May 19, 2006

The Menace Called Verbosity

Since I really nothing much to blog about today, I guess I will blog about the blog itself. I will not pretend that I am speaking for all the bloggers out there, so don't come after me with a lynch mob for having either berated or emboldened the family of fellow bloggers into paths and destinations bolder or crasser than what they might already have in mind. As I've contended for a long time, blogging is not about the community or the readers for me, they do matter, but they are not the raison d'etre for my blogging. It is an overbearingly selfish pursuit for me, maybe even something of a game of truth or dare in thoughts that I play with myself.

By nature, most people who do blog, be it under a pseudonym or as their real selves, do have an element of exhibitionism in their nature. Why else would anyone grab a bunch of their thoughts and plaster it on a medium where you have no control over who gets to see it and when? Think about it. You can do all of the same very comfortably in a text document at home or do it in the classic way -- to keep a deadwood type diary and pen down all your thoughts. Yes, the audience does matter. The only questions are why do they matter and how much?

When I started writing personal stuff on the net, sometime in 1999, it was on the Geocities platform, using hand-coded HTML. Those were mostly immature, youth-fuelled rants. Then I wandered among many of the early blogging champions -- edithispage, manilasites etc -- based on the Frontier platform, because I am the naturally curious types, who always wants to have a swipe at anything new or interesting. Then came the LiveJournal blog (once totally purged), which was followed by the birth of this blog in late 2001, started purely to test a nifty piece of software called Blogbuddy.

Since that time I have made a lot of great friends thanks to my mad ramblings. I have seen groups form and disband, communities grow and disappear, pointless flamewars and a lot of other things. But I never thought I'd keep this going for this long. Yes, there have been numerous instances when I have wanted to shut it down or when I went for long periods without writing anything. It was largely anonymous for the first few years. Then friends started coming over, which unfurled the veil of abstractions that has been on ever since and the cover in the professional sphere was blown in stages in the past year and a half.

It was never like I absolutely dreaded being found out. But yes, every now and then I can't help but wonder what everyone I know in my real life would think about what I had written. The good thing is that I can't be assed much to figure all that out. For whatever weird reasons they might be, doing this has grown on me and I do enjoy it enough to say "fuck it" to all of that and write more or less all of what I want to write, which is not exactly the easiest of things to do when almost everyone who's been involved with you emotionally/romantically/physically (and daddy dearest too!) keeps dropping by here fairly regularly.

Strangely, from 2001 till date, the things that I've written about have largely remained the same. It has been an almost endless stream of love, longing, living, family, loss and even the odd smattering of lust. Is it not strange how almost all the words in there start with 'l'? Coming back, it does make me wonder how on earth can someone keep regurgitating the same themes over and over again, year after year? Honestly, I don't have a clue. Sometimes, when I can muster up the courage to go through some of my archives, it does shock and please me at the same time to see that certain things have just not changed. Otherwise, honestly, it is really boring to read.

Which is why I keep saying that the audience does not matter much. It is nice to get the odd pat on the back in the comments or on e-mail, but I write primarily for the sheer pleasure of the act, all for myself. It is also interesting to see how the thoughts translate into the written word, like how much you spin it, justify it and paint things in colours that look nicer to you. Somewhere along the way you can't help but smile at yourself doing the transformations and subtle rationalisations. It is as much an exercise in communication as it is an act of introspection. I don't know if it changes things much, but at least for someone like me, who has a whole lot of trouble remembering things, the blog does act as a book of clues to a time long gone.

That said, the exhibitionism is also a major part of the motivation. It is a bit of a performance too at the same time. You reveal enough to keep people interested, but keep the larger parts hidden away, making it, in some ways, like a softcore flick, leaving a lot to the imagination to salivate and run over, all on a public platform. The curious thing is that by nature I am not a very public person. It takes a long time for me to open up to circumstances and people. Maybe it is like standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech. You just gaze into something unobtrusive in the distance and let the words flow. It is terrifying and satisfying at the same time.

Irrespective of all that I do not know for how long I would keep this going. I am terribly bored in life right now and something as forced and unthinkable as stopping this would make for an interesting challenge. Just flick the switch off one day and start living a different life, all on a whim. I am too much in love with that concept for my own good. And I do miss being able to speak without the abstractions. It must be wonderful to just spew out all the crap in your mind without having to think much. Then again, it is hard work and minus the audience it just won't work out.

Moreover, I have three active blogs now -- this one, the office blog and the secret non-personal stuff one that has been running for over a month now. I have not found the right work/life balance yet to do justice or the right way to generate enough content for all three at the same time. Having finally figured out the mysterious ways of Adsense, it is quite tempting to finally move to a domain of my own and earn a couple of hundred dollars in a pretty bundle of loose change to indulge myself. Besides, towards the end of this year, I really do need to do something different with my life. If it can't be the dream scenario of running something of my own, I would certainly like it to be something like making a living out of writing what I want to write about, on my own terms. I think it is not an unrealistic scenario altogether.