Pressure vs Promise

I’d love to learn the limits of passion; how it turns into fixation, how it grows into hate, and how to avoid it. Maybe love isn’t natural without a tinge of destruction, without the deranged longing for breaking what one had built?

I used to call myself a singer, until the words turned sour in my mouth and my musician-ship turned south. I’d gone from creation to destruction in a matter of a key change and a dissonance of spirit, which could have been predicted if the passion hadn’t been so strong. Music was my first love. Just like a first love, it had also been too immature to be sustainable. I was too immature to work on it, and with it.

As I was having my first subconscious crisis in that area – though I remained in denial for the next few years – I reached for books seamlessly, naturally. I read on Bukowski’s outside-looking-in and Woolfian loneliness and Dostoevsky complexities—and I translated every inspiration into a note or a lyric, until that wasn’t enough.

Song lyrics were too compact, too bare; not enough to be poetry, not enough to be self-reliant. Without sharing it with anyone, I began to translate my silences and unsaids to actual words on the page. Through diaries, through blog posts, through disparate documents on my computer. At some point, I even created a Writing folder; or maybe it had created itself, which is what tends to happen with all art. It speaks to itself first and foremost. It decides itself for itself.


If there’s anything I love more than singing, it is having the time and the space not to be seen. To think and feel without being seen. Writing provides that. Singing – or, rather, performing – did not.

They both come with their own variations of signifiers and signifieds, metaphors and double meanings, yet their temperaments are different. Music is immediate, impatient, while writing is deceptively silent. They both bully and reward in their own ways. Sometimes they fight for precedence, for my attention; other times, they intermingle and flirt with one another.

I don’t know how my writing would have appeared without music being there first. The latter might have been a sacrifice, a passionate love affair burned out of its core to make way for a more mature kind of love; something slower, more patient, more uncertain. As my talent for music had been apparent for everyone around me, writing challenges me to prove myself, to keep my eyes close while treading the piles of generic No, thank you’s, a sparing Yes here and there, and the all-encompassing futureless fog.


I rely on fixations, which may turn out to be my ultimate downfall. In a way, I’m grateful to have this future-fog (instead of a clear-cut plan posing as a finished path) as I remain convinced I will not destroy all I’d worked for through obsessions and illusions.

Contrarily to music, which always has and always will reside within my every straining heartbeat, writing sent me a subtle invitation, a no-strings-attached promise: reading. Before I’d ever written my first stream of consciousness, I read. I read with no responsibility, no burden of passion, no weight of talent, no reading in and writing forward.

When I read Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I situated the ‘Es Muss Sein’ mantra in the music drawer, which was how the borders of promise-writing vs pressure-singing were dichotomised. If I had to sing, I would never have to write ever again. I would only choose to do it. (Until writing became a full-fledged Dream, and I went off the rails and to the races for a bit.)

Six years and two es-muss-sein’s behind me, I am now ready for a long-term struggle. I’m ready to treat writing as an equal, not as something subject to my rigid schedule, a slave to the prolific and the disciplined. I may write on some days, then not-write on others; and the not might just lift the fog for a second, giving me room to breathe and think, and, eventually, write.