What Writing Means to Me

At first, I wanted to compose this post as a poem. But, that would mean another poem on my blog. And, I have had a little too many poems on my blog within the last one year. This, in one way, diverges from the original contemplation on writing. But, wait. I don’t wish to begin this post with a negative thought. That’s is how much writing means to me.

My writing is my ambassador to you. It means so much to me because it is how I express what I feel. Usually, I don’t speak much. Yes, for a lot of my friends, I am an out-and-out extrovert. But, deep within, I am an ambivert who leans, in fact, toward introversion. My words convey what I can feel but can’t express, can see but can’t report, and can write but can’t speak.

Writing is my textual meditation. It is the way I introspect. Just like one must close their eyes to see within themselves, one must pen their thoughts to sieve through to the core. The clearer they think, the clearer they write. And, the other way around. My writing is my soul disguised as words.

Writing for me is like composing verses in prose. It is a melody. A song. There are sentences of all compositions and lengths. Some are long. Some, longer. A few, like this one, shorter. True! The long and short sentences convey the long and short of it—and everything that lies within—to the readers. Mentally listen to yourself when you read varying lengths of sentences. It sounds good. Good, because it is rhythmic. Good, also because it means that the melody is as important as the messages conveyed through the melody. My writing is a lyrical composition that I can hum, listen to, sway along with, or fall asleep to.

Writing is like a mirror. It is that sense of contemplation that adds a dimension of meaning to reflections. It isn’t only the reflection of oneself, but also a cause to reflect onto oneself. Writing is that catalyst without which the inner and the outer selves don’t equate. No reaction, whether it is chemical, is ever complete without a word of thought. It is that skillful, scientific art; it is that masterful, artistic science.

Writing is that folklore that records, refers, and rekindles life. It is that act of play where you are both the actor and the audience. Writing is both the pen and the ink that scribes your acts, with or against your will. It is both the cause and the outcome of your performance. It is also the background score that amplifies emotions without your knowing.

To me, writing is the means, the medium, and the end. It is as nameless, formless, and transparent as water. It originates with a spurt, from within. When it begins to flow like a stream of thoughts, it seeps and snakes through people’s minds, one after another, finding its way to you, who after traveling for miles has got down on their knees to enjoy their glittering reflections. When it flows from my heart to yours, it becomes a burbling river. When it becomes an ocean of emotions, you can watch it hug the limitless skies at the horizon and experience it wash-off the rare conch shells of revelations to the shore.

The most rewarding writing, however, often trickles down your cheeks as pearls of love. What does writing mean to you?

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On Writing

I was amused, for what I had mused
Was either horribly bad or terribly wrong.
Then it dawned on me that Bad Writing is a rite
For the Good Writing to come just right.

I was devastated, for my thoughts were void.
Was that block my departure from my being?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t quit;
For it to pass, I must unconditionally submit.

I was clueless, for I had lost directions.
Were things leading me into the unknown?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t disgruntle.
I must ask questions. Seek answers. Rediscover.

I was seeking to rekindle imagination.
To cover more than covered, to rediscover that fire.
Then, it dawned on me that I mustn’t rekindle,
Smoldering afterthoughts sometimes bear more than fancied pyre.

I then went back to the stories untold,
Read something that I tucked under memories, and had never let unfold.
Made that cringe-worthy crap a subject of my Wrath.
And, decidedly strode toward the desk to create gold.
©Suyog Ketkar

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What a (Father’s) Day

From what I recall, this is only the second time I am writing sometime on Spruha, my daughter. Here is what I shared on her some time back. The time I get to spend with Spruha is in a stark contrast with my wife. She, as a homemaker, gets to spend more quality time with Spruha. That’s why I enjoyed Father’s Day celebration at the Nurture Preschool, Gachibowli.

The event focused on dads getting to spend some quality time with their respective kids. I was the first one to arrive. It was nice to watch Spruha play with toys and skim through colorful books in her class.

Soon after a lot of fathers had come, the facilitators asked kids to assemble at the entrance. The kids welcomed us with “Happy Father’s Day” plaques and pom-poms. I enjoyed that Spruha accompanied me to the event area. Some kids weren’t in a mood for the event—the usual cute thing with kids. Others, like Spruha, were cool about the event.

