Posted in Of Bloggingly, Of Culturel, Of Life's Dramedies, Of Philosophy, Of Writingly

Of Obscurity and Paperback Fame

I’m a little late in this, but a few days back The Daily Post asked us Pressers/Pressies (what do WordPress bloggers call themselves? Just bloggers?) whether we’d like to be obscure or popular writers. This is something I often encounter, not just in blogs about writing, but in the book business in general. My naive and hopelessly idealistic answer to this is, neither. Or both. Or maybe we should be re-thinking our generalizations if we are to take this business further. After all, people in the book business are likely to be bloggers as well in the 21st century. If there is someone who can change things, surely it is us.

If you have been reading my blogs for a while(or what has become, my impersonal thought diary), you will have taken me to be an unconsciously Buddhist, middle-path-taking-kinda gal. What I try to be, actually, is not an either-or or neither-nor, but possibly all. I try to accommodate as many perspectives as possible, so that we can all live with each other instead of mapping our own territory. I ask the same for reading and writing. I believe, if we cannot accommodate all possibilities, we cannot grow. If a metaphor for literature is birth, then writing is the process up until the birthing, while reading is the life afterwards. Both are equally important, co-dependent phenomena. But, in natural procreation we do not get to choose the qualities our child will have. We do not know their gender, their personality, their future history, their attitudes, their likes and dislikes. And yet, some of us crave to bring life to this person we have absolutely no idea of. We work hard for them, even sacrifice ourselves without a question. We love them, we care for them, we let them change the natural rhythm of our lives. We have our own dreams for them without even knowing what they want.

Any other relationship, and we would roll our eyes at such an arrangement. And yet, we do the same for when we write. Or at least, we should. This formula of obscurity=artistic merit and fame=artistic manipulation is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Probably, the invention of sellers who are interested in inorganic manipulation because they are running a business. But, as numerous financial disasters have proven, there is a fate-ality in that as well.

As writers, we are only concerned with sharing stories and ideas. And there is a vulnerability to that. Because, once you are wrapped in a story or consumed in a thought, yours or someone else’s, there is no resisting the temptation it offers. You want to know more because you want to feel all the big emotions- love, happiness, wisdom – that you can never get enough of. When do you know whether what you have written or read is any good or not? When it can pass the test of emotional satiety. Not intellectual, not financial, but emotional. And that can only happen when you open yourself up to it.

Thus, as established writers working on our next ideas or amateur writers working to communicate their own unique voice, any stance on writing should simply be getting it done. Obscurity, fame, recognition as a romance, literary, thriller writer or whatever your writing comes to mean will follow. The middle path is to respect your work and yet not take it too seriously. And once you get caught up in its creation and completion, all those concerns will simply go out of the window.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

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