Writing because the soul demands so...

A wanna-be writer asked me this question the other day. No! This query was not about the percentage of corruption rampant in the nation. Or, the crimes against women and children nor was it about the urban indifference to rural sensitivities.

It was about how much a writer can/should reveal of him/herself through his/her writings. Very often, when we start off writing, we delve into our lives and bring out from our treasure chest of memories, instances and emotions and churn them into poetry, stories or articles. This is true of most writers. We also look around us and perceive people whose lives have either influenced us or left us wondering, ‘how could she go through all this?’ We write about the aam aadmi, the common man/woman whose story would be left untold and it is there, in that gap that we jump in and present our point of view.

Coming back to the lakshman rekha that exists between the readers (read as world) and the writers, it all depends upon how much the writer is willing to share. Sometimes, sharing a part of one’s life can make one’s sorrow lesser or joy double. Writing is therapeutic for some as it helps one to share what one may not share with one’s family or friends sometimes. We know of many writers in the literary world who have written great works using pen names to avoid being recognized. Most first novels are usually autobiographical in dozes. Then, with the ravages of time, acknowledgement and the reactions of the readers and the media, the mind makes its decisions about what material to use and what to discard.

There is no written rule about how much raw material (emotions, thoughts, ideas) one should use in one’s compositions and writings. It all depends on what the heart feels at that particular juncture or the mind logically decides. Sometimes, one can also go through periods of complete blank phases when one is not too sure about what to do, what to think, what to feel and what to write. But, being a writer, words do manage to wriggle their way in the midst of hankering emotions and before you know it, you have the written creation ready for perusal.

Many people are a wee bit insecure about revealing too much about themselves. Nothing is too much if you believe so. In the same manner, even a little statement could indicate a lot about you, yourself and your life.  Frankly, if you haven’t committed any crime, if you love writing, if you have no evil intention of hurting any kind soul, then whatever you write will do fine. The fear of revealing too much to the world can deprive society of a probable brilliant writer and the writer of a wonderful medium of exotic expression.

A writer writes because he has to. And by ‘has to’ I don’t exactly mean that it is his/her profession. I am talking about the urge to express oneself, to share one’s reflections and emotions through this wonderful medium called writing.

What do you say?

For all those writers who have so much lodged within their minds and hearts….

For all those writers (who have written already and those who aspire to write)….

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28 responses »

  1. Varun Reddy says:

    My fav line:

    Frankly, if you haven’t committed any crime, if you love writing, if you have no evil intention of hurting any kind soul, then whatever you write will do fine.

  2. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    According to me a great writer is he/she who expresses the most through the least and also at the same time is able to make his/her reader ponder much on the issue.

    “How much is too much” is an issue which used to bother me a lot initially. Now no more as I realize during the journey that camouflage makes one all the more conspicuous.

    It is really amazing to note how one comes to know about the writer by reading him/her, however much he/she may try to be “minimal” in baring his/her heart and soul in print. Its just a stroke, s curve, a dot, a smudge or even the silence , the pause in between which speak so much.

    A true reader is the one who can read between the lines and gauge as much as the writer does or does not want to write. So, its a two way traffic – one without the other is incomplete.

    And of course greatness is defined by how conveniently you can slip the most bizarre thought/ idea/even secrets of heart under the skin of the reader with the utmost convenience and comfort!!!!!!!!!

    So, the issue takes a different course………..from “how much” to how well”.

    A very ticklish issue very succinctly put, Shail. Kudos!!!

    • Dear Geeta,

      I agree 100% with you. Yes, writing little and expressing more is the trait of a good writer.

      Yes, a time comes in the life of a writer when he/she is just not bothered about what others think. But that is also the time we need to be more cautious about how we express our ideas and views. A slip can cause a lot of damage…

  3. Eva Bell says:

    Re HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH, there is always a little bit of the writer’s character, mannerisms or experiences camouflaged in most stories. It may not be obvious to the reader. But the writer believes it is his/her best kept secret.
    Eva

    • Dear Eva,

      So good to see you out here! When we started out at Write Space I tried to reach out to all our 4iw friends.
      Nice that you are here even if to comment.

      Coming to the article, yes, there is always a part of the writer hidden in his/her works. How much? That the writer only knows as you rightly said.

      Hoping to see more of you at Write Space.

  4. Sonal Shree says:

    HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH is a subjective topic. For some, too much may be too little and for others, vice versa.
    For majority, remaining objective while taking up an issue and writing about it is not easy if not impossible.

    Nice topic.