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The management introduced us to the event proceedings, and then we took pictures. Here’s ours:

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Then, the kids danced on a song.

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After the song, the school conducted a one-minute competition. The kids had to pick up one straw and run to their dad. Then, they would tuck the straw between father’s fingers and run back for another straw. We enjoyed this a lot. I even volunteered for a kid whose father could not come. The kid won. This kid was smart. He could pick and tuck 19 straws in a minute.

Then the most-exciting event followed: painting dad’s t-shirt. This confused Spruha because back at home, rules are different. We don’t allow her to paint or draw on walls and clothes, amongst the other exciting stuff. And, here she was free to decorate my tee with her modern art. But, she did a good job in the end. I will make her draw on it some more, sometime later, and then wear it to my office.

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Then, it was the snacks time. Some fathers might have found this to be the most difficult. But, we all managed to finish on time.

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The event concluded with some learning, a lot of fun, and a thank you note from us all.

As far as my memory goes back in time, I don’t recall participating in any such event with my father. This event was special for me for that reason, too. I can’t thank Spruha enough for this. But, I can express this by showering her with my already limitless love.

Time flies. Especially in case of kids who outgrow your lap too soon. It seems only yesterday that she was born. But, I am glad to see her grow into her own personality. Too early, is it? I don’t know. What I know is that my love and care will remain unchanged. Well, typical father.

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Wayfinding My Writing

As I sit to write this, I mentally pat my back for writing on something that has deserved this attention for long. A lot of curious minds have asked this to me: “What and how do you write? What, exactly, is technical writing?” I say, “Well, I write to empower and express. I write about stuff.” And, that’s what a technical writer does—write about stuff. I continue, “Just that the ‘stuff’ is technical in nature.”
If you are a writer, you too must have had a thought and an urge to communicate it. This post is born out of that urge.
We cannot ‘not communicate’. (We discussed double negatives recently.) That is, we ALWAYS communicate—even when we don’t. They say you could tell a lot about someone by knowing only four of their friends. If that’s the case, imagine how much will you know about me if I were to show you how I write? Conventionally, writing involves thinking (planning and structuring), writing and rewriting, editing, and publishing. For your ease of understanding, I sum that up into persistence, structure, and perspective.

Persistence

I did not become a writer overnight. You know that. No one can learn to write overnight. Persistence is the word in context; we must work our way up the learning curve. We must keep investing in ourselves. The persistent I am with my writing, the steeper my learning curve is. I have seen a lot of improvement in my storytelling over the years. The same goes for everyone.

Structure

Let me introduce Structure in context of the words I often co-locate: thought and process. To share a good thought process, here is what I experiment with:
  • Composition:
    • Some still follow the good-old method of PREP: Point-Reason-Example-Point. I usually follow Point (or Premise)-Rationale-Example-Conclusion for most of my blog posts. Here and here are a couple of examples.
    • Start-Body-End composition: Here, both the Start and End should be on a strong note, and the body should contain the logic to support your opinion.
  • Flow:
    • Sequential flow. Here, one paragraph leads to another. This also means breaking down a task into logical steps by creating a structure of information. This one applies to technical communication or instructional designing.
    • Topical flow. Here, the first paragraph is usually the best (or the most informative), followed by mutually-exclusive paragraphs of supporting information. This one applies to technical communication—this is also called the pyramid approach. Pyramid, because we discuss the most important information first.
    • Rhythmic flow. Here, sentences sound lyrical, yet the composition of words is logical and thematic. This one applies to creative writing.
Your structure is how you wish to communicate a message: remember, it is the reason you often co-locate thought and process.

Perspective

The example of finding a glass half-filled versus half-empty drives home the point: perspective is important. Important, I say, because it is your write-up. And, anything that you are describing should contain your words from your point of view. Some of us choose to stick to the realistic view of the glass being half empty. Some optimistically opine it to be half full. Others choose to poetically (Scientifically, is it?) consider it as one half filled with water, and the other half, with air. None of us are wrong.

