Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Greater Good (or What's Your Point Sister?)

'Nuff said about shit writing I think.

Truth be told there's been a lot bothering me lately. My over-eager participation in all things Twitter, the need to up the Twitter Gods (oh, there's a club...) and be the wittiest chick on the 140-character long block. The need to be snappy, sensitive, brazen yet not short-sighted, politically aware yet not an activist, to shock without offending, to offend without alienating.
The urge to regurgitate whatever comes to ones mind, no matter how inane, how irrelevant and how selfish. I have succumbed to it all.
I've jumped in the deep end and found - it's way more shallow than I thought.

Forget the psychological difficulty I'm having coming to terms with my alter-ego on Twitter/ FB or even this blog sometimes. This, for once, is not about my head.

My chief discomfort with what's happening to me online comes from what I believe to be good writing.
I have been clever on Twitter, even had a minor celebrity quote me once. Strangers have wanted to connect with me and read about my day. I like my writing online. It's forced me to stretch myself (I never ever thought I was funny. Now with all these virtual opportunities, I am pushing my own limits). My language skills and confidence have improved. But is my writing great? Not by a long, long shot.

I am, in fact, suffering as a writer. I'm getting lost in the crowd. The more lost in it I get, the more I want to be part of it. I am trying to stand out by submerging myself, hair curlers and all. I'm getting scared of writing the way I really want to. I'm scared shitless to confront the truth that I have nothing to write about.

I've spent the day watching Dexter. It is brilliant. Brilliant like Californication, MASH and some of my favourite documentary films have been (my references for good writing tend to come from TV, since I work in it). All day long, I've compulsively gone from episode to episode like an addict.The idea is brilliant, the acting superb, the direction exceptional. That's not what has me hooked though.

It's the writing, which is great. By great, I don't just mean snappy lines, ironic plot twists or complex characters, although it has all that. What makes it great is its courage. The writing has the guts to not remain in the realm of the superficial (which it could quite easily do since its premise is strong enough to base a series on). It digs deeper, it goes into uncomfortable spaces, it crosses the line - but not simply to create a stir.  It could have been a TV show about a cop-by-day, killer-by-night. Each episode could've been a cat-and-mouse tale with the appropriate car chases and I have no doubt, it would have been successful enough. But that the writers chose to go into Dexter's mind, play with his unique psychology, use it as a comment on who we are as people, use it to jog our ideas of right & wrong....that just blows me away. There's something in the writing that connects with the most primal part of me and makes me hunger for more. They could've taken the easy route like so many of us do with our catchy tweets and cynical blog posts. They went for it instead.

Most of my favourite books and films have been products of brave writing, where writers have pushed themselves beyond language, story, narrative, rules and the need to be 'successful' & popular (and nothing seems to get more success online than irreverance & cynicism).
They've pushed to dig for something more. They've not been driven by the need to impress at all costs. They've not simply relied on their ability to twist grammar to their needs. And they've realised that if they don't have anything of value to say, it's best not to say it at all.
(One may argue that the definition of 'value' may differ from person to person. Here's where I drew the line for myself this evening: I tweeted about a zit on my forehead. It wasn't a clever haiku about a zit, I was not using my zit as a metaphor for anything. I just needed to tell the world I had a zit. Any 'value' in that? I think not. And yet, that's the kind of horse-shit that I see all around me, including on news channels etc...but that's another rant)

I salute these writers because it's not easy to dodge all the potholes and pitfalls on the route to ensuring that ones work is experienced by society at large. To maintain your own voice in the din, to not sway when one half the room loves you and the other half ignores you. To know when to hit that Publish button and when to log off without a word.
To understand that the opportunity to write is a profound privilege and that the one of being read is a greater one still.

I guess my point is, I don't want to be just another wooden puppet out there, churning out words and sentences chosen to elicit a specific reaction. Ideally, I want to stop caring about the reaction completely (ya right, a voice inside me says, delete your comments section then). That may not happen immediately. But I eagerly await that day.
Who knows, by then I just might have something to say .


  1. Profound!

    PS: pls ignore my reaction!!

  2. I read some of your blogs and loved it. You have a smart, engaging way of writing which i envy.....Especially this post.

    i have - at times - wondered why we write as much as we do (in blogposts about silly minor things trying to make the reader laugh or some such)and come up with no easy answer. Other times, my stomach has cringed at how the butterflies come out evertime my trivial posts get a comment.

  3. Thanks for reading Himangshu :)
    I think the only way to do it is to DO it. Which means keep writing - even the pretentious posts, the trivial posts, the babbling, rambling posts. Write what satisfies your soul, everything else is just a bonus.