I love writing for what it is – freedom. Freedom to express oneself. Freedom to say what one thinks. The way they feel it should be said. And so, I love to think of it in terms of a room. A room of one’s own. One they can arrange as they please. Where they can order things as they will. Because you don’t arrange another’s room as you want. You wake up when they wake up. They dictate how you do things.
But we don’t start from a point of freedom. In fact, we shouldn’t start from a point of freedom. No one starts from a room of their own. We all start from someone’s house. Then as we grow, as our frames become bigger, we come to need our own space. The urge to explore caves in and we feel confined in spaces where we can’t turn our heads. Our writing grows beyond a single publication, a single topic.
The problem with contributing to other publications and blogs, for a near-experienced writer, is that they don’t really have much space for you. You are just right in the middle of things – average; good enough to be published by a renowned publication, but not good enough to be given that whole space you feel you deserve. And this somehow limits a writer. I know what it means to sleep late writing a two-paged letter to the editor just to send it to a publication where the editor, having used all the space in telling us what we already know about some politician, squeezes your article into some space that cannot even advertise a matchbox. They truncate it like some decimal. Like pi. And words are not numbers.
This suffocates your baby. It stifles your message, at the least. At the worst, it misrepresents the idea you intended to pass. And no writer likes seeing a baby they have worked so hard bringing into life being stifled. It sickens.
You soon realize the room they have created for you is not big enough. Your frame has outgrown it and you are barely fitting in. You realize that though it gives you a large audience, you can’t quite put things as they are – as you would love to. You can’t explore all the topics under the sun. Your work has to pass through some editor. Another man, with their own taste. Perhaps a man who just doesn’t like the way you use commas and hyphens. And so he shifts them, back and forth. Like sand in a sieve. And you know the potentiality of commas and hyphens.
Sending your work to some large pool can be compared to taking your single-seater, for instance, to a friend’s room. The room may look complete because their furniture adorns it too. But when you find your own room, you realize how few your stuff is. You receive your own visitors, some who will not be afraid to tell you how inadequate your room is, how deficient your writing is. And you work harder to fill the room, to improve your writing. You write more, even undirectedly.
And creativity is something like a sneeze. It just comes when it wants. As a writer, there are these moments when a thought just strikes, an idea of something to write about. It is such articles that tap deep into our creative abilities as writers, these random works written almost aimlessly, without much consideration. Written about nothing in particular. They are the kind of articles that you later stand from afar and admire. Musing at the good writer you are becoming. These remain unparalleled by those directed essays about What You Would Do if You Were the President, and other sad titles.
A personal room means access at any time of the day or night.
The other good thing with having one’s own room is this is where, as writers, we could bring back those stillbirths we’ve had. To bury them. Those rejections every writer has to deal with at some point in their life. Because in one’s own room, rejection isn’t a working vocabulary. Some of those rejected works later come to life, in ways we never thought of. If only they are given a platform.
But this room doesn’t have to look like the scene of some scuffle. Your blog site doesn’t have to look like it was lifted from the era when hanging flash disks around the neck was how to know someone could turn off a computer and open Word. When dogs had better memories than phones. You don’t have to create it with a single hand, the other still holding your pen. You safely put down your pen and pick up Picasso’s brush – a designer’s eye. Because your eyes are biased to words, and good design has little to do with words.
Neither does it have to feature all the colours of Rogo Manduli’s head scarfs. It could bear just three colours, or two.
It should be simple and neat. It should be presentable. It must be attractive lest visitors are going to shy away from it.
Three decades later, websites have evolved almost full circle. Going back to where they started from. At some point, it was a showcase of how far one could go into fully using the existing technologies. Today it is more about what should be done, not what can be done. Because what can be done is a lot and would overwhelm a single site. It’s like a supermarket. You can’t buy everything at once, just what you need for an instance.
And when you finally create one, you appreciate that it is something beyond a room. It is, in fact, a whole house, a whole world you have created. A world where matchsticks are not considered above art. A world where words remain words, not numbers. It heralds freedom.
The good thing is, you don’t have to do it yourself. Someone can help you do it. I can help you create a neat blog, like this one [hoping you even like it]. One void of cluttering that could tangle your esteemed visitors. A minimalist design that will prioritize your content and put icons and graphics on the backseat. All at a small fee, perhaps less than what you will spend on your next date.
If it’s not you, you might know of a writer friend with a large frame enough to need a house. Or one with a house that is not particularly inviting.■