Apparently, writing is an art form. It can seem more like a torture mechanism often but that’s another post entirely – the one that goes near the “I’m about to slit my wrists” archive I have yet to create. For some of us though, it is also a release of pent up emotions and frustrations, the type you can never quite seem to explain in voice but are so much better at in the written word.
Like all creative acts however, writing is extremely personal. You either get it or you don’t, you either love it or you hate it and you either write it or you don’t. For those of us who are too poor to afford it, writing is also our personal shrink, cathartic the way we’d expect our counsellors to be if we could pay for a sounding board, which we usually can’t because you know, we write!
Which is why, even as hard as it can seemingly be, it is really important to never lose sight of the bigger picture and that is, are you ready? Drumroll. To write for yourself, what you want to, without giving a crap about what anyone says, if anyone reads it, loves it or hates it because guess what, you couldn’t care less even if you tried, right? If it’s not, it should be, especially if you’re using writing as your outlet to staying sane.
Writing as a journalist means I have to write what others want, if I’m not being hammered by my number crunching bosses, I’m being dictated by what my readers would like to see splattered across their computer screens and front, mid, back, whatever, covers. Rarely can I write what I want to.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of writing what I potentially know will sell or even get me a publisher. As an Indian female, I know I would maybe, most likely, probably, (who am I kidding?), absolutely get myself readers. Mention the words rape, torture, submissive, oppressed, Indian & woman in this day and age, and if I’m really in an exploitive mood, I’ll just chuck in child marriage into the equation and voila, I would almost bet my bottom dollar I could wrangle a publisher or two who may be interested in my work (and that’s saying a lot seeing as I love my money!).
I however, made a promise to myself when I started this whole journey. I was going to write what I wanted to, unfazed by the many stereotypes out there around my gender, my race, my supposed “way of thinking”, my philosophies, well, the list goes on. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Have I been successful? In monetary terms – probably not. In emotional endeavours? Truthfully, sometimes – but only when I’m not wallowing in my grief and abusing my vanity in obsessing over my readership numbers and views. If I could go back and do it again, would I change my decision? To this I can at least defiantly and emphatically state a loud, determined No. Because I know I can live happily with having refrained from taking the easy way out and perpetuating the many stereotypes that supposedly make all of me, and I’m not sure I could have if I’d chosen to go with the flow like a lot of my fellow writers do/have.
So, if I am in a position to give any sort of advice to all you talented people out there, whether writers or not, I’d suggest to do what you want to do without thinking about the consequences or what society is going to think of you. Because in the end, you’re the only one who has to look in the mirror and truly be okay with what you see staring back.
Happily be yourself every time, all the time 🙂