I wanted to write something today, and my intentions were purely commercial.
I thought to myself yesterday, I’ll brainstorm on the train, and I did it. I thought, and thought — but the more I meditated on every topic, the more it felt like my brain was chewing on my thoughts and spitting them back out as a ghost of what they were. No topic seemed good enough to me. And there were some good ones, I believe: there was Cafe Culture in the Neoclassical Era and how it influenced the dominant literature of the period, or there was Why Critique is of utmost importance to writers, or there was —
Well, there were many things that I could have spun into a blog post, because, it’s not difficult to dissociate yourself from your writing and slap the label of “commercial writing” onto it. I believe a lot of writers will identify with this thought. And I have had several conversations with several writers — writers who write majorly for work — that have told me similar things. However, lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to stop putting the tape of commercial writing on my metaphorical leaking water tank of I think I’m writing something I don’t identify with.
Every writer starts out with a dream, perhaps a pipe dream, but a dream nonetheless. It’s that initial confidence that your words have meaning, importance — that your writing is a most peculiar, inimitable piece filled with idiosyncrasies that belong solely to you — that gives birth to the writer in a person. However, that dream is very soon crushed. The writer goes into the “real world”, the one where everyone is poised, ready to strike with newer, unique-er versions of their words.
This is when writing can — and, in my opinion, should — become incredibly personal.
The moment of the acceptance of the absurd (borrowing the term from Immanuel Kant and Albert Camus) is when the writer’s words stop. The writer must acknowledge the absurd, and continue to rebel against it. The best form of rebellion against the absurd is probably sheer individualism. There is nothing that can be more rebellious in the absurd world than simply being yourself. Camus also talks about the agent (he means man, but for our concern, we take it to mean “writer”) considering themselves the creator of all the opportunities and paths they create for themselves. Taking control, and asserting agency, is the best way to stop the downhill slope of dissociating yourself from your writing.
Sometimes, I, too, find writing incredibly difficult. I’m sure many people can relate to this. I’ve had a few writers tell me that writing comes as easy to them as breathing, and — well, good for them! But not me. I think in such jumbled threads of barely there thoughts that sometimes, trying to grasp a coherent sentence is like wading through thick fog, never knowing what you’ll find in front of you. This, I think, is also part of the absurd.
The pointlessness of the outside world has conditioned writers into believing in the pointlessness of their thoughts as well. Thinking has become utilitarian — “think good thoughts” is equivalent to “think useful thoughts”. This utilitarianism, however, is flawed, especially in the world of commercial writing. Because this utility — this usefulness — doesn’t necessarily imply the usefulness to the writer, but rather the usefulness to the entity they are writing for.
As AI invades the spaces of writing, art, and other creative areas, the possibility of human creativity starts to look bleak. And is there anything more absurd than machines who can write everything a writer can write? Probably not. It’s a tool that has singlehandedly asserted the pointlessness of striving for fabricated uniqueness in the twenty-first-century world. In a world where the extraordinary has become the new ordinary, and human writers are competing for the “unique” factor by going above and beyond, AI has become the new extraordinary. It can meet word counts, adjust creativity levels, write research papers, essays, poems, draw the most exquisite paintings, all in a matter of seconds. What took me days of agonising over would take a computer probably three seconds to generate.
So, screw being unique. The most unique you can be is yourself — utterly, and without remorse.
I suppose, as the new year begins, this is as much a motivational note to myself as it is to the readers: the next time you think of tagging your writing as “commercial” and tossing it onto the convertor belt of orphaned works, don’t.
Even if it feels deformed, or ugly, or stupid, your writing is the expression of your individuality. Embrace it, and in this, you’ll be engaging in the most meaningful rebellion of all.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Mrunal Rajadhyaksha is a student currently studying English Literature in Ruia College. She is passionate about reading, art and history, and the sea. She plays the guitar as a hobby.