All bloggers, at one point or many, ask themselves the following questions. Why do we blog and who do we write for? What do we wish and want from our readers? Why so many w’s in the last two sentences?
I have been posting regularly for almost two years now and I guess, it’s a good time to reflect on such pressing questions. Especially since it’s 2 am (now 3!) and I am waiting for my STATA code to finish running, have just eaten a bowl of noodles and am taking a break from watching Nigel Slater’s Simple Cooking. Most people write this post when they start blogging or after they have become famous. Neither is true for me, but more on that later.
This is my second blog. I used to write another one when I lived in DC, but it didn’t last too long, may be half a year or so. The reason it died, I think, was my disinterest in what I was posting about. I was trying to write a “serious” blog, one with “important” themes. But it wasn’t me. There are people who are genuinely interested in writing about history and politics and do it very well precisely because they are curious about exploring them in more depth than I probably am. e.g. my friend A, who writes about geopolitics and economics at The Policy Tensor. I couldn’t do what he does. But, he probably couldn’t do what I do. Which brings us to a very pertinent question. What is it that I do?
Pursuit of Food started out as a food blog. I wanted to share original and borrowed recipes and my passion for eating and cooking. It soon morphed into an all-purpose blog where I write about travel, my day-to-day life in New York and post photos of mundane scenes and objects that, in some way, inspire me. Sometimes people ask me how I find the time and motivation to post often. I think it’s because my reasons for writing are very simple. Firstly, blogging is not what I do for a living. I don’t plan to make a career out of photography or food writing. So, I don’t carry that extra burden of producing a regular stream of “interesting” content and meeting expectations that many bloggers who want to become professional cookbook authors or food writers face. This is not to imply that I don’t enjoy what I do for a living (i.e. research) or that people who blog for a living don’t enjoy themselves. Secondly, I never write what my readers want to read. I write what I want to write. Of course, it’s fun when people appreciate my posts, but it’s very important for any sort of creative exercise to be honest. Otherwise it won’t last. So, I share what I want, when I want and don’t follow any rules.
This also brings me to the issue that many new bloggers face and I also grappled with. Like most, I blindly started off with the assumption that I wanted PoF/me to be popular. And the most common advice popular bloggers give newbies is that you should link to other blogs, comment often on the links, take part in all sorts of blog events, post frequently, gently nudge your friends into subscribing, give out awards etc. etc. I spent a month or two trying to be this “ideal” new-blogger. But before you go ahead on that route, you should also ask yourself – do I want to be popular? I realized very early on that I don’t care about popularity. And I am not the kind of person who will go write one-line comments on other blogs just to attract traffic to mine, I just can’t do it. I treat this space as a creative outlet for my permanent and transitory interests. And of course, the purpose is to share them with the internet community. But not because I want to have the most hits and get a book deal or get hundreds of comments. In fact, when this post got freshly-pressed, I was overwhelmed with the response. It felt really nice to get all that attention, but after the 20th comment, the marginal utility diminished pretty fast!
This blog has become my diary, my kitchen and my living room in equal measures. And I like to share it with you. Thanks for reading and appreciating!
“I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ‘Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…,’ you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.”
~Ray Bradbury (in his fantastic 2001 speech at The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea)