I have asked myself this existential question many times as I created and deleted blogs back in the early days when I discovered what blogging was. This is by far my oldest blog in terms of the number of days it has existed, although the posts have been few and far between. I think it survived the cut because I promised myself that I’d keep it, a reminder to myself that I have the medium in case I had something I wanted to reveal to any fortunate reader who stumbles upon it.
Even now I search for the answer [quite evident in my random tagline and confusing about me section], although with much less gusto than before. It is a little like not vaguely questioning our purpose in life and instead being content enough with what feels right and what needs to be done.
I have kept a personal journal since I was eleven. Back then while I pretended to study and do homework, I wrote about anything that struck my fancy: school troubles, new TV shows, parents breathing down my neck, difficulties of being a tomboy while trying to get guys to like you, being an introvert, friends, teen-drama and sudden life altering realizations. Even though it started as a respite from studying, it helped me become one of the best writers in my class [I was especially good at fiction, my English teachers read out my short stories to the class and my blood ran icy cold like the protagonist’s as he faced his arch enemy]. It helped me organize my thoughts and let me vent when I was upset [Why am I not allowed to stay over at my friends’ places? EVERYONE DOES IT!]. It helped me shape an identity for myself. While some of my friends were great artists and athletes, some were the best at school and some were the funniest people ever, I was someone who could affect people with words.
My right shoulder would start hurting sometimes because I would keep on writing a new story that would form in my head faster than I could write it down. Before I had a computer, I saw movies where the characters would write on the screens, and I could not wait to get my own so that I too would look that cool while writing. I once almost made my uncle leave everything behind in Saudi Arabia to come to us to Dhaka by writing a moving, emotionally blackmailing letter.
These days I am but a shadow of the prolific writer I once was. Things happened, life happened, writing took a back seat with assignments and TV shows and hanging out and marathon chat sessions. Sometimes I would surprise myself with a good piece and it would feel like old times again. I would feel guilty. It was guilt similar to not talking to an old friend for years. But even with all the gaps in the practice, even though I have never considered writing as a profession, I have always been fascinated with the power it has over the reader. I admire good writers and I admire people who challenge themselves to be better writers than they currently are [If the blogosphere is any indication, there are so many of those wonderful, beautiful people around!].
Which brings me to my initial question.
One of the reasons I blog is because I think having an audience helps. When I wrote privately I was more focused on making myself happy, getting stuff written, getting it on paper, getting it out of my head. When I knew someone would read it, I would pay more attention to the finer details and consider how the reader would perceive me. I do not have a lot of visitors. But I think the possibility of having readers read my blog makes me try to be better.
I also do it because in part, it scares me.
2013 was a rough year for me. I consider that the worst year of my life so far. The mantra for the year was to ‘Be Brave’. I wrote it on my wall, kept a photo with the phrase ‘Be Brave’ written over it on my phone’s lock screen, and when things got difficult, I repeated to myself: Be Brave.
The happy consequence was that the risky jumps I took have made this year a much fortunate, peaceful time for me. Being brave and making myself do what makes me uncomfortable is not completely terrifying anymore. One of those is to not be scared of what people may think of what I have to say. I worried that my insight was not thought-provoking, or important, or relevant to most people. So I would type up many things, only to delete them or never post them. But in time I realized I was the one who was losing out from this fear. I started writing for myself first and foremost, and this had nothing to do with me. So why would I let it scare me? So I decided to be brave about what I had to say and not worry that no one cares about it.
So I supposed the two parts above give a half-answer to why I have a blog. I like the fact that as I pursue this further I may find more reasons. Or maybe I will figure out that writing is not for me and I should have put some effort into palm-reading or anthropology. Like so many answers to so many questions over the years [for e.g., Q: Why does my mouth clam up when I talk to Guy X? A: Because you’re scared of sounding stupid, stupid] the answers to this question will present itself as I keep writing.