November 29, 2014

Myths and facts of my blogging experience

Everyone likes to dole out advises, write out a ten-point list, offer suggestions and insert cautionary clauses in the field they are, or at least believe are, an expert-through either experience or extensive study. Likewise, if you are a blogger, you might have come across numerous articles on how to blog, why to blog, how to blog better, benefits of blogging which also includes benefits of blogging everyday.

With due respect to writers who share their experiences, I'd like to admit to myself and publicly on this space that all the theories of benefits of blogging daily have back-fired for me. The first time I took part in a month long blogging marathon was in December 2011and although I did not run out of topics during that period, the sheer effort almost killed me at the end of it all and I faced a major writing block for the next few months.

I steered clear of such exercises for a very long time and silently vowed never to undertake one in a hurry, yet, as they say, I was enticed by the unbelievable benefits endorsed by popular and seasoned bloggers all over. Now, of course, I wanted more readers, especially when my blog was in a comatose condition at one point. And, who didn't want to be famous, with fellow bloggers clamouring for your attention and asking you to take time out of your busy schedule to write out guest posts for them? So, in a weak moment I signed up for yet another marathon, this time a daily show for an undefined time. Definitely, the wires in my brain had gotten messed up.

Myth one: You'd get more readers.
Fact for me: Nope. For a few days, I wrote patiently, following all the rules mentioned. I visited and discovered so many new blogs, religiously read their posts, commented and waited for my blog to be discovered in turn. People came in, surely, but out of politeness and not because I was the next biggest find in blogging history. If I failed to visit theirs, I could rest assured that those many number of comments would go missing on mine. To be fair to the entire process, it is not quite humanly possible to genuinely spend so much time on other people's blogs, add them to your list and make an appearance in their comment section each time a post is out. Especially, when so many people out there write so well, perhaps better than you, are also dishing out a post each day, have their own life apart from blogging and also have better things to do. So, net-net, you end up having only those many true readers you started off with. Maybe after months and months of a rinse-repeat of the above scene might result in a spike but by then I think I'd have gone nuts.

Myth two: You'd start writing better.
Fact for me: Not sure, maybe not. Some days are just not yours and no matter what other experts say about not bothering about the post being perfect, you can't write average stuff and still expect people to read and appreciate. And, when there are no readers, I'm not motivated. If I'm not motivated then I cannot write better. I'm yet to arrive at the point where I write for the love of writing. If I were to achieve that state of mind, then I'd not blog publicly.

Myth Three: You get a better Alexa rank
Fact for me: True but not relevant. I blog because I like the banter that takes place between bloggers via comments and also to hear at times that I write well. Of course I'm a narcissist. How does it matter if I rank 40 or 80 on some random scale, the basis of which I don't know, when I hardly get one or two genuine comments on my post?

Myth Four:More comments/invites to guest posts/shares/backlinks
Fact for me: Nope. I admit that the number of comments went up by sheer numbers but that did not mean that I bonded with those many bloggers and they came because they became a genuine fan of my writing. They came because we wrote for the same writing prompts and more as a courtesy and greed for quid pro-quo. Again, no offense to anyone. I did the same, so I understand.

Just like one medicine does not work alike for two different people even if the symptoms and illness may be alike, so also, there are theories that could have worked for an entire generation of people, yet may not work for you. So, it is really up to you to figure out what works or does not. If it did not work, it does not prove the theory to be wrong (hence these are myths and facts FOR ME). It only means that you get to write your own theory or find the one that works for you.

So, I shall blog only when I feel like and write what I feel like. That way I'll not be under the wrong impression that I wrote a literary piece and feel bad about no one reading or commenting on it.

November 27, 2014

Word Building

“What does ‘detour’ mean?” queried eight-year old Garry, trotting into the kitchen, his fingers clasping over the book perched on his elbow pit, without taking his eyes off it.

Tara, startled by Garry’s abrupt intrusion, almost dropped the whisk into the batter she was whipping for her cake order.

