A person who is blogging since long but still cannot find time to say everything he has planned to in his mind. Trying to offer something fresh and new to the blogosphere everyday. Someone who finds solace in blogging and believes that it gives the writer in him, an instant gratification! An author, a teacher, a navy officer, a counsellor and an ardent blogger, introducing Vikram Karve in an interview where he talks about his life, blogging journey and his love for writing.
Q: You are a veteran in the blogging field now. Tell us how this whole love for blogging came up and about your whole eventful blogging journey.
A: I always loved observing the world and the people around me. As I grew up, my observations of the world around me, and my life experiences, created feelings and emotions inside me and I wanted to unburden myself and express these feelings – in short, I was filled with an urge to “say something”.
On most occasions I could express my feelings by talking to people, but there were occasions when I could not do so, for a variety of reasons (sometimes I wanted to “say something” but no one had the time or inclination to hear me out) – so started writing short stories to fulfill my urge to “say something” and to express my inner feelings.
With the advent of internet, I found the medium of blogging the best way to unburden myself of my inner feelings, and hence I started blogging.
Let me try and explain metaphorically.
There is a famous story by Anton Chekhov: “Misery” (To Whom Shall I Tell My Sorrow).
It is the story of a horse-cab driver (when horse driven coaches were used as taxis). The horse-cab driver gets that his only son has been killed in the war. He is overcome with grief. He tries to share his feelings of misery with various passengers throughout the day, he wants to talk about his son, how he died fighting on the warfront, how he was looking forward to his only son supporting him in his old age, how sad he is feeling – but no one is interested in listening to his sob story. Late at night, when he returns home, while feeding his horse, he starts talking to his horse, telling the horse about his grief, and his horse listens intently, and seems to understand, so the horse-cab driver gets carried away and tell his horse everything and unburdens his inner grief.
So metaphorically, you can say that I am the “horse-cab driver” and my blog is my “horse” to whom I express my inner feelings. I have been blogging for 12 years now and my blogging journey has been immensely cathartic as well as a fulfilling experience.
Q: Your blogs contain posts on varied topics including philosophy, fiction, food, travel, academics, etc. Which is your favourite genre that you absolutely love to write on?
My favourite genre is Fiction – I love writing short stories and my first blog was exclusively a creative writing blog.
Later, I broadened my horizons and started writing about various diverse topics like academics, philosophy, humour, self help and food.
Like I told you, whatever I wanted to “say” I wrote in my blog.
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments you receive?
This is very good question.
In the beginning I did not realize that, unlike writing in print, blogging is Web 2.0 – an interactive media – and I did not bother to read or respond to comments on my blog. This laxity on my part resulted in putting off come readers who thought I was arrogant and snobbish, and a few commented and sent me emails saying so.
I immediately corrected myself and realized the importance of reading comments for valuable feedback and replying to comments to build an interactive relationship with fellow bloggers.
Blogging is an interactive activity – a blogger must respond to all comments and also read and comment on other blogs.
Q: What special can we look forward to from your blogs in the coming years?
You can look forward to vignettes from my life in the navy – I am going to write about hilarious anecdotes, unforgettable characters and my learning experiences in the navy.
Of course, I will continue to write short fiction stories (my favourite genre) and blog about various topics.
To put it in a nutshell: Whenever I am overcome with an urge to “say something” I will “say” that “something” in my blog – how I say it may take different forms – maybe a fiction story, a non-fiction article or even a poem.
Q: You have written two books, Appetite for a Stroll and Cocktail. Tell us how the idea of writing these two books struck you and your experience about writing these books on the whole.
I spent six of the best years of my life in Mumbai. Every evening I used to go on a long walk (a “food walk) into the heart of Mumbai and during my walk I sampled food at various food joints on the way. After coming home, I wrote about my foodie adventures in my blog. Soon I got a book publishing offer to feature my food writings and a selection of my food blogs was complied in the book “Appetite for a Stroll”.
I have been writing short fiction stories for over 25 years now, and “Cocktail” is an anthology of my stories about relationships.
To be frank, I was quite disillusioned with the experience I had publishing books, where a creative writer is expected to devote more effort to marketing the book rather than writing it.
That is why I have decided to focus on blogging which is a more rewarding experience and gives you “instant gratification”.
