My apology to my readers

 

Hi there,

Thanks for your attention. I really appreciate it. Now for the important part.

Sorry

This is the 100th consecutive day I have been blogging and felt I owed everyone reading this blog an explanation. You have been kind enough to like some of the stuff I have put up and a few have even trusted me into your daily reader feed. To all of you, I am sorry that this blog probably wasn’t what you expected it to be, it lacked focus and meandered from post to post. I apologize if I have wasted your time.

I will try to explain what was going on behind the blog.

 

Me

A bit of personal history first (I promise < 3 paragraphs). I grew up in Delhi, India with a lot of books in my house. By the time I was in the 7th grade I wanted to be a writer. It seemed the easiest thing in the world. I would sit on a desk and type whatever I wanted and people would pay me for it. Also, if I could attract a foreign audience, with the favourable rate of exchange, I could probably make a fair bit of money ($1 = Rs.16 in those days).

In the 9th grade, I wrote a 30,000 word science fiction novel called First Contact. Mercifully all copies of that were lost when my mother’s computer crashed and had its hard disk formatted. This was a good thing because for years, I was free to imagine it being much better than it probably was.

In high school I finally felt the tug of reality and had to start working towards college entrances. College years were busy too, as were the years afterwards. My 20s passed faster than I ever imagined they would and I found myself 32 years old and having gone from budding novelist at 14 to having written little else since.

 

The Blog

The idea I came up with was that, just as weight watchers exercise a little every day, I would write something every day. I chose the blog format because I could access the material anywhere.

It didn’t matter to me what the writing was about or how bad I thought it was, it would be written every day and put online. This philosophy was based on a principle attributed to Karl Marx, quantity breeds quality (confession: I first heard that in a Woody Allen movie). I figured even if I wrote terribly, if I could keep it up for a few years it would be better than at the start.

I started this blog because I wanted to learn how to write.

I felt the exercise would be a cinch. After all, wasn’t I living in what the Chinese proverbially called “interesting times”. Around me in India we had the controversial economic experiment called demonetization and on the other side of the globe, someone I hadn’t paid attention to before had won an election. There were also a lot of points I felt had not received sufficient attention in the media. I could probably dish out stuff on these things for years.

But who would read something like this? Probably nobody. Why on earth would anybody want to spend time and effort reading my babble? I expected not more than a couple of clicks a year from internet surfers lost amongst the digital waves on long stormy nights.

 

So I am truly sorry for taking up your time, I never meant to foist my inept writing upon you.

That’s really all I had to say. But please read on. I would like to share what happened afterwards.

 

After I started

  1. The first thing that happened was that WordPress put my first blog post on the web and 3 people read it on the first day. I was horrified. If I knew that someone was going to read this stuff, surely I would have written better. Well probably I wouldn’t have written at all. But to drop the whole thing felt like cowardice so I went on.
  2. What do you do if someone you disagree with likes you? If you took the trouble to read my writing, at the very least you have shown courtesy and endurance. I like you. I’d like to see your stuff too. If you have ever liked anything I have written or subscribed to my posts, I have visited your site.

The first person I came across this way was a gentleman who I suspect misunderstood the intent of my post. He had a pronounced political view which I deeply disagree with. I never expected to come across and be appreciated by someone with ideas like that. But here it was, with a click of his mouse, this man had made me re-examine my own prejudices.

I still disagree with his views, but I am more conscious of how unfair I am in judging a person based on just one side of their lives.

  1. All the things I thought I wanted to write about exhausted in the first couple of weeks. Then I was faced with the loathsome prospect of repeating myself or learning something new. I opted for the latter. So I had to read new topics regularly just in the attempt to keep coming up with things to write about. I started following up on topics I had been fleetingly curious about before.
  2. Fiction is hard. I have only written 3-4 short stories in these hundred posts. I found the dialogue construction and scene setting much harder than I thought.
  3. Science is fun. Something I knew at age 16 but had forgotten by age 26. Also, it is very wide with so many interesting things going on at all times. The work of nature is far richer than the work of man.
  4. I have no idea what people want to read. The best post I have written to date, the one I felt was what I would have liked to read received 1 view. Posts I researched intensely and decorated copiously vanished without any recognition while filler material I poured out on lean days or on days I was travelling somehow found an audience.

 

Where I messed up

I made the same mistake in blogging I made in investing. When I had put money in a mutual fund, I started monitoring it every day. If it went up, I felt I was smart and congratulated myself on making a wise investment. If it went down I wondered if I was in out of my depth. In blogging, I started tracking my viewership stats every day, if they looked good, I felt a warm glow, if they went down, I wondered if I had done something wrong.

This screwed up my thinking. I became conscious of popularity. I tried second guessing what I thought my readers would find interesting (of course I failed, it was a stupid thing to do). The blog started taking a direction, but I started feeling boxed in. So I had to drop the trail and write about something completely different for a while.

 

Blogging as therapy

All those points I felt were being missed out in the mainstream discussion. Well I mentioned them. A couple of people actually read them. But regardless of their lack of impact, I feel much better now that I have got them off my chest. My mind doesn’t keep going back to them and I am free to think about new things.

So if you feel strongly about something and keep going back to the same ideas to the point where you fear you are getting into a rut, I suggest you try writing a couple of blog posts about them. Then backing off and write about other stuff. In a couple of weeks, you will find your mind lighter. You may find there is less to say on the subject than you thought.

 

Where I am now

I honestly don’t think I am a much better writer now than when I started out. That’s ok, I didn’t expect miracles from an hour a day for 3 months. What has happened is that I find it much easier to write poor composition. I am no longer as self-conscious as I used to be.

This is a tiny step, but it has to occur before anything else can happen.

 

Where I want to go from here

Well the plan remains the same. I started this blog because I wanted to learn the craft of writing. I still consider myself a beginner. I hope things get better with time. I hope somewhere along the way I am able to amuse you.

Please do help by sending in feedback.

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6 responses to “My apology to my readers

  1. Well, your writing doesn’t seem bad. However, I am a little confused. You say you want to learn the craft of writing, but in what way? Are you referring to non-fiction writing or fiction writing?

    • Thank you Akaluv for the compliment.
      While fiction (and narrative non-fiction) requires extra skills like character development, dialogue etc., what I am currently aiming for is far humbler and common to both fiction and non-fiction. All I hope to achieve is improvement in composition, clarity, structured thinking and language use.
      At its core, writing is a craft. Master craftsmen effortlessly move from style to style and from theme to theme. One can’t classify Asimov as a science writer or a science fiction writer.
      BTW, I saw your last post (5th March 2017) and completely agree with your observations. Also, this may not be what you want to hear (it goes counter to everything we have said) but I think your numbers are great, mine are a small fraction of that.

  2. Hear! Hear! That’s the most honest thing I have read in a while 😉

    Also- maybe you should take the bull by the horns and write more short stories!

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