Being ‘me’ as a writer

Five months ago, I completed my first novel and decided to bring it out in the world. The process of writing had been difficult enough but what followed was more so. I had to establish myself as a writer which meant I had to be poised and kind towards one of my least favourite acquaintance, “the social media” and also people in real life for whom I had exhibited my vulnerability by bringing out a piece of my ‘world’ into theirs.

For one thing, I find it absolutely frightening to leave my shabby little cave with its creaky doors and rusty hinges (metaphorically speaking) and walk into a room full of potential acquaintances. The effort I have to put to appear at ease with my surrounding generally withers away the energy I might have otherwise channelized towards my writing.

Internet influences you a lot. During my teen years my writing was deep and exerting. Now, overwhelmed by the success of ‘don’t tax the reader’s minds’ kind of literature, I find my writing slowly turning into glib superficiality. So I decided to take a chance and tell the truth about my writing. Yes, I am being honest with myself here. Something that I had to condone in order to please my readers. But this trick hardly succeeds if you cannot please yourself with what you write.

If I don’t put myself into what I write and yet try to portray something deep and transcending, it will simply be trashed as progressive devolution.

My writing had been at its best whenever I was “down and out”. Unhappiness and stress caused a sudden influx of new ideas and raw emotions that made it quite easy to transfer thoughts and feelings to paper. For that you don’t need anybody’s company  just yours. You can be your own world. A world which you create and master. A world which you would not let anyone encroach upon during its creation. A world which you might slowly bring outside for the public’s eye. If they take kindly to it, you are happy and elated. Emotions sometimes vapourise and you might even become a puppet to those who accepted your world. And instead of venturing into newer worlds and experimenting with them, you might now feel safe, harboured in your little cocoon and churn out stuff to keep the reader pleased. You do not want to suffer their displeasure now.

But if on the other hand, the world does not take kindly to it, you return to your ‘previous comfortable setting’ and begin to explore new stuff and play with absolutely new ideas believing in the meantime the world out there is not ready to accept your ‘world’. This goes on. Its really a love-hate relationship that you share with the outside world. You might be at a constant war with them and they with you.

I decided to revisit my wonderful teen years. I call it wonderful since I succeeded in creating real worlds and wrote about real emotions and didn’t give a damn if it taxed the reader’s mind. In fact,  I took a secret pleasure in it, seeing the reader thinking hard and sometimes being awed by the raw truthfulness or even putting it down and never returning to it again. But it did have a kind of impact on them. A positive or a negative one. And years later they will still remember what they felt at having read my assimilation of words when another piece of my writing comes their way. They’ll either love it or hate it but most probably they won’t be indifferent to it. It might get deeply buried somewhere in the stratosphere of their minds but it will never pass into oblivion.

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90 Comments

  1. A tremendously valuable meditation and I think you are right. When we concern ourselves too much with the reader we cannot soothe, entertain or engage ourselves, we become more and more a slave to the reaction, starting to mold the works into a vehicle for them.

    And the works do become dry and soulless. Yay to you for admitting that. Some people never notice it in their own work, but many do in the works of others.

    Reblogging this one for myself and as a reminder to myself!

    *Thank-you for your brutal honesty!*

    Like

  2. Tanks for sharing. Yes, not an easy road to take. I do have a day job (I’m a psychiatrist) and like most of us (probably) dream of being able to make a living only writing, but you’re right (and so was Wilde whom I love) that sometimes it is good to just be able to share what you write and not depend on hitting a fad or having to appease the big majority.
    There was thread in a group of writers where somebody asked if people would carry on writing if nobody bought their books. Well, in my case of course, I’ve been writing most of my life and had never published anything so…what would be the difference?
    I hope you find your readers and I’ll definitely check your book.
    And thanks for visiting my blog!

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  3. Hi Ananya:) its a pleasure meeting you, as you are a writer. I also want to be be, of course a big one, one day; may be i don’t have anything which is different from the crowd. But i still love this way.
    Nice to here about your writing journey too. One thing is common between us; uncomfortable with social media.
    It will be great to here from you.
    Love rahul.

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  4. You remind me, Ananya, of lines from “Tropic of Cancer”, lines re-read this past weekend:
    “It is now the fall of my second year in Paris. I was sent here for a reason
    I have not yet been able to fathom.
    “I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A
    year ago, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think
    about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me.”

