When I was younger, in the days before the internet started ruling our lives, I used to fantasise about having a diary. The idea of owning something that chronicled my life in my own words, that I could read when I was older and feel terribly nostalgic, was really tempting. Less exciting was the prospect of actually writing in that diary every single day. I love writing, but like all children who read too much fiction, I thought my life wasn’t nearly interesting enough to justify writing about it every day. I thought (perhaps rightly so) that within a week of keeping a diary, I would run out of things to say, feel frustrated about the mundaneness of my life and abandon the whole thing, so I saved myself the trouble and didn’t bother.
I did dabble in diary-writing once in a while, though. When I visited the US as a little thing, I took extensive notes on all the places I went and all the crazy things I did, like seeing Liberty Bell and eating broccoli pizza. (Sadly, I don’t know where the book is – what I wouldn’t give to read 11-year-old me’s writing now.) Once, when my cousin came visiting from the US, she got me a gorgeous diary with hard covers adorned with beautiful artwork and a separate magnetic flap to keep the book securely closed. It was so lovely, I just had to write in it. As long as my cousin was around, I had enough fun things to write about, but then she left, and life went back to being not-diary-worthy, so I stopped. Another time, I thought a long trip around North India warranted some note-taking, but after two entries about Jaipur and Agra, I stopped. There wasn’t enough time to write during the trip, and I was just too lazy to do it when I had gotten back.
And so the diaries never panned out, but by that time, blogging had arrived in style, and I hopped on eagerly. I wasn’t the most regular blogger, but even looking back at my limited archive gives me enough nostalgia to feel like I captured at least the big moments of my late teens and early 20s. Still, as convenient as it is, writing on a computer just doesn’t compare to traditional pen-and-paper. It robs you of the simple joy of seeing your handwriting evolve (devolve?) through the years, of understanding the innocence in those carefully penned big, round letters, and of being able to feel the past in the creased, wrinkled paper.
These days, I’ve taken to letter-writing, just to get a feel of pen on paper again. As a form of communication, letters are almost pointless. It takes far less time, money and effort to send messages through Whatsapp, SMS or email, and in this day and age, when Facebook keeps you informed of the everyday life of your friends (and vice versa), it’s hard to find new material to write about. In addition, I’ve grown so accustomed to typing on a keyboard that I can barely write a page without getting tired. The pen doesn’t sit right between my fingers, and the handwriting is sloppy. Still, I persist. I know first-hand how joy-inducing it can be to receive a hand-written letter in the mail and to read a friend’s handwriting, even if the letter itself doesn’t tell you anything new. I want to spread that happiness.
Right now, I’m looking for a new job, hopefully one that involves writing in some way. They say you shouldn’t do what you love for a living, and I’m inclined to believe that, but there’s also a part of me that wonders if I’ll be happy doing anything else. I’m crossing my fingers that it works out, and that if/when it does, I’ll be able to do it for a long time without getting tired of it. At any rate, whether it takes the form of letter-writing or blogging, whether I do it for fun or as a full-time job, I hope I get to keep writing all my life.