A Point to Ponder

In my work time, I do action-driven writing. For some of my previous employers, I have also done empathy-driven writing, where each piece has a corresponding appeal. This kind of writing is easier to read (I find it to be that way.) and doesn’t always need people to have technical knowledge. Those of you who deal with the content side of the story will know what I am talking about.
And then there is storytelling—novel-ish writing. In some writer’s works that I have read, the description is so true that I remain awestruck. The empathy reflects on me. I become sad when the writing is sad. I become happy when the writing is likewise. It is blissful to realize that a few pieces of writing can make you admire the flow of emotions. I am lost in contemplation for some time. I have to take a couple of deep breaths before I can gather myself to come back to the remaining sections from the writer.

Conclusion

Words don’t convey anything until you give them the required context and structure. This means you must permit for their association—with either action or empathy. By permitting for associations, you can make words your silent ambassadors.
The thing about good writing is that both sense and simplicity lay its core. Your writing doesn’t always have to be thematic, emotional, or pinching. It must be reflective and truthful. All you should do is figure out if and how you can locate your inner self through your writing.
Happy writing.
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Between Varnas and Insights Discovery

My contemplation on a day-long training I attended—it was an Insights Discovery workshop—inspired me to write this post.

To tell you the truth, I can reveal the learning from the course in one line: introspecting the self, while respecting the others’ behavior. But, applying is learning is the real challenge. That’s because our thoughts preoccupy our mind. So, we cannot respect other’s perspective and have a fruitful conversation. Anyway, our today’s discussion is hardly about that challenge. So, I will keep off it.

Amongst the many things that I now register on spiritual grounds, there’s one thing has had its profound effect on me. It is that when I take insights from my past and apply them to my future, the life’s pattern becomes visible. This is like a jigsaw puzzle. The trick is not in solving it part by part. But, in setting the boundaries first so that the big picture becomes clear.

The Insights Discovery is a behavioral tool from Carl Jung, who through the tool, tried to define our nature. His analysis is that each one of us is a combination of the following four behavioral styles:

  • Red: The one who prefers brief information
  • Blue: The one who prefers details
  • Green: The one who is full of compassion
  • Yellow: The one who seeks involvement

Today, we are busy running a rat race of earning more than others, spending more than others, and possessing more than others. It is this thought of defining every one using four colors that sounded familiar to me.

The ancient Indian wisdom of dividing people into the following four Varnas is similar:

  • Brahmana: The one who prefers details; structured result-driven content.
  • Kshatriya: The one who wishes to be at the forefront; the leader.
  • Vaishya: The thinker; the strategist; the money-minded; the observer.
  • Kshudra: The one who is a great worker; the action lover.

Mind the word, please. Varna, according to the Vedas, is comparable to the English word classification. Back then, classification of Varnas would depend on an individual’s deeds, willingness, and capabilities. Today, the word inaccurately translates to mean caste.

What I do not want you to do is map those four Varnas 1:1 with those four colors. That would be incorrect. As a conclusion to the workshop, the instructor told us to be considerate of others. She told us to stay away from making fun of people based on their color preferences.

The fact is, we all have those four colors in us. Yes, one color is dominant within us all. Likewise, we all are a mix of those four Varnas. And, we all have a different Varna dominant. Whilst we are all different, we continue to be a combination of the same values. How true.

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Rediscovery

Amidst the bidders, for whom
Spoken words make the market,
I resort to words unspoken
To be the voice of my own.

Survived, I have
Through nights and days.
To survive within each moment,
I call upon my soul.

Witnessing two reflections,
Having faith in faith, I
Echo with the right one
To shatter the illusory mirror.

Floating in the quietude,
I lay in pleasurable languor,
Flashing mysterious memories.
The euphoric touch is worth an adore.

Enjoying my thoughtlessness,
Journeying through imagination,
Seeking the nomadic contentment—
Aren’t they my usual writing chore?

Explored, I may have,
The footprints of many.
I wish a stroll along the path
That I will tread sometime soon.
© Suyog Ketkar

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