Over the last fortnight I’ve drafted a number of articles for NAUJAWANI.com, but have refrained from publishing any of them. Just like everybody else, I am prone to suffering self-doubt, indecision and even apathy, which has prevented me from sharing in the way that regular readers might have become accustomed to. I wanted to break that mental block by writing about my writing and laying bare some of the imperfections of my personality that are reflected in that. And then publishing it regardless.
Since my last article was published 12 days ago, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking (and suffering from sleep deprivation). I have as always kept abreast of current affairs, particularly those of relevance in the Sikh and Punjabi community. Accordingly, I had drafted an article in response to the visit of Manjeet Singh GK to Canada – controversial because he as an advocate of the Punjab State ruling party the Shiromani Akali Dal and as head of the Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has a lot to answer for, not least his provocational comments about Sikh activists in the west. I chose not to publish it because I was so bored by the subject matter once I had finished writing it and also felt that I risked sounding like a broken record (if I don’t already!) I drafted yet another article about the meaning of the Bandi Shorr Divas (see two previous year’s articles here and here), but having already been accused of unneccesarily critical reasoning in recent weeks, decided that it was better to stay quiet on this issue (for this year at least). And finally, I have now decided to shelve an article that I have been writing for more than the last fortnight pertaining to an issue in the (video) gaming world that is known by the hashtag #GamerGate purely for the reason that deciphering just what has occured and outlining the good and the bad on both sides is making my head hurt – and that’s quite a rarity!
Writing on this site has been the most amazing experience. It has afforded me the opportunity to speak to people and listen to them in turn – to effectively prove that in this era we can have a virtual sangat across the globe with which to engage in discourse. It has been a valuable tool in my ongoing education and a much-needed way to introduce me to both those who share or disagree with my opinions. But it has not come without cost. You’d be surprised at how long I spend preparing my articles which is time that could have been spent in other ways. In recent years for example, my social life (or what little of it I had allowed to remain throughout my twenties) has all but disappeared; recreational time in sports, hobbies or just lying on the sofa has been obliterated; and sleep? I’ll let the permanent dark circles under my eyes tell you all you need to know about that! It was something I was aware of before I started this website, but mostly waved away as unimportant, though if I was flippant then, I certainly am not now. The price is high for a regular writer like me, but in my opinion is worth paying. ‘Writing is therapeutic’ you might have heard people say, but I would say that writing publicly goes beyond that and becomes a conscience-awakening experience in itself. That is why I am always advising students on my Sikh Studies course to write (not specifically for NAUJAWANI.com although they do have that option) because it will teach them about themselves and what they value, in a way that South Asians tend not to allow themselves exposure to.
I’m now in my mid-thirties and at that stage of life where you know there are probably fewer years to come than those you’ve already lived. That’s a sobering thought even for me – I genuinely didn’t think I’d last this long. The crazy thing is I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life. I have worked in film, broadcasting, music, education, the third sector, IT… and across all of these disciplines I have always written. It is what I enjoy, but I don’t feel that I am having the impact that I once envisaged possible. Perhaps there is a sense of arrogance there for nobody has a divine right to realise that which they simply see as being possible. That being said, when I devote so much time and effort to my writing and see little come from it, I must admit that it can be disheartening. I’d like to think that in writing on this site over the last five years, I have proven that validation is not high on my list of requirements, but it does have a small part to play in this bout of self-deprecation. As somebody who has done his utmost to support others amongst the Sikh and Punjabi communities in various fields and endeavours, I am a little surprised by the lack of reciprocation that our website articles receive. A Sikh confidante who will be reading this no doubt, once explained to me that he couldn’t be seen to share my articles through social media (or indeed many of the articles from our website) because it might alienate some of the audience that his business served. Contradictingly, there are a plethora of Sikh/Punjabi activists/organisations who too have never shared our work when you would have thought that our audiences being one and the same demanded it! However I would do well to remember that it is better to focus on the audience that does engage with us – critically or supportively – when publishing my work. That impact might not appear large, but it is no less significant and I would like those who are supportive of my written insights to know that I am appreciative of them.
So what next? Will future articles make the cut and get published? Or will the thoughtfulness and silence continue? I’ll let the publishing of this article answer that question.