Selling out

I was tired. Now, I know that that’s the worst way to start a story, but I was fucking exhausted. I had spent eight years of my life writing poetry on blogging platforms. I had improved with each piece; had done the reading and the research; had worked through writer’s block, and had done everything possible to make a living out of art. But I had miserably failed. There I was, lying on my cot, wondering where I had gone wrong.

I had a blog with twenty followers. Twenty fucking followers after eight years of agony! They say that insanity is doing the same thing on repeat and expecting a different result, and by that definition, I was a lunatic. I had two choices: Quitting blogging or changing the content of my blogs. I decided to give it one more try (being the madman I was) and started stalking the blogs of people who had thousands of followers. What ensued is an unbelievable tale of deception, success, guilt and apathy. And yes, in that order.

When I first visited the sites of these power bloggers, I expected to be awed by the content. But what I read appalled me! I found self-indulgent, verbose poems, written in barely passable English, revolving around death and lust. I found horrible prose written without proper syntax about vague ideas. The writers were mostly women who hailed from the Indian subcontinent. What was even more terrifying was that people from all over the globe lauded the content and compared it to the writings of Plath, Bishop and Olds! This challenged everything I thought I knew about reality, and I spent nights squirming with anxiety. What in the bloody hell is going on! How is it that writers who know nothing about metre, rhyme schemes, allusion, hyperbole, tone and form are out there selling books? And more amazingly, how are people devouring these books with an insatiable appetite and then writing reviews the size of a dissertation? I wondered, stupefied.

I became obsessed with these blogs. I studied the poems, wondering if I was missing something. But I only found poorly written sentences revolving around Eros and Thanatos time and again. Perhaps it is the unintended Freudian aspect of these poems that tickles both the perverts and feminists, I contemptuously thought. One playing with his balls while the other fondles her tits! My mind cried in disdain. After multiple rereading, I memorised the poems. My mind replaced Keatsian odes to Autumn with a cacophonous, “My lips hump in the red moon sky while layers of discordant silver coat my nefarious skin/ Then I know a poetry.” I bashed the walls of my bathroom until my fists bled. I was furious.

One day, after smoking many cigarettes to fight the bitterness growing in me, I decided to rant. What followed was an expletive-ridden diatribe against sitting mediocrity on a throne and garlanding her with Jade Vines and Ghost Orchids. I peppered my post with real and invented adages, and the result was a fiery maelstrom of angst and criticism. The truth is that a lot of what I wrote came from the heart. I believed that comparing someone who could not speak English properly to Sylvia Plath was an insult to her legacy and the articulate, well-spoken, beautiful woman she was. But I forgot that I was living in the age of punk-rock feminists who relentlessly bash men for no reason, and call a man who speaks his mind a narcissistic mansplainer. Some women on blogging platforms gang up on any man who isn’t a fucking simp. As long as you’re ensconced in simphood flattering every female writer, thinking she’ll fall for you, you’re safe. The moment you drift from lying prostrate on that flowery carpet of yellow hearts and purple flowers and call the bitch out for the lousy writer she is, you’ll find some blue-haired, masculine dyke bringing her posse and cutting you down.

Like I said before, I had a blog with twenty followers, but an army of five hundred Xenas brought their swords to the battlefield. This discombobulated me. It also destroyed my spirit. But then after a month-long, self-destructive bender, I realised that the only way to fight them was to become them (as ludicrous as that sounds). And so, I deleted my blog, created a new email id, and started a new blog using an Indian woman’s name. I wrote cryptic, morose, vaguely erotic poems. I initially did this out of spite. I wrote burlesque versions of the poems I’d read, but people started flocking to my blog! In three months, I had three-hundred followers! With each, Your pendulum is clarity within my petals in the phosphoresce air, my follower count increased by ten! A wicked idea then originated in my mind, and I decided to seek the help of a friend.

Smitha is a goofball who loves taking risks. She has her idiosyncrasies and loves playing pranks on people. She’s also very good looking and tech-savvy. I approached her and asked her to help me with my ‘project.’

