I read a book of short stories. A compilation of pieces by different people with little or no prior creative writing experience. The book had an introduction to each of them – a brief glossary of details, character sketches in a few lines. I also had a chance to meet one of the authors. I had thought that his story was autobiographical (and perhaps it was). But when I met him, I could only think…he was so unlike his story.

One of the other authors used a pen-name and his (her?) description stated that it was a pseudonym. No more said, nothing more required, I think. If I could, that’s the approach I would have chosen to adopt too. Tough enough to deal with people’s reactions to one’s story, who wants the added complication of reactions to one’s self?

I think that perhaps writers should not reveal their real selves to their readers, except through their craft. It is rather prentitious of me to think of what I will or will not do when I write, considering I’ve never really had anything major published outside my blog. In any case, my anonymity is a laugh now – a thin, cotten screen against a sunlit window that gives away even the pace of one’s breathing by its reverberations.

Anonymity once lost, can never be regained.

I am reminded of my mother drilling this into my head when I was about twelve. Except she was talking about a girl’s honour. Oh well, that which we treasure deeply is easily lost, irreplaceably so, no matter even if it is no use to anyone else. And I think perhaps there is too much curiosity in this world.

They also say that innocence once lost…the question is can one really write like no one’s reading, when one knows that everyone is? People who like what I write say that I write from the heart. And perhaps I have been, thus far. But when knowledge, the consciousness of an audience, their judgement, their values, their opinions, their feelings…all of that come into the picture, is it possible for writing to remain about what comes from the heart anymore?

I think it is a misnomer to say that a writer is unaffected by his/her readers. And I really believe that any blogger who says that they don’t care about their readers is lying. If you really didn’t care, you’d write a diary instead of a blog.

When you know you are being read and by people you know and that you may be asked to explain yourself, justify your emotions (unjustifiable as they may be), explain your thoughts (inexplicable as they may be) and elaborate on your words (as mundane as they may be), don’t you automatically move into either pandering to what you’re being asked to do – or – turn defensive and adopt the proverbial FO attitude? Either way it shows. And your writing is never the same again.

And then again, as your writing starts to become more important to you, the power balance shifts. Instead of you influencing your writing, what you write starts to influence you. So, as your writing gets bolder, smoother, more polished, you do as well. Sometimes you become a player and anonymity, just a game of shifting, transmuting identities.

I am lost in my own words
trapped in a world of my own making
where I am no more than a collage of other people’s impressions.

13 thoughts on “Write Like No One’s Reading”
  1. I liked what you wrote here, “…In any case, my anonymity is a laugh now – a thin, cotten screen against a sunlit window that gives away even the pace of one’s breathing by its reverberations…”

    Interesting take! Do write a book, wish you the best!!

    Keep Blogging!

    Biju Mathewss last idea: The Leap of Faith

  2. @ Biju Matthews: Thank you very much. That’s a dream, a distant, distant dream and one I’m afraid…I’m too afraid to pursue at the moment!! But thank you so much for the encouragement.

    @ Arcopol: πŸ™‚ It comes from the same place. And yes, that’s quite an apt allusion as well.

  3. I love this title..
    I could never get to the second part, where writing becomes more important that the blog itself! I ran into hiding once I was uncovered and started afresh.. aah well.. I wasn’t in love with my blog as much as I was with writing!

    Ms Taggarts last idea: Amnesia!

  4. ‘Anonymity’, of course, can be regained if you start a new association. For example, if ‘Ideasmith’ lies low and ‘WitBits’ surfaces with another blog…et voila…You are anonymous once again. A single person could have several identities, could he not? You should know better πŸ™‚

    There might be other writers out there who write for themselves and not for their readers. My blog is one such example, isn’t it! Nobody even knows about it, it’s still public. And I do write, infrequently however. True?

  5. @ Ms Taggart: It will come with time. The blog is but a medium (even if it is a really delightful medium!) while the content is what really matters.

    @ Brad: Not exactly. I’d have to make sure I never commented on anyone else’s blog using the new handle since IPs can be traced from comments. And about your blog and others like it, I still think my thought holds true. I and some of your other friends do know the blog so you do have readers. Maybe your priority is not to have a large reader base but you still do want to be read, nevertheless.

  6. the power balance shifts. Instead of you influencing your writing, what you write starts to influence you. So, as your writing gets bolder, smoother, more polished, you do as well. Sometimes you become a player and anonymity, just a game of shifting, transmuting identities.

    I usually dance like no one’s watching and I swear up until recently I have been writing like no one’s reading. An isolated incident recently has caught me unawares and now I am going through a patch where I hesitate to write as freely as I used to. I sure hope it’s a patch, coz I liked myself and my writings even just a few weeks ago. πŸ™‚
    I do write for myself, as in I don’t cater to the audience, but you right, it is hard to ignore those lurkers..

    radss last idea: omigosh

  7. Well we were discussing something related.Do you write because you want to write or is it something that just flows through your heart.

    ?????? ???? ????? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???

    An example is Majaz Lucknowi whom I have dedicated my blog to.The pain he felt was so immense that it just took the form of words.The feeling was what gnawed him constantly,not the urge to create.He wrote for himself,not the world around him.
    Ditto with Ghalib.
    What do you think ?

    aahangs last idea: The Tax Man cometh…

  8. @ rads: You can write for yourself and still care about what other people think. Such is human nature.

    @ aahang: I write because it flows through me and I MUST express it. I think emotion demands expression, especially the most poignant ones. And umm, my Hindi isn’t that strong so perhaps you could translate your second comment?

  9. Yes the Hindi is a little tough in this one especially if it’s not your mother tongue.I will translate it for you.It goes like this :
    The first poet must have lost in love,from his pain would have flowed what we call now poetry.
    If you know of Mirza Ghalib’s life one of his more famous couplets – Har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ke tu kya hai was recited extempore in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar.And this was the case with almost all his Shayari.
    While all of us are not that gifted,the idea is that only a fertile patch will yield and we must concentrate developing sensiivity in our thought process.Words are just a medium.

    aahangs last idea: The Tax Man cometh…

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