An Attitude Of Openness

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I started writing seriously in 2006, a few months after I married and moved to Chennai. That is, if you will consider blogging, anywhere near serious writing. My first blog was initiated and encouraged by my husband, to keep me busy while he was staring at his laptop – busy with his by then popular blog, chatting online, and with the weekly Sunday column he wrote for his paper. This blog address, that he created for me (I didn’t even know what a blog was yet), on my insistence was anonymous, and with a vague picture. I’ve not deleted it to date, as it is and will always remain a very honest account of my early months of marriage, and my new life in Chennai, but over that of my foray into the world of the written word. The spoken word, I was by then fairly proficient at, from a long and varied stint in the service industry, more so as a trainer for much of that time.

In this anonymous blog, I bared my mind though not my heart, assuming husband would have better things to do than track my thoughts and amateur writing via my blog’s progress. It was months later, much to my consternation, when he showed it to my sister and a friend visiting Chennai, all reading together from it, that I realised my blog now not only had strangers as regular readers – who I was growing increasingly proud of. This revelation of my blog to my sister and friend, even though they encouraged me to continue writing, made me livid, much over husband’s bare-all blogs and columns on our life that already troubled me.

This was the second time in life, the very private and reserved person I was till then, that I had faced a forceful and severe breach of my privacy. The first was, when in standard seven, I had walked into the study hall at boarding school, to find my diary lying on my desk, 3 girls – two of them who were two batches senior, reading aloud to each other from it. I had pulled my blue-green hardcover diary; I always managed to get one out of father’s printing press’s yearly giveaways, away instinctively from the desk. Seething with rage, yet unable to question the girls due to my reserve, on their pulling out my personal diary – I had thought was well hidden inside my desk. They had obviously seen me writing regularly. It upset me so much, that over a stream of angry tears I shredded every single page – of months of writing, sitting outside on the parapet.

I hated boarding school already, and this incident was as much as I could tolerate of being in a place where I had no privacy, not even to hide my thoughts in a diary. I had sulked, ignoring the smirks on the faces of these girls, each time I walked to my desk at study hours. This ended my initiative to write for a very long time, or who knows I might have published a book much earlier in life from this rough draft. Not even at the encouragement or insistence of my English teacher to participate in competitions, did I write again except unless mandatory. Till date, I’ve never mentioned this incident to anyone, held it close to my heart, as it is and always will remain one of the most upsetting incidents of my young life.

After my awareness, of my anonymous blog no longer remaining my hideout, I stopped blogging altogether, in spite pf my husband’s encouragement. Something inside just froze my thoughts thereon. It was almost a year later, challenged by my husband and his friends’ attitude on ‘the wife’ that I once again created a blog to prove my mettle, this time with my real name – but there was no way I was going to upload my picture or my identity.
I blogged for long under the name ‘Shuvashree’ – even after my blog picked up a good readership with a steady flow of comments, along with it frequently being featured, so long as no one knew who Shuvashree, really was. It was only much later, under the insistence of a senior blogger – a reputed lawyer, who read and commented on my blogs, who challenged my views often – saying I was shooting from behind a wall and I should come out of hiding to argue with him, I uploaded my picture and bio-data. Thus I took him head-on in a battle of wits and I am so grateful I did – it was his constant challenges that sharpened my wits over time, helped me debate issues logically in writing, and to look at varied perspectives simultaneously.

It was one of this lawyer friend’s challenges, that I held my writing very close to my heart, and thus would never make a good writer, that I wanted to defy. Thus I wrote my first poem ever, and the second getting published in an anthology, encouraged me. In time, to prove him wrong on my inhibitions, I wrote romantic stuff, moving on to sensual writing and slowly I evolved to writing anything that came to mind without flinching. I recall the first romantic short story I wrote – I went round and round to explain – yet cringed at the thought of my regular readers reading it, much to his amusement on reading it. He was one of the most daring bloggers, with a very humourous and open style of writing.

It took me months, years actually, to reach a stage where now I am able to write, describe anything I want to, explicit bedroom scenes included – as in my debut novel Across Borders, with an absolute lack of shyness. If something’s on my mind – I now dare to state it, say or write without a flinch, so all I have to concentrate on is the right use of words. You cannot recreate yourself overnight, even by a sheer force of will; it is a series of tiny steps that lead you to becoming the person you wish to become. This openness, that I have painfully constructed, starting out as a quiet, shy and reserved girl – not only as a writer but also as a person, comes in good stead today, impels my creative ideas in every sphere of life.

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