“I need digitally altered images of you that I can use on my blog,” I said, cutting straight to the point.

“What the fuck!”

“I’ll pay you for them. Don’t worry; I’m not asking for nudes. Just pictures of your face that don’t resemble you too much.”

“Why do you need them?” She nervously asked me.

“Because I plan on getting a book published as a woman, and need credibility. You will receive forty per cent of the earnings.”

I proceeded to explain my plan to her in detail, and after much persuasion, she agreed. Soon I used her photos as my display pictures and wrote and wrote. My follower count rapidly grew, and at that point, I could have written a poem entirely in onomatopoeia and still gotten a hundred likes. I also started interacting with many of my followers via email and realised that horny men were all over the blogosphere. I didn’t outrightly dismiss them, but I felt sick to my stomach every time I read an email that talked about a ‘collaboration piece’ about making love. A gay man might have enjoyed this, but I felt dirty. Entirely rejecting these poets in heat would have ended in my statistics dropping, and so, I pretended to be the demure lass who is also hard to get while I puked in my bathroom. But this only titillated these animals further and soon they started sending me dick pics.

Finally, I got the attention of the hardcore, man-bashing dykes. Since this was my plan all along, I started engaging with them more than I did with other bloggers. These people were part of the cliques that was the blogosphere’s inner circle. I needed in because that circle helped writers publish books. I joined collectives, wrote a Damn! What a beautiful prose! Comment when I had to, and continued writing crap and defending it as absurdism and surrealism when some sincere blogger asked me about the meaning of my poems. I pretended to be the modern, fashionable Indian girl who smoked cigars but ironically couldn’t speak English properly.

Then the day came when one of the publishers asked me if I wanted to put a book out, and I enthusiastically said yes, but later regretted it. I started feeling guilty and wondered if I had taken things too far. I thought of confessing, but I was too scared. I had also made a promise to Smitha. So, I finally said yes, and gave them a collection of dadaist doggerels that they edited, and published. I got everything I wanted: the power blog, the feminists, the connections, the book, and the reviews. But I couldn’t live with myself for a while.

Finally, I grew apathetic and realised that the only way to compete with mediocrity was to become mediocre yourself. Today, I’ve forgotten about poets like Tracy K. Smith, Gregory Pardlo and other Pulitzer Prize winners who once inspired me. I’ve forgotten everything about poetry I learned in Masterclasses by people like Billy Collins. I don’t care anymore. I’m making money.

50 thoughts on “Selling out

    1. As long as there is some libido there is agony and ecstasy, limp or viagra powered! For the full explanation seek an Austrian man who climbed the stairway to Bedlam with a cigar in his hand.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I tried to ask him
        as he ascended
        that Stairway to Bedlam,
        but he kept repeating
        “I’ll be back.”…
        So I just sat there waiting.
        When it comes
        to getting on answer,
        like some geriatric
        Presidental contender
        who’s run out of Viagra,
        I’m plum out of luck.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I think we should co-write the extraterrestrial (remastered). This time featuring an elusive Freud, and a brash, dismissive, division-creating, orange Squealer as main characters. I won’t delete my blog this time. I’ve readied a few similies for the stalker if he shows up again.

        P.S. I doubt presidential contenders ever run out of viagra. The presidential penis definitely knows agony and ecstasy (albeit a prosaic version of it).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Jung is the Supreme Architect of
        the alien collective consciousness,
        of course. He spent many years
        here on planet Earth discovering our
        weaknesses. Eventually to be fully
        exploited with the election of their
        secret Agent Orange, Donald Trump.
        His alien herd immunity makes him impervious to all our weaponry🚀💥
        With the possible expectation of …

