‘Forever Awkward and Learning’, that’s what Harnidh has named her blog, and if you ask her why, she ropostes it is because she is irrevocably and socially awkward. Well, that’s what she says. Being around Harnidh you can sense this aura of confidence emanating from her, which makes you feel pretty intimidated and the need to pull up your socks.
An avid debater and an amazing slam poet, Kaur was a student of Lady Shriram College, New Delhi, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. A self-proclaimed foodie, she has recently started a new Instagram page that is dedicated to her love for food and culinary adventures. In this interview with Spectralhues, Kaur talks about the difficulties faced by bloggers and the myths surrounding them.
- Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I am currently doing my master’s in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s and my blog is called, ‘Forever Awkward and Learning’ because I am forever awkward and I keep trying to learn to not be awkward, and it’s not turning out so well if you ask anyone (laughs). I have been writing for practically all my life. My mother writes, so it kind of percolated down to me, but there came a point when I didn’t want to write anymore and I didn’t write for around three years before I decided that I should turn it around. I started a blog and the kind of response that I have gotten is overwhelming. It is reinforcing in many ways because there is this kind of solidarity between a writer and a reader because when you read something and you like it or drop a comment on it, what you are essentially saying is that, I empathize or that I understand and for someone who has struggled with depression and stuff like that, It’s very heartening to an extent and also, once it became a big platform as such, it gave me the ability to reach out to people.
- How would you describe your style of blogging?
I am a poet first and foremost. That’s what my bread and butter is when it comes to creativity. I write what I observe. I don’t edit; I barely edit and just look for typos before putting my piece up. I write about what concerns me not only as a person, but also as an informed citizen. I write whatever I can, whenever I can. I try to create a balance between personal and political which often intermingle. But I think the essentiality of what I write depends on the fact that I keep my eyes and ears open. And, whatever I see around me gets translated into words.
- What are your other interests besides writing?
That stumps me a little. I cook a lot– I love cooking! Generally, whatever I do has something to do with creativity, which is what I’d say. I debate a lot, I write, of course. I am a lot on social media; I love being on social media! I mess around in general (laughs). I love driving my little blue car all over the city because that’s my one getaway. I love pop culture curation in general; I love reading up on stuff and learning stuff. Learning stuff is like a passion of mine.
- When you have a blog, you need to keep it updated. How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
This is really funny, because other people have this issue that, Oh! I must update my blog. My issue is, Oh! You have already updated it twice today, shut up! (Laughs again) I have a lot to say, I suppose. But, for me, I think my quantity has reduced as quality has come about. I have started taking time with my stuff and giving it some more thought because I have realized that a lot of fluff goes into blogging when you are trying to reach a particular quota. If I have to put up like a post a day, then I am going to end up dithering and moving about and writing about irrelevant things. So, I tend to push myself to write at least once a week. Like one solid piece once a week. I take a lot of inspiration from social media. And, I enjoy what I do, it’s not like a chore for me. I genuinely like writing, so that makes it the best thing in the world for me!
- We all have admirers and critics, especially writers. How do you handle criticism?
I love criticism, actually. I think it’s very important and Shamir (Shamir Reuben) is my biggest critic. When everyone goes, ‘Oh my God! I love it!’ He’s like, ‘Here’s a mistake. And here’s one more’. I am on Ask.fm too, and one problem that I see with social media is sycophancy. Whatever you write gets a positive review, that tends to addle your perception about the world view and you begin to think that, ‘If I have written this, then it must be good’ and I have been in that phase and I think criticism is so very important in that format because unless you have criticism coming about, you can’t improve. But then again, as someone who receives criticism and gives it back too, I think it is very important to be empathetic to the person you are criticizing. Like you can’t just tell them that their writing is rubbish and that they are garbage. Give them something constructive to work with and you are going to change their life, especially a writer’s life.
- What are some of the blogging myths you think are not true?
“Bloggers don’t have a life.” I hear that a lot. Secondly, ‘You are blogging for profit’. Most of us don’t get a penny out of what we do. Most of us don’t get a single paisa out of what we write. We write genuinely because we want to. ‘You are pandering to an audience’ or ‘you are changing your style to focus on an audience’. Not true; maybe for some people it is, there are always going to be outliers, but most of us genuinely write because we want to write. A lot of bloggers are considered unapproachable, which is again a myth because if you are nice and you come up to us and say, ‘Hi, I need some help’, we are going to help you. It’s just that we get so many requests every single day to read a blog, to critique a blog that we can’t do them all! I tend to have these “Blog Nights” on which I tell people to send in their blog links so that I can review it for them and I get on an average 60 to 70 links in a go. That’s a lot to read! So, cut us some slack that way and yeah, that’s about it. I think blogging is something that is kind of considered a lackadaisical approach that, ‘Oh! You can’t actually get published so you are writing a blog’. No, a lot of blogging that we do, comes from the fact that we genuinely like putting our stuff across and getting reviews on it.
- Any message for people who want to start a new blog?
Start it off right now! A lot of people say that they’ll plan it out and that they will do this and do that. We all started with saying, ‘Oh yeah! I will update my blog twice a week!’. Open a blog, start writing, and start curating yourself. If you are uncomfortable with it being out in the open right now, password protect it, but have all your work collated in one place because that is really important and one thing I’d say to not only bloggers, but also to all writers is that, don’t delete anything that you write. A lot of people have a problem with deleting what they think is very average work. Don’t do that. Average work today could be the inspiration for great work tomorrow, because it’s your idea and it’s in your head. It is germinating, so give it enough time to incubate. It is going to become better. Respect your own writing, don’t commercialize it. Just because you know everyone likes vampires, don’t jump on the goddamn vampire bandwagon. There’s a lot of integrity to writing and good writing is always full of integrity. Respect yourself while you write.
Thank you very much!
Photographs by: Umang Sampat Transcripting: Shreya Chaudhury
This interview was done during Rotaract Club of Ruia’s Editorial event Talk-A-Thon
Blogger Harnidh Kaur