Blogging 101


The most important lesson of blogging is that when you have nothing to say, you should say nothing. And this lesson does not intersect at all with writing rigour.

Time to Go

Ambition can change its character, and we end up not recognising it. In fact, we begin to question its very existence. The problem is just about syncing our place with our ambition on the timescale of life.


The Dharma Bum is doing a-post-a-day series about his workplace. Two things stand out, as I read his posts every day: one, the natural flow of his thoughts about his experience and the weave; and two, the nature of his workplace; it’s easy to be envious of him, working there.

Bala - The Dharma Bum

Bala – The Dharma Bum (Not the current true likeness; this one is from two years ago)


I challenged myself to a-post-a-day, two years ago. July 2014, to be precise. It wasn’t easy. But I completed the challenge. I can imagine what the Dharma Bum must be going through. The toughest promises to keep are those that you make to yourself.


I get angry with my words, sometimes. They seem to mock me. Like, when I said:

Tomorrow can either be impregnated with the sameness of all your suspicions, cynicism and scepticism, or it can be the tomorrow that rids you of that sameness that you so despise.

Your call.


A wise man once told me the secret of attaining perfection. You don’t. God is perfect, in whatever sense you choose to see. Being perfect is not for humans; there’s only striving, striving, and striving. (He used to do that; repeat a keyword thrice; each with a unique tone) The beauty of being human is in the striving. It is, indeed an unshackling philosophy. It took me a while, but I can sense it now.


It’s time to go. The skews are being straightened. Or perhaps, new skews are awaiting.

12 Years

12 years.


Not enough posts perhaps, to account for the time.

But (more than) enough friends and well-wishers.

Many thoughts.

So many changes.

After twelve years, it’s no more the same person, though.


Returning to give up; returning to take back. Willing to call-out.

Leaving. Taking charge.

Learning love; unlearning love.

My love for blogging has not changed. I am glad about that. I have learnt to love the other; and I have learnt, what love is and is not. In that small space of what is and what is not, I discovered myself. It’s a revelation.

Notwithstanding, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Paper & Me

If I was me, I’d issue a restraining order, against me entering a stationery shop, ever. Needless to say, it would save me a lot of money; it would also make me start using the many lovely writing tools and instruments that I have amassed over the years, rather, than just amassing them.

I feel very strongly about my notebooks, writing pads, pens, pencils and other assorted stationery. So much, that I am willing to be called a stationery snob. I generally refuse to write in a notebook that has a corny gold label proclaiming: Ajanta No. 5, or any such assembly line-like, engineering-ish brand, that has no respect for design, class, or even simple presentation aesthetic.

Photograph of handwritten post

The Original Post

Somewhere in 2000, I was in Singapore. There, I entered a stationery shop. My dear imaginative and curious readers, I leave it to your fecund fancies, what transpired, then. Done? OK. In the months that I was there, I visited that shop many times. I bought enough stationery to last me a lifetime. Couple of years before that, my sister went to Japan. She asked, what she could get me. I said — paper. writing pads, onion skins, notebooks, loose leaves, any kind of paper. And mechanical pencils. And pens with thin nibs. Lesser than 0.5, if they have them. She bought me all of that! Later, living with the love of my life, I discovered acrylic paper, and other forms of art paper. I bought all of those. I am not an artist, in that sense. But, I had to have that paper.

Most of my writing, now, is on the computer’s keyboard. As you can see, it has had a toll on my handwriting. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot stay away from a stationery shop. At least one small pocket-book has to be bought.

And then, just like that, Rubberband arrives in stores — real shops & online. In response to Moleskine, perhaps, but not entirely there. (PS: I have three Moleskine notebooks). This post was written in a Rubberband notebook. And much has been written in this Rubberband. Phone numbers, ideas, doodles, meeting notes, and various scribbles. It’s a weathered notebook.

And while I prefer notebooks (and books) that always look as if you just bought them from the store, the weathered notebook has a story to tell.

Apart from the obvious virtues of the notebook and the pen (or pencil, which I just adore), the one thing that writing with pen and paper is the sense of intimacy that a keyboard and a screen doesn’t offer. Perhaps, it is the sheer physics of it — the friction of the nib on paper — that disallows a thought to run ahead of its owner. The drag of the pen on paper gives the writer the time to evaluate, construct, and refine a thought as it first forms in the mind, and then imprints on the paper. If you have ever experienced your pen hovering over a comma, eager to touch the paper, you will know what I mean.

The absence of a backspace key doesn’t make your writing better — it makes your thinking better.

Most of all, the tangibility of dried ink on that blank, flattened, pulp is worth all the effort. No two letters ever look the same — unlike a font on a computer screen. Each word, each letter in a word, has a character of its own. Even the same word written over and over acquires a unique character.