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The collective consciousness, the shadow, the middle-age coming of age, and the numerous principles all seemed so alien to me years ago when I studied them. But it was when I read his interpretations of dreams that seemed to stem from galaxies far far away that I understood that he was probably Tiganian. Agent Orange seems more grounded so far. Wait until he loses power though!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Snarl Jung was the Alpha of
        first pack sent to investigate and
        infiltrate the planet. Green Freud,
        despite his seeming celebrity, was
        actually Snarls sidekick. The
        whole psychoanalysis thing was
        means of gaining useful intel.
        Tiganians, despite now being a
        highly advanced species, have a
        lingering distrust of their own
        offspring. Earlier in their evolution
        a newly hatched hungry clutch of
        Tiganians would occasionally eat
        their mother. There was obviously
        a case of transference with Freud’s
        published research.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. I wonder how many people Snarl and Freud put in altered states of consciousness and converted to the cause. I knew the whole Oedipal thing had some very alien origin. Just couldn’t pin it down though. Thanks for the information! I think while the Tiganians are more inclined to acts of aggression like cannibalism, humanity is a seedy race that only thinks of sex! Such a bunch of mother lovers we are! Where does David Redpath fit into all this, I wonder.

        Like

  1. Your pendulum is clarity within my petals in the phosphoresce air. This posting is fantastic – except the dick pic you sent back to David Redpath I didn’t recognize as his. This posting was certainly Nitin at his satirical best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. I don’t intend to ever sell out, but it is hard doing what we do, right? Staying true to ourselves, working on our craft and hoping someday that things will click. And it is also infuriating watching mediocrity being elevated incessantly!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you. It is infuriating especially if we understand poetry and its poetic devices. If you really want to see terrible writing just go on Instagram. I try my best with my ability and look out for myself. I don’t compare my work. We each have a voice. I enjoy WordPress for that reason. Keep at it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! I’ve read some ‘instapoets.’ Some have even managed to land publishers. But you’re right. I too keep trying to improve and hope for the best. There are times when I’m angry, but I channel all the emotion that courses through me into my writing. Thank you! I will keep at it. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post. It took awhile for me to get followers when I first started, there was one sweet person who always liked and commented, but I had less than 10 followers for awhile. I think his supportive comments kept me from quitting early on.
    I was writing on Medium and WP at the same time but I hated how Medium was designed, (you had to join Facebook writing groups to get a following, it all seemed so fake). I had about 800 followers in just 3 months on Medium but I deleted the blog because the interactions felt like so forced. WP is much more real.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I’ve seen both the friendly side and the cruel side of WP. When I blogged here many years ago, I had a huge following and there were tons of people who would write lovely comments. A lot of them quit writing. But when I started blogging again recently, I had a stalker from Canada who left some really vulgar, crude comments and even visited the blogs of my friends to ‘warn’ them about me. He was a delusional man who thought he was some kind of Messiah.I like that Medium has publications that promote a specific type of blog post. I also like their block feature. But other than that the interactions do seem forced, like you said.

      Like

    1. I try to avoid such posts these days. Who knows what I’ll write in response to ‘your body is malapropos sore!’ It’s better to read good posts and work on your own craft, methinks. Thank you for your comment! David has always been very supportive of what this obscure writer has to say.

      Like

    1. It’s definitely confusing. Sometimes the poet is clever and files their work under a movement like ‘surrealism,’ but then you read their prose which is full of grammatical errors and realise that they have hoodwinked you. It isn’t surrealism or even Dada; it’s garbage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s been going on for more than two years. Not to sound sexist, but most of the women producing this sort of content are dark skinned beauties from the Indian subcontinent, and nothing titillates horny men more than that. They think that by worshiping these women (or poetesses as they call themselves) they’ll get nudes or maybe more!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. If this story is true, I am sorry you succumbed to bitterness and mediocrity. Many of the great authors, artists, and musicians were not recognized as such during their lifetimes. Popularity is not the measure of success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No this story isn’t true. It’s satire. I agree with you. Popularity isn’t a measure of success. And more so, in this digital age where everyone promotes themselves. Thank you for your comment

      Liked by 1 person

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