Letters to a Young Blogger

My heart holds scars that only my dingy laptop screen can dissipate. I have stories so repressed  in my inner chambers that they’ve merged with my secrets. I have compelling thoughts tinged with raw emotions; I need to let all of this out. I need to air my heart lest I succumb under the sheer weight of this burden. This is why I took to blogging. When I finally took the plunge to stick with this one blog after being a spectator of the blogosphere for 7 years, I didn’t have a plan or goal. I was merely a vessel whence emotions burst forth when they did so, and if I tried to write in the absence of these forceful emotions, the result would come out bland and tasteless. I could not relate to it because it didn’t emanate from my heart.

Impatient, I’d find myself shipwrecked in this vast space of writing having lost my thread,my only tie to my heart which was the only reason I had writ. I’d see people who were excellent writers with a great following, and juvenile feelings would at once cover my heart like a dark rain cloud. Alas, how quick I am to forget! How many a time have I caught myself berating my writing and shaming myself? Too many to count. I have so much shame in my core, that the inner critical voice is just like the murmuring of blood gushing in my veins. I rarely notice it before the bad aftertaste that tastes like grey and grief seeps through my chest. Because of this shame, I have perfectionistic tendencies though I’ve made great strides in recovering from it the past couple of years. I’d find myself more often than not, looking at a heartfelt writing I took great efforts in composing, with disgust. Why? Because it went unnoticed, with no comments or likes.

O’ twinkle twinkle orange star how I wonder where my accolades are.

I find myself slipping often into my modus operandi of thinking that I’ve worked hard to replace. I left social media because it stifled me and now I found the same conundrum in this remote island free of the clamour that accompanies crowded networks. I investigated the cause for this haunting emotion, and I found it to be the remnants of my old way of thinking. In school, at home- I learnt that good work was awarded generously; with golden stars in exercise books and lavish praises at home. These streaks of acknowledgement seemed arbitrary to my young mind who churned out good work all the time. By what merits did these stamps of approval see me? At any rate, this has flogged me and permeated my writings.

It’s odd and a bit cringe-worthy to mention this publicly, but I do this to show myself who I am; I am not a Hemingway nor am I here with dreams of garnering press-coverages and the Pulitzer. I am here because there is something deep within me that tugs at my fingertips and wrestles with my critical voice in my chest.

I also divulge this to you, quirky loner blogger/writer like me; you with the agitated soul plagued with wanderlust of the mind.

A young poet,Franz Xaver Kappus, wrote Rainer Maria Rilke for advice, and I found his response¹ apt :


There is nothing that manages to influence a work of art less than critical words. They always result in more or less unfortunate misunderstandings. Things are not as easily understood nor as expressible as people usually would like us to believe. Most happenings are beyond expression; they exist where a word has never intruded. Even more inexpressible are works of art; mysterious entities they are, whose lives, compared to our fleeting ones,endure.

Having said these things at the outset, I now dare tell you only this: that your verses do not as yet have an individual style. Yet they possess a quiet and hidden inclination to reveal something personal. I felt that very thing most notably in the last poem, ” My Soul”. There, something of your inner self wants to rise to expression. And in the beautiful poem ” To Leopardi” something akin to greatness and bordering on uniqueness is sprouting out toward fulfillment. However, the poems cannot yet stand on their own merit, are not yet independent, not even the last one to Leopardi, not yet. In your kind letter accompanying them, you do not fail to admit to and to analyze some shortcomings, which I could sense while reading your verses, but could not directly put into words.

You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advise you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must not do now. No one can advise and help you, no one.

There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this : Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ” I must”, then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.

[…] Write about your sorrows, your wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful. Describe all that with fervent, quiet and humble sincerity. In order to express yourself, use things in your surroundings, the scenes of your dreams and the subjects of your memory.

If your everyday life appears to be unworthy subject matter, do not complain to life. Complain to yourself. Lament that you are not the poet enough to call up its wealth. For the creative artist there is no poverty- nothing is insignificant or unimportant. Even if you were in a prison whose walls would shut out from your senses the sounds of the outer world, would you not then still have your childhood, this precious wealth, this treasure house of memories? Direct your attention to that. Attempt to resurrect these sunken sensations of a distant past. You will gain assuredness. Your aloneness will expand and will become your home, greeting you like the quiet dawn. Outer tumult will pass it by from afar.

If, as a result of this turning inward, of this sinking into your own world, poetry should emerge, you will not think to ask someone whether it is good poetry. And you will not try to interest publishers of magazines in these works. For you will hear in them your own voice; you will see in them a piece of your life, a natural possession of yours. A piece of art is good if it is born of necessity. This, its source, is its criterion; there is no other.

Therefore, my dear friend, I know of no other advice than this: Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth. At its source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write. Accept it, however it sounds to you, without analyzing. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer. Then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward, which might possibly come from without. For the creative artist must be a world of his own and must find everything within himself and in nature, to which he has betrothed himself.


 

¹Rilke, Rainer Maria. “The First Letter.” Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. Joan M. Burnham. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2000. N. pag. Print.

 

One response to Letters to a Young Blogger

  1. […] In my almost one year of blogging, I’ve had one constant issue I’ve struggled with; to adhere to my original intention of writing for and to myself and not to write to make a name for myself. I want to be fully authentic and honest; I don’t want to cover my flaws or seek to bask in temporary fame. I want to write because I just have to, or else I’ll go mad. I’ve written since I could write whole sentences, and I do it to channel my intense emotions and mental energy. However, it’s been so darn difficult to stay focused for a longer period of time! I’ll do maybe a 3-4 ‘authentic’ blogging streak, and hey presto! I catch myself hunger after stats and stars, and becoming disappointed if people don’t flock to my posts in throngs! OK, I’m exaggerating a wee bit 😛 . I wrote about it in Flawful and Letters to a Young Blogger. […]

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