 Being used to such sudden literary interrogation by her bookworm son, Tara composed herself as she exhaled slowing, wiping the remaining batter off the whisk and answered Garry.

“It is exactly what you do when you cycle across the lawn towards the town library on the way to your guitar classes.”

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Randy Mazie
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Word count:100
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100 word story written in response to the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers at Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can post one of your own or read the other entries here.  

November 26, 2014

Hi Five

R turns five today, a big-boy milestone. He's been forever waiting for the day to dawn when he'd turn five. I thought it was due to his friend's influence but learned from the baby center updates that kids generally get excited about their birthdays around this time, so he's bang on with that milestone:-p A lot of promises have been made by the little-big fella; things that he'd do once he becomes a beeg boy, more so in a rush if I may add, including sleeping in his own bed, in his room. Ha! If anything, he's asking to sleep next to "amma only" in the recent times, something he never insisted on before!To be fair, we've also tried to milk the occasion by referring to the five-year landmark to get things done :-p

We didn't plan for a big bash this year despite the kid's excitement levels. Firstly, I was not sure I wanted a party in the house, given that our club-house isn't ready yet, and secondly, he hasn't really bonded with any other kid in our complex which makes it tricky to send out invitations. I didn't want to have kids over only because I know their mothers. Anyway, whether I over-thought the situation or found a safe escape route, this year too it's going be just his best friend who'll be coming over with his parents, the happy coincidence being that they happen to be our close family friends. So, really a win-win situation!

I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted balloons, cake and have everyone invited. The 'everyone' bit caused a temporary panic attack with some guilt creeping up my neck. For a moment I wondered if it would be possible to churn out a conventional party in such a short notice. As usual my mind ended up working overtime in vain for it turned out that by 'everyone' he meant his grandparents. 

I always worried that my boy had this detached outlook towards relationships that fell outside of the realm of our family nucleus, which includes us, his parents. He'd connect and bond with the extended family, no doubt, but he'd never display any longing for them once they were out of sight or even refer to them. However, I saw a marked change in him this time when my parents visited. Not only did he bond better but he was vocal about his feelings for them and insisted that they stay back until his birthday. While I was relieved to discover my misplaced worry (yes, that includes not having to throw a party), I felt a tug at my heartstrings to have his desire go unmet.

R talks nineteen to the dozen and sometimes I just want to shut my ears to all the 'see this plane, it goes so fast' to 'I'm a whale/dinosaur/ am so strong'. Yes, there is no end to all the cars, planes and animal talk. Some additions to his vocabulary are "blood, death and bomb blast!" Gory and scary as they sound, I was startled when it all began but as I compared notes with other mothers, I learned that such talk is quite normal in a household with kids, especially boys. Eeks!

I've failed to record the many funny and not-so-funny conversations that happen in our household but this one stuck with me:
As it goes, R is very fascinated with age and the numbers associated with it.

R: How old are you?
Amma: 3x
R *looking incredulous*: And, Appa??
Amma: 3x + y
R: oh my! That old? That means you'll die!

Sigh! Yes, my child, we all have to die someday. Maybe you'll learn to speak more sensitively about this. On second thoughts, what the hell, it's better to be so blasé and practical about it!

Wish you a great birthday, dearest R. May God bestow you with all the goodness in the world. Amma and Appa love you loads.


****


November 25, 2014

On your birthday

Would a simple thank-you
suffice?
my love and gratitude, it all
encompass?

Will it seem small,
not needed even,
since our love's mutual,
a given?

But, this is not a note
to settle our score,
or to dust my hands
off a chore

I truly want to
express my delight.
You're my life; ever inspiring,
like bright day-light

Standing by me,
like a rock,
whenever life slowed
over a gridlock

You held me,
when I slipped
Nudged me ahead,
as I dithered

The sun shines brighter
gloomy days, soon wither
only because, my dear,
you're there near

No other day seemed fitter
to profess and confess
than today,
as you grow a year older

So, thank-you,
for always being there
with an ever gentle flair

May the grace of God
ever shine upon you, and
we remain blessed, thus!



