In the year 2018, I started this blog titled ‘A Hundred Quills’ after winning a few online short story writing contests and after one of my stories was reduced to ashes by a reader/critic. It was such an emotional moment that the title of the story became the title of my blog. No sooner did I join the world of blogging, my social media profiles were inundated with friend requests from complete strangers. With slight apprehension I accepted the requests, meeting like-minded people and being part of a ‘community’. Over time, I learnt how a community can help you thrive in the world of writing and social media. Social interactions provided me with ample opportunities to be part of writing clubs, challenges, activities- all of which steered me forward in this journey for three long years. I was published, commended and recommended.
But there was something amiss. I felt lost. Lost in a maze of social interactions, most of which were nothing more than obligatory exchange. I was part of WhatsApp groups of writers, poets and bloggers, attending workshops on writing, participating in online and offline events. In short, doing everything right for my craft and being pulled in a direction that held so much promise. But, in earnest, I was never any of this. I couldn’t elude the existential crisis that raised its ugly head time and again. I constantly felt its fangs at my throat. Maybe, you would say, I am going little too far in my analysis of the situation. So, let’s stick to simpler terms like ‘feeling lost’.
The joy of getting published that should have doubled when I shared the news with others, seemed to vanish into thin air the moment my feed was flooded with messages. I often lacked the bandwidth to connect with those who were kind enough to stop by and drop a message or a like. Often, I also felt bereft of words and unable to write. It was strange because I cannot claim to be an out-and-out introvert. The need to fit in and also write what was in vogue left me exhausted. I had almost six hundred pending friend requests, when I took the decision to remove all my social media accounts except one. I walked out of WhatsApp groups. Was I ready to tread territories that would leave me socially irrelevant? Most of the community said I would lose readers and opportunities. But as a writer, I was looking to reclaiming my writing and myself before reclaiming my readers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that all those on social media are misplaced or no longer in touch with themselves. Subjectivity and individuality are the eternal verities of human existence. But, it is as much the truth, that many of us who see social media as a means to boost their creativity, are unable to cope with it. The reason is that creativity needs silence to grow and being on social media is about living loud. If you are able to strike a balance, good for you. But, just like me, if you are harbouring feelings of rebellion against this noise, be rest assured that staying away will help you to reclaim your creative-self.
Ever since, I’ve made a little place for my creativity by blogging regularly. It helps me create space for my thoughts and although going off social media leads to fewer footfalls; I am content at being able to create and have meaningful conversations.
I subscribed to magazines, interacting with content and not people. Most writers, who find being online a little unsettling, do so because they are unable to deal with the flood of people on a social networking site.
I create a lot offline, gradually looking for a home for each of my creations.
I log in to my solo social media profile once a day (time bound) to keep up with submission calls and activities of the community.
Has any of this been helpful? I’m in my comfort zone, reading and writing more often than I used to. Work takes precedence. When I took the plunge, I thought I would be back pretty soon because I wouldn’t be able to cope with missing out on a lot of things. But the truth is I don’t miss any of it. I feel relieved and this is my happy place. If that means anything, then yes, it’s been a lot more than just helpful! Do you identify with my feelings? I’d love to hear how it’s been for you.