My terrible skills in community building returned to stare at me recently when I read these lines by Rochelle Potkar, whose poems I immensely admire. She writes that ‘within our inner cocoons, we may be dreamers, incubators, writers, editors, translators, self-critics, self-publishers, submitters. On the outside, we're fragmented into marketeers, platform-builders, PR persons, brand builders, event organizers.'
It made me revisit the nagging question as to how essential is a community for expressionists - writers, performers, artists. Each of who seek acknowledgment as a reassurance to their aspirations. Sometimes that community comes all too easily. Try and remember how before the rest of the world came to know about you, it were your families and friends who first read you, or admired your art and returned a gesture of encouragement. But the moment we wish to expand the reach of our works, the task of building a community of audience becomes as important as writing itself. To me that community is a shape shifter, incomprehensible and moody. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all game for chasing a community. But it never comes easily due to the nature of what I often seek to write. I’m forever in the heart of chaos, from which it is impossible for me to slip out. Truth is, I let myself be a part of the suffering I write about, for in many ways it makes me feel relevant. It is therefore difficult to keep up a charming veneer, one that is more suited to draw attention.
I’m not even going to talk about the excruciating demands of my day job, or the physical limits of human body which permits as much or the unstoppable closing of eyelids brought about by physical exhaustion, the complete blankness of mind which is an inescapable corollary of fatigue when I’m looking to introduce a resolute character in my story, the distraction that I'm sometimes supposed to embrace just when I'm about to begin typing. I am even not mentioning the devastating consequence which that kind of failure to put down your thoughts on paper can mean for your self confidence. It has the potential of turning you neurotic and making you feel crippled and inadequate and even isolating you within a crowd. Maybe, wrestling with these demons is also a reason why I could never quite become a community guy. I end up getting so indistinguishably woven with intricacies of the things I write that it is often hard for me to relate to anything that moves or talks infront of my eyes. I'm afraid if it would come across as believable if I say that when and after I write, there is barely anything worth sharing left in me. With that kind of erosion it is difficult to apply my mind on the nuances of making my presence felt in any kind of community whatsoever.
Even Rochelle has gone ahead to ask the same kind of questions to understand whose answers I have myself been grappling since a while 'Where is the time for community-building then?' she probes. ‘The bigger question being should we be creators or community builders? Or both? What should be the balance between creating, giving, and taking? And is creating a way of giving back, in itself?' The answers, sadly, are already gazing at me. Someday, I’d like those answers to change. I’d like to find the time and the resources to become a community guy. Hop around. Share pleasantries and feel belonged.
Please do not mistake my admission as an allusion for arrogance. I’m many things, stubborn, livid and even delusional but arrogance isn’t simply my method. It’s just that I have no idea how to manage with smartness and consistency the projection of my existence. I've tried my hand at it and failed miserably.
But I am alive to the reality that expressionists crave many eyes and ears and that I’m no different. An honest and supportive band of readers is an asset and the feeling of belonging that their admiration leaves in us is elevating to say the least. I crave it no less.
My fellow creators, let me now part by saying that I’d rather have your precious support without soliciting it in any manner whatsoever and that I'd rather embrace your accolade if and only if my writings deserve it and not merely because of the formality of reciprocation. I hope and trust that it’s not too much to ask for or too disrespectful to confess. And if it so turns out that for my lack of chasing a community, my words are doomed to wander the vastlands of invisibility, I guess I’ll have to learn to take it without any qualm. Quid pro quo exists everywhere, I’ll explain to my struggles.