  5. shewriting says:

    “being a writer, words do manage to wriggle their way in the midst of hankering emotions and before you know it, you have the written creation ready for perusal”

    This quote of your describes my experience perfectly. I am also one of those “who has to write” – not because it is my profession but because it is as essential to my existence as the air I breathe. For me, not to write would be like holding my breath…Spiritually and emotionally, I would not survive for very long if I could not write. The topic and details matter little. I do not have to indulge in dramatic sentimentality to get my point across. Poignancy seems to fulfill my need to write without going over the top…to be able to express myself without too much censorship.

    Great topic…thanks!

  6. deepika says:

    Absolutely right Shail that there is no hard and fast rule of the degree. Normally, it depends on the mood of the writer and the nature of the topic he writes about.
    I write because this satisfies me and I feel lighter inside me.

    • Dear Deepika,

      Absolutely. It all depends on what the writer feels and when and how. Most writers write because they feel good inside. Of course, there is the little minority of writers who write for reasons other than what you mentioned…..

  7. Harshad says:

    I think it depends on the state of mind at the time of writing. Sometimes I feel no inhibition and some other times it is different.

    I think in long run, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what does reader feel when he reads. Can he identify himself with writing and flow with it?

    • Hi Harshad,

      I agree. What the writer feels when he/she writes matters but he should not go overboard, that’s what I feel. Sometimes, we could trample on other people’s thoughts and sentiments. Of course, we can’t be worrying too much about that or else we wouldn’t be writing anything at all.

      And, yes, the reader needs to absolutely identify with what the writer has written. That must be there.

      Thanks for your comments Harshad.

  8. Beyniaz says:

    Great topic, Shail. I also have this inner hesitation about too much disclosure!

  9. rumi says:

    shail,
    wondering who that wannabe writer was!!;)anyway jokes apart yes u’ve put fwd ur views abt that lakshman rekha quite well and i’m sure many wannabe’s will find the courage 2 pick up the pen after reading yr views.

    • Hi Rumi,

      Nice to see you here. I know what you mean. But no! So many persons I know want to express themselves, write fairly well but hesitate due to certain psychological constraints something like I have mentioned.

      It would be really nice if someone would really get inspired as you mentioned:)

  10. Sneha says:

    There are no straight answers about ‘how much is too much’, Shail. That’s my personal take on it.
    Writing is catharsis for me; and in most writings I leave a bit of ‘Sneha-ness’. I think that’s a common thread for most writers, if not all.

    • Dear Sneha,

      Just like you leave your Sneha ness as you call it, I am sure most of us leave part of ourselves in our writings.

      It is definitely a common thread but how much, solely depends from person to person.

  11. I have read that you will be a good, rather great, writer only if you can tell all… without shame, without distortion…that is what makes your writing unique!
    It does not have to be as if it is your thought…it can be in the character you write about…but only by being candid and explicit can a character come to life.
    Diary for yourself is a great idea…but to do so on a blog is suicide!

    • Dear Nalini,

      Yes, true. Those limits do come in handy. Especially when you are blogging. But, we don’t get to see too many of those borders now-a-days especially on blogs. People express themselves left, right and centre blissfully unaware of the fact that they could be boring, insensitive or just plain vulgar.

  12. knot2share says:

    Hey Shail, I agree with you! Now don’t tell me off by saying that I agree with you ALL THE TIME :-). Going by a different name is surely for the fear of being recognised, in my case too. But over a period of time the two personalities – with mask and without mask, begin to overlap. So I now wonder, why would anybody bother going with a pen name? I don’t think there is anything that is too much. I think we will be surprised sometimes that there are lot more people out there who share those forbidden views with us, which we thought were best to be boxed and left under the bed.

    Our instincts guide us always. It is beautiful to be able to express our views/ideas/emotions through writing. It is such a satisfying experience that is easily possibly for writers as (like you said) words manage to wriggle their way through somehow. And for those who love the experience of writing in bits and pieces (like me!), the words struggle to seep through the fine cracks of their imagination. But once they find their way out and manage to paint some picture, the feeling is unexplainable….

    • Dear Shree,

      Here is a nice writer with a pen name!

      I like the last two lines of your comments. So very true. An experience only a writer who loves writing for the experience itself, can truly understand.

      I am sure someday…..

  13. A.Hari says:

    It is possible to understand better about any writer, his personality, character etc, if you keep reading all his writings. The author’s personal life gets captured through various characters. Readers are more concerned about the quality of writing and they are not very much bothered whether it is his personal experience or not.

    • Hi Hari,

      Yes, true. A lot of the writer’s personal experiences do come into his/her writings but there are many readers who not only wish to enjoy what they read but also know what prompted the writer to write it. So, that little bit of curiosity does come in and therein lies the border – how much to reveal…

  14. vimala ramu says:

    You are sooo right,Shail. Yes, writing is a cathartic activity. But, thank God, the subconscious mind does play the policeman and puts a stop from going too far.

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