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It is not easy being a writer, even an amateur one at that. Oh no siree, not at all. Hmmm… On second thoughts I think that statement calls for an amendment for I certainly do not belong to the illustrious cadre of ‘writers’ in the real sense, but to the lowly tribe of bloggers. But then it is not easy being a lowly blogger either. Apart from the megalomaniacs in the media wanting to rap their (the bloggers’) knuckles for assuming in their naivety that ‘freedom of speech’ includes them in its ambit, there are other issues like bloggers waking up of a fine morning to their morning cup of cheer and the daily dose of mayhem, courtesy the newspapers, only to find the picture they had clicked Friday last while out on a carefree jaunt and posted in their blog with so much of justified pride, is now adorning said newspaper’s page, credited to some unscrupulous journalist, who preferred scanning the net to panning the camera. Now tell me is it easy being a blogger?

Yet, strangely enough, these are not the troubles that I dare speak of. Oh yeah, there are more woes to being a blogger, believe me you. One of them is the Cryptic Critic who hurls, what else but cryptic criticism via the comment space, which drives you insane because it is so… well what else, cryptic of course. It gives you sleepless nights as you try to decipher what exactly the cryptic comment was all about. I don’t know about you folks, but I love answers neatly packed, like the way Perry Mason winds up his court cases in the last chapter, or the way Sherlock Holmes explains things to Dr.Watson, also in the last chapter, and without once saying ‘Elementary my dear Watson’! But life has no such last chapters and hence cryptic critics get away after posting their cryptic comments to hide in some dark corner of the Earth from whence they came, probably laughing in devilish glee for having tied you up into knots. What the poor bugger doesn’t know is that we bloggers have the best way to deal with things that tie us in knots. We blog. Period.

If you think cryptic critics are all that a blogger like me has had to face, you are naive. There are perils to blogging every step of the way, waiting to catch you off guard and sock you one. When I took my baby steps in blogosphere a couple of years back, I confined myself to writing about myself, my family, my dog, my cat, my experiences and sometimes though rarely about my views and opinions. Do you notice a glaring fact in the previous statement?? It was all about me, me and more me. In spite, readers turned up to appreciate this nondescript homemaker’s point of view and to comment on it. Everything seemed hunky dory till a jarring note was struck.

Out of the blue, the said homemaker moi, decided to write a story (The Girl) something never attempted prior to that. After much dillydallying, I steeled myself to post it, albeit with much trepidation. I need not have worried. It was favorably received if you ignore the fact that most all readers called me names, ‘cruel’ being the most favored, as also asking me ‘How could you??’ in aggrieved tones. I heaved a sigh of relief, not because I was called names or due to the aggrieved tones. At least the tale had been accepted. But here and there from between the lines of the comments, I detected faint traces of is-this-your-own-storyness being thrust at me. But I chose to ignore it. Friends pulling my leg, I thought to myself dismissing it as of no consequence. Anyway I did not intend to write any more fiction. This was just a one off thing. So why should it bother me?

Soon after fellow bloggers came up with ‘challenges’ to write on given topics within a certain word limit. Though I did not think I was up to it, not wanting to let down friends (I hate to say ‘No’ when friends ask), I jumped into the bandwagon and tried my hand at churning out a story or two. Once I got into it, I found I enjoyed writing this genre and attempted to write a few more.Thus did my foray into the world of writing fiction come about.

In the meantime, the poetry bug which for years had been lying dormant, not having manifested any symptoms in a long time, reared its head and clamored for attention. The last heard of it had been spouting about a Blue Jay, a Young Mr. Sun and Pretty Miss Moon not to mention a dog by the name of Loony and its antics. That had been years and years ago when I was still wet behind the ears. But on finding that Prose that hitherto unknown element in my life had seen fit to enter and monopolize my attention going so far as to make me attempt fiction, Verse, who boasted of an acquaintance with me albeit at a juvenile stage, wanted in. If Prose can, so can I was the way Verse felt about it.

Hmmm…. with Prose and Verse pitted againsy each other in their battle for supremacy, I became but a rag doll in their hands pushed this way and that at their whims and fancies…. and I have this sneaking suspicion that I have digressed. Since that is nothing new, all I have to do is find my way back which fortunately for everyone concerned I have become an expert at.

So there was Verse insisting on equal status with Prose and both egging me on to do their bidding with the aid of none other than Imagination, constant companion since time immemorial (which just means from the time moi can remember) of a totally empathetic and incurably romantic heart (that again is moi in case you didn’t catch on). Now the question of course would arise in the readers’ minds as to why and how this Imagination had remained idle all these years and I would answer that it made me spend just hours and hours daydreaming, making seniors in the family madder than Vivek’s wet hen and peers giggle unkindly referring to me as Rip Wan Winkle as I never seemed to be abreast of the latest happenings unfolding right in front of my eyes, but since that is not the subject of this post, you may not ask the question and I will not proffer any answer.