    Best, Wm. Eaton, montaigbakhtinian.com

    Like

    1. Thank you, William, for bringing up Miller’s lines…

      I read something pertaining to writers a few days back. It was a letter Oscar Wilde had written to someone asking for tips on how to become successful as a writer…Mr. Wilde told him not to depend on his art as his sole source of income and that he should keep his “day job” since one might sacrifice his everything for his art, but Art won’t sacrifice herself for her creator!

      Like

  5. Wow congratulations on your novel and your writing. You are an inspiration and so are all the comments here.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I look forward to reading more of yours.

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  6. Dear Ms. Mukherjee, THANK YOU for liking my blog post and for somehow leaving a footprint here on WordPress. I am happy to discover your blog and, moreover, to discover that we are both writers. You have done wonderfully to have released a novel at 22 years old, and I wish you well on your creative path. I’ll be sure to follow your writings and creative adventures! *Namaste*

    Like

  7. Hi A.M.! Loved reading your blog and just had to smile and reply. I am MUCH older than you, so let me share a wee bit of my experience. I went to a really “high profile” prep school where I developed a sort of passionate “hunger” for writing. I played with this verbal palate until I went from struggling to receiving literally one of 5 “A” grades on a paper that a 30-year professor had ever given. I was thrilled!! No… ECSTATIC because it seemed to validate my love, my joy and (yes) my validity as a writer. I headed off to my “high profile” college ready to dive into my honor’s English class and to immerse myself further in this distinct love of mine. One of the first assignments in my new class was to pass in a sample of my writing that had been considered good in the past. Well of course, I gave her that “A” paper from prep school. Ha ha! Well, evaluating writing is of course subjective, but imagine the pit in my stomach when she returned that paper with a grade of C+ over D- ??? How can the same paper be perceived so differently by two individuals–particularly when the “A” grade also came from one of the most “difficult” academic environments in the country. I would like to say that I was wise enough to know that this was more a reflection on them than on me, but alas, my focus at that point in my life was on getting the nod from those in the “know”. I assumed that I was not as talented with writing as I had hoped that I was. I struggled through “writer’s block” the entire semester and never took another English class in my life. After college, I pursued other careers until ultimately the lure of my love for writing brought me back “home”. My advice would be to listen to your own inner voice. Allow it to sing you to sleep at night with wonderful fairytales of all that might be. Listen to it. Savor it. Believe in it–and you will be surprised at how wise it really turns out to be. Thanks for liking my date night blog! Keep on writing from your heart. It is lovely!

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  8. A writer is someone who writes. What’s a successful writer? One who sells? Or one whose ideas change civilization long after his death? Dunno. There’s something compulsive about writing, seems to me. And room for all the various ways one looks at it. The only common denominator appears to be: You have to have something to say. Lacking that, you may be a reporter but not a writer…But then, we need honest reporters, too. ,
    Write on!

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  9. I understand exactly how you feel. Maybe I’m not totally out of my deep, “taxing readers’ minds” writing stage, but there is something to be said for suffocating a reader in information. Something that helps me as a reader (not as a writer) is a lot of deep feeling, but not all at once. If it helps, though, I love reading books and blogs that make you think, as opposed to watching a sitcom.
    Thanks for liking the art I posted on my blog.
    Out of curiosity, are you a published author?

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    1. Yes, it’s very important to maintain a balance of words when you are writing and not be overwhelmed by the myriad of expressions or words you can use but it’s also important to not give in to popular demand and maintaining your separate identity as a writer. There’s always a difference between a well-written book and a book that sells well.

      And, as for your query, if you consider my novel that’s selling on Amazon and a few short stories that have appeared in The Sunday Statesman; I guess I am a published author! 🙂

      Thanks for the visit! Have a great weekend..

      Like

  10. I decided to become an indie writer after changing things I loved about my book because an agent said so. That was a mistake! It’s so much more fun and rewarding to be who you are!

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  11. I am so proud of your accomplishments. Writing is therapeutic and you shouldn’t have to change your style for anyone. There are still many of us who want to find “taxing ” literature. Keep up the fulfilling work.

