Posted in Of Writingly

Of Writing and Responsibility

Source: http://www.aacc.edu/creativewriting/image/writing-2.jpg
Source: http://www.aacc.edu/creativewriting/image/writing-2.jpg

As much as I don’t care what people think of what I write here in terms of opinions and subject matter, I care very much about what my readers may think. I know that sounds contradictory but believe me, it is possible to exist quite comfortably between these two spaces. Even in all my writing outside Of Opinions, where I am much more opinionated and polarising ( yes, that happens. And you thought blogging was the domain for all rebellious writers ), I always keep in mind that no matter how uncomfortable the views represented may be, it will ultimately be of use to the reader, in a non-ironic manner. I am without any doubt when it comes to this sort of responsibility as a writer. Whatever writing I will do in my life, it will always be utilitarian, even if it isn’t so in an obvious way. I can’t do art for art’s sake. Like life, it has to have purpose and meaning, otherwise it is no good to me at all . Even writers who were part of that literary movement turned out to be of use, the most famous example being Oscar Wilde. You just have to see what use it is to you and if you like Wilde, you know it’s fairly obvious.

So, why should I be questioning how I carry out my responsibility towards my readers here when I write in a fairly innocuous manner? I try to keep this blog a positive place. That doesn’t mean I ask my reader to go for a walk or meditate every five minutes. There is cheek here, irreverence but NO cynicism. I try to make a space here for vulnerabilities to exist. Things you wouldn’t be able to talk about even to the most understanding of people in your life, not in such detail anyway. I can only write from personal opinions and experiences but, this is not a diary. This is a place where views both objective and personal can co-exist, without either being discernible. This is my place to be, and, hopefully, for my readers as well when they join me in my thoughts for a few minutes in a day. Not to be is not a question here, because we are very much in favour of the first, very much working towards turning you in that direction.

But, I’ve been talking a lot about death recently. Some of it is coincidental but, they all stem from the overall arc of the existential crisis I’ve been having for the past month and will continue to have perhaps till the end of May. It is not the best time to be running a blog that has built itself on all the noble things described in the paragraphs above. It is great source for a novel ( I’ve even resorted to thinking about the β€œTo be or not to be” speech in the shower. Yes, I am that weird. ) but not for a place which often has readers who themselves feel vulnerable. I mean, I posted a poem on suicide, perhaps because I let artistic vanity take precedence over the compassion I try to inculcate here. I have no interest in being a saint. I’d like to make it as a human being. But, shouldn’t that include humanity in all its emotional capacity? Or do I put out only the best in me here and save the rest, to protect myself and my readers?

I sometimes think about what sort of impression I’ve created among my long-term readers. What may spring to mind when they think of that ‘Of’ girl. I sometimes imagine my future published book getting bad reviews. And I think, I shouldn’t be reading them because I am more than likely to agree with them. Being in this sort of a vulnerable place as a writer makes the writing more honest and relatable but, it also makes you stand on the edge and risk giving up at any point. Not that I would want to give up on life. There is too much in it that makes me happy all too easily. But that is just observing, experiencing. When it comes to making something, or even wanting to make something, there are such myriad cautionary forces. How do you reconcile them with your urge to write something truthful as well as pro/anti life, depending how you look at it?

It would be of tremendous help if the writer did not have to be a critic of his/her own work. If there was no need to see what it means and conveys. If there was no curiosity to know what it had managed to convey. That it was simply done, whatever was needed to be expressed was simply expressed, with no further thought. But, I don’t think there has ever been a writer who could get away with that sort of freedom. Ultimately, you remember, writing is life, not recording life. The same rules apply.

Author:

Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

15 thoughts on “Of Writing and Responsibility

  1. I read this posting twice, hoping I correctly understood your question. Still not sure. So I will give you my take on your question. If your are writing for yourself, your first responsibility to maintain the integrity of your writing is to yourself. Are you expressing what you feel, or at least what you think you feel. You also need to communicate what kind of response you want–a simple “Amen” or a deeper more intelligent, thoughtful response.