November 23, 2014

Love yourself and love what you do

Funny as it sounds; it is difficult to just be the person you are. Each one of us is unique and has our own idiosyncrasies, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Yet, we lack the ability to recognize all of these in us and accept ourselves just the way we are. We want to be someone else. We keep working on our weaknesses, honing our skills, and seek to be a better (even different?) person, but of what use are these exercises if they are going to erode our core personality and damage our self-esteem?

In life, many of us have role models-someone we want to be like and/or competitors in our chosen fields-who make us go green with envy with their superior techniques and skills, yet are those we want to emulate and even surpass in terms of their accomplishments. Somewhere between wanting to improve and emulate the other person, who might be your peer, friend or competitor, you start comparing self with the other and begin to lose yourself.

What does it, then, take to stretch yourself, your abilities and yet be comfortable in knowing that this is all you can do and accept that the results may not exactly match your expectations? What can do to not let the exercise of improvement reach a point where it not only defeats its very purpose but, oh the horror, leads to the brink when you begin to wallow in self-pity (since you cannot reach the benchmark ) and your general state of mind sinks into lower degrees of satisfaction and happiness?

It is, then, the perfect time to stop and ask if you are enjoying what you are doing. Be it singing, dancing, baking, handling a team for a prestigious project, teaching, writing, blogging, whatever it is that you do for a living or a part-time job or even as a hobby, as long as you take pride in doing them and they bring you joy that is not limited to the one derived by the rewards or awards they might bring, but joy that comes by merely enjoying the act, you succeed. The satisfaction of work has to be a constant even when you're failing in your goals, because if that goes missing then everything else will seem false and temporary.

Again, I'd like to visualize success as something that is certainly more and definitely not restricted to when the world recognizes and applauds your capabilities : a condition where you're happy and content in your own skin, you're proud of yourself no matter what because you'd like to give yourself credit for all the effort you'd taken so far and continue to take, and lastly but not in the least, are generous in forgiving yourself for what you're not and what you did not try in life. 

November 18, 2014

Living for self

Is it possible to live just for yourself? Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting you become selfish and stop caring for others. What I mean is, is it possible to work, cook, write, sing, dance, play just to please the self and no one else, even while doing all of the above for the family, friends or acquaintances, without expecting a word of appreciation, a thank-you, a nod of approval or even acknowledgement? 

Can it happen that you live life only because you 'love' doing it and that's what makes you happy or come alive? That's how it should be, right? And, that's what the Lord advises in the Gita, too. However, in this mortal and materialistic world, it seems incredible to go on without someone to pat your back when you do well, without someone to motivate you when you hit the low, to achieve your targets without expecting a reward, to give without expecting anything in return.

In a society where we learn from childhood to behave well because, otherwise, the guests will call us 'a bad girl/boy' and not because it's the right way to behave, we develop an early fascination and detrimental habit to please the others, before we please ourselves. Even as children as we learned to first walk, talk, make that tower of blocks, we turned around to see if the grownups applauded and approved. So, it must be natural to seek praise and approval.

We learn to adjust with other people's deficiencies because 'good' people don't complain. However, we are never taught to accept our deficiencies. If you complain because something didn't go your way, you are judged and called 'immature' and as someone who 'doesn't understand or accept it as a way of life.' If you don't complain, you might be labelled as being lax and lazy who doesn't wish to evolve or reach higher living standards. Either way, you are doomed, isn't it?

Life itself is a corollary. The more you live with passion, more are the chances of attachment. However, the more detached you become, greater involvement can happen. I feel that freeing ourselves from how others perceive us is the way forward. Seeking joys in little things only because those little things are part of the great life will lead us to experience the bigger joy which is life itself. 

So, ask yourself today, am I working because I'll be liked more or because I like working? Am I giving my 100% to the job because my colleagues and boss will respect me more or because I want the job to be perfect? If you want the job to be perfect and consequently you earn more respect, then you win both ways. If you still don't get your promotion, don't come back to hit me, because I know it sucks big time and I'm still finding my answers to life's paradoxes.