I had just graduated with my Masters degree and had bagged a shining corporate job. After years of nights spent behind academic books and all-nighters in research labs, I had for the first time some nights to my hands for some creative work. I was always into poetry and figured a blog would be a good practice to put some of my stuff out there for friends and family to read and get into regular writing as my creative outlet.
I didn’t post regularly. It was extremely childish. And there is not even one single piece I could think of sharing with the world now, ok maybe one (see the end of this post).
There are some pieces of heartbreaks signaling the glum writer in making, marks of many failed relationships in that phase, but mostly short essays reflecting on my growing world then just having come out of the four walls of my schools, surprisingly quite a bit about Hinduism, many quotes by Emily D , Jim Morrison, Mirza Ghalib, and also some tiny blooms of spiritual contemplation on matters of soul and divinity.
But in spite of its silly and immature underlying current, coming to think about it, it was embarrassingly special. There was absolutely zero awareness of promoting the writing or how many views it was getting, whether there was an audience for it or not.
To imagine now, working like that, with zero expectation of your work’s readership and acceptance, to write without any prizes, claps, likes, comments, followers waiting for you at the end of the tunnel, to absolutely be fine writing the next thing even if your previous thirty blog posts received zero views, what an exceptionally golden era of online writing that was.
You didn't need any aesthetics like a beautiful image to go with your poem. You didn't have any needs to possess a large following for your work’s visibility. You didn't have any physical goals for your poems. You were very happy just finding a quiet corner for it in the then not so vast world. You were beautifully naive, perfectly innocent. You just wrote because you were a writer. It was the simplest of the things.
But then something called Facebook seen from the corner of our eyes, was growing bigger and bigger and bigger…
Earth Of Facebook
I never posted much of my poetry on Facebook. I still use my FB account mainly to share with friends and family my pictures from recent travels and adventures, and recently my Medium links. I did create a FB page a few years back where I would post some of my poetry but it didn't find the ground and was eventually dead.
But really Facebook, at this point of my online poetry timeline, is not mentioned for the platform that it was to post my poetry. It has been mentioned for how it played a role in the transition of the Ancient Blogs writer to someone slowly starting to hope for an audience which would be measured by, here's the big game-changer, the likes!
From being the writer who didn’t even know what number of views meant for a blog, to slowly starting to become the writer who would be interested to know how many likes did the last post receive. If there was decent enough attention, it would be a nice feeling. But if it wasn't, it would pile up to become the house of the glum writer who felt discarded and rejected by complete strangers.
Hence on the earth of facebook, your work would make you feel a certain way based on the online prizes from the readers. I felt a certain way about my writing based on the online presence it got, not in a very tangible way, but it certainly moved inside me in its own evil ways.
I wish at this point of the timeline I had found a teacher in me who had whispered to my ears that the way you feel about your art piece should have no accounting for the audience clicks. It should be just you with your pure feelings for your work, whether you liked it or not, how would you like to change things, whether you want it in your gallery or not. It would be just you writing for the artist in you with no significance to the online rewards.
This teaching to the artists then, when the Earth of Facebook was spreading its grounds, would have salvaged many glum writers. But we are here at this point of the timeline. We are here in strange corners like Tumblr now….
Tumblr And My Grand Heartbreak
I had just broken up with my one great love, or so I thought. And I was in that destroyed poetic place that every writer religiously gets into time and again. I was writing a lot of sad poetry but didn’t want to share it with anyone. This was also an affair none of my friends or family knew about, so I had nowhere and no one in real life to share my grand tragedy with. I was so heartbroken that even online I wanted a corner where no one would see me. But I still needed something. I still needed human connections who could understand.
So Tumblr came to my rescue. I posted very little of my poetry there. Mostly it was Bukowski, Hemingway, Fitzgerald quotes on disasters of love, glimpses of complicated relationships like Frida and Diego’s, many sad snapshots of lonely seas and alienated places. One of the earlier posts below with an image of The Pianist sets the tone of the space..
“And now I was lonelier, I supposed, than anyone else in the world. Even Defoe’s creation, Robinson Crusoe, the prototype of the ideal solitary, could hope to meet another human being. Crusoe cheered himself by thinking that such a thing could happen any day, and it kept him going. But if any of the people now around me came near I would need to run for it and hide in mortal terror. I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.”
― Władysław Szpilman, The Pianist
So really there was not much of personal poetry action happening here. It was just my space to share sad quotes of lost lovers and see the same on other profiles going through similar misfortunes. It would feel pathetically better to see words that seemed to understand what I was going through.