At a recent literary meet, even traditional print publishers acknowledged that the “digital space” was the literary medium of the future, since with the advent of Laptops, Tablets, E-Readers, Smartphones and Phablets, more and more people read on screens rather than paper. The day is not far off when Blogs will edge out Books.
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
No, I do not promote my blog.
I believe, that though promotional techniques may work in the short term, in the long run, “content is the king” – it is the quality, regularity and topicality of your blog posts which will attract readership to your blog.
However, in order to interact with fellow bloggers, it is a good idea to register your blog in Blog Directories like BlogAdda and also use the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc) to inform interested connections of your blog posts.
Q: How would you rate the quality of Indian blogs today? Share with us your five favourite blogs.
Indian Blogs (including Blogs by Indians located abroad) are easily among the best in the world, both content-wise and context-wise. It seems Indians abroad (diaspora) blog more passionately, maybe because of their loneliness and homesickness.
In order to update myself, I read many blogs on current affairs, news and technology, many of them hosted by media groups and firms.
My five favourite blogs are:
1. On the subject of Blogging and Writing, my favourite blog is “Daily (w)rite by Damyanti”
2. I love reading the potpourri of writings on a Blog called “A-Musing” by Purba Ray
3. I find interesting a blog called “Nischala’s Space, Thoughts and Expressions” Musings on Social Media and Management by Nischala Murthy Kaushik
4. I like a Blog on Social Media called “Lighthouse Insights” hosted by Prasant and Vinaya Naidu
5. A Blog on Parenting, Home and Family Life called “Juztamom”
Q: What according to you is the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
The most gratifying aspect of blogging is “instant gratification” (pun unintended) and creative freedom.
Before the advent of the internet, writing was a laborious and painstaking activity. I wrote the article or story in longhand and then got it typed in the required format. Then I sent the story by post (with Self Addressed Envelope enclosed) to a suitable magazine or journal. After that my creative work was at the mercy of editors and it was a frustrating wait. Someone else sat in judgment and decided whether your writing was worth publishing or not.
Blogging changed everything and, I think, blogging is the biggest boon for writers. I could now instantly write and post whatever I wanted instantly without any editorial intervention. I now had full control and freedom and was no longer at the mercy of editors and publishers.
Blogging was the most fascinating thing that happened in my life. Now there was no barrier between me and the reader. I could post my creative writing instantly on my blog and showcase it to the whole world. I stopped submitting my short stories to magazines and stared posting them on my creative writing blog. I wrote on many topics like food, philosophy, self help, education and travel on my blog too.
It feels great to see your writing available to readers worldwide by a press of a button. This gives me a sense of “instant gratification” and creative freedom.
Q: Do you ever face a bloggers’ block? If yes, what are the techniques you use to come out and get back to writing?
Actually it is the other way round. I have so much to say and I am always short of time.
I keep getting ideas so I first write my “blog” in my brain, and then, when I get time, I sit down to actually write the blog post on my laptop and post it on my blog.
Even if I blog 24/7 it would take me many years to clear the backlog of blogs I have “written” and stored in my brain – and to me new ideas keep coming every moment.
It is only when you get an “ideas block” can you have a “bloggers’ block”.
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
First ask yourself: Do I want to “say something”?
I am sure the answer will be “Yes” – everyone has emotions and feelings, is affected by the environment and people around them, and everyone wants to say something.
Introspect, think of your interests, and decide what you want to blog about.
Select a Blogging Platform (Blogger, WordPress, Typepad etc)
Choose an easy catchy name for your blog, which reflects the content.
Blog under your Real Identity – if you are really serious about blogging, you must not hesitate to mention your actual name and put a genuine profile picture on your blog. It is desirable to give your contact details too. It makes no sense to blog “anonymously” under fake identities using fancy “handles” and exotic nom de plumes.
Have a simple design and layout for your blog, which makes it easy to read, even on a mobile phone screen.
Write about what you know, about what excites you and write from your heart.
Tell your story – use your blog to share your life, your views, and your expertise.
Maintain the uniqueness of your blog – do not imitate other blogs.
Once you start blogging, blog passionately with regularity and sincerity.
Facilitate Social Network Integration – you must connect your blog to your social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. This will help your friends easily follow your blog.
It is a good idea to enable blogging from your smart-phone and be aware of the latest blogging applications, so you can blog “on the move”.
