All art demands to be experienced, and all artists look for attention, even if they say they do not need any. I think of this more often than not: who am I writing for? And when “for myself” follows softly as the answer, I pose another question: but for how long? The silence takes centre stage, and no answer ever follows. I do not know where I will ever draw the line, but I would be obtrusively dishonest if I said I never thought of the futility of what I and many others do. In a world where there is no place and time for prose, we write, and we write, and we bare it all, only for a handful of people who read it and only for a couple who ever understand it. It is a lonely pursuit—the loneliest of all—but we seldom choose our inclinations. What comes naturally to us cannot be denied.
And yet, that does not mean there is no doubt or question. There always is space for it. I doubt all my years of writing which have passed and those yet to come. Then, I imagine whether there was a better use for my ability to conjure sentences, hack emotions and piggyback on pain. I wonder if I ever had a career in advertising, or perhaps, somewhere else failed writers go. Maybe, there could be a life where I taught creative writing to kids, helping them dream about writerly lives filled with prose and luncheons and walks.
Then, I remember the only writing advice I have ever received cordially like you receive a present you really want. It was at a conference over a decade ago. Now, I was not listening to the speeches intently. After some time, all boasting starts to meld into itself, but a man, whose achievement or name I do not recall, said something that echoed enough to reach me.
“Do not look to write creatively; avoid courses like the plague, and learn to simply write first. Write, write, write. The creative bit comes later. It comes when it comes. It comes when you are worthy of it. Live first; then, write about it. And live honestly without seeking anything. Then, write in the very same way. You will know it when it comes.”
I often wonder what happened to him.