Hard Work – or the lack of

Cheese in the Trap

I’ve been struggling to write for the past 10 years. Choosing a topic to write about, what to write about that topic and what words to use became a Herculean task. All of a sudden my words had dried up. I had to use a thesaurus to find the apt word in almost every sentence I wrote. I still have to. Soon I developed a crippling fear of writing – I no longer wrote on my own; being asked to write left me paralysed with a strangling, suffocating sensation. It happens even now, though at a milder intensity.

The initial few years, I cursed my fate and complained at every chance I got. I expected the problem to go magically away, as mysteriously as it had appeared. When that didn’t help, I finally decided to do something about getting out of this rut. I settled on reading self-improvement articles. Over an arduous series of do’s and don’t’s, I gleaned a simple advice – do something – deliberately practice a task each day and you will gradually improve. That meant I had to write every day. A chain of slow realisations later, I understood I would have to comprehend good literature every day, I should focus on words wherever I encounter them and relearn the ability to think critically. My work was cut out for me, and it was hard.

Why was this concept of hard work alien to me? Why did it not occur to me on my own or sooner? Apart from being a bit dim, I became aware that until this point I had never worked hard for anything in my life. I was naturally good at the things required of me and the things I liked to do. I wrote with ease, fluency and good form. About anything and everything. I could shift my writing – its tone or voice – to suit the occasion or person. Nothing was impossible. Everything was on a platter.

Apart from a deeply disappointing dejection at the loss of a gift – which was a source of pride but never cherished – I feel a sense of empathy for people who have worked hard to achieve their goals. Every unsatisfactory attempt to express something makes me want to give up and never write again. Also, hard work felt beneath me. It meant acknowledging losing my gift, which is never easy. But you cannot run away from your problems or avoid them – it would mean branding you a failure. And you cannot let go of the primary thing that gives you joy. I had to make a choice between acknowledgement or giving up entirely. And once you make your choice, it is freeing. You can write nonsense, but you will be able to take it in stride because your expectations from yourself are lowered.

It is humbling, to say the least. It is like the insignificance that shrouds you when faced with the majesty of mountains. But of what value is their might with no trivial being to appreciate it?