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On The Act Of Trying To Write

A series of failures.

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The First Failure: Perfection.

"Sure, there are some really good posts on BuzzFeed, but most of them aren't. I don't want mine to be like them". The author's brazenness made the professor laugh.

"In the business", the professor remarked, "we call it paralysis by analysis". The author had not heard of that term before, but it meant precisely what he was going through.

The professor took his leave, and jogged across the road. He would have shown up at the office with impeccable timing, had he not run into the author. Now, he was going to be a little late.

The author boarded a bus and counselled himself. He got off about twenty minutes later, feeling content with the idea of receiving a near-perfect grade, instead of a perfect one.

Was it a fair price for a good night's sleep? He tried to not think about that.

He entered into his apartment, logged onto his laptop, and began to... Wait.

He waited for two days. Then it happened.

The Second Failure: Inspiration.

This post was intended to be a product of inspiration. A zealously optimistic bout of inspiration the author suffered from after reading an essay – a very good essay – written with a lot of pathos and a scintillating vulnerability that rejuvenates its readers. That essay was authentic, intimate.

This post is not. The author is aware of that. He’s frustrated, irked by his inability to perform a menial task given to him – to create a BuzzFeed post.

"If this task is so menial", an offended reader might enquire, "why did you struggle so much with it?".

Because writing is hard. But not as hard as the author might make you think.

When he finally decided what to write about, it wasn't after careful consideration, or due to a passion of his for spewing words on a screen.

It was through inspiration.

It came as a flash, as the author knew it would. What he didn’t know is that it leaves in a flash as well. His encounter with the "elusive creative genius" also made him relate to Elizabeth Gilbert. She got a taste of it while writing her first book. The ones that followed -- well, she tried.

He did get to enjoy having a "eureka!" moment, albeit momentarily. It empowered him, like an intoxicated Christopher Hitchens, who is said to have been able to write near-perfect essays in one go.

Feeling relieved, he began typing...

The Third Failure: Topic.

... And then he stopped. The author, unable to write about anything at all, had decided to write about how hard writing is. However, it didn't seem funny anymore. The rush that had accompanied what he now thought was a flash of creative mediocrity, began to wear off.

Nevertheless, he continued, while counselling himself furthermore. "A step short of perfection is still an unrealistic standard", he reasoned, and grudgingly lowered the bar a little more.

On writing, perhaps? No, Stephen King had beaten him to it. William Zinsser went a step further and authored a book called On Writing Well. Not unaware of his own abilities, the author decided to name his post "On Trying". The title isn’t that anymore, but at that moment, it helped him calm down.

The Fourth Failure: This post, as you see it.

He wanted to describe it as "The Seinfeld of BuzzFeed posts". However, the author did not know whether that would encourage or readers or repel them.

Unsure, he decided it was best to call a spade a spade, or a series of failures a series of failures.

Choice of pronoun? Third person. Tone? Existential. Tense? Past.

Content? ... It was naked.

Writers adorn their posts, as if it were a young bride, with GIFs and pictures, adding the occasional Tweet.

The author couldn't. He couldn't distract his readers from his words with anything. Anything at all. Even at the cost of scoring a grade lower than several notches removed from perfection.

"Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it." The author had taken this advice to heart -- to its innermost sanctum, perhaps, as he did not want to edit his post, or, in his own words, commit "literary heresy".

He had gone from cultivating a healthy sense of Vedantic non-attachment towards his deeds to full-blown Nihilism.

At this point, I had to step in.

Who am I? I'm just a student trying to submit an assignment.

The author in me, like in everyone else, is an idealist. He's pedantic. He wants to establish the superiority of the written word over the spoken one.

He is, however, not a person. Be a person. Write for people.

It's hard, but not as hard as the author in you wants you to believe.

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