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  12. i just posted something similar… talking about how scared i was to really be putting my book out there because i know eventually someone will hate it… but i have to do it… and i am who i am and it comes through my writing… in fact how i talk comes through my writing… and i don’t want that to change… because that would be changing who i am… and the best part for me about writing is showing people what you’re capable of and who you are… so i got my book out there and eventually maybe someone will say something mean about it… but i’ve weathered worse and so will continue to press on… and yes it’s all easy to say now cause it hasn’t happened yet… 😀

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    1. Well, firstly congrats on getting your book out!
      And secondly, I guess we will have to learn to live with people being mean to the book we have created with so much time and care and accept it as a part of the writing life..

      Thanks for the visit. Cheers! 🙂

      Like

  13. Great post! Thank you for sharing what I’ve felt for years! Writing is an outlet, but can also be an inlet. Once I let others in, I found my writing gained new insights – not in an attempt to please anyone but because human interaction is at the core of artistic expression. It’s a balancing act, but one worth the precision required to keep real what we feel and are compelled to express. Congratulations on your first novel!

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  14. wonderful insight in your experience as a writer. I just can be jealous; I’ve never succeeded to (trust to) fulfill my youth dreams in this area … and if i am honest i still have these dreams, although that’s all i do about them. Oh yes,i like to write mails and to comment … my tiny little way of realizing my old dream. I can be satisfied with it. I caress all my words and love the intimacy of writing.

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  15. There are a lot of mixed messages out there. “Don’t write for the market.” “Keep your audience in mind when you write your novel.” “Write for yourself, and your reader will be happier.” Who’s right? I’m sure that depends on each writer. Personally, I try (keyword try) to write for myself. First of all, if I write with anyone else in mind, I find myself terrified to write anything without analyzing what that imaginary “reader” might think, and my imaginary reader gets more and more critical and demanding the more I imagine him/her. So I have to ignore that. Besides, if I write for me, even if no one else reads it at least I like what I produced…

    PS: Thank you for liking my blog posts!

    Like

  16. My advice is: be true to yourself.
    I always write what I enjoy reading, both in content and style. If others like it, too, then that’s a bonus. It would be a soul-destroying struggle to mould my writing to fit the wishes of others.

    Like

  17. I have to say, I read some of the stuff I wrote as a teen and my goodness was I depressed. The writing was raw, but of good quality. But mainly, I’m am glad I don’t have to be a teenager again. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such an honest post and congrats on finishing your book. It is a great accomplishment. Thanks for stopping by my blog as well.

    Like

  18. Love reading your perspective on this touchiest of topics! Writer’s (from my perspective anyway) want so much to leave their mark but doing so is never easy. A balance of who you are and how you want others to understand you is certainly a challenge. Thanks for an inspiring perspective and congratulations!

    Like

  19. Definitely enjoyed this post. I’m just starting to write “for fun” with ohhidc.com. I’ve been enjoying my time engaging with the social/traditional media (they’re kind of one and the same these days), so hopefully this honeymoon period continues. Best of luck to you.

    Like

    1. Well, Thank you! And good luck with your writing as well. And I love this: “so hopefully this honeymoon period continues”. Best of luck to all of us married to the keyboard or the notebook!!

      Like

  20. Well done, I enjoyed this honest write and believe we must remain true to ourselves in order for others to relate to our work, from the heart to the heart …..I have written a book of poetry but given it to friends and family and it was a real joy to do that. I don’t expect to make money from my art/writing but admire anyone who does. I am happy to be me and to write about what I know. Some of the painful stuff I have written has been the best for me. It has been cathartic and many relate so I don’t feel alone or strange. I have not posted any of my painful work yet, I just began blogging so will post work over time. Success with your writing, you do it so well. 🙂

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    1. I’l be looking forward to getting acquainted to your writing. (I am following your blog now.) And thank you for this lovely feedback and honest assessment of how it feels to be a writer which can even sum up to the fact that you are sometimes not alone, yet you are lonely…

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  21. Ananya, bravo that you are writing for yourself and that you are taxing the readers’ minds! I think that takes strength and courage — it’s scary to put yourself out there. Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by Travel Oops and liking the post about yard duty in Australia! Steph

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  22. Awesome post. I am working on a novel and for me it is so much about me trying to figure myself out and how the novel helps me figure out problems in the real world. I hope to someday get it to the point of publishing, but in the meantime my blog helps me put out my twisted sense of humor in small chuncks instead of putting it together in a long format. I hope to actually get to do the social media part. Good luck on your book!

