30 January 2009

An Artist's Dilemma

I have always loved to write and my burning ambition is to publish a book someday. On the advice of a well-meaning friend, I created this blog a couple of years ago. I intended it to be sort of a net-practice to hone my writing skills until I was ready to pen an entire book. And so began this saga of blogging.

Strangely enough, whenever I told any of my colleagues or friends about my blog, the first thing I was asked is what do you write about? The second question was how popular is your blog? Another thing was that whenever a life-changing event occurred - e.g. 26/11 in Mumbai, my friends wanted to read my views about it on my blog. Frankly, I had never bothered about this. Blogging gave my creative juices a release and also gave me a platform to reach out to others in a quick and easy way. I had not started writing to cater to other people's demands but to satisfy my own creative lust. However, this was not enough anymore.

I began to browse through other blogs to check out their popularity. The number of comments in the other blogs soon had me thinking of ways to increase the readership of my blog. I was curious to know how many page hits were tracked for my posts everyday. I explored on the 'look' of my blog to make it less boring and run-of-the-mill. I played with html and xml code to add new widgets, fonts and layouts. I began following other blogs and commenting in them. The by product of all this was that I came to know what the other bloggers were writing about. It taught me what I'd need to do to make my blog more interactive and far-reaching.

I suddenly realized that this is probably what happens to all artists. They start off with showcasing their art to please themselves. At some point, this is not enough; they crave external feedback. Soon that becomes an obsession and they enter into competition with other artists. This competitiveness dilutes the art somewhere along the line and it becomes a game of power and fame. This is what happens with our TV serials & our films. TRP ratings and box office collections become the barometer of success. Human need for applause and greed overshadows the honest-to-goodness art.

Not succumbing to the rat-race is also perceived as 'selfish' or 'non-conformist'. After all, all artists crave acknowledgment of their work; hence they must take into account what their patrons desire. They must cater to the public or utilize their art to serve the society. Artists need to walk the thin line between being accused of being too selfish or too commercial. But one must remember that no matter how selfish or commercial, no artist can survive without the basic talent in his particular art. Without talent there is no soul to any art.

I too am struggling to achieve this fine balance.


dharmabum said...

it did get me hooked somewhere long the line...got myself a stat counter and all that...but over a period of time, i gave it up and stuck to writing what i felt like, when i felt like...in a way, i guess i also settled down to the quality of readership, than mere quantity :)

Veena said...

Regret the delay in putting up this comment.. I am seeing that you are going thru the usual cycle that all of us bloggers went through..

From writing to impress the readers, to writing to satisfy yourself.. and then maybe writing to send out a message to your readers.. is how my blogging cycle went through..

Shruti said...

Thoughtful blog but I'd rather liked to have seen a more unambiguous conclusion. Sometimes I think you try to achieve a balance for both sides in your writing that it doesn't end up telling much about what you really think.

J P Joshi said...

Yes, this is an artist's dilemma. Every blogger has a reason to blog.. you have your's, which you have brought out in your post.

I started blogging to get more views on things that are very important to me, so that I could get a more rounded opinion on things that matter to me. It sure has helped in clarifying my own thoughts on a number of issues. So, I write my thoughts and my readers clarify certain important points for me. It is thus important that I get comments, but that does not imply that I need to change the way I write....yes, it helps me change my thoughts if I do get some very valid new ideas.

J P Joshi said...

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