I eventually recovered and never used Tumblr again although it is interesting to reflect on it today. Here was an online space with poetry accounts not really sharing grand poetry but finding common threads of human sadness and building an empire out of it. When I see posts like that today, I can't feel much. Did I recover or did I shut something down? Another story..
but this place was my secret space to face something I couldn't in real life. How tragic but more importantly, spaces like these set initial backdrop to what was to come about. These spaces were resetting definitions of poetry, slowly morphing from conventional compositions to visual imagery, quick reads, relatable themes that most of the people in the demographic you are targeting would totally get. We are entering the volcanic phase of Instagram and you are going to either love it or you will enter the mental asylum with me..
Instagram’s Unpleasant Revolution
My first blog on my Instagram was following the guidelines of Instagram. It was on a beautiful piece of pink polka dot paper, by candlelight, with a small sentence on how I have always wanted to write a poem, one of love and all things magical. I mean that’s exactly what the short sentence was. It was very pretty and got decent attention without many followers in place.
I did few of those, but it is impossible for me to write the same things, in the same way, again and again. I obviously moved on to different patterns, constantly changing the format, also longer versions, many times without any image, sometimes with my own abstract photography, sometimes very surrealist stuff, themes of death, reincarnation, existentialistic dread, and as you would have guessed by now none of this has much of a place for in Instagram poetry world. I was obviously making a mistake. I was not writing for the platform.
Nothing really memorable came out of my Instagram phase either except the ten brilliant poets I managed to find under a pile of repetitive and cliched writing.
Something else, very insightful, happened. Towards the end of my interest in Instagram, I realized my mistakes and learned two key things:
-There are creative ways to retain your style and still make it something that's merging better with your platform of choice.
-Don't be embarrassed or shy to promote your creative work. Work on your unique brand. If you think current poetry best sellers are not impressive, then make your own bestseller with the quality you would be impressed by.
I am still on Instagram solely for the intention of not losing touch with my some favorite writers there. I sometimes share pictures, favorite poems etc on my Stories.
Here and there I post some poetry while adjusting as best as I can to meet Instagram’s guidelines but I don't think we are meant to be together. I am a saga in making. And one small programmed square with a picture of one daffodil is just not enough space for me to write on.
I will learn to forgive Instagram for destroying poetry and making it an algorithm. I will also learn to remember it as the revolutionary platform that gave a stage to voices that wouldn’t stand a chance earlier to be visible when they so very much so deserved it. As a writer and a reader, I was failed by Instagram. As an aggressive marketer to promote good poetry our next generations can be in awe with, Instagram was my trigger point. I am committed to being part of a new revolution that promotes and supports good work not driven by robots but by its quality and human essence which brings us to Medium…
Oasis called Medium
The first time I heard about Medium was from a very intelligent fiction writer with also a profile on Instagram. I read some of his articles on Medium which continued to blow me away and I started to read more and more on Medium. I was really first, for the longest time, just a Medium reader. And I enjoyed it so so very much for the brand new perspectives of the stories, interesting topics you wouldn’t see on any other platforms, and so much to learn as a human, but most importantly for the quality of writing.
I was taken into a world of super content and intelligent writers and equally intelligent and attentive readers. It was really a golden place for online readers and writers, not corrupted with ads and disturbing algorithms.
I enjoy now sharing some of my pieces on Medium and the wonderful opportunity to read some of the finest poets and writers. I am not sure what Medium will evolve into but it has served as a perfect oasis after my tainted online experiences with other platforms and in some way it took me back to my Ancient Blogs time when I wrote from my heart of innocence before world and me became corrupt with digital mania.
Of course I look at the number of claps on my stories, but even if there are none, I know I wrote a piece I am in love with, quality I am satisfied with, for a readership I completely trust and respect, or a piece that narrates my triumphs, challenges, and failures of this day honestly and authentically, one that expresses the human spark and essence in me, written with my love, passion and fascination for poetry, on a page that I have complete faith in, and that is the writer in me I will never lose.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac
I figured I will share one piece from my era of Ancient Blogs when I was innocent and young in writing. I wrote it for my father when he fell very sick and had just gone through a major surgery, and I couldn’t fly to India to see him..
I saw him there
Holding the storms
In those merciless rains, those spying clouds
The black nights and the sharp claws
I saw him there
With his shining sword
His golden armor, his raging ships
His fearsome roars, the magical powers
I saw him there
Protect my flowers, my lights
My shades, my glory
My footsteps, my breath
I saw him there
And I can’t touch the wounds
Nor heal his armies
And I want him to always watch my lands?