sophie's letters

repository of unsent letters and postcards

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the writing hour: the blog lives

I’ve first realized the gravity of my writing block when my blog domain expired and it didn’t leave a single strike of feeling in me. I received the alarming notification few times imminent of the expiry: RENEW YOUR CARD DETAILS or your blog won’t be accessible, yadi yada. (It wasn’t per se, that my blog expired, but in fact my credit card had, which terminated my domain subscription) It was, and had to be a no brainer — I barely write anymore anyways. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost the persistence you need to call yourself a writer. But I’ve had as my blog for years, and the reminder that I was no longer guaranteed the only proof that I inhabit a certain spot in the endless sea of blogs on the Internet was a wake-up call. That moment of hesitation — of whether I should renew this domain when I only begrudgingly produce an annual survival update and never with any kind of writing that I’ve set out to produce — was a valid one.  

I began to rethink what purpose this particular blog served, to me, to whoever might be lurking in this tiny nook. I’ve always had a conviction that writing exists to serve its writer first and foremost, that there is an inherent value in projecting one’s inner thoughts out and about for the world to see. I thought about what mine might be — what I have been trying to achieve by writing on the space for the past. Who am I writing to, and what am I exactly writing about? What goes on in my head while writing? These are some logistics of the act that I have never actually processed, despite the long years of writing. 

It strikes me as I am writing this that this year marks the tenth year I’ve kept this blog. From the time I bore an insatiable fixation over The Sound of Music (to the point I watched the almost-three-hourlong film every single night for month and ran a fan Instagram account that accumulated thousand-ish followers — which, in hindsight, was just a thirst account for the Captain; RIP Christopher Plummer) to writing in the corner of a wine bar in London after work. And this time, taxes and rent are not a null concept and a very tangible matter I have to sort out as a functioning adult, however incredulous that sounds. I’m just making sense out of really, how much time has passed. Ten whole years of watching an arbitrary bunch of feelings and thoughts calcify into words and expression. Marks of my own distant memories springing into language in ways only I would understand. 

Visibility is a currency when it comes to writing. They say that a piece of writing only gains meaning when there is a reader, when it is actively interpreted and renewed in someone else’s mind. The author’s presence, or existence, to begin with, ultimately matters little in the process of artistic appreciation. Roland Barthes went to town on this theory. But for me, writing has been a solitary act from its formation to product. The entire stretch of process has only been for me. I remember family members and friends suggesting that I ought to submit my writing to competitions or journals, and I have done that and had them published — to see if the purposeful exposure of one’s intimate thoughts mark the difference in the value of writing, whatever that may be. I’m not quite sure if I have the answer to that now. 

For me this has been a lifelong dilemma — struggling in the constant limbo between using this space as a private release and desiring for it to be seen. I like that I’m given the liberation to create something without that uneasy feeling of performance, without any expectation or judgment. There is something cathartic about putting your intimate self in a public space that is so quiet and unanswering like this one. In the semblance of absolute calmness and unobstrusiveness, I feel as though I’m no longer restrained by various inhibiting social factors (and I’m not saying that this is bad, but there is always different levels of guise that we put up when we are with friends, family, acquaintances – the list goes on), and in this lack thereof, I’ve learned how to be with myself, and myself only. A sense of control and certainty that roots me down through a time of transitions, heartbreaks, loneliness, and precarity. But at the same time, I yearn for my writing to be seen — and therefore, myself to be understood. I sometimes wonder if this is what goes on in other writers’ heads as they write. Maybe I’m thinking too much about it. Either ways, this blog has been a medium of my search for answers. Though it’s probably a little less grand than it sounds. 

I’ve stopped along the way maybe because a part of me as been too afraid to seek the answers I need and reach the conclusions of my own introspection. By avoiding writing altogether, I get to live in the endless possibility and potential of unachieved resolutions, without actually having to make the committment. Or maybe I’m just suffering from a crippling, chronic illness called laziness and can’t bring myself to sit and be alone with my thoughts longer than the duration of a sitcom episode. I think the latter makes more sense to me. But this altogether isn’t important. 

The reason of getting back to writing isn’t a big one — it wasn’t a significant, dramatic, maybe almost divine reinstatement of my artistic drive. Though I do wish it’d been that dramatic. I’ve recently started working in publishing as a scouting assistant and watching the constant influx of new books and writers has been a daily reminder of all the people who tirelessly, and fearlessly reinvent themselves over and over again in their stories. Of those who are unafraid to realize themselves through their art and let themselves be seen, in whatever shape or form. So maybe I’ve decided that I’ll do something about mine too.  

The Writing Hour is a part of my plan to get my writing back on track. Call it a terribly belated new year’s resolution, if you will. The premise is simple — every week, I put an hour in the evening aside solely for writing. I decided to wait until giving it a defined structure (ie. theme for each week?) and take on each as it happens, hoping that this will be a less daunting endeavor to myself. In the meantime, I’ll be celebrating in writing the murky form that is my mind.

So bear with me, while I flood this space with what could be a litany of chocolate bars I’ve eaten that week or a heated discussion of what I think the word “aesthetic” means. Or it could be why I think the film Tár is a narrative of gendered power. Or an extended piece about how dungarees should be the mankind’s uniform. As always, I’ve implied that this space is primarily for my own good, but I hope you find some joy in it too. 


One response to “the writing hour: the blog lives”

  1. > when it is actively interpreted and renewed in someone else’s mind.
    I hope I’m not disturbing your peace with a comment but I lol’d at this because I used to quote snippets of your blog for my own journaling because it would made me realize something I haven’t really thought for myself. And it’s just beautiful how you’re linking that with everything else you’re saying

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