List your Blog in a Blog Directory and Join Bloggers Networks and Blogging Communities (like BlogAdda) and participate in blogger meets and blogcamps as this will help you meet fellow bloggers and also learn latest technological advancements in the field of blogging.
Check for feedback frequently and promptly answer comments. You must interact with your readers and strive for continual improvement of your blog.
Q: You have taught at a university for as long as 15 years. How do you feel interacting with the young and creative minds of the country? Also, how have you seen the society evolve over the years?
Today’s youngsters are much more intelligent and savvy than we were. Also, young people today are highly creative – just look at the number of student bloggers and authors.
I love teaching because interacting with young creative minds makes me feel younger and cheerful.
As a Professor I learnt one thing: If you want to be friends with young people always “talk” to them as an equal but never “talk down” to students and youngsters from a “pedestal”.
Society had become more open and liberal and this is reflected in the expression of youngsters in their blogs – the number of student bloggers is mind boggling.
Q: A Retired Naval Officer! That sure sounds interesting. Would you like to share with us a few experiences from your days at the Navy?
The Navy is not a mere “job” – the Navy is a way of life. It is a very interesting life with exciting experiences – there is something new happening all the time. For me, there was never a dull moment in the navy and I enjoyed my career thoroughly. There is plenty of adventure and a lot of humour in uniform, and I came across a number of unforgettable characters and memorable incidents too – I write about these anecdotes and spin naval yarns from time to time in my blog.
Q: You have written books, blogged for quite some time now, taught in a university for more than 15 years, a retired naval officer, counsellor and an instructional designer as well. Which of these roles make you most happy? What among these is your personal favourite and why?
I am most happy as a “Blogger” (or should I say “Creative Writer”).
Let me put it this way.
I am sure you have heard about the work continuum: JOB – CAREER – CALLING.
To this I would like to add a fourth stage – METIER.
I believe that a person’s work life is defined by four stages: Job – Career – Calling – Métier.
A “job” is something you do for which you get paid. I got paid for being an Electronics and Communications Engineer. That was my basic job which fulfilled my basic financial needs.
My “career” was the Navy, where I did a number of “jobs”, on ships and ashore (pertaining to Electrical, Electronics, Weapons, Radar and Communications Engineering). My career in the navy fulfilled my needs for achievement and accomplishment. I was in operations, maintenance, production, industrial engineering, projects, design, quality assurance, engineering management, training, teaching assignments, and later, after I obtained management qualifications, I worked as a Human Resource Leader, a Trainer and a Professor.
I enjoyed most of the varied jobs I did during the course of my career, but the job I enjoyed most was “Teaching and Training” – yes, I had discovered my “calling” or vocation, so I spent many years as a teacher and an trainer.
A job is something you are paid for doing.
A career is a line of work.
When you find your work intrinsically fulfilling you have discovered your calling.
Since my student days I have always loved to read and write.
Throughout my career I always seized the opportunity to do “literary” tasks like writing articles, participating in seminars and literary and intellectual events, editing and producing in-house journals etc.
Soon I started writing short fiction stories, many of which were published and appreciated.
I realized that I was passionate about writing and, with the advent of blogging I realized that I had discovered my true “métier” – creative writing and blogging.
Yes, your métier is your passion and I had discovered my passion – writing and blogging
I, therefore, “retired” to pursue my métier full-time, with total dedication, complete vigour and focused efforts, without the distractions of a “job” or “career” – and that is how I am now a full-time blogger.
Let me end on a philosophical note:
Every person strives to achieve four things in life:
1. To LIVE
2. To LOVE
3. To LEARN
4. To Leave a LEGACY
I have lived a good life, I have loved, I have learnt a lot by studying hard in school, college and I am still ever eager to learn new things every day of my life, and I am leaving behind my legacy – my Blog – yes my Blog is my legacy for posterity.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Movie: English – Ben Hur
Hindi – Hum Dono
TV Show: The Week That Wasn’t
Book: Catch 22
Time of Day: Morning
Your Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Thank You Vikram for this amazing interview!
Bloggers, we hope you enjoyed reading this inspiring interview with Vikram Karve where he talks about how blogging gave him instant gratification and how it worked wonders for him!
We look forward to your feedback about this interview 🙂