Wherever we sit to write, whatever the circumstances, all our experiences — past and current — all of them twirl in our “g’s” and swirl in our “S’s”

As you read this, in fixed font, I trust, you get a flavour and a sense of what I experience tonight, as I write this post. All of it. On paper. With pen.

This weathered notebook, holds within, all the seasons of my life.

The Same Newness

And way back, I had written how much I love airports.

I haven’t had a chance to feel that love much, in recent times. Haven’t travelled as much.

Today seems very much like that day, that year. And the memories come flooding by. No, I did not take a photo that day. And I am not taking one today either. These are memories, not memorabilia. Printed on your heart with thoughts, ideas, and feelings; not paper and ink.

The cushions are red, the airport is the CSIA, the crowd is very different.

And life’s good.

Why Do I Write?

Good writers are concerned about their writing. Often to the point of anxiety. The worry spans many concerns.

Do I write well? If I do, how do I know? Does anyone read what I write? How do I know that someone is reading what I write? How many read what I write? Do they like what I write? Do they know who I am? Are those who read what I write smart as me, or smarter? Do they like me or do they like what I write? Should I write more or should I write less? Should I write for the masses or for the classes?

These and many other such concerns are a good writer’s constant companions. Different writers are concerned differently, with varying intensity of the concern, and apart for their other interests and intelligence, these concerns are what makes them good writers.


Recently, while writing On the Write Path, Amit asked if writing has value outside of its readership, and I said yes. He then turned the question over its head and asked if readership has a value for a writer (apart from money), and I said yes.

The value in both, the writing and readership is intangible, but is valuable indeed. Writing helps refine our thoughts, create expression, and plants the seed for a conversation. Readership creates conversation, broadens our thinking, enables us to write better. That’s how the cycle starts and keeps going on.

That, you will agree, is a very simple, insipid value statement.

What makes the cycle exciting is all the traps and the escapes that a writer goes through. Staring at the blank page, every writer, has questioned, at least once — Why do I write? While the answer to that question is yet to be discovered, the writer writes, and the question permeates the writing, even though no word will betray it. The writer waits for a reader. Or, waits for at least an acknowledgement, that a reader exists. The writing resonates with a reader. Reader acknowledges the writer. It feels like an answer to the writer’s question, but the writer is mistaken. The writer, in turn, acknowledges the reader. Writer continues writing. More readers arrive. The writer becomes a reader. Writes. Reads. Writes, again. The writer forgets the original question. A new question emerges — Who do I write for? A new trap. And new escapes. Somewhere, while all of this is going on, social compulsions attack the writer. Promotion, engagement, statistics, popularity. Multiple skirmishes occur. New questions are born (see second paragraph, above). New escapes. The writer becomes a warrior. In a few cases, the readers become an army. Some battles are won, some lost. Much experience is gained. Over time, a few from the army, desert. The writing continues. New readers are conscripted. The question — Why do I write — remains unanswered. It bares itself at its whim. Every other question is either answered or discarded as worthless. This one question, just refuses to get answered and go quietly into the night. And the writer continues writing.

All the writing, whether it is read or not, whether appreciated or not, becomes a value in itself, over time. The cumulative experience of writing and reading, that intangibly laces the words, curiously determines their placement, and stealthily deepens the meaning, is the value. Impossible to measure or define, but most easy to feel, right after we write. Part of this value accumulates to the writing, part of value to the self.

Perhaps, that is why I write.

Keep Giving Up

The temptation to give up, is high.

Well, you’ve stated the primary idea. Why write more? If people want to know more about your idea, they’ll Google it, or they’ll ask questions. My writing is suffering. I still love starting to write, but after the key note has been written, I lose interest. Who cares? I’ve just finished a post on my History blog. (as of when I am writing this post, it hasn’t been published). I can sense the gaps. It is staccato. I asked a few friends to check it. They end up telling me the things I know.

Even when I know how I should write, I don’t.

One of two things have happened: Blogging has changed and I haven’t, or, I have changed and Blogging hasn’t. When this mystery is solved, I’ll know what I should do.

Or, perhaps, there’s too much of a big deal with giving up and keeping at it. Why is giving up looked down upon? When you think hard about it, giving up actually opens up new avenues. If you give up there’s so many other things that you can do. If you, however, keep at it there’s only one thing you are doing, and chances are, you are doing it for some (potentially) foolhardy reason that you committed yourself to. Or perhaps, there’s merit in keeping at it.

So I should either give up at keeping at it, or keep at it at giving up.

Something tells me, they are the same, but, now I’ve lost interest. I give up.