    Like

    1. For me, getting to the social media part is more difficult than convincing a florist why I deserve a discount (never transpires, anyway).
      Thank you for your wonderful feedback and good luck on your novel..

      Like

  23. I know how hard it is to put your thoughts and feelings out there laid bare for everyone to see. I unfortunately can’t write the brain candy that people seem to enjoy these days. I just wanted to say as a writer I understand having to find the balance.

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  24. I lovelovelove this post; by its very tone you conveyed your point precisely – put your heart and soul into your writing and make it your own, own it, and you will therefore enjoy what you’re doing. Maybe this won’t sell a million copies, but then again people like genuine writing, not dime-a-dozen novels. What you said parallels what Stephen King says in his book about the craft of Writing, “On Writing.” I highly recommend this book; it’s witty, entertaining, thought-provoking, and very motivating. Good luck in your writing (and thanks for stopping by my blog!)!

    Like

    1. Thank you for this amazing feedback. I really appreciate your taking time to leave such a wonderful message.
      And I’l certainly check out the book you’ve suggested and thanks for stopping by.. 🙂

      Like

  25. Hi Ananya,

    I wanted to thank you for liking my post, “$20 Gifts for the holidays” http://whitedoveinc.com/2012/11/28/20-gifts-for-the-holidays/. While it seems WordPress is a little slow today & isn’t loading full pages, I was able to read your post content on “Being Me as a writer,” and I must say that I truly enjoyed your writing style, what you had to say, & your transparency. Congrats on your new novel as well and I look forward to your visits, as well as reading more of your writing! “They’ll either love it or hate it…but it will never pass into oblivion”…Love it!!! Best of luck & thanks again for your visit & sharing! 🙂

    Chenoa JV
    whitedoveinc.com

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback..:)
      I am looking forward to visiting your blog as often as possible. Thank you for the visit and have a wonderful time during the holidays!

      Like

  26. Hi – Well said and congrats on your novel! Thanks for liking my photo and if I may ask, how did you come across it? So silly but I’m a total newbie and I don’t know how people are finding stuff! Best of luck to you!

    Like

    1. Hey, thank you!! Actually I came across your blog while I was browsing through the “photos” category in the ‘Reader’ section of WordPress. I think that is one of the ways around this place.. Happy blogging! 🙂

      Like

  27. Hi – very touching and well said…. Thanks for liking my photo and how did you come across it? I’m totally new at this and don’t know how people find stuff!

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  28. Congratulations on completing your book! That is quite an accomplishment. I am a writer, but fortunately not for a living. I write to express the trials and tribulations of life and know others share the same ones. In this way, we fee, and help others feel, less alone.
    I believe you must write for yourself, even in order to write for other reasons. So go ahead and write your commercial material, but keep writing for yourself.

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  29. Well said, A.M! I too wrote in my youth and found it difficult as an adult to reconcile the emotional inner life and the life of my writing, with the “real world”. Only recently have I realized the best writing comes from that place you describe, where only the writer creates and leaves the outside world’s response for another time. Thanks for your post, it was just what I needed to read this morning, and thanks for liking my post!

    Like

  30. I really admire writers and would love to have the confidence to write more than a letter or an email myself. Your post is very intriguing, I would have thought that it is more important to write as you enjoy with your own style because if you write to please others it is not really you and people who want to read your work may become confused. Hey but what do I know about writing, I like to knit and crochet but I will definitely come back to your blog.
    Thanks for stopping by and liking the Brownies.

    Like

  31. Well done for completing your novel. I understand the difference between writing for yourself and becoming aware of others – I used to write a lot as a child without a care in the world what anyone thought, leading to stories with a lot of emotional depth. In recent years I’ve become too aware of what others may want from what I write and this has affected my writing quite significantly. You describe this very well as a ‘war’ between you and the outside world. Going back to the creativity in your younger years where only the joy of writing mattered can only be good.

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    1. You are so correct. It is something many writers have to struggle with. In the end, some do conform, gain acceptance by the world but I think somewhere deep down the regret of not allowing one’s true self reflect in one’s writing remains.But if a writer enjoys creating only for him/herself, it wouldn’t matter if the world didn’t care for what he/she wrote. They can be happy that way and might lead fulfilling lives.

      Like

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