Seven years ago I wrote my first blogpost this day more to seize the joy of seeing my writing in digital print than any literary ambition. The irony of launching it on Valentine’s Day won't be lost on my friends – couldn’t a boring philosopher-aspirant find a better day? Nonetheless, the occasion offers an opportune time to survey my work.
Looking back at my earliest works with cold blood, I can still perceive the raw enthusiasm of a young thinker impelled by the desire to express his deeply considered opinions which deserved wider circulation. Writing is primarily an act of ego, for it presumes that someone out there might actually want to read you.
I started mostly with philosophical pieces, apart from lengthy posts on the then trending Telangana movement conversations. Some of them appear reasonably well-argued to me even today, though wanting in many aspects. I’ve however refrained from deleting any, though I may not necessarily stand by all opinions or their articulation, because they form the milestones of my evolution as a thinker.
Blogs at that time appeared to be an echo-chamber of friends with an implicit back-scratching obligation. My lengthy pieces bored many to tears and consequently I couldn’t “network” much. But during this time, I also started reading many random blogs and the then emerging right-leaning news forums and organizations. While I was always proud of being an Indian, I hadn’t yet undertaken a proper study to learn (and unlearn what I was school-fed) Indian culture and history. With internet opening the gates to the hitherto secret vaults of knowledge-treasure, I had the privilege of reading many valuable books online.
I tasted blood
I felt motivated to articulate what I’ve been reading into proper flow to crystallize my thoughts rather than to educate others. When I first laid the roadmap here, I didn’t foresee writing 14 more blogs on Hinduism.
But in this process, I was at least partially able to fine-tune my logical argumentation skills. The years 2012 and 2013 were certainly the most productive blogging period – for though I wrote sporadically the heavily-analyzed posts were finally beginning to draw some organic traffic (very meager by any standard, but enough to bring smiles to this humble blogger). The traffic continued unabated even in 2014 and 2015 where I barely wrote anything and the only two noteworthy ones were book reviews (yet among my top 10 blogposts 5 are non-Hindu topics). So it took me 3 years of blogging, before I could produce marginally better posts.
My efforts to move to the next orbit however were unsettled by some issues, and lack of will & time. Everything that eventually manifests in physical world is first born in the mind; writing involves a systemic ironing of ideas with the superfluous cast away and essence melted into the desired object. As William Zinsser noted, “If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard”. But I wish I had already scored a century instead of 88 blogposts that it is today.
While philosopher Nietzsche was my favorite, I tried to imbibe Schopenhauer’s style (Nietzsche’s fiery prose is neither imitable by lesser souls nor appropriate for logical argumentation). Also, Schopenhauer was a decided outlier to the stereotyped absent-minded, poverty-stricken philosopher (Nietzsche being its epitome); he was non-academic, scrupulous keeper of financial accounts, and tenaciously preserved his inherited wealth till death. His works reflect this practical, worldly-wise bent of mind which never lowered its guard against the capricious world and its people.
An important influence was Indian film director Ramgopal Varma who ran a blog around 2008-2011. More than his movie-related posts, it were his observations and his philosophy of life that captivated me and I strongly feel I became a better thinker due to his works.
Despite the so-called epiphany, I never stopped blogging about the trivial things that I just wanted off my chest – things which made no serious statement about anything in particular. Part of my reluctance to publish blogs more frequently has been because many drafts didn’t meet my new standards.
But I now feel I might be able to produce better stuff only if I keep blogging more often. Excellence is more likely to be churned from an ocean of mediocrity than be nurtured in an isolated island.
Anything worthwhile is bound to take time – though Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it requires 10,000 hours of practice for anyone to become an expert is now being questioned – there’s at least some kernel of truth to it. The take-off mission aborted by circumstances, may as well take a long time to regain the escape velocity needed to move to the next orbit.