While thus hemmed in (or hedged in??) by Prose and Verse and encouraged by Imagination, I occasionally ventured to stir away from my chosen path of writing me-me posts. That is when the problem arose and I found much to my chagrin that it was not easy, this being a writer… ooops sorry, I meant blogger. Having got their daily dose of the antics of the L & M, the kiddos and the dog, the reading public now felt cheated when I wrote poems about love’s longing, pain of betrayal, mysterious strangers across oceans, long lost love, frozen tears, hidden hurts, eyes that captivated…. tr-la-la and la. First came comments cheekily asking who this third party was for whom I pined in my poems. Comments were left informing me that this matter would be brought to the notice of the L & M forthwith.

Any joke (if it were meant as a joke or were they fishing for inside information??) however funny, repeated too often fails to be a joke anymore. Let me add an interesting fact here that none, not even a single reader from abroad drew any parallels between the fiction I wrote and my family life in their comments. All such comments were from apna Indians. Curious trivia, but makes you think what?? Being a mere mortal the comments finally succeeded in getting on my nerves. Of course there were sensible ones echoing my own question, if it was indeed impossible or unheard of to draw upon imagination and empathy while writing. Isn’t that what writing is all about?? Or is it a must that every writer… oops blogger, belong to the Mahesh Bhatt camp?? That those of us who write fiction use experiences to embellish our stories at one time or another is an undeniable fact. But to look for non-existent comparisons to the author’s life at every point is mere foolishness and shows the total lack of familiarity with something called imagination as also empathy.

The best (or worst) part was when a reader asked me after going through some of my romantic poems,

But… but… how do you write of such things??”

The right answer of course would have been,

I type them on the keyboard.”

Wisecracks apart, it is something we all wonder when we come across exceptionally good writing. Let me hasten to add that this doesn’t qualify my writing to be included in such a category. Anyway what the person meant was how the heck was it possible for me to write on love and romance with so much authority and knowledge. I mean, here I was with one foot almost in the grave (Ok that is a bit of exaggeration, but I have covered more than half my journey) and writing of the tender feelings of love like nobody’s business. The fact that I am from Neptune does play a role. But let’s leave that for another day.

Why not??” I asked the man, himself in his forties. “Did you think I was born as a woman in my forties??” a la Benjamin Button I would have added if I had heard of the movie then.

But how can you have such feelings??” he spluttered, “you are a housewife, a woman!

Actually, when I read this, I was the one who spluttered and almost had apoplexy. I mean, what the heck. I forbore to correct him that houses don’t have wives and also that I certainly remembered that it was a man I married more than a quarter century ago one evening in September. What I remember asking him was, what exactly being a woman had to do with knowing of and writing about love.

I mean you are good woman…. a nice lady!”

Ahh yes, now I get it. A man in his forties (and till he dies of old age and senility, toothless and blind to boot) can talk and write about love, but a woman and that too a ‘good’ woman, a matronly mother at that, should do so is unthinkable. Good women, hear ye one and all, don’t talk of love for the simple reason that they don’t know what love and romance is. They stay pure as the driven snow and demurely accompany the man chosen by their parents and cook and keep house for him and make babies. I wonder what exactly seemed unbelievable to the man, the possibility that I could have been in a love relationship, known about love and its pangs or the fact that I dared think and write about such things even at my age??!!

Arre yaar, where do they make these specimens?? And why me, dear God, why send them over to me to ask their stupid questions??!

I hope the next question I am going to be asked is not,

But… but… how do you know how babies are made??”

Of course I didn’t, till I read in a fellow blogger’s page that he had heard the details from a minor politician giving a speech in his hometown. The man was raving and ranting against this new found fad for sex education in schools, says the blogger. Did we have any such education during our times, the man thundered. And when we, that is my wife and I, wanted children, he continued, we spread a white sheet on the ground, knelt and (oh no, it’s NOT what you think) prayed and lo and behold, we had our children. So now no blogger is going to catch me off guard on that issue.

(Trivia: the blogger friend hasn’t stopped laughing since the day he heard this enlightening speech from the minor politician)

Well now you see how it is. Blogging isn’t easy at all, oh no sir! But does any of that deter me?? Never ever! I simply go forth and blog to my heart’s content.

Note: This is my way of looking at my experiences at a previous blogging site.