer. I react exactly like the cook. I feel the enthusiasm to write only when I have an audience or expect to do so. Not the same as writing FOR an audience - THAT means that, to carry the cooking metaphor, adding twice the salt that you would normally do if you think that THAT is what will please the eater. I mean more the likes of cooking what I like cooking, but cooking it ONLY when I think someone who appreciates it may turn up to eat it.

The only things I write for myself are things like "Do not forget to pay the electricity bill tomorrow, you dummy" and things of supreme literary importance like that. When it comes to writing anything else, I see no fun just in writing it. I mean I have already had the fun when I thought about it, so why bother to type it in, and save it in a document if no-one else is going to come around to enjoy reading it? Which is why, probably, I should never ever call myself a writer - I just do not have the divine passion to pour out words on paper/electronic device, without regard to the possibility of anybody else ever laying an eye on it.

Maybe it is because I attempt to write humor. There is nothing more pathetic than a humorist telling a joke to himself and going 'HaHaHa' about it, with sepulchral silence all around him. Maybe that is what accounts for the fact that there are so few humorists acclaimed as litterateurs in the history of literature. Humorists, perforce, have to be Philistines - ever seeking an audience - while the rest can soulfully pour out their words just for the pleasure of writing, without a single person sneering at them.

Now that we are all agreed that I cannot really like writing, I can proceed with writing - and seeking an audience for it - without regard to having to live up to the label of a writer!

32 comments:

  1. So relate to this one. I too am not a writer...I would never write if I had noone to read...one of the main reasons why I never even wrote a diary during my teens. But I do not concur with what you said about writing something and wanting them to like it. I write and leave the choice of liking it or hating it to them. I take pleasure only in the readership....it comes and goes.

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    1. I mentioned nothing about any ONE person continuing to like what I write, Red! The point is only that if there were NO readership, I would not write :) AND, there are things I would not do even if there were no readership - like choosing my subject to suit readership. There are some things which I consider stupid not to do - like NOT writing 7-8k words in a blog post. One needs to discipline one's artistic freedom sometimes and being adamant about EVERYTHING is not the way. IF it does not come to me, I will just stop writing :)

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  2. I relate to this one. I have never called myself a writer....nor do I believe I am one. For the reasons you so well elaborated. But I dont believe in writing someone to please the reader. Liking or hating it is their choice....readership comes and goes.

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    1. Yes - but if it is all gone and you will write for yourself alone THEN you are a writer :)

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  3. Interesting read. Very interesting, in fact. Art for art's sake (or writing for writing sake) is a good argument. But like any argument for doing (or not doing) anything, I feel this too isn't the final take on art or writing. As Krishna might say, there is action even when we choose in-action or non-action. So there may be art or writing going on invisibly even when nothing is visibly expressed. Not sure if that makes sense, but somehow it feels right today :) The point I am trying to make is that often creative pursuit (perhaps like any other pursuit) is an internal thing, only when it manifests or expresses itself outwardly it becomes art or piece of writing or whatever. So does the expression of something internal always require an audience? The sculptors and artists who carved those magnificent sculptures and painted masterpieces in Ajanta caves perhaps didn't know there will be an audience someday for their works of art. They actually did and hid well their work far away from the civilization! There is some deeper truth they knew about art that we seem to have forgotten as we have become more "civilized" in the modern sense of the word. We have become more interested in exhibition of our expression rather than understanding the inner processes that our outer work is trying to express.
    I can go on and on but I won't. See, this is what happens when someone writes something so interesting. So don't stop writing, Suresh :)

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    1. Quite, Beloo! The point, though, is that some arts express themselves ONLY in the making. Some facets of writing - poetry and literary writing for example - express similarly since it is in the usage of words that the art expresses itself. Humor, Satire and other such writing lie more in the concept than in the writing itself - so, those are types of art that the execution comes ONLY in the expectation of an audience. To use the same cooking metaphor - the creative end of these things lie in devising a recipe. The cooking, itself, needs someone to eat :) An imperfect metaphor since a recipe needs to be tested at least once but I am sure you get the point. :)

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  4. Ha ha ha, the example of cook is just brilliant. those who argue about writing for the sake of it and blah should read this. and a humorist writing a joke and laughing all alone made me laugh in the middle of the road :)

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    1. I don't know how it works with them, Debs, but I never could get any enthusiasm to write if there were no readers. Which is why I stopped blogging in 2009 and was off till 2012

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  5. This is fantastic,and I completely agree. I have felt writing itself to be a struggle, even when I am not writing humour. It is only when one or two people (I have limited audience :) ) get back with their feedback do I feel happy. But I do know people who write for themselves, and are happy enough not to show it to the World. Are they superior beings, or are they hoping that what they write will be discovered by the World someday?

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    1. I have no clue. All I know is that in the days when I claimed to be writing for myself, it was more a question of not GETTING readers and not about not WANTING them :) All people are not alike, so I cannot extrapolate from my own POV and assume that others are the same.

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    2. Haha! I can relate to that getting and wanting part too :)

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  6. This is true. Perhaps only one person out of a million writes for the sake of writing only. The analogy between cooking and writing is just perfect :-D. But please, don't stop writing ...it always gives me a smile whenever I visit your blog :-)

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    1. As long as people like you keep visiting my blog, why would I stop writing? :)

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  7. I would also probably not write if people never read what I had to say..I love when someone reads and comments on what I write, even though I know at times the comment is just out of some compulsion...Ahh but why the comparison of cooking with writing Suresh! I hate , hate cooking and don't like to see writing anywhere near it ;)

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    1. Hahaha! So THAT is why you never turn up for the meets :) You promised a chicken curry and just do not want to cook it :P

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  8. I write to share my ideas with others .
    I like intelligent additions to what i wrote,and also the appreciation i get ;) from my readers.
    Sad would be the day when no one read what i wrote.

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    1. Sad for me as well! Hope neither of us see the day, Indu!

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  9. As always, your posts make me think. You echo my thoughts here in a very interesting manner. Like Red, I haven't kept a diary, so will I write if no one reads me? I doubt it. Also, bang on about telling a joke to find that no one is laughing. Pathetic. You are scaring me, Suresh.

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    1. Just my way of reminding myself to never lie to myself about not wanting readers, Alka!

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  10. I actually have a slightly different experience. When I started blogging, it was solely to document my kids' childhood as well as to share some interesting views and articles. I did not even understand blogging. The URL was shared with just a few friends. I remember being alarmed when someone I did not know landed up and commented. So I guess, I would still write even if no one read. Of course, I am happy receiving comments and interacting. But, I guess I never got into writing to get an audience. It happened. And for that I am really glad. :)

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    1. "share", Rachna? Share implies someone else to read :) THAT is what I meant - that you have a readership in mind when you write. Whether that readership consists of the people around you, your children or you yourself in the future or total strangers is immaterial. My point is that you ALWAYS have readership in mind when you write :)

      If you had none in mind then YOU are a Writer :)

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  11. Very interesting thought Suresh. In the beginning, ..I shared it with a few friends. As the readership grew a little, I would lie if I say I didn't wait to see the comments. But then there are few posts..especially on travel or some stuff, that I like to come back and read..more to refresh my own memory. But the story is entirely different when I paint. When I am painting, I dont think of an audience. Sometimes I think having an audience, rather spoils you as a writer or an artist.

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    1. I don't know Ash! I mean - in the process of writing I, too, never think of an audience or, more to the point, any specific audience. So, the question to ask yourself is if you were to complete painting after painting and there is no-one to appreciate the paintings, would you still go forth and paint one more OR would you hit a point when the enthusiasm to paint drains away?

      It works different ways with different people. Some artists are known to have destroyed their works when they found no appreciation. Others are known to have painted on and on without ever showing their works to anyone else. Question is - Are ONLY the latter artistes?

      As for whether having an audience spoils you as an artiste or not, it would depend on whether you get more pleasure from adulation than creation or not. For me, though, the point is that my writing IS communication and sans a communicatee (if I may coin the word), any communication is meaningless

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  12. I don't know, Suresh. I am still trying to work on my mindset and get to the writing for its own sake. This writing for audience is taking me nowhere. I am fed up of people doing me a favor by reading what I write. If my writing is not giving people any joy, I would rather they not read it. I doubt if even one person reads my writing for the sheer joy of it. I have often considered completely giving up writing or go back to the drawing board and work on my skills before getting back to public view again. The other alternative is of course getting rid of wanting to write for an audience and write for myself. (I have never been inflicting my writing on friends from other contexts and ever since wife got busy with son, mostly been sparing her as well.) After all when children scrawl on walls with crayons on walls, do they do it for any audience.? Does it take away their happiness.

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    1. Ah! THAT is, unfortunately, not given to most adults. When you tell a child that his drawing is lovely, the child feels happy without bothering to think whether you really thought it was good or were merely saying so to make it happy. You lost that second ability as a consequence of growing up. Do you think you have retained the first - of being happy without an audience?

      I am not denying the possibility that there are a few people who indulge in arts merely because the process makes them happy. My point is that such people are very few, indeed! Most of us need a validation of whether our talent justifies the effort and lying to ourselves about our own need for validation is no help. I certainly need it and I know it.

      The other thing is that I do not think that if you were a 'real' artist, you would do your thing without bothering about whether you had an audience. History is replete with artistic geniuses of both kinds.

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    2. I don't want to be an 'artist' real or otherwise. I just want to be happy and this chasing for audience and not getting or getting reluctant one is not making me happy.So I need to decide if stopping writing is going to make me happy or getting to a state of writing without bothering about audience is.

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    3. Let me put forth my own perspective, TF - the reason for this post. When we write, we write on a medium - be it a book, a blog, an FB status or Twitter. We know full well that each medium has an audience that has set expectations about what it will read - the size, subject etc. SO - if you use a medium for writing, it is stupid not to see if what you write suits it or not before putting it up. Would you put up your Seth story, for example, as a FB status msg?

      There are things that you cannot compromise on and still take pleasure in what you do. If you started doing that, it would be a job and cease to be an avocation.

      Seeking an audience WHEN you write is one thing, but making the getting of an audience the sole goal of writing is another. For me, there is as much pleasure in the writing as in the audience. I write to please myself but if I got no audience at all, I would stop writing. Never been much of a diary-writer and, sans an audience, that is all this would become.

      AND, yes, above all the process has to make me happy. Anything that makes me unhappy is something I avoid. I apply the same logic to people as well - as you know :)

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  13. That's quite a confession, Sir. A tale of being caught in two world, write for self and toeing the line, if you know what I mean. Writing is like mint chocolate for me, can't live with and without it. And, I think you write fabulous stuffs:)

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