I do not remember exactly when or where I got this fancy of having a website/blog of my own. I did have blogs of my own before, but I changed addresses every couple of years. Whims and fancies varied frequently – stumbling on an eye-candy blog design was enough to set me thinking about possibilities. These rash moments never really flourished into something of redeemable value. Something that would mean committing myself to writing regularly.
I wasn’t regular either with my posts; anything free in life tends to go unappreciated. That is how it is for most people who start a blog of their own, write couple of articles and then, fizzle out into the wilderness of cyberia. The web is replete with such half-hearted attempts. Probably, like me, they went on to create a dozen other blogs, based on the season that made them feel so and then, let the grave-business-of-living demolish the very purpose of that moment when you contemplated having a blog of your own.
I had pre-meditated parameters for a blog of my own; I wanted it to carry my name with no extensions that pointed to a free-blog model ie wordpress.com or similar. It might then be taken more seriously, or so I thought. You inevitably end up on celebrity blogs in your search for that perfect blog design and soon, I was dreaming air-brushed images of mine adding razzmatazz to a superb graphic design with some guaranteed breath-taking writing. Dreams can be grandiose and so were mine. There is something mysterious about such longing – things begin to fall in place to just make that happen.
Conditions Apply could not have happened at a better time. A friend from school days, with a word-smithy leaning, now in the business of building competent websites seamlessly married to the social networking model. I was convinced with his ideas for my blog but then, like all new ventures, there is that horrific moment of hesitation.
I teetered for a while. For a few months, if I remember right.
At the first Hay Festival held in Thiruvananthapuram in November 2010, in what I now call a brilliant instance of synchronicity, I was called upon to read my poetry by the organizers. A dream chance for any amateur, I now know it was all meant to be. To read your lines of verse, in the company of some of the greatest living poets of our times, and to be appreciated is no mean achievement.
That was exactly the moment I decided that I had to write, be it poetry or prose, on a regular basis. And I did not hesitate anymore on having a website/blog of my own. That is how SoniSomarajan.com came to be.
The website went online on Christmas Day of 2010. And what a year it has been. Most of all, it has been an insightful learning experience which helped me become more confident as a writer.
I have lived a double life since then. I have worked by day at a regular job and spent the remaining hours writing; a singular pursuit of a writing dream. The past year has been a busy one at work and, updating the blog on a regular basis was not often as easy as it seems now. Add the moments of doubt and despair, and I did have those spells when I almost gave up.
The friends who live in my city do not know of this side of me that writes. They don’t know about this blog either. However, it is a different tale online. My friends on Facebook have remained my most ardent readers – a large number of them having subscribed to the feeds and the rest looking forward to the updates I put up with links to my latest articles.
There are articles out there, mostly drawn from the memories of my growing-up years, which I am totally proud of. And some of the rest are embarrassing pieces of shoddy writing. But, then as I have learnt, you don’t put pressure on yourself with the thought that you will land a prize catch every day. You just try your best. It is all out there, for you to read.
Initially, I was driven entirely by the feedback on Facebook and the blog, succumbing to the generosity that powered most of the positive comments, and balking in the face of persistent criticism. Some days were absolute crests of inimitable achievement while others seemed to plunge into depths of despair. When this became a recurring pattern, I realized another truth. Once I have let my writing go out into the world, it belonged to the reader. And as different as they come, reflective of the milieus that surround us, every reader reacts differently to what they read. While they can be effusive with praise, they can match it in intensity by gnawing on what you thought was a dazzling piece of inspired writing.
This is something I had to learn in order to survive as a writer. The moment I learnt to let go and accept the freedom of the reader, I was free of that blinding trap that beguiles beginners. Most of us drown ourselves in the noise that emanates and willfully begin to write with pre-conceived notions that, sooner or later, take on a voice different from our own. The ability to take risk, the key ingredient of creative writing, takes a back-seat. And you are suddenly writing ‘safe’, completely ignoring what your soul wants to tell the world. You are afraid to venture outside your comfort zone – which effectively kills your growth as a versatile writer.
Individuality, whether you like it or not, is a yardstick that pays in the end. Being honest with oneself is something that readers will recognize and appreciate. Ultimately, people want to read something different, less stereotypical, whether they like it or not. It is up to them anyways. In a sense, criticism has only enriched my resolve to write. I am deeply indebted to all my readers without whom this would have been an incomplete journey.
I write because I love to do so. It also means I would still write even if it meant being the last human alive on earth. Writing has to go beyond applause.