December 7th 2015:
It’s almost 11 at night and I’m sitting at my computer with the blue themed WordPress, design your website page. I’m hesitant. Scared even. My phone beeps, more encouragement coming in. I’m not entirely sure what I’m waiting for. Why not just post it? I guess it’s a fear of what people might say, what they might think. The phone beeps again. Fine, screw it. Just get it over with.
(Flashback within a flashback? You’re welcome 😛 )
Roughly April-May 2001-02
My earliest memories of writing come from my vacations when I was in primary school. In a vain effort to improve my handwriting my grandmother would sit me down and ask me to write in those cursive notebooks. “Stay within the lines.” “Why does this e look like an l?” I remember that I hated it. I could never understand the point, it’s not like I was getting any better at it. And it was just so boring. The books that I would copy from were mostly old textbooks which were pretty mundane. So one afternoon when my grandmom asked me to write whatever I wanted it was suddenly an interesting exercise. There were so many possibilities… and absolutely now words 😂😂 I sat there for almost a half hour before putting the pen on paper to write. In the end I wrote a paragraph about my city, Bangalore mainly because it was the only thing I knew I could fill the page. Of course I made a spelling mistake in the first line itself (Bangalore is the capital of “Kantaka”) and everyone had a good laugh about it but I remember my excitement waiting for my parents to come home so that I could show it to them.
I would like to say that that was the beginning of a long fruitful writing journey but TV came in the way and it would be many more years before my next impactful writing memory 😛
By the fourth grade, I was having a blast at school. A close friends gang to mess around with, and an even better class teacher. Let’s call her Mrs. A. To say that she had a massive impact on how my life played out would be an understatement. I went from being a shy introvert to an outgoing loudmouth in less than a year. She encouraged all of us to try out everything, however good we were at it. The result did not matter as long as you were having fun. That was also the year that my school decided that it was a good idea to encourage students to write stories. Not like short one page stories, they devised a year long plan at the end of which we were supposed to write a whole novel.
And. I. Loved. It.
They had assigned one period every week dedicated to this and they had a set of tasks which you had to do related to the characters and plot and everything. I spent days thinking about what my characters would be like. It felt so cool to dictate how a story would progress and the little nuances of the characters. I had just about graduated from Enid Blyton at the time and most of the books that I had read were kids’ mystery stories so I set out to write one of my own. I remember modelling the main characters around my friends and the villain based on our strict principal. At the end of like six months, we each had a small book written entirely by us. Now I have no recollection of how it ended or pretty much anything from that book but I do remember that this was one of the first times that I looked forward to a period at school. I don’t know what possessed my school to run the program, it was discontinued the next year, but for me personally it came at the perfect time. At a time when I was just coming out of my shell, encouraged by Mrs. A, the book proved to be an outlet for all my creativity.
Throughout high school I became more of a talker than a writer, and by that I don’t mean fancy debate competitions and JAMs, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Because of more amazing English teachers in high school though, I did remain close to books and literature. And that carries on till today but the time when I fell back in love with writing came in my sophomore year at college.
I had just joined the chapter of ACM in my college and, as an eager to impress new recruit, I volunteered to help draw up the official newsletter. It was fairly easy work. All I had to do was talk to the different SIGs and project heads and find out what was going on and then put it together in a nice concise summary. But as I was putting it together, telling everyone’s story, I realized that I really really enjoyed it. The little details of each event, the reasoning behind why a certain decision was taken. It was so fascinating. A different way to tell a story. As I worked with a senior of mine continually editing till the text was perfect, a task that took all but a week, I found myself again wanting to escape from the other things that I do, waiting for that time of the day again when I could work on the newsletter.
My friends saw this and began pestering me to take it up on my own. A blog, they said. You talk so much and so many random things, so why not record it somewhere. Fast forward to the winter vacation a couple of months later, on this very day, and Paddy’s Pen was born.
From the time I started I wanted to ensure that it was not a flash in the pan. Two posts a month, for two years at least. And here we are. 2 years and 50 posts onwards.
What I’ve learnt from my blog is that finding a space where you can put yourself out there can be really beneficial. As you write, you realize things about yourself you would not otherwise have done. It helps to organize your thoughts, as you begin to formulate articles in your head. You begin to appreciate those special moments, when time seems to have stood still and your emotions are running wild, and you have a way to preserve them. I remember staying up all night immediately after Wales reached the semi finals of the Euros and when Federer beat Nadal in that titanic clash at the Aussie Open because my first thought was that I absolutely had to get those articles done at that time itself. And now when I read them back, I am again reliving those exact moments. On the contrary I feel that I have also learnt a little about patience (my friends might disagree but I’m getting better at least 😛 ). You know when a post is not quite ready and that it’s better to delay posting it till the next morning when you can take a fresh look at it rather than simply posting it in that state.
And what of that nagging feeling that your opinion does not matter? That doubt in the back of your head. Well, to be honest, it’s still there. I guess it always will. But you learn that it’s ok to put yourself out there. You learn to not be ruled by that fear.
I guess that’s about it for this post then. A literary journey, with hopefully many more chapters to come.