    I probably would struggle with the same questions, except most of my blog posts cover more mundane topics such as travel and history, and I stay pretty much close to the surface, i.e., not deep into my psyche. That would be a scary place to go! πŸ˜‰

    As long as you are honest with yourself, your readers will respect you–and probably pay attention, simply because they have similar questions that have been afraid to ask.

    Does this make any sense?

    Cheers?

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! I mainly write on human mind and behaviour and often try and provide solutions to difficult situations but not like a doctor would. Therefore, my blog attracts readers who themselves struggle with these situations. Lately, however, I have been writing in not the usual conclusively positive kind of way. Therefore, I explored my responsibilities with my blog here today, whether it was right to write about relatively negative things. Hope that explains my question!
      Thank you very much for your suggestions. I try to do the same things as often as I can. Everything I write is from a place of honesty, otherwise I wouldn’t be taking the trouble of running my own blog. Sometimes readers are kind enough to leave thoughtful comments, which does leave me feeling satisfied, as though the goal with that post has been achieved.
      Thanks again! Cheers!

  2. All of us self-edit. Some blogs show a rawness of soul which reaches out to others who might be experiencing the same, and people can get strength and understanding from each other. Blogs are for public consumption, so it’s up to the blogger how much of themselves they are comfortable in sharing. Most of us are unlikely to ever meet each other, so there is security in being anonymous. I remember a radio DJ who said he spoke to his “listener”, as if his show was just for this one person. He felt this made his show more personal. Maybe it can be the same for blogging. Sometimes I write to share with whoever is passing by, sometimes it is to reasure myself, and sometimes it is for the one person who always visits. We all have different facets which we show to others depending on where they sit in our lives, which I suppose is where I was going with self-editing. I think I might have lost my thread!! Be whoever you want to be in your blog. Yours has more purpose and consistency than many – and I include my own, which is usually mere musings! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you very, very much, Ally! I originally wanted to explain my existential crisis in my post today, as lately I’ve been writing things that mainly point towards that direction. I can’t help it! I’ve even been trying to record a podcast and they all ramble off into “what am I doing with my life?” kind of things. It worries me because I really don’t want to drag my readers down to my level of self-pity. Which is why I ultimately decided to ask what my responsibilities are towards my readers here. I can’t afford to wait for the crisis to pass to come back and write with purpose. My blog greatly helps in reassuring me of my existence!
      I do write here as if I am speaking to just one person. I think of it as a letter, not a speech. Ultimately, you can really make sense of what you say when you focus on only one person. Here, I try to offer what is the best in me, even with the anxiety and depression, things that I self-edit in real life.
      Speaking of anxiety and depression, can you suggest some good stand-up comedians whose material covers these? No sexist jokes, no forced punchlines if possible. I recently discovered Simon Amstell’s, and it’s really helped a lot in my current situation. I’ve also been rewatching Dylan Moran’s, so someone similar to him, if you can think of any. Thanks!

  3. Hmm, sound of pondering…. I don’t keep up with too many stand up comedians, but I do like the two you mentioned. Eddie Izzard can be a good laugh, and he is someone with a conscience. David Mitchell made a few podcasts about his gripes with life, I think they were called “David Mitchell’s Soapbox”. Jack Dee is good for the understated morose. Jon Richardson is good for getting by in life with anxieties no one else understands. For sheer ridiculous irreverance you can never beat “Father Ted”!!!! Me and the Kid can never get enough πŸ™‚

    1. Father Ted was so wonderful! It was so cosy to watch, the way TV used to be when you almost believed you were sitting in the same living room, having tea ( with Mrs.Doyle ever ready to pour you some more! ) and all was right with the world. I’ve seen Mitchell’s Soapbox and read his book. I will definitely look for Eddie Izzard. I’ve seen some of his acting but not his stand up. Thank you for all these great suggestions!

      1. I thought I had mentioned Father Ted before to you. So glad you liked him. The Kid and had a marathon of four episodes the other night; including the one about the beauty pageant sheep and kicking the bishop up the backside – I smile just thinking of them πŸ™‚ Interesting you’ve seen David Mitchell already! Hopefully I’m on the right lines then!

      2. You’re the one who made me watch it! I had heard about it of course. it’s rated one the best of all time, so it must be something to be standing next to the likes of Monty Python. I loved it! I sometimes scare some of the people in my life with Father Jack’s catchphrases! I loved the kicking Bishop Brennan on the backside episode too! I particularly liked the airplane episode and the passion of St. Tibulus episode.

  4. As someone still relatively new to blogging, I too struggle with caring about what readers think and considering my own responsibility. I am chock-full of arguments and opinions on all kinds of topics, but I don’t want my blog to be a mere dumping-ground for my rants on everything. And so, often the things I obsess about don’t end up on my blog. I hope I’ll eventually find the right balance. I am glad, though, if your writing your way through your current crisis (and us reading about it) helps you get through it. Everyone who struggles with things like anxiety and depression faces the question, “Do I dare reach out to others about my problems, or will that come off as too negative?” So, when in doubt, it can’t hurt to pose that question to other people. And I agree 100% about art–I can’t do “art for art’s sake” either. Form and beauty and aesthetics are important, but they can never be separated from purpose and meaning and interpretation.

    1. Thank you very much, Various Historian! There has been a notion that writing is a response to anxiety, and there are those who think that writing helps in coping with depression. I don’t find either to be true, at least not all the time but, I see writing as a means to grapple with these questions. Not provide answers, as then it would be science not art. I find it very liberating to talk about what I think and feel without having the need to provide real life details here. I find those details to confuse people further in real life, which is why a lot of conversations end up without any potential solutions. Also, because I am trying to write in a way that is amenable to readers who have never read my blog, it helps in clarifying my thoughts even more. Ultimately, no passionate artistic endeavour can be one-sided, for money, for helping people, for provoking people. There has also got to be much in it for the writer. Perhaps, all of it has to make sense to him/her first before it is let out into the world to make sense to the many.
      Thanks again!

  5. I can’t do art for art’s sake. Like life, it has to have purpose and meaning, otherwise it is no good to me at all … and
    Writing is life, not recording life.

    Great post. Profound words and plenty food for thought here . .
    I often wonder whether it is fair to barrage followers with my inane ramblings and whether my writing has sufficient purpose and meaning for a reader. They spend precious time there … do they get something out of it ? I think – even worry – about that and it is probably what you are referring to in speaking of responsibilities ?
    On the other hand, writing helps clear my thoughts, brings my feelings to the surface, records my responses to life, helps me get a ‘done and dusted’ attitude to vexing questions, so it has purpose and meaning for me.
    The question is always juxtaposed … do I write for the reader or do I write for me?
    Maybe when I am mature or an author I will think of the reader and write specifically for them .
    ‘Write now (pun intended) wrightly or wrongly I write for writings sake because I love to write .. and I hope someone somewhere might get some little benefit from it in addition to what I get. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely comment! Writing a blog is a great, perhaps the most perfect platform for developing your writing. You find your voice by doing it, you always have people to tell you what they think. You find out what you’re good at. I find it much healthier than attending writing workshops because I am not very good at selling my work. Blogging is great because all the skills you require are the very ones you possess – that of writing and reading other blogs. It is a great community. Therefore, do not be too afraid of trying things out. As I mentioned in the post, I posted a poem on suicide a few days back. I don’t write a poetry blog anyway and that particular poem wasn’t characteristic of my blog. However, I still posted it because I got some lovely feedback. Therefore, since you are running your own show, you can try things out as long as it isn’t too alienating for your hard-earned readers